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Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

I would say that blogs are the new confessionals: anonymous tale-tellers offloading their thoughts to an anonymous listener. I would say that suggestions offered in blog Comments are the new Penance for Sins committed.

I would say these things if I still believed in the concept of Sin, but I do not.

I do believe in the idea of misguided choices; in the concepts of kindnesses withheld, dysfunctional adaptations, poor coping skills, cognitive biases, and overwhelming frustration. But sin, no, not any more.

Life is complex, and relativity reigns. If an overarching and judgmental construct such as sin even existed in any tangible way, what constituted a sin would be enormously subjective! Perspective on this could probably vary by generation, religion, gender, and culture, and in reviewing history it seems those in power at the given moment get to choose who is sinning, and how.

Even a simple directive such as the Christian commandment to Honor your Father and Mother becomes a messy gray area if your father or mother is ordering you to break a different commandment, yes?

What content creator was naive enough to believe there could be 10 such rules that would never intersect? For instance, could a fib never help you better honor a parent? Is it not possible that stealing, a la Jean Valjean, could keep a child in your care from starving to death and thus you would then not be in any way responsible for the child’s “murder”?

I think we all yearn sometimes to live in a world that is certain, one as black and white as we believed it was when we were children. But that is not the world we occupy, and tightly gripping that ideal past its point of usefulness will help no-one.

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The Loudly Desperate

I’m rather jealous of Thoreau’s men of quiet desperation.  I generally experience my desperation loudly, obviously, flagrantly.

Yes.  I lead a life of loud, flagrant desperation.  Some days I wonder if others will smell it on me the way dogs supposedly smell fear. Perhaps I believe that keeping it quiet will be unhelpful; that sharing is purging.

I have not gotten many wrinkles in middle age, except for two deep creases between my eyebrows.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  It’s like my face is trying to announce, “There are things to be concerned about, and I’ve been trying to address them by thinking really deeply about them.  And being loudly desperate.”

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When it comes down to it, I’m a bit of of a rube.  Online articles keep reeling me in and then disappointing me.  Damp squibs, if you will.

They will say things like, “The Real Key to Happiness (Spoiler: it’s not more stuff!)” or “A Simple Way to Dial Your Anxiety Down”.  And the answer is always (drum roll please) . . . mindfulness and/or meditation.

Look.  I’m not saying mindfulness and meditation aren’t effective.  I might even be able to corroborate these claims if I could stick to a practice with the same diligence as seeking out Clefairies in Pokémon Go.  I’m just saying it would be refreshing if we could all hear a bit more about the OTHER things that help to make humans happy and let off steam.

I want to see the article whose answer is:  “Limoncello!”  Or, “Punching stuff!”  Or, “Exploring Awkward Family Photos!”

Or maybe I don’t need to see it.  Because maybe I just wrote it.

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Some

Dear unsated self,

I’d like to introduce you to Some. Some is better than None. Some is even sometimes better than All, because it may mean moderation. It may mean not exhausted, not tapped out, not 0 to 60, not over-caffeinated, not unrealistic, frustrated & whining.

Some is your friend. Some is the real world. Some can be cause for celebration in some contexts. Some is the down-to-earth, working class, worn but comfy couch of the sanctuaried mind. Some laughs with you.

Embrace the Some. Invite Some in, try it on like a new-to-you fleece vest. Close your eyes. There. Some wants you to remember the journey. Memento vivere. Some is the truest legacy.

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I don’t think I have an especially difficult time with handling rejection. I think I see the whole thing somewhat like the Donald Kaufman character in my favorite scene of “Adaptation”:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268126/quotes:

Charlie Kaufman: There was this time in high school. I was watching you out the library window. You were talking to Sarah Marsh.

Donald Kaufman: Oh, God. I was so in love with her.

Charlie Kaufman: I know. And you were flirting with her. And she was being really sweet to you.

Donald Kaufman: I remember that.

Charlie Kaufman: Then, when you walked away, she started making fun of you with Kim Canetti. And it was like they were laughing at *me*. You didn’t know at all. You seemed so happy.

Donald Kaufman: I knew. I heard them.

Charlie Kaufman: How come you looked so happy?

Donald Kaufman: I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn’t have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.

Charlie Kaufman: But she thought you were pathetic.

Donald Kaufman: That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That’s what I decided a long time ago.

However, the fact that facing rejection isn’t a difficult challenge for me didn’t keep me from enjoying Jiang’s story and tips, in “Rejection Proof“.  I liked it.  I think the gift he gives to others is helping them to be more comfortable speaking openly about being rejected, about fearing rejection, the universality of it all. He has a refreshingly strong altruistic streak motivating his exploration of the topic – not just ways to forward his own entrepreneurial success. I also enjoyed his sense of humor very much!

I was glad that he referenced the Rejection Therapy Game by Jason Comely – http://rejectiontherapy.com/. Although Jiang puts his own spin on it, I feel like this movement, if you can call it that, started before Jiang, and with Comely.

Frankly, what I have the hardest time with is saying no to others – providing rejection. And I found his suggestions related to that very helpful – for example, if you say, “No, but I know someone who would be interested,” or, “No, I can’t right now but I might be able to fit it in come springtime,” you are giving the other person valuable data and your no in some ways is a pseudo-yes. I liked his take on this and it will help me to feel less guilty when I have to do the rejecting.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the Blogging for Books program in return for an honest online review.

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Reachables

Capture

Charles Barsotti, New Yorker Collection

Maybe I can’t keep myself from being nervous, shaky even, about driving around other people’s kids for a field trip (“Precious cargo! Precious cargo!”). But I’ve been able to contain the worry to a little bit over a couple of days rather than an agonizing amount starting the week before. That is a victory.

Maybe the house won’t be transformed into a palace of tidiness and efficiency, ever. But I can neaten one closet to make things a wee bit easier. That is still a victory.

Maybe the program I’m studying won’t lead to anything substantial, or lucrative. Maybe I’ll find I kind of stink at it. But it’s on someone else’s dime, and I won’t have regrets about not trying it, and I’m keeping my mind engaged (and probably away from ruminating). I’ve earned the right to stumble, and stink at something.

“Possible, but not probable.” This was my high school geometry teacher’s pet phrase, and it comes back to me sometimes when I am stewing and fretting over something silly. Will I drive the classmates into a lake? Will HGTV show up unexpectedly at our home as part of a new reality show called “Hideous Hovels & the Freaks Who Dwell There?” Will my instructor do some distance learning equivalent of pointing and laugh at my assignments?

Possible? Always. But probable -?

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Me: Is there, like, a disorder where, unless you write something down, it feels like that thing isn’t official, or really real or something?

Care Provider: Oh, probab . . .

Me: Wait, no, actually, is there a disorder where you feel compelled to write lots of things down in order for them to be official and on the radar and “real”, but you struggle against it b/c you’re afraid it means you’re a freak?  Cuz I think have THAT one.

Care provider: Hmm.

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