Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Explanation

I just wanted to explain some changes I made to the description of Renegade Trads in the header.

First, at the suggestion of a new friend, I added the word "open-minded," and in fact made it the first word you see, because that really sums up the dominant theme here, I think. That one can be a trad, and open-minded. I should have thought of that word earlier.

Secondly, I changed "the ancient liturgy" to "organic liturgy". Firstly because we also have discussed the Eastern rites around here quite a bit, so talk of "the" ancient liturgy sounded a bit Latin-centric. And also I realized that "ancient" isn't really what I care about. It's not the antiquity of traditional liturgy that gets me, it is the organic tradition of it. The evolutionary development that leaves all its little historical quirks and mysteries that just disappear when liturgy is artificially sanitized by a committee (whether after Trent or Vatican II)...

Finally, I changed the word "neuroticism" of the current trad and neoconservative movements, to simply "neuroses". A change from the abstract generic predisposition to a concrete manifestation.

Because I realized something this weekend. I have long been rather insecure myself about being "neurotic," as if it was something bad that needed to be overcome. That it wasn't "normal" to think and feel in the mode that I do. But finally a friend pointed out that "neuroticism" isn't bad in itself. It is simply one of the "five factors" of personality-composition, and merely means a tendency to feel negative emotions strongly and to be rather high-stress mentally or prone to anxious thought processes.

In itself, this is simply a trait of my personality, it cannot necessarily be changed, nor does it need to be. Likewise, I also feel positive emotions very strongly, am mostly open to experience, quite conscientious, somewhat introverted, and only moderately agreeable. None of those things are "right" or "wrong"...any of the varieties of the personality factors can be good, any combination can be healthy, it's all in how you use it. You can't change the framework in which you process thoughts and feelings (your "personality"), but you can learn to deal with them in more or less effective ways.

So neuroticism isn't bad. If you're neurotic, you should be proud of that and accept yourself, and learn to deal with the unique pluses and minuses of scoring highly on that personality factor. It's only a problem when it manifests itself negatively in the specific maladjusted coping mechanisms we call "neuroses," concrete maladaptive cognitive or behavioral issues. But it can also be channeled for good. I'm never going to be one of those "normal" people for whom things just easily roll off their back without worrying about it, who don't give second thoughts to anything. I'm always going to have a tendency to be high-stress, to feel emotions profoundly, and to examine things (including myself) critically and angst over the greater meaning. And that's just fine. What's bad is when that predisposition isn't used constructively, but instead is handled dysfunctionally in specific neuroses.

1 comment:

AGustavoG said...

"In itself [expressing negative emotions?]this is simply a trait of my personality, it cannot necessarily be changed, nor does it need to be"

I believe you could not be more wrong. The spiritual life requires the cultivation of an attentiveness to root out such tendencies (Theophan the Recluse, John Climacus).
Negative emotions are essentially unreal, and putting on the New Man is a matter of building on what is real.

From Mouravieff: Yet attention is indispensable to us, especially for the control of negative emotions, which impoverish us and provoke in us losses, sometimes considerable, of forces we have accumulated at the price of sustained effort. In certain cases this can go so far as to provoke true collapse within us. A watchful attention allows us to stop these negative emotions the moment they are born. Afterwards, on ground which has been purified in this way, we will be able to let positive emotions flow freely, so as to enrich us and permit us to accumulate the force necessary to continue our esoteric work.