“In front of my mother and my sisters, I pretend love is cheap and vulgar. I act like it’s a sin– I pretend that love is for women on a dark path. But at night i dream of a love so heavy it makes my spine throb.– I dream up a lover who makes love like he is separating salt from water.”
I kept noticing a self-help cliche that people say to each other all the time, and share on Facebook incessantly. We say to each other: 'Nobody can help you except you.' It made me realize: we haven't just started doing things alone more, in every decade since the 1930s. We have started to believe that doing things alone is the natural state of human beings, and the only way to advance. We have begun to think: I will look after myself, and everybody else should look after themselves, as individuals. Nobody can help you but you. Nobody can help me but me. These ideas now run so deep in our culture that we even offer them as feel-good bromides to people who feel down - as if it will lift them up. But John has proven that this is a denial of human history, and a denial of human nature. It leads us to misunderstand our most basic instincts. And this approach to life makes us feel terrible.
Banishing shame means becoming a more accepting, open-hearted person who treats others with compassion and patience. Suddenly other people’s flaws and mistakes look more understandable and less irritating, and you can also see clearly who you want to know and who you want to avoid, based on how engaged and alive and open to the world they seem.
How to show up more, and show up sincerely: reframe commitment as a gift.
Davis says that there are three fears that seem to account for why we can’t commit ourselves to one thing: the fear of regret (worrying that we’ll later regret not committing to something else), the fear of association (worrying over how it will affect our identity, reputation, and sense of control), and the fear of missing out (worrying that “the responsibilities that come with it will prevent us from being everything, everywhere, with everyone”).
There’s good news, though. “On the other side of these fears are great gifts,” Davis says. “On the other side of the fear of regret is the freedom of purpose, on the other side of the fear of association is the comfort of community, and on the other side of the fear of missing out is the joy of depth. These are what await you if you are ready to commit. To remain commitment-less is not a gift to your future self — it’s a denial to your future self the delights of purpose, community, and depth.”