“Meaning and morality of One's life come from within oneself. Healthy, strong individuals seek self-expansion by experimenting and by living dangerously. Life consists of an infinite number of possibilities and the healthy person explores as many of them as possible. Religions that teach pity, self-contempt, humility, self-restraint and guilt are incorrect. The good life is ever changing, challenging, devoid of regret, intense, creative and risky.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all been weak. We’ve all made poor decisions that led to painful results. But it gets us nowhere to wallow in misery. To remain stuck in a rut, whining at the Powers That Be or vainly railing against the universe. Likewise, it gets us nowhere to squander our hard-earned pain on sentimental placation, mawkish feel-good tropes, and pretend forgiveness.
There comes a time, after we’ve licked our wounds and after we’ve healed enough, to rise out of our misery and get down to brass tacks. A time to dig down into the roots of the self. A time to alchemize medicine out of madness. A time to grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it into a more adaptable form. A time to use our suffering as a steppingstone into higher suffering. A time to take the ashes of our anger and begin the search for the Phoenix hidden within.
1.) Seek self-expansion; live dangerously:
“When seeking guidance, don't ever listen to the tiny-hearted. Be kind to them, heap them with blessing, cajole them, but do not follow their advice.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Take risks. Do it despite the tiny-hearted. Do it despite any so-called authority. Be an unapologetic risk-taker. Just be strategic about it. Be fluid. Be smart.
So, you’ve fucked up in the past. Big deal! We’ve all fucked up in the past. Some more than others. But comparing your worst to another person’s best is the worst thing you can do. Take your power back and then take risks with it. Push your comfort zone over the edge. Push it until it hurts. Then come back and heal.
Make more mistakes if need be. Make bigger and better mistakes that you can use later on to build something greater than anyone could have possibly imagined.
Live dangerously. Live fleetfooted and precarious. Challenge the gods. Disobey the Powers That Be. Keep your power. Sometimes you just need to shrug your shoulders, grit your teeth, laugh at your past mistakes, stare into the void of your future, take the Bull of the Present by the horns, and say fuck it! Time to turn this shit into gold.
2.) Be adventurous; explore:
“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole universe lies in uncertainty. Live immediately.” ~Seneca
There’s a whole world out there. Use your badness to give you the bravery needed to take a leap of courage. Life is either a series of ‘leaps of courage’ or it is a handicap of stagnations. Choose to take leaps of courage into ever new soul-awakening, heart-breaking adventures. Avoid daily grinds, especially those that suck the spirit out of you. Live on purpose, not with expectations.
Make the obstacle the path. Use your ruthlessness to your advantage. Don’t vacillate in the face of vicissitude. Flip the script. Turn the tables. Take the reins of your life out of the hands of whoever or whatever has control over them. Take control of the only thing you somewhat have control over—yourself. You have from this moment until the day you die to live the life you’ve always wanted to live.
Death is a compass. Use the compass to guide you into adventure. Take the ceiling of your heart and crucify it. Existentially crush out. Set your teeth firmly into the pulp of experience. Open your heart and keep your soul’s hand fast upon the helm as you sail away into the horizon of a new way of being human in this world.
3.) Be creative; transform pain into art:
“This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted and shaky –that’s called liberation.” ~Pema Chödrön
Harness your badness. It will give you courage. And there is nothing more courageous than the creative act. Artistically expand yourself. Don’t worry about if it’s good or not. Imaginatively magnify your pain into art. Don’t worry if it seems silly or eccentric. Eccentricity is Innovation’s best friend.
What matters is the catharsis of it all. What matters is healthy transformation. It’s especially effective on latent emotions that have been repressed. The drawback is that you feel the pain again, but that is vastly trumped by the upshot of feeling healthier for having co-created art with that pain. In fact, it is precisely the renewal and renegotiation with the pain which prevents it from becoming further repressed and thus further cloaked in unhealthy and unreconciled shadow energy.
The result is a kind of cosmic catharsis, which takes suffering greatly to the next level. It Channels death anxiety into a work of art that symbolically transforms pain into power and death into life.
The art created from cosmic catharsis becomes the art of life. It’s the unfolding of life as art and art as life. What Ernest Becker called our “immortality project,” which is essentially a creative and heroic engagement with life that creates meaning, purpose, and significance in the grand scheme of things. It’s a way of transforming mortal pain into immortal art.
4.) Live intensely; transform wounds into wisdom:
“To change, a person must face the dragon of his appetites with another dragon, the life-energy of the soul.” ~Rumi
The life energy of the soul cannot be stopped. Except by you. You and you alone have the power unstop it. So, what are you waiting for? Use your badness to propel you into greatness. Live passionately despite the passionless. Life is too short to remain tight inside the comfortable bud of your less-than-exciting life. Break free. Face your demons, or they will demonize you.
If you really want to live greatly, you must open yourself up to being present to your wounds. you must open yourself up to reconciliation with your demons. The wound of yesterday has the potential to be the wisdom of tomorrow, but it must be embraced and reconciled in the present. This moment is all you have. Right now, is always the time for transformation. Is it ‘one day’ or is it ‘day one’? You decide.
Transforming wounds into wisdom is an act of love toward the darkest part of ourselves. This act of love can dissolve mountains. It can melt down hardened repressions, revealing the sacred darkness beneath: your struggling shadow. It’s then and there where you learn one of the most powerful secrets that exist. And the secret is this: the shadow can be your worst enemy or your greatest ally.
5.) Live adaptively; shatter the façade:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin
Look into a mirror, preferably a broken one. Look past your plethora of masks. Strip your soul naked, then love what’s left. Shed your too-thick skin. Reinvent transformation. Don new masks: Hero, Trickster, Warrior; Crow, Whale, Wolf. Realize that finding yourself is not an end or a beginning but a story constantly unfolding itself. Your story, if you have the courage to be its author.
Shatter the façade. Everything is changing anyway. Nothing remains the same. There is no permanence except impermanence itself. Embrace that fact. Everything is moving in and out of itself. You are moving in and out of “yourself.” Let yourself move.
A façade is anything saying otherwise, anything fixed and rigid, anything unwilling to change and therefore forced into becoming a living deprivation, a wanton suppression, a whiny expectation. Shatter it. Break it across the world.
Smash it into a thousand pieces at the feet of all who wish to remain stagnant and complacent. Staple it to a wall and throw darts at it. Pull it down from all its high and mighty pedestals, then force it to dance in the abyss with you performing insouciant pirouettes around it. This is your life. Nobody is coming to save it. This is your pain. Nobody else is going to feel it. This is your badness. It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to transform it into your best.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (5 Ways to Baptize your Badness into Your Best) was originally created and published by The Mind Unleashed and is re-printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and themindunleashed.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.