Ok. I know that the last post I wrote, I tried to encourage all of you to be in control of your future, and create the life you want to lead. Well, now I want to discuss letting go, and realizing that we are not in control of most of what happens to us in life, and is OK.
Awhile ago, I was reading the ‘Valis’ trilogy by Philip K. Dick, and he happened to use the word ‘anhedonic’ to describe a character, and then veered off to discuss just WHY it is so important not to let ourselves become this way. It has weighed upon my mind ever since I read the book, and I just wanted to share because I know many of you either know someone like this, or you, yourself may be unconsciously be showing these less than becoming traits.
Since reading this book, I have also studied Health Psychology, and I see so many connections between high blood pressure, and the way a person thinks, acts and handles their emotions. Anhedonia, hostility, depression, and hypertension seem to all be closely linked. It is important to recognize this and make necessary changes to having a different outlook on everything around you.
In Dick’s book, he was talking about how life happens and many times there is absolutely nothing to be done about it. Many people do not like this feeling, and do not cope well with the lack of control around them. This helplessness can create a control freak, unfortunately. Some people want that control of their surroundings to make them feel more comfortable, but they are not gaining control in reality. In the process of trying to control everything happening around them, “Anhedonia sets in stealthily. Over the years it takes control of him. For example, he learns to defer gratification; this is a step in the dismal process of anhedonia. In learning to defer gratification he experiences a sense of self-mastery; he has become stoic, disciplined; he does not give way to impulse. He has control. Control over himself in terms of his impulses and control over the external situation. He is a controlled and controlling person. Pretty soon he has branched out and is controlling other people, as part of the situation. He becomes a manipulator. Of course, he is not consciously aware of this; all he intends to do is lessen his own sense of impotence. But in his task of lessening this sense, he insidiously overpowers the freedom of others. Yet, he derives no pleasure from this, no positive psychological gain; all his gains are essentially negative (Dick)”.
How can you tell if someone around you is anhedonic? Well, that is easy, and I am sure you have one of these people around you, if not yourself. People who feel a constant need to control everything around them tend to tell others what to do and think in almost every situation. Unless it is how THEY want it to be, it is usually done the wrong way for their liking. Anhedonics typically get agitated easily. They don’t like too much, actually. They will be the first to tell you if you are sitting wrong, walking wrong, driving wrong, eating wrong, and pretty much anything else you do that is not how they like things done. Sadly, these people do not typically know they act in this way, or why. Most anhedonics have been this way for so long, people grow to expect this treatment and it is just ‘normal’.
Anhedonics let little things upset them. They get upset because they have lost their feeling of control, and they do not know how to respond. Usually it is with hostility, yelling, or some other high, uncontrolled emotion. Many times, anhedonics come across as just plain bossy, because I find they don’t typically say please, or thank you. Everyone around them is doing something ‘not to their standards’, and they can even lash out at people they don’t know. The main problem with these actions, is that it can cause hypertension. When people have little control over their emotions, they can tend to get upset and in turn, their blood pressure spiking. You can see the picture at the top that tells all the issues that hypertension causes. It is a very serious matter. This ‘habit’ can actually kill someone.
Not only are these people creating their own health issues, it greatly impacts the lives of those closest to them. People can feel anxious while their anhedonic friend or loved one is barking orders, or yelling at strangers for doing something ‘wrong’. It can actually cause high blood pressure spikes in people around them, too!
Anhedonic means by dictionary standards “someone who is unable to enjoy pleasure”. When someone finally lets go, and realizes that everything is going to happen as it will, and we cannot control other people’s thoughts or actions, then we can relax, enjoy life and everything happening. When you are trying to constantly control all situations happening around you, you are causing misery for yourself, as well as those around you. If you are always pointing out what is wrong with everything everyone does, you start only looking for things to be wrong. You will never see what is good, and OK and beautiful with the world.
So, there are a few things to think about and do. Analyze your thoughts and actions when dealing with people – both who you deal with directly or indirectly. Realize that you cannot control what others do – but you CAN control how you think or handle the situation. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are a great place to start. Some people may actually need to seek counseling or professional help.
I know that dealing with anhedonia can be exhausting. It causes stress in everyone involved. The best thing to do is to talk things out. Bring it to your loved one (or your own) attention and start working on making a change. The only thing you are in control of is YOURSELF, so don’t try to make everyone live for you. Everyone is different. You may sweep the floor different than me, and that is OK! Let people learn on their own. Let them try things their own way. Learn to accept differences, and stop looking for everything that people are doing wrong, but enjoy them for who they really are. Don’t try to sculpt the world and people around you – it will sculpt itself.
Dick, Phillip K. Valis. Bantam Books. 1981. Chapter Five.