Identifying what part of your life you feel is sterile is the first way we can start to realize what parts of our lives we are faltering in or even failing at.
We all want the good life. We are sold many different types of good lives. I hope this book The Good Life. Psychoanalytic Reflections on Love, Ethics, Creativity, and Spirituality by Jeffery B. Rubin helps us understand how to find the good life instead of just selling us another version of it.
“A life of perversity is sterile, devitalized, and impoverished. One remains alienated from other people, who one tries to control, have power over, and silence. Intimacy cannot grow on such soil. Dominance precludes dialogue. One cannot learn from other people when one has an authoritarian relationship to them (Rubin, 2004, pp. 10).”
When I usually think of perversion, I think of the definition given by a famous Psychoanalyst Robert Stoller where he stated that perversion is the erotic form of hatred. My whole Master’s Thesis centered around that definition and it can get heavy into jargon. But, Jeffery Rubin gives us a definition of perversion that is useful to all of us in our daily lives.
Let’s explore this definition for a second.
Sterile means not being able to produce.
Devitalized means to be deprived of strength and vigor.
Impoverished means to be made poor and to be deprived of strength and vitality.
Alienation means to experience or induce feelings of isolation or estrangement.
Intimacy means closeness in its most basic meaning.
Let’s ask ourselves the obvious questions we will resist asking and resist answering honestly.
- What Part of Your Life is Sterile?
What do you want to do that you can’t do? Can you not make enough money to progress in your goals? What are those goals? Is it a nice car, a house, a business or a family?
Identifying what part of your life you feel is sterile is the first way we can start to realize what parts of our lives we are faltering in or even failing at. Then we have to really explore why we are faltering and failing at that part of our life we wish to have. This is you essentially asking, “Why am I failing at my values?”
A lot of the time we will say that it’s the stresses of life, that the government is holding us down, that others are holding us back and that life isn’t fair so you won’t be able to go after your constitutionally protected pursuit of happiness. This brings us to our next question.
- Are You Devitalizing and Impoverishing Yourself?
I tell you that a relationship that is dragging you backward and isn’t creating anything constructive can only push you into the grave.
Everyone writes and speaks about how everyone and everything else is in your way. We have movement after movement that preaches that if only the government, people or things got out of your way you could do what you were “meant” to do. This idea is not totally wrong. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was completely oppressed by his government as he was unjustly thrown into the gulags. The whole history of humanity is overrun with oppression.
But, let’s give humanity some credit. It’s very likely that none of you have been thrown into a gulag or an internment camp in your lifetime. Some of you may not even know what a gulag is. I digress though since this isn’t about who suffers more.
My point is that in a life where we are not so fiercely outwardly oppressed it may be that we devitalize and impoverish ourselves. It’s not “may” it’s that we do do this to ourselves. We hate to see that we do this to ourselves because this completely breaks the comfortable victim and helplessness position we are granted when we can blame everything outside of us. We lose our holiness and we find out that we are also oppressors. And worst of all, we are our own prison guard.
How do we oppress ourselves though? One way we do this, especially here in the States and other nations where we don’t have to worry about surviving, but about our comfort, is that we waste time. We can waste time with entertainment, with our jobs and careers, with sleeping too much, with focusing our limited energy on things that do not invest in creating.
Where am I going in my relationship and life?
Any time we invest our time and energy into what is not creating, we are investing in making a sterile, devitalized and impoverished life.
Let’s think about romantic relationships for a moment.
What does a perverse relationship look like when we are using the definition by Jeffery Rubin? It’s a relationship that is going nowhere. No no no, it’s even worse. It’s a relationship that leading you to mental and physical death.
You think I’m being dramatic. I tell you that a relationship that is dragging you backward and isn’t creating anything constructive can only push you into the grave. Look around. How many people do you see in dead relationships and won’t leave because of the kids or because they’ve just been in a relationship for so long so why leave now?
How many people do you see going from one relationship to another as they experience the same nothing over and over again with the same person with a different face? How many people do you know who can’t get their lives off the ground and are stuck in nothingness?
Are you one of these people? Do you even want to know if you’re one of these people?
The main question to ask is, “Where am I going in my relationship and life?” If the answer is nowhere, that you don’t know or you’re going somewhere that you wish not to be, then you’re living a perverse life in a perverse relationship.
Now that we’ve answered that, let’s see if we can find an answer to what to do if you’re living a perverse life throughout the book. I’ll see you all in the next review of The Good Life.
Not sure what to do or think about what you’re feeling? If you’re curious to know more about Where You Are Going in Your Relationship here is my Guide: 14 Differences Between Toxic & Loving Relationships. This will walk you through the different parts of these kinds of relationships so you can identify what you or one of your loved ones is experiencing so you can Fix Your Fate instead of letting destiny choose for you.