He was always reassuring. If we needed something, we could always depend on him. He didn’t talk much about his family life, but he could cook some serious blackened chicken on the grill. When work was getting tough, we’d ask him how he was doing. He’d always respond something like. ‘Oh, it’s all good, just taking it one day at a time.’ One day, he called in saying he’d be late; he had some things to take care of at home. He seemed stressed but, in typical fashion, assured us everything was going to be ok. He never came in, though, so we figured it must have been a rough day. We didn’t realize we wouldn’t get to have that reassuring talk ever again. If only we could have helped, if we could have been that one glimmer of hope for him.
When we get to the point of having no other option but to take our own life, when we are stuck in nothing but truly terrible situations, when we’ve assessed all the options and have no positive outcome, when we know NO ONE can really help us, when the emotional pain is stronger than any physical pain we’ve ever felt, we have to remember: We are blind and the mind holds our sight. So, FREEZE and feel out the next steps very, very carefully.
Decisions With No Sight
This matters because while we are the ultimate decision makers, we are making decisions based on what the mind is feeding us. We don’t see for ourselves. What we see as options, as our situation, are assessments that are manifestations of our mind. These options are based on our decisions, yes, but the sea of information the mind is holding is immense. Look up from wherever we are and try to take in the amount of information contained in just one look. Focusing on a single object, we know that single object had an origin; it has a particular molecular makeup combined in a particular way. It can be used in various ways. It can relate to other objects we’ve seen like it. We can do things to interact with the object. It has shape, color, texture, temperature, weight, and so on. That’s just one object. We have to ‘think’ to come up with these characteristics.
We may think, “That information doesn’t matter. It’s not important.” Why not? Who says what is important? Are we sure we’d never need that information? We’d never need to correlate something to a similar object? Are we holding that level of attention on every object in the room or every object that passes by? How did we know the characteristics without focusing on it? Did we deliberately do that to every object we’ve ever interacted with? How was this information stored and how did we retrieve the information?
This line of questioning serves a purpose. It allows us to see that we are, all day every day, taking in an extremely large amount of information. Our conscious, of course, isn’t doing this, which is why it’s hard to imagine the vastness. Our unconscious mind is doing this on our behalf. We can consciously crunch information, but we can’t hold all the information. We have to send requests to the mind to crunch it and provide feedback. We ultimately decide where to go based on what the mind tells us is there.
Driving in Multiple Directions
All the mind asks from us is that we tell it where to go, what to solve. It doesn’t care where we tell it to go. If we want to override survival instincts, we can do that. The mind will bend to our will, but it will typically warn us if there’s anything being overridden or ignored – conflict or obstacles.
It is easier said than done, of course. There is a vast amount of possibilities, and things that we want often represent different directions. The mind has to take us in the directions we identify, but while it’s great at crunching information, it can’t fix conflicts in our own goals or in the directions we are trying to get it to take us. It will try to drive in multiple directions at the same time, which doesn’t work very well. It will keep trying, though all the while, it will tell us there is a conflict. It won’t always be obvious what it is trying to tell us, but it is guaranteed to be in the form of some loud and sometimes extremely painful emotions.
Looking at it this way, painful and difficult emotions are likely a result of one of two things: 1. conflicts between our goals/directions or 2. obstacles in the way of our goals/directions. What this means is that whenever strong emotions are encountered, it’s time to assess what it is we want because there is likely a problem with achieving it. Then we need to change our direction and eliminate the dissonance based on what we truly NEED, not what we want. We don’t need someone to love us. We don’t need to carry everyone’s burden. We don’t need to hurt ourselves or others.
The earlier we heed our emotions and change direction, the better our options will be. If we ignore our emotions, the options will get worse until there aren’t any real choices left. We won’t be able to see the difference between needs and wants. As our options dwindle, the emotions will get more painful and our mind will scream to do something, to make something happen.
The Final Choice
We cannot speak for those who are no longer with us, so it would be presumptuous to make assumptions about how they truly felt. But their mind identified the option to end their own life, and of the options available, it was likely the one with the least amount of obstacles in the way, the shortest path to “no more pain,” the only path that could solve everything. It has the least amount of conflicts because when life is over, there are no conflicts, there are no more predictions, no more information to process, no more emotional pain. It all stops, and so the final choice makes sense to someone stuck in the abyss.
When the final choice is made, the pain may start to subside as the mind acknowledges there are no more barriers. Life itself is no longer the goal; death is the goal. Some may feel resolved; others may still hold on to life just a little. There would still be warnings from the mind, but subtle like a whisper in comparison to the pain up until this point—almost a welcome relief. These critical seconds of relief may erroneously reinforce the decision, as if to speak out in agreement.
This may be the last chance to RESIST the final choice with every ounce of strength. At this point, we’ve missed many signs. We’ve missed many chances to remove cognitive dissonance and biases. We’ve missed many of the chances to change our goals and directions.
We have to see that we act in accordance with the viable options available to us. The viable options are being provided to us by the mind based on our experiences, based on information around us and our choices over time. If we’ve led ourselves into a corner mentally, it will be very difficult to escape when no options are available, when the emotional pain is excruciating. Saying “never give up” sounds nice, but when we don’t see that as a viable option, when we don’t see an end to the pain, the words are meaningless. When we look for a logical solution and find none, when we can’t find an answer to our problems just the way we want it, we think it’s impossible, that there are no options. We believe that any rational person in our shoes would agree, we only have one final option left, one final choice to make.
Even if that is all 100% true, even if all rational people in the same situation would choose to end their lives as well, there are other options.
Insanity, not in a ‘clinical’ sense, is doing things or believing things that are irrational. To someone who is about to take their own life, that decision isn’t insane; it is a culmination of their situation plus their overall experiences and conflicts that have existed along the way. So for those in the most extreme circumstances, who see no options, who see no other way out, nothing but impossibilities, we instead have to find insanity. We have to go insane. We have to create something that doesn’t exist and is not rational to us and make it real.
Having ‘faith’ is commonly associated with religion, but it is a similar mechanism to insanity (this is not a dig on religion). With faith, we can believe something without question, even if it has limited or no factual or observable roots. When there are no options, when extreme circumstances occur, there needs to be something that overrides the impossible. We need to reach into the depths of our imagination, find a light no matter how irrational it may seem, and follow it out. Now is not the time for skepticism; that should have come and saved us well before we reached the final choice.
As kids, we seem to be much better at this. We can create an imaginary friend if we don’t have any. We can imagine ourselves as flying when we can’t walk. We do that to expand our options, to see possible in the impossible. As adults, we call this insanity and delusional. Yet it can serve a purpose. We can take an impossible situation and become delusional, make something feel possible anyway. This may sound extreme, but this is no more extreme than taking one’s own life. It’s no more extreme than setting goals and having no way of knowing if they are possible or not.
The ideal choice is to find new goals that aren’t in conflict, goals that are unified and life-oriented, goals that last for our lifetime. However, when things are extreme, we may not be able to imagine that far ahead; when emotions are extreme and mostly negative, it may be difficult to imagine anything positive for that matter. So we have to keep it simple for now, as realistic as possible but positive and just outside of our rational understanding. Something that gives us time to ask for help, even if we don’t have time. Something that helps us understand that we can’t fix everything. Something that helps us keep doing good things, knowing that they will eventually work out given enough time, years if need be.
Imagine that getting help is now a viable option. Imagine that getting out of this situation is a matter of changing directions. Imagine that the pain will go away as we remove the dissonance, as we sync up goals full of possibilities and rip apart the negative goals that have none.
If we have a hard time feeling like we can go insane, if we don’t think we can imagine something impossible, try this: Imagine a dark blue goat, one with horns. Imagine it in the sky floating but looking like it’s standing on clouds. Imagine this goat looking down, saying in a deep voice, “Find the possible in the impossible.” Then, have it sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
I bet we all were easily able to imagine that, despite it sounding ridiculous. Now, we just have to imagine something else that is closer to reality, closer to our problems, and closer and closer until it’s believable.
Whenever we find ourselves feeling like there are no options or that taking our own life is an option at all, we must STOP. Go insane if need be, and ask for help even if it’s impossible for them to help. Imagine it isn’t. Don’t stop asking for help and searching within ourselves until we see there is always another option and the possibility of a positive future. Whenever that positive future becomes impossible, go insane and make it possible by choosing to live.
Disclaimer. There are exceptions to everything. Of course, this is all theory, and we haven’t discussed drugs, addictions, substances, or mental conditions that can instigate suicidal thoughts; but regardless, our message stands.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
R.I.P. Mike. If we could chat, I’d say I wish you would have shared how defeated you felt. I wish that maybe, just maybe, you could have read something like this or anything that resonated with you to give you hope. Sorry, bud. Please help these feelings reach anyone like you; help them chose life and see the possible in the impossible.