Thirteen Reasons Why – and One Great Big Reason Why Not
Over the past few weeks, I kept hearing about the Netflix Series “Thirteen Reasons Why”.
So I watched it. Well, most of it.
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a drama about a teenage girl who commits suicide, Hannah Baker. Before doing this, she creates thirteen tapes to send out to people who knew her.
Each one is supposedly a “reason” why she killed herself. Each tape is about a different person, and how they “wronged” her and made her feel so bad she had to end it all. So these thirteen people are to “blame” for her decision.
I can see why it’s popular – especially amongst the young and the angst-ridden. It’s quite compelling TV, and the acting’s not bad.
But the premise of the story? Oh dear friends, the premise.
I want you to understand that of course I think teenage suicide is important and tragic. Nothing in this musing is coming from any implied judgement or criticism of those who suffer. The suffering is real, and it hurts.
After the final episode there was a special piece with several mental health professionals talking about the problem of teenage suicide, and how society should tackle it.
I wish at least one of them had pointed to the truth. That all suffering comes from thought – and when we understand the nature of Thought, we are no longer victims of it, and are free. Free to thrive. Free to live.
There are of course many Facebook Groups for people suffering from depression. I found one this morning that’s even more niche. It’s for the depressed and suicidal.
The posts kind of shocked me, even though I’m very aware most people operate on the misunderstanding that our experience of life is outside-in.
There were hundreds of variations of this misunderstanding from people who are genuinely suffering:
- Nobody loves me.
- I can’t get over my awful childhood.
- I didn’t get the job.
- I don’t have enough money to buy what I want.
- I had a fight with my best friend.
- My boyfriend dumped me.
- It was my birthday last week, and I didn’t get any cards.
- Life is never going to get any better. What’s the point in carrying on?
What shocked me most was the conversation threads. After somebody had posted pages and pages describing their misery, there were often messages of support from other members of the group. Well, that’s good, I thought. Presumably, the original posters were posting in order to create some kind of connection with somebody. But so often, the original poster would respond to these messages of support with anger, fear, mistrust or even hate:
- Easy for you to say!
- You don’t understand what it’s like to be me
- Don’t try and make me feel better with your empty lies!
I felt so much for these people. Huge compassion certainly. And some frustration if I’m honest. It’s like they’ve chosen to wear glasses that are so dark no light can ever pierce through and reach them. And the sad thing is, until that changes and they take off the glasses, their experience of life probably isn’t going to get any better.
I read on the BBC news website a couple of days ago that a record number of people contacted the Samaritans seeking help in the past year.
The organisation said it handled more than 5.7 million cases in 2016, which was an increase of nearly 300,000 over the previous year.
All three examples point to chronic bad feelings misattributed to something or somebody outside themselves.
Using the faulty logic of outside-in, I can sort of understand why somebody might consider suicide as an end to their chronic suffering.
I’m reminded of the quote by Wei Wu Wei:
“Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself—and there isn’t one.”
(If this quote confuses you, as it did me on first hearing it, get in touch for a conversation)
One rare person in this Facebook Group I mentioned asked a question:
“If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you delete from this world?”
Most of the people responding to the question said “All humans”. Several said “Me”.
Here’s my answer:
I would delete the innocent misunderstanding about where our human experience is coming from.
If I had a magic wand, I would want every single person in the world (including all the Hannah Bakers, and all the people in that Facebook Group – everybody) to know the following things about the human experience:
Your mind only works one way – inside out. You are living in the feeling of the energy of Thought passing through you – not the feeling of the world or your circumstances.
It’s OK to be human – and you don’t need to be scared of your feelings. All they’re telling you about is your thinking in the moment. Intense feelings are not ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. Accept them – but know that it’s just an indication that you’re human and you have a lot of thinking about something right now. It’s not telling you anything about the world out there. Neither do the feelings mean there’s anything wrong with you.
But for personal thinking, you already are everything that you seek. Well-being, resilience and peace of mind is the factory setting. You have a psychological immune system that, left to its own devices will bounce back.
Thought is transient by nature, like clouds in the sky. Your thinking is not YOU. You’re not the clouds, you are the sky.
You have the capacity to bring thoughts to life, or let them go by seeing them for what they are.
And you have infinite creative potential to create a whole new experience of being alive.
Once you know all this, it simply doesn’t make sense to commit suicide.
Addendum: It doesn’t make sense to hurt anybody else either. I was just finishing writing this musing as the London Bridge terrorist attack hit the news. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, responded by saying that military and police action would never be enough, and that the threat will only be defeated “when we turn people’s minds away from this violence”.
I didn’t agree with everything she said, but she’s dead right that the solution, like the problem, lies in the minds of people.
Chronic bad feelings, mis-attributed.
Why not join me for my next 3-day He’Art of Thriving Workshop on 27 – 29th September? Mark Davies joined me for a previous workshop, and here’s what he said:
“I arrived on day one a bit of a sceptic and even a bit judgemental but emerged on day three of Kimberley’s workshop having experienced something rather special………I’ve described it as euphoria, a lightness, a sense of well-being, a sense of believing and realising we all have a diamond residing within us. The diamond being the essence of who we are and we’re all absolutely fine. When you see it and feel it, it’s like a huge rucksack being taken off your back! The real me started to emerge, beneath all the horse shit covering I began to see glimpses of my diamond. It was a wonderful feeling. I’m OK, I know I can get home and when I am, everything is perfectly OK! Kim brought us together and then added her ‘magic’, a catalyst that helped me and the other beginners start to see, to feel and understand that everything we experience comes from the inside out. My journey has only just begun but already so much feels different and yet nothing’s actually changed.”
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