Category — psychology
November 15, 2013 Enter your password to view comments.
(I owe the polyphasic community like six hundred updates — sorry guys! My productivity has been miserable lately, for reasons that have nothing to do with sleep. Actually, that's one of the posts I need to write: How being polyphasic is different from "just" a productivity hack. But first I need to fix my shit so that I actually have time to write again!
ANYWAY. This one feels pressing, so I'm using it for motivation to Sit In The Chair And Press The Keys, which has been unreasonably difficult lately.)
Introversion has been "a thing" lately, and I think that's good overall, since as many of us know by now, people who are introverted socially are/were often mis-labeled as being unsociable, unfriendly, antisocial, or just not pleasant to be around — and that certainly isn't fair. Having different needs isn't a crime, and we should all be more understanding of each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Good lesson.
But as with many fad ideas, I think this one risks going too far. If I'm reading my feeds right, approximately half of all Internet-connected humanity thinks it's an introvert now; and we know for a fact that that isn't true. (Neither are half of them suffering from some mild form of Asperger's, I might add as a corollary.)
I point to myself as an early example: I was called antisocial and treated just the way introverts hate being, for a long time. Then I was more politely labeled an introvert and, well, pretty much treated the same way, though as the idea gained traction in the nerd community, it became easier to explain my loner-hood in a single word, I guess. I behaved like an introvert, as I think many people (especially Gen-X/Y-ers) in the "nerd subculture" do: I avoided parties, crowds and people I didn't know, preferred the company of just one person if any, and spent a whole lot of time with my face in a book or a screen, shutting out the world.
But I wasn't an introvert. And I wasn't "antisocial" either, whatever that means: I was, in fact, an extrovert with a crippling case of social anxiety disorder, and a whopping history of childhood bullying and isolation that had left me unable to identify, express, and meet my own social needs. What the early well-meaning people identified as being "socially miswired" and the later people identified as "introversion" both missed the question: Was I *happy* that way? Because while I think we can all agree that it's cruel and stupid to look at a young person and say, "Fuck 'em, they're antisocial", is it really more helpful to label someone (or yourself, I might add, because this is an easy cop-out rather than dealing with it) "introverted", if the end result is still ignoring a problem?
A truly introverted person spends a lot of time alone, or with one or very few companions, and is happy that way. Their social needs — and we are humans with social needs, and not getting them met is no healthier than malnutrition — are being adequately met by their circumstances. You could compare them (sloppily, but adequately) with people who only need three or four hours of sleep: That's rare, and it is unhealthy and mean to force someone like that to lie in bed all night because "that's normal and normal is what we do" — but it's just as bad to ignore the sleep-deprivation of a friend who's only able to sleep three hours a night but is miserable that way.
I guess what I'm saying is, labels are dangerous. If we really want to be compassionate to each other and understanding of our differences, we need to empathize, to see each other as individuals, and to care whether whatever someone's doing is working for them or making them happy, rather than what box it fits into. The "introverted" label made it possible for me to continue to starve myself of social contact I actually needed — and more pertinently, the application of that label made it easy for people, even people who loved me, to ignore that I was miserable and needed to fix some things about my social life.
What happened, finally? I went to a very good therapist and after a few sessions I casually mentioned that I was an introvert, whereupon she actually snorted before saying, "You are one of the most extroverted people I've ever talked to!" From there it became gradually clear that I wanted and needed social contact that I wasn't getting because I'd been taught to fear or avoid it — but because I'd been taught to fear and avoid it, and then further taught that it was just "how I was" (i.e. "my" label), I didn't actually know that that was the problem: I only knew that I felt a lot of negative shit pretty much all the time, that I usually felt like an alien and had a hard time connecting to anyone, and that I wasn't very able to be happy either alone or in company; and that while having one safe-feeling companion seemed like a fix for that, it was often landing me in very dependent and unhealthy relationships.
And while my issues may have been pretty serious on the scale of things, I don't think it's at all uncommon for people to be misaligned with, unaware of, or not automatically able to meet their social needs.
In fact, I think "not aware of or able to get what you need for some reason" is a LOT more common a situation than "introverted". The difference is, the former shouldn't be written off or ignored: it's not a stable state, a comfortable label that's fine as it is. If you are intro (or extro) and fine, then great, awesome. You probably know what you need, then, and are capable of going out (or not) and getting it; and therefore there's not much reason to worry — the most discomfort you face is explaining your needs to others, which come on, isn't really that bad. (And if it is, well, stop hanging out with those particular others; they suck.)
But if you feel lonely, cut off, anxious, unsafe, unheard, or like you hate yourself or your life…that's not a label, not a thing, and not okay. Neither you nor the people around you should be ignoring it: You should be fixing it. And fixing it starts with believing that a fix is necessary and possible…something those neat handy labels can sometimes really get in the way of.
May you find peace, whether or not you find the "right" word for it. ;)
November 10, 2013 2 Comments
I haven't disappeared! I am, in actuality, almost completely re-structuring this site, and hopefully improving things a ton in the process — but that process is largely invisible from the yonder beyond the fourth wall, so I apologize for the apparent radio-silence.
I did run across this article this morning on embarrassing yourself, though, and in doing so I realized that it was a good vehicle to help me make a point I've been meaning to get to here at some point anyway. From the title, I think you've probably figured out what it is, but indulge me in a short story:
Once upon a time, there was a depressed and unhappy young-ish woman who, in spite of numerous blessings and accomplishments, could never seem to win the fight to get out of bed for more than one day at a time. She struggled constantly with self-loathing, despair, and a lack of direction; and rather unsurprisingly given all that, in her mid-twenties found herself divorced, homeless, jobless and pretty well fucked.
As happens when the karmic troops raze the fields this way, many decisions were made, good and bad, and a new life built, also with flaws that eventually took it apart — but one thing happened then that changed everything forever, and that would eventually prove the foundation for a more permanent, deep-seated and trustworthy happiness and sense of self-worth: The young woman finally girded her courage and took a martial-arts class. Ten years later, whatever else has happened, she's fit, confident, much more at home in her own mind and body, parsecs more socially well-heeled, and spiritually much closer to peace and understanding than she ever suspected she'd get. Starting so late in life — being 28 and still fumbly and stiff in a class where the really good people started as kids — may have felt overwhelming at first, but as it turns out, years of study make a difference, and the difference between 28-and-fumbly and 35-and-badass is huge.
That's all a very neat story, yeah? But let's unpack a bit of it that happens far too quickly: The young woman…took a martial-arts class.
What was the pivotal moment there?
Researching and choosing a place to study? She'd done that many times before. Steeling herself and going to that first difficult class? Maybe–that was hard all right, and it's probably the part they'd show in the movies. But she'd done a first class before, several times, and it didn't do anything but make her feel even more clumsy and embarrassed and cut-off from everyone else than before. It certainly didn't help: She went home after that first class and cried, and–well, no, that's a lie. She was crying before she got all the way in the car to go home. "Alienating" is not even the word for stumbling your way through something that makes you look stupid in front of people you don't know but really wish you could impress.
Ok, so…What about the fifth class? No, she'd done fifth classes before…they're just as embarrassing and difficult as first ones, if not a bit more so.
Sixth, then? Tenth? Fiftieth?
What was it, when was it, in the process of that big verb "took [martial-arts]", that the woman found something that turned her life around? When did it stop being scary and embarrassing and difficult and start being fulfilling and wonderful?
Well, it's been almost a decade now and I'll say this, as I get my gear together to bike to my lesson this morning — much more advanced lessons now, three times a week plus self-study – it's still embarrassing. I may look somewhat "cool" to some people on the outside now, but there's always so much more that I don't know, and endless ways to screw up, and big holes in my skills that are easy for anyone to spot — and the better I get, the more advanced people I find myself around, so I'm perpetually in situations with endless opportunities to look stupid. It's not as hard to make myself go to class as it used to be, since a) it's become a habit (I developed a hard rule in the first year that I was only allowed to miss a class I'd planned on attending if there was a stone-cold emergency stopping me, and now by default I don't miss classes), and b) I've gotten to see so many of the positive benefits that I can easily convince myself that it's worth the cringing. But it's never stopped being embarrassing.
And that's actually a good thing.
It wasn't just getting over being embarrassed that got me all the good I've gotten from kungfu – it was learning to appreciate being embarrassed itself. Sort of like when you learn to appreciate the pain of sore muscles (because it's a sign that you're getting stronger) — the pain of embarrassment is a signal. It means that I'm getting out there and learning, pushing myself to places I'm not comfortable, and hanging around people I admire (or I wouldn't care enough about what they thought to be embarrassed). I didn't "get past" the embarrassment involved in going to those early martial-arts classes: Instead, I learned to appreciate embarrassment, and now, instead of avoiding it, I grit my teeth and seek it out. Which is why I learned to play underwater hockey…and sail…and spearfish…and started climbing…and plenty else, personal and professional. Knowing that something will embarrass me at the beginning (and possibly longer) has become a sure sign that it's something I'll probably be glad I did. And because of that, the humiliation itself isn't really so bad.
So go on! Do something embarrassing today!
(This message brought to you by your local Screw Stodgy Old People Club and the letter "O!" ;)
October 4, 2013 7 Comments
(I'm behind on comments from several sources — If that includes you, I'm sorry! I'll get there!)
I was going to stick this in a Not Enlightened Yet video, but it's, while relevant, tangential; and the waters of my body of writing — if you can call it that — are muddy enough without deliberate help.
This is, I think, properly "Self-Esteem for Smart People IV". It's about more than self-esteem, but that More is the logical next step and, I think, the rather brilliant (in the beam-of-light sense) conclusion to that type of work. As with "self-esteem", I don't have a better word than the clunky one most often used, so I'm going to go ahead and swallow the grammatical horsepill and call the end goal of this work self-love.
(Also, the joke that immediately springs to mind when you read that term? Is not entirely inaccurate. So swallow your juvenile bits and soldier on.)
To jump right in: Even having good self-esteem — especially if you had to go and get it — doesn't guarantee that you didn't learn at some point in your life to assume that you are not worthy of love, and that for that, or a different reason, you should not love yourself.
What is it to "love oneself"? It's to have that emotional feeling of caring, of smiling gently when you hear someone's name, of going soft and affectionate when you touch their skin, for your name and your skin. It's to have that feeling that you could probably forgive someone anything because they're so generally wonderful — for you. It's not different from love for another, for a boyfriend or girlfriend or new baby or best friend. The eyebrow-quirky definition of "self-love" is useful here because it's useful to ask yourself if you can — if you can want to — touch yourself like you would touch a lover. Can you hold your own hand? Can you wrap your arms around yourself and find that comforting; can you wrap your own body in a warm, supportive embrace?
Many of us can demand of our bodies an orgasm, but can you snuggle afterwards?
If you're wondering whether I've lost it — well, no; more accurately I've found it — but I see your point; this is weird-sounding shit. However, I've come to believe that it's utterly, critically, vitally important, and the reason why is LOGIC.
If you don't love yourself — even if you don't hate yourself but simply tolerate yourself; if you are harsh with yourself, or cold to yourself, or never offer yourself any comfort or gentle smiles or unconditional just-because-you're-you support; then here are the kinds of logical conclusions you, as an inherently smart and calculatey person, are courting:
I am not worthy of my own love, therefore I must not be worthy of anybody else's (follows naturally, since it's easier for you to give yourself love than it is for anybody else to: if you aren't good enough for you, who else can you be good enough for?).
Since I am not worthy of anybody else's love, everyone I don't know terribly well who offers me any kind of love or affection must be deluded.
- I now find it hard to accept compliments, connect with friends or strangers, get to know people outside my existing circle, or believe in / bet on the good things about myself that other people say are there.
Since I am not worthy of anybody else's love, everyone who DOES know me really well who loves me (or claims to) is a Precious Snowflake that I must not under any circumstances sever from, since without them (having cut off my own love, and the loves of all smaller relationships), I will starve for love.
- Therefore even if my relationship with them is bad for me, bad for them, changes so that it becomes bad for one or both of us, or for any other good reason should end or pause or change, I will fail to see this or accept it, and much pain will result.
- Since I am not worthy of anybody else's love, everyone I don't know terribly well who offers me any kind of love or affection must be deluded.
Since I cannot drink from the firehose of my own available self-love, and even taking the sips of love that friends, acquaintances and strangers offer me is problematic or impossible, then I am either a) starving or b) reliant on one or very few sources of love, and this means that my relationship with love is a scarcity model. I am a person carrying a banquet in their backpack and refusing to ever eat it, and refusing any of the food offered to me daily by people all around me, refusing to imbibe anything unless That Boy or That Girl or My Mom or A Recognized Representative of Jesus or whatever specific person is feeding it to me. I am always on the verge of starving, even if at the moment I am full; and the thought of being out in the world without my One Source Of Love is paralytically terrifying.
The scarcity model is a known psychological condition with known results and glaring weaknesses, which are dead easy for people who understand it — intellectually or emotionally — to exploit. Because I will never ingest any love of my own, or offered by the world, I am amazingly easy to manipulate and control by someone who gets me to think of them as my One True Feeder. Once I give them that power, they can do, and get me to do, damn near anything.
- Tolerate the abuse of myself or other people I care about.
- Believe in their dogma.
- Buy their product.
- Give up everything I own and follow them, metaphorically or literally, into the desert. Because we all know that risking death isn't nearly as scary as risking having no love in one's life whatsoever.
- The scarcity model is a known psychological condition with known results and glaring weaknesses, which are dead easy for people who understand it — intellectually or emotionally — to exploit. Because I will never ingest any love of my own, or offered by the world, I am amazingly easy to manipulate and control by someone who gets me to think of them as my One True Feeder. Once I give them that power, they can do, and get me to do, damn near anything.
But the point of this post is that I've finally seen, after way too many years of dancing around it and not quite getting it when people told it to me, that no-one ever has to starve for love. Love is a food we manufacture, and the myth that we can't eat our own emotional love is exactly as sane as the (also for a long time believed) myth that giving ourself orgasms would drive us crazy, send us to hell, or make it impossible for sex with another person to satisfy us.
Look, having orgasms sometimes — how and how often depends on the individual of course — is a perfectly sane and normal human need. And I think we can all agree now that it's totally harmless, utterly common and way healthier than most of the alternatives to give oneself orgasms. If you deny yourself orgasms and therefore treat sex as a scarcity model, what happens? Right. You wind up in, or staying in, some terrible relationship — or alternately, leaving a good one — because you "can't get what you need" otherwise. And that's stupid. In fact, I think most people would agree that it's almost impossible to get all the sexual stimulation you need from a partner alone; especially over the long haul, it's normal and healthy to meet some of your overall needs yourself in some way. I mean, what would we say to someone who went to a therapist complaining that they were going to leave their spouse because they needed more stimulation but weren't okay with doing it themselves, ever? Right — whacko. Get bent.
You have within you as bountiful a source of emotional love, caring, sympathy, compassion and support as you have a bountiful source of orgasms in your bottom drawer or at the end of your wrist. And as with the other, it's not only free, safe, and easy* to give yourself this awesomeness, it's way way healthier than denying yourself it.
*Wait, did I say "easy"? If it's so easy, then why write a giant article on it? Well…It's theoretically easy, just like having orgasms is. But growing up with certain circumstances, teachings, and psychological tendencies can make it damn difficult, just like growing up a female pilgrim probably made having a healthy relationship with your own clitoris pretty freaking difficult. And one thing I'm realizing now is that the emotional equivalent to "Pilgrim" may very well be some combination of the things I am and have experienced, which include Smart. Logical. Iconoclastic / independent. Christian upbringing. Consumer culture. Disney RomCom expectations. – Things which I suspect many of my readers share with me, to some degree. And for me at least, some combination of those things made even understanding what emotional self-love IS insanely difficult.
I finally got it, though. I finally "fell in love", held my own hand, got that shy smile, and told myself that I'd always be a fan and supporter of me, regardless of my flaws.
I've never had trouble falling in love — I've done and said those things, in all sincerity, for several men and a few women too. But until very recently, I couldn't even conceive of how to do it for myself. Now I see what a HUGE weakness it was, how it had me flailing and treating love as a commodity, and making bad decisions even when I knew they were bad because emotionally I felt that I didn't have any other option.
I'm SO thrilled to have taking the first big step out of that flawed logic; and that's mostly what this is about. But as always, I would be ecstatic if my hammering it out in words ever helped anybody else, so here it is.
July 23, 2013 2 Comments
In my stumblings today, I wound up watching this Nova episode on Richard Feynman:
Now, this is partly notable because I'd been pretty sure there wasn't much on Feynman that I hadn't seen or read already. I'm a huge…well, not fan; I don't think there can be a Feynman "fan" since if you know anything about the man, you know he wouldn't have wanted them…but he's one of my favorite modern figures, and a person (or story of a person I guess, since I was just a child when he died) that I've always fervently, grinningly, intensely identified with.
"Why" is an interesting question — I think it's for the same reason that I gravitate towards the other people I do, as well — and why a great many of them are scientists. I would say that it's because they prove that "Interestedness" (a certain breed of Curiosity characterized by openness, acceptance, and enthusiasm for the process of discovery) is a type of reasoning, not at all incompatible with hard logical reasoning — it sits, I think, underneath it, and gives it a totally different character; like the difference between painting on canvas and paper and cloth. Painting logic on Interestedness is so, so different than painting it on, say, that closed-off, goal-oriented type of Curiosity (Industry, I guess we could call it). Feynman was a genius in the sense of hard logic, but it wasn't his skills with calculations or experimentation that made him famous or that make him such an enduring figure, in my opinion — it's the depth of his devotion to Interestedness.
Interestedness is a "yes" state; it's Curiosity focused on the Path. As Feynman says in the video, "You have to understand that every plot, even though there's a high chance of failure as far as the ultimate aim was concerned, would always turn out to be a big adventure…" Industry, in contrast, is seeking to learn things for a purpose — to make a drug, to start a company, to win a prize, or even to do something really beneficial like cure a disease; Industry isn't always *bad*, but it is always goal-focused and so, in my ever-so-humble opinion, can never achieve the astronomical results that thinking like Feynman's can.
Anyway. Enjoy the Feynman; it's lovely. <3
April 25, 2013 6 Comments
You know how I love me some big, fat, obvious truths-that-need-saying.
Well, here's another one, and it's about incidences of violence. For all that the individual cases (school shootings! another one! cop shootings! another one! rapes! murders! assaults! lookee, another one!) are talked about and reported on — usually when there's something crazy about them that sets them apart from the pattern – the pattern itself, the biggest, most obvious pattern in all cases of violence is rarely discussed.
If coins landed heads over 80% of the time, do you think that we, as a scientific society, would have anything to say about that? Or would we go on insisting that there was no correlation, nothing to see here?
Yet, the vast, vast majority of all violence is committed by humans who share one characteristic — one which, if the odds were random, they'd only be about 46% likely to have.
(And don't you, if you share that characteristic too, dare get defensive: To say–no, admit–that the vast majority of perpetrators of violence are male is NOT the same as to say that the majority of males perpetrate violence, which they certainly don't. We are saying "all squares are rectangles", NOT "all rectangles are squares", okay?? And to react as though what's been insinuated is that all or most men are violent is sloppy thinking and I will slap you with a fish for it.)
The article quoted a bit below has some great and useful information on that account, specifically regarding male violence against women — which is not all violence, or all male violence, but is a good way to highlight the statistical pattern going on here and the severity of it, and the effect that ignoring it as a pattern is having on our culture, and on almost all cultures really.
But that's a point that's been made well enough that I figured I'd make a different one.
I'm about to make myself real popular here, so get ready. I have a modest proposal for you:
1. Violence against women is a pattern, and a cultural problem.
2. Gun violence is a pattern, and a cultural problem.
3. Removing access to guns for free citizens is problematic for a few reasons, one of which is that it removes the ability of the weaker ones to defend themselves and each other from the perpetrators of violence and oppression; another is that it's difficult and expensive to determine who to allow and disallow from ownership.
4. Perpetrators of violence, using any weapon, against anyone, anywhere in the world, are WAY more likely to be men than women (see every fact ever).
Make it illegal for men — only men — to possess guns.
- Worried about "the government" taking over? Well, worry no more; almost half the population can legally be armed! And women are, while far less likely to be unnecessarily violent, historically badass about protesting and resisting government oppression.
- Worried about helpless kids in schools and elderly people on the street? Worry no more! Armed and trained nuns and schoolteachers and little old ladies make perfect defensive weaponry, with none of the risk that they'll make the problem worse.
- Unsure about enforcement, about "keeping guns out of the hands of criminals"? This will be a zillion times easier if the rule is simple*. Heck, I give science a decade before guns can "tell" if you're a woman and only work in female hands.
- Worried about using open gender-discrimination this way? Don't be! This is only the flipside of the already-existing open gender discrimination that violence as a phenomena already exhibits. When one goes away, the other can too — easy as pie!
- Concerned about the gun industry in general? Imagine the economic bump when it's legal and acceptable for every adult woman to own at least a handgun, and when every young girl needs training and access to a range for regular practice!
- What about hunting, you say? Easy! Women can hunt with guns if they want, and men, who are always on about needing to keep their sKills sharp, can use bows and spears and shit that actually poses a challenge. It'll be good for them!
- Also, not a fan of the systemic cultural violence against women? Well….how long do you think harassing women in bars or attacking them on streets, in busses, and in their homes will stay the popular activity it is, after they start capping motherfuckers for it? (Male allies are nice, and I'm glad they're starting to become A Thing, but personally when it comes to deterring rape, I can't argue that Smith & Wesson's disapproval of your violence against me is a leeeeetle more compelling than knowing our friend Bob would hate you if he ever found out. ;)
*I'm not addressing the issue of transgenderism in its various forms here, not because it wouldn't be an issue that would need fair addressing, but because I think it's out of scope for a simple initial presentation of a radical and half-tongue-in-cheek idea.
Now, some facts from an awesome article re-written recently; emphasis throughout is mine.
So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over 1,000 homicides of that kind a year – meaning that every three years the death toll tops 9/11's casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular terror (another way to put it: the more than 11,766 corpses from domestic-violence homicides since 9/11 exceed the number of deaths of victims on that day and all American soldiers killed in the "war on terror").
A woman is beaten every nine seconds in this country. Just to be clear: not nine minutes, but nine seconds. [Also to be clear: In the US, not any of the many countries where it's *legal*. --me] It's the number-one cause of injury to American women; of the two million injured annually, more than half a million of those injuries require medical attention while about 145,000 require overnight hospitalisations, according to the Centre for Disease Control, and you don't want to know about the dentistry needed afterwards. Spouses are also the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the US.
"Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined," writes Nicholas D Kristof…
Unlike the last (male) head of the International Monetary Fund, the current (female) head is not going to assault an employee at a luxury hotel; top-ranking female officers in the US military, unlike their male counterparts, are not accused of any sexual assaults; and young female athletes, unlike those male football players in Steubenville, aren't likely to urinate on unconscious boys, let alone violate them and boast about it in YouTube videos and Twitter feeds. … No female bus riders in India have ganged up to sexually assault a man so badly he dies of his injuries, nor are marauding packs of women terrorising men in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and there's just no maternal equivalent to the 11 percent of rapes that are by fathers or stepfathers. … No major female pop star has blown the head off a young man she took home with her, as did Phil Spector ... No female action-movie star has been charged with domestic violence, because Angelina Jolie just isn't doing what Mel Gibson and Steve McQueen did, and there aren't any celebrated female movie directors who gave a 13-year-old drugs before sexually assaulting that child, while she kept saying "no", as did Roman Polanski.
February 11, 2013 3 Comments
How efficient would a computer be that ran non-stop for decades, with no cleanup of any sort? With almost every program it had ever started lingering in memory way longer than it was needed, and many of them never stopping at all, even if they were worse-than-useless, virus-infested, outdated crap you never wanted in the first place? What if it was rarely, if ever, powered down or rebooted, and when things crashed, you just had to wait for them to "fix themselves", if they ever did; or keep going with whatever functionality you had left?
Even the Windows box your Grandma runs isn't *that* badly-off, probably — but your human mind IS.
That fear-pattern from when you were four? Probably still running. Maybe you know full well when it goes active again, or maybe you don't — maybe its output over the years has gotten so garbled that it's no longer obvious why you're stressed or sick or angry or have nightmares — but it's there.
The bad habits you learned from unhealthy relationships or bad experiences in your long-gone past? Pretty darn likely to come right back out the next time you try to access the "relationships" or other relevant folder. They may be application-specific, but just because you don't see them every day doesn't mean they're gone.
The frustration from work last week? Still raising your blood-pressure whenever you think about it, or see that guy — and why? To what purpose exactly?
Humiliation from grade-school?
Self-esteem from that time someone close to you said you were fat or ugly?
Overindulging from a scarcity-message your hippocampus got ages ago?
Yup. These things might get covered up in the noise of other things — and you may be (like me) very, very good at finding ways to drown them out temporarily, by cranking the volume on other things, or seeking the external experiences that pull your attention in so fully that you can ignore the noise in your head — but unless you know how to turn them *off*, and have, they're still running.
This is what makes up what I call "a Psychology": A glut of old programming, never relevant to the moment you're in, playing like a whole roomful of screens running commercials and re-runs while you're trying to watch today's episode. Exactly that useful to your clarity and experience of this, now. And while even a Psychology made of all rainbows and unicorns would be useless and detrimental, most of ours aren't; many of those old programs are malicious, broken, or simply conflicting with each other in ways that are doing worse than hurting our efficiency: They're crippling us, with pain, with anxiety, with fear, depression, distraction, selfishness, and a terrible loneliness that never really stops for most people.
In contrast to the Psychology part of the brain, there's the Window: This is the stuff going on now; the code you actually want running. (I call it the Window partly because of its seeing-the-world function, and partly because of the analogy to the Window Manager aspect of an OS.) The Window sees, feels, listens, and processes all the data both inside and outside you right now.
Let's face it: Most of us have about 10% of our minds, if that, dedicated to the Window's operations at any given time. Fully 90% is taken up by old, irrelevant, and maybe broken shit.
A reboot is dead necessary, and I think everybody knows it — in fact I think almost all pleasure-seeking is misguided looking for a reboot.
Being able to power down the Psychology programs, even just once in a while, so that the Window could run unimpeded, would be wonderful.
And of course, what would be best, what would really be optimal, is to just leave the Psychology stuff off unless we needed it. Might I want to remember being four, or to call up my knowledge of what food scarcity feels like, or to remember that I was angry at Bob From Accounting last week? Sure I might. And those things being etched in my brain as they are, it's totally possible to run them — in fact, one could easily argue that with more available processor, it'd be a lot easier to find and run the relevant ones — but having all that shit on all the time is just silly.
Worse than silly. Bafflingly dumb.
The prevailing opinion seems very like Grandma's opinion about operating systems: Of course all that shit is running in the background from the first day I turned the thing on, whether or not I know what it is or need it or want it, because surely it would take some superhuman magician to know how to uninstall a thing!
And I think we all know what I might say in response to that. (And then I would apologize profusely for swearing at a Grandma. But I'd still say it.)
This is my 3D thing from the last post: I'm teaching myself to uninstall.
I'm getting used to using the Off switch, or at least looking for it (it's not intuitive to find from the position we usually occupy — rather like Grandma wanting to find the power-supply off-switch from her chair — but I know where to look, and I find it more easily every time).
I'm someone who, a while ago, started installing some monitoring widgets, and now I'm fed up with how much of my power is going to waste, and how crippled parts of my awesome system still are thanks to shit that I didn't download and didn't give permissions to and don't want.
MY mind. MY life. And FINITE — it's either control it now, or shuffle blindly towards the grave, a sick caricature of the zombies that we hilariously think are sick caricatures of us.
I have root here, dammit.
January 15, 2013 7 Comments
So, I thought I'd better update — that bad news was better than no news; I hate blogs that just fade out, and this one certainly isn't going to. In fact, viewed in a positive light, there's a ton going on that bears writing about, and content-wise things should get pretty exciting in the next few months! For instance:
- Ubersleep 2nd Edition is in the layout/design phase, and in a couple weeks there should be snippets and other cool information to geek on!
- However, if you'd wanted to write a testimonial and didn't yet, you still have about 1.5 weeks within which to do it, before I really, really have to finalize everything!!
- Posters are in the works for the UberSleepStudy and the actual application period is still slated to open up sometime in October!
- I've discovered UfYH — oh my gods. I can't really put it to much use yet (see below), but this is exciting stuff and I think ties in with the polyphasic lifestyle just wonderfully…lots more on that soon
- I also have a list of dietary changes and financial changes I'll be enacting soon, and since many fans of this blog are fans of lifehackery in general, I'll totally be keeping the world updated on those, and reviewing the systems I've chosen to try out
- I'm taking on another martial art this winter – finalizing plans to get into the classes this month – and of course I won't be able to shut up about that either
- And lastly-but-not-leastly, another major effort to fix my sleep schedule will be underway, and doubtless produce at least a little new information about something, readjustment maybe, or perhaps the new napping-conditions since I moved office-suites, etc.
"Wait," you may be thinking, "You're still working on getting your naps correctly? How long can it take, for an adjusted Ubersleeper of years and years to get back on easy-old E3?"
Well, in functional terms, not very long — typically it takes me about 2-3 days of trying, though if I've really borked things schedule-wise (not just sleep-wise), then it can be a little effort for a while until I re-internalize all the day-to-day changes.
But that's not this. In spite of all the positive stuff going on — the above plus quite a bit else (I am leaving out the exciting underwater-hockey stuff, my intensive freediving course, etc) — the seeing it in a positive light is precisely where I'm falling down lately.
[Mercy cut! Feel free to skip if this subject just does nothing for you -- and congratulations, by the way. ;)]
August 14, 2012 11 Comments
Inspired by others whose blogs I read, and whose honesty and bravery has meant a lot to me, it's time to get serious about A Topic.
That topic is Depression — capitalization intentional — which I am a bona fide expert on, much to my fist-shaking displeasure at the Universe sometimes. I've lived with the tendency to default to depression as an emotional state ("chronic major depression") since I was about ten years old; I've done medication and therapy and all of that, and I've both succeeded and failed at times, as people will do with big heavy challenges over the course of a couple decades.
Sometimes chronic depression, like any other physical or mental shit card you can get dealt, is just unpleasant and makes life difficult in places. But it can also be deadly, and I've been to the very edge of that more than once. That's why, like a diabetic who wound up in insulin shock and learned an important lesson from it, I'm super conscious of and careful about my emotional state.
"Having Depression" as a chronic condition means that the icky emotional states (and their physical consequences) may come and go for no reason. But it can also mean that icky emotional states that happen normally, for a reason, can become dangerously acute. (Again, for comparison, anybody can get sick on too much junk food, but a diabetic who encounters extra sugar really has to watch out when that happens.) Unfortunately, unlike sugary food, circumstances that cause depressed emotional conditions aren't always avoidable — sad things happen, and cause grief, and that sets off an emotional process that can take a long while to resolve. There's no insulin shot for it, either. Like anyone else, I have to go through that process — except that I get to do it while being super aware that it can get out of hand and kill me if I don't manage it.
Yeah, that's going on lately. In case there was some doubt? ;)
The "getting serious" I want to do, then, is to remind everyone, who either is or knows or has been a sufferer of Major Depressive Disorder — the mental glitch that manifests as a tendency to slide deeply into a depressive state, and sometimes have trouble exiting it, or stopping the symptoms from escalating — that keeping tabs on one's emotional state is just as dead-necessary, and as morally neutral, as keeping tabs on someone's blood sugar. If it's you, don't be ashamed or reluctant to ask for help when you realize you need it — and don't fight that realization, either. If you've seen how far it can go and how bad it can get, it might be easier to realize how smart it is to call someone — anyone, up to and including an ambulance — rather than try to hang in there when things have gotten too bad; but of course I hope you've never seen that edge of things, and that you'll just take my word for it, and not be ashamed to take extra measures to shore your mind up, or to ask for help. Living on constant watch, by yourself and others, is humiliating and difficult and sometimes makes it feel like things will never get better…but they will. They WILL — as long as you keep going. Rule number one.
And if it's a friend, or family-member, or just some person you know about that's having a rough time right now and that you suspect may have a history…keep your eyes open, and say something if you see a reason to be worried. Yes, you may inadvertently come across like a jerk, and maybe you'll embarrass yourself or someone else. Maybe you'll say something and they'll snark at you or yell at you or never want to speak to you again. But would you rather risk that, or risk losing someone to a preventable symptom of a disease? Right, me neither.
Caused depression, depression-with-a-reason, passes. It does. It takes a long time and it's hellish to slog through, but if you take care of yourself and keep going forward, you'll walk out of it, like a fog bank. I almost feel like I have a cheat code for life, knowing that, and knowing the difference between "normal", caused, depression; and the kind of depression that doesn't end on its own, that requires some major hack or massive dumb luck or something or else you'll just walk in circles inside it forever. Because I've been there, I know that I can beat being here, and that I'll be fine, given enough time.
Once you know that you'll be fine, that there is an end, that things will eventually get better, everything becomes a ton easier.
See if you can remind someone of that who needs it. It is, in my opinion, one of the great goods that people can do for each other…and who knows, maybe it's the beginning of a cure. ;)
July 11, 2012 1 Comment
You are the whole ocean, not just the surface. The surface may be stormy, full of foul-tasting spray, and if you hang out there too long, you'll be sick.
But if you sink, if you walk on the bottom, you can just float in the gentle currents and watch with fascinated detachment as all the things drift by.
But most people do not sink naturally.
In order to do this, you must wear weights.
Weights are things you focus on, that pull your feet down, that force your head under the waves even though you may initially struggle,
and that then let you walk, with slow godlike steps, deep in the bones of things.
There, you stand like a tree
There, you move like beautiful music, in perfect time with the currents.
There, you do not need to gasp and flail, and the longer you stay, the longer you learn to stay, and the calmer you can become.
Practice finding the bottom, even for a second at a time.
Find your weights.
Float in perfectly neutral buoyancy. Feel how you simultaneously weigh nothing, yet are solid as can be.
On the surface, a big wave would throw you, break you, drown you, and you'd only ever see or experience a tiny fraction of it. Here, on the bottom, you will feel and see every tiny bit of it — every particle and wave it affects will move against your skin, and every frond and fish that's moved by it will be apparent to you — but it will have no power to hurt you.
June 19, 2012 Comments Off