Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Lemon-Thrower Dismantling Machine

[This conversation is heavily paraphrased because I don't remember it exactly.]

A couple months ago, I went over to my friend Eli's house feeling like I was getting nowhere. Writing a validation book just didn't seem to be getting me anywhere. It didn't feel like I was doing something about the problem. Writing a book felt like I was making lemonade. (In the sense of, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"). I don't want to make lemonade. I don't ever want to derive anything good out of a bad experience or grow stronger from painful experiences. When life gives me lemons, I want to throw them right back at the person who threw them at me. And I just felt like writing a book as a result of bad things that have happened to me was a lemonade sort of thing to do.

But Eli didn't think so. Eli was surprised that I thought my book was lemonade. I said to Eli, "But I'm producing something good as a result of something bad. Isn't that the definition of lemonade?"

 Eli said, "But your book is trying to stop the bad things from happening. When someone invalidates you, you don't use that as strength or motivation, you try to stop it from happening."

That was true. I never used invalidation as motivation or any kind of push to write my book (because that's not what it is). I mainly take invalidating statements, analyze them under a microscope, and figure out what exactly makes them invalidating. "That's true," I told Eli, "But I just don't feel like I'm destroying anything! When something bad happens to me, I don't want to do something constructive about it, I want to do something destructive. I want to fight back hard and destroy the thing that hurt me, and right now I feel like I'm just giving people a grammar lesson."

"But you are being destructive!" Eli said.
"I am?"
"Yes. If we use the lemon example: Say there's a lemon thrower machine and it keeps throwing lemons at you. You're not letting the machine do its thing and making something useful out of the lemons. You are trying to stop the machine from throwing lemons."

"But I don't feel destructive," I replied. "I feel like I'm doing something constructive."

"Sometimes in order to destroy a machine, you have to build another machine to dismantle it. That's what you're doing right now. You're building a machine to dismantle the lemon throwing machine. The act of building may feel constructive, but the goal is still to stop the lemon machine from throwing lemons at you."

That made sense to me. I felt so much better after that conversation. I'm not making lemonade. I'm building a lemon-thrower dismantling machine. So watch out!

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