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  1. - Top - End - #691
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    Default Re: Personal Woes and Advice 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    I've got a big ideological/philosophical problem I need to talk to someone about, but I can't post it here because that would violate forum policy...
    *Waves* You can talk to me in PM. There's also no forum policy on the GITP facebook chat.


    Unfortunately most of the issues I've seen were ones where "stop interacting" wasn't an option. It's usually not an issue of choosing to interact with the people, but trying to do normal things like attending classes and go to social events and generally just live your own life. In my case I was dealing with people who felt threatened by having a person who wore black and skulls on a college campus (they were still in the school shooting panic stuff).
    The phrase that pops unbidden into my mind is "meet them halfway".

    Human beings are herd animals. There's no way around that. So if you insist that everyone else in the world accommodate your particular preferences and tastes ... well, they won't. You have the right to express yourself. No one else has the obligation to listen or watch you do it. The more you try to impose your thoughts and ideas and expression on them, the more they push back.

    OTOH, that doesn't mean you just have to surrender to the herd either. What kind of a life is that?

    So in a way it's a lot like the testing of boundaries we did with our parents as adolescents. Push the rest of the world too far outside of its comfort zone , the rest of the world will push back. But if you let the world make all your choices for you, you're not a human being but a lemming. So the trick is to find that midpoint where there can be a healthy mutual tolerance. There never will be a lack of tension when individual expression meets group expectations. So the solutions are 1) Move the group towards greater acceptance by behaving well while retaining your quirks. 2) Drop the more outrageous things you do in public so long as it doesn't conflict with core principle. 3) Stand firm on those things which are truly core. Sometimes this means accepting a certain level of grief from society for your choices.

    And somewhere in the wilderness between total conformity and total rebellion maybe you can find that place where you and society get along. Where you compliment each other.


    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    Last edited by pendell; 2012-11-19 at 06:15 PM.
    "Opportunities to do good are everywhere but the darkness is where the light needs to be".

    -- Eliezer Yudkowski, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"

  2. - Top - End - #692
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    Quote Originally Posted by pendell View Post
    The phrase that pops unbidden into my mind is "meet them halfway".

    Human beings are herd animals. There's no way around that. So if you insist that everyone else in the world accommodate your particular preferences and tastes ... well, they won't. You have the right to express yourself. No one else has the obligation to listen or watch you do it. The more you try to impose your thoughts and ideas and expression on them, the more they push back.

    OTOH, that doesn't mean you just have to surrender to the herd either. What kind of a life is that?

    So in a way it's a lot like the testing of boundaries we did with our parents as adolescents. Push the rest of the world too far outside of its comfort zone , the rest of the world will push back. But if you let the world make all your choices for you, you're not a human being but a lemming. So the trick is to find that midpoint where there can be a healthy mutual tolerance. There never will be a lack of tension when individual expression meets group expectations. So the solutions are 1) Move the group towards greater acceptance by behaving well while retaining your quirks. 2) Drop the more outrageous things you do in public so long as it doesn't conflict with core principle. 3) Stand firm on those things which are truly core. Sometimes this means accepting a certain level of grief from society for your choices.

    And somewhere in the wilderness between total conformity and total rebellion maybe you can find that place where you and society get along. Where you compliment each other.


    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    What does it mean by an "imposition"? What's "accommodating"? That's I think the core issue here. From my perspective, I'm not asking anything from other people in what I do. Rather, they're trying to impose their own comfort zone on me. If you give in on that, what's next? I think the problem I have is with legitimizing this sort of use of force at all. There seems to be no clear line of where this ends, other than what the majority can get away with.

    Your (3) is not an option. Once this sort of stuff is in play, you cannot stand firm on anything. It's not safe, you will be forced to give it up one way or another. Anything at all you do to protect yourself, be yourself, or be at all different is something you can and probably will be forced to give up. That's what I learned from society.
    Last edited by WarKitty; 2012-11-21 at 06:19 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #693
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    What does it mean by an "imposition"? What's "accommodating"? That's I think the core issue here. From my perspective, I'm not asking anything from other people in what I do. Rather, they're trying to impose their own comfort zone on me. If you give in on that, what's next? I think the problem I have is with legitimizing this sort of use of force at all. There seems to be no clear line of where this ends, other than what the majority can get away with.
    Its the balance that needs to be found between principle and practicality. In principle you are 100% right. That said sticking 100% to your principles can lead to problems. This can be especially true if your principles are significantly different than the majority of people in your area.

    Your (3) is not an option. Once this sort of stuff is in play, you cannot stand firm on anything. It's not safe, you will be forced to give it up one way or another. Anything at all you do to protect yourself, be yourself, or be at all different is something you can and probably will be forced to give up. That's what I learned from society.
    Are you in a particularly small town or something? Because this seems to be a viewpoint that can be common when looking at a small community wherein most people have similar views on things. I've never seen something like this in the big city I live in (Montreal). Clearly there are places where people will disagree with you, even vehemently at times (language is notable here). But there have always been places to accommodate different views around here. Point being, your location may be exacerbating the issue. I can tell you its certainly not that way everywhere, though that may be small consolation if any, at the moment.

  4. - Top - End - #694
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chen View Post
    Are you in a particularly small town or something? Because this seems to be a viewpoint that can be common when looking at a small community wherein most people have similar views on things. I've never seen something like this in the big city I live in (Montreal). Clearly there are places where people will disagree with you, even vehemently at times (language is notable here). But there have always been places to accommodate different views around here. Point being, your location may be exacerbating the issue. I can tell you its certainly not that way everywhere, though that may be small consolation if any, at the moment.
    It's more that I've found the line between vehement disagreement and implicitly or explicitly sanctioned violence is a lot thinner than many people think. Child or adult, people are more likely to look the other way if someone wants to harass a person that's different. Especially with the mental health system...one of the first things I learned was that anything at all that's different can be a symptom in need of treatment, and people will try to force that sort of thing on you. But it comes up with other things as well - e.g. if there's a standard sort of dispute, people will automatically assume the normal person is right. I also learned to never deal with police or security people, because if you look different you're pretty much automatically put into the category of "suspicious." Which is especially a problem in light of my previous comments about people assuming the normal person is right.
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  5. - Top - End - #695
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    It's more that I've found the line between vehement disagreement and implicitly or explicitly sanctioned violence is a lot thinner than many people think. Child or adult, people are more likely to look the other way if someone wants to harass a person that's different. Especially with the mental health system...one of the first things I learned was that anything at all that's different can be a symptom in need of treatment, and people will try to force that sort of thing on you. But it comes up with other things as well - e.g. if there's a standard sort of dispute, people will automatically assume the normal person is right. I also learned to never deal with police or security people, because if you look different you're pretty much automatically put into the category of "suspicious." Which is especially a problem in light of my previous comments about people assuming the normal person is right.
    I suppose it depends on just how outside the societal norm you're going. That said, I've seen people who are DRASTICALLY outside of said norm and it does not appear to be an issue, at least in larger cities. I can imagine in a smaller place it might become more of an issue. The only point I was wanting to make is that your experience may not necessarily translate to all other places. Becoming cynical towards all of society is not helpful and in fact can lead to more feelings of hopelessness which is clearly not a good thing.

  6. - Top - End - #696
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    People should not give me lip when I politely tell them to remove their stuff in a timely fashion when I find out they've set up their computer in my kitchen and when they're not even supposed to live here.
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  7. - Top - End - #697
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    Car broke down. Motor overheated.
    That's bad.
    At least I convinced my mother it was not my fault. Still, the whole ordeal of breaking down on the highway with a cat among the passengers emotionally drained me.
    Quote Originally Posted by on Dwarf Fortress succession games
    I have no idea where anything is. I have no idea what anything does. This is not merely a madhouse designed by a madman, but a madhouse designed by many madmen, each with an intense hatred for the previous madman's unique flavour of madness.

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    *hugs Musashi* I can't imagine that being much fun, although at least the cat wouldn't complain as much as the other passengers.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dallas-Dakota View Post
    Succubus gets grongratulatory cookies from me. You have stepped into the realm of puns that only the likes of Death, Your Friend the Reaper have seen.

    Posting schedule likely to be erratic for the next few weeks - sorting out some personal stuff.

  9. - Top - End - #699
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    Yeah, at least, the cat was extremely calm during the whole ordeal, however, he still got home hours after the planned time, and he had to stay in the cold during a good part of it. He seems to be healthy, fortunately.
    Also, the circumstances during which the car broke down were pretty much the best we could hope for, beside the cat's presence and the late hour.
    Dang thing broke down already 6 months ago, nobody needed an even more expensive repeat for the coming winter. BF's cold worsened, and I feel like a complete fool for not preventing it (which I know is irrational because I was told that without the relevant gauge, which is absent on this old model, you can only either change all parts obsessively and regularly, or guess what's going on when it's too late already).
    Quote Originally Posted by on Dwarf Fortress succession games
    I have no idea where anything is. I have no idea what anything does. This is not merely a madhouse designed by a madman, but a madhouse designed by many madmen, each with an intense hatred for the previous madman's unique flavour of madness.

  10. - Top - End - #700
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    What does it mean by an "imposition"? What's "accommodating"? That's I think the core issue here. From my perspective, I'm not asking anything from other people in what I do. Rather, they're trying to impose their own comfort zone on me. If you give in on that, what's next? I think the problem I have is with legitimizing this sort of use of force at all. There seems to be no clear line of where this ends, other than what the majority can get away with.

    Your (3) is not an option. Once this sort of stuff is in play, you cannot stand firm on anything. It's not safe, you will be forced to give it up one way or another. Anything at all you do to protect yourself, be yourself, or be at all different is something you can and probably will be forced to give up. That's what I learned from society.
    I'm afraid 3) is mandatory. Without willingness to stand firm, without a willingness to draw boundaries , without an ability to say "thus far and no further", the rest is pointless. 1) and 2) follow on once you've developed the abilities and skills to protect those things which are truly important to you.

    Dealing with the mental health system is fun. I was classified as mental in grade school and it took years of fighting to get the label off. The mental health system is very good at classifying "difference" as mental illness. I just read a book called War against the weak which demonstrated how , in 1900-1930 America, Appalachian Hillbillies, African-Americans, Jewish immigrants, were variously classified as 'shiftless', 'feebleminded', 'criminal from birth' and were shut up in homes, sterilized, or in some cases euthanized.

    Back in those days, being different WAS a crime.

    Society is a bit more tolerant today. Marginally.

    It takes great courage to be different from society, but to my mind it is something that must be done, because we can't be fully human as long as we're letting other people make us into carbon-copy images of them. That's not the way it's supposed to be. I'm reading another book which discusses, among other things, the way casinos identify cheats through disguises. It turns out there are a LOT of things about any individual human being that are unique and can't be easily disguised. Not just our fingerprints or our voice print. The heat signature of our face is unique. Our gait -- the way we walk -- is unique. Our ear shape is unique. In so many ways individual human beings are unique. And society wants to press us into a mold? May it never be!

    It sounds to me, WarKitty, as if you're stuck in the mental health system. If so, might you be able to find someone in the system who knows something about psychological boundaries ? If so, you may be able to find some ways to help execute action 3, carving off some aspect of the world to be uniquely yours.

    Healthy boundaries are a fundamental aspect of any human relationship. Society has boundaries which you can't cross and remain in society. The most important ones are set in law and forbid things like murder or theft. If someone does these things, society will outcast them and put them in confinement.

    But I somehow suspect these aren't your issues. It sounds to me like your struggling with "soft" expectations -- the way you dress, the way you act, and what not -- which society can't throw you in prison for but can humiliate you, insult you , denigrate you, and if you allow such people power over you, can diagnose all kinds of mental illness when the real issue is that you're different.

    In such cases, if you ever read the book Shogun by James Clavell, I point you to the character of Rodriguez. This Portuguese man in Tokugawa-era Japan gets away with all kinds of things because he has maxed out ranks in bluff. He acts like he has every right to do what he does, and for the most part he gets away with it. The flip side of a conformist society is that, if you can bluff them into believing you have a right to do what you're doing, they won't challenge you.

    It's a fundamental lesson I had to learn in church. These people aren't my parents. They have no power over me that I don't give them. So I chose to stop giving it to them, and made it plain that , though I play by society's rules on the important things, I will not tolerate interference with me and mine. I want no help , don't ask for it, and take unkindly if people offer "advice" unsolicited.

    It can be done. It's not easy. It takes a willingness to act as bold as a lion and the ability to withstand insult.

    Of course, this is much easier to do when you're not stuck in the mental health system. I'm not able to offer much guidance on such things, but again, I would suggest looking for a psychologist specializing in boundaries. If you can learn how to establish boundaries, you may be able to fake sanity well enough to get clear of the system and start being your own person, not having to play by their game until they quit bothering you :).

    A person in mental health doesn't have the freedom to express themselves that a person on the outside does. Dealing with a system -- in my experience -- meant learning how to play the game until I was shut of them. But even prisoners in dungeons still find ways to express their uniqueness. It doesn't mean you have to wait to escape to start being an individual. It just means you've got to be a lot more careful about it.
    Last edited by pendell; 2012-11-26 at 09:25 AM.
    "Opportunities to do good are everywhere but the darkness is where the light needs to be".

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  11. - Top - End - #701
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    Unfortunately I've found that even the "soft" boundaries can turn into the hard ones, typically by way of false accusation. I've found that if you're different, you may not be a thief or violent, but you may be accused and treated as such. Or the hard boundaries may not be applied to you, allowing others to get away with otherwise prohibited actions towards you.

    It's that the supposed hard boundaries, I found, turned into a confusing morass of invisible lines and random happenstance. It meant risking getting kicked out of school and being threatened with arrest because someone else felt "threatened", even though you had done nothing overtly threatening. It meant having access to needed mental health treatment made difficult because, even if you dressed nicely for them, other "concerned individuals" would report on your "odd behavior." It meant even reporting actions and threats against you and having them brushed off, because clearly individuals like yourself are not reliable.
    Last edited by WarKitty; 2012-11-26 at 04:13 PM.
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  12. - Top - End - #702
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    I can't say as that I'm a big fan of being told by someone who was unemployed for a day before being headhunted for new jobs that the only reason I haven't found a job this year is because I haven't tried hard enough. Apparently cleaning up **** in a nightclub isn't "slumming it" enough and I think I'm too good for a real job, never mind how utterly humiliating it was to discover that I am genuinely, completely TERRIBLE at fast food work.
    I thought walking away was probably a better idea than "you and your friend can go **** yourselves".

  13. - Top - End - #703
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    I can't say as that I'm a big fan of being told by someone who was unemployed for a day before being headhunted for new jobs that the only reason I haven't found a job this year is because I haven't tried hard enough. Apparently cleaning up **** in a nightclub isn't "slumming it" enough and I think I'm too good for a real job, never mind how utterly humiliating it was to discover that I am genuinely, completely TERRIBLE at fast food work.
    I thought walking away was probably a better idea than "you and your friend can go **** yourselves".
    Generally, talk that involves "if you just tried hard enough you would..." is crap. The world isn't a magical fairyland where if you really focused and worked hard enough you could get whatever you wanted, despite how much some people seem to think they live there.
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  14. - Top - End - #704
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    I can't say as that I'm a big fan of being told by someone who was unemployed for a day before being headhunted for new jobs that the only reason I haven't found a job this year is because I haven't tried hard enough. Apparently cleaning up **** in a nightclub isn't "slumming it" enough and I think I'm too good for a real job, never mind how utterly humiliating it was to discover that I am genuinely, completely TERRIBLE at fast food work.
    I thought walking away was probably a better idea than "you and your friend can go **** yourselves".
    I dunno, I'd have probably gone with plan B.

    My first job was working in a canteen by myself. The pay was crap and the customers were all [REDACTED]. The management, on the extremely rare occasions they decided to grace me with their presence, had nothing positive to tell me about my work. Yet I'll always be grateful for doing the work though, because it drummed into my head that the people behind a fast food counter are actually *people*.

    There's absolutely nothing "slumming" about fast food work - you have to work your ass off. I'm guessing your acquaintences never had this particular baptism of fire?
    Quote Originally Posted by Dallas-Dakota View Post
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    Posting schedule likely to be erratic for the next few weeks - sorting out some personal stuff.

  15. - Top - End - #705
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    My sister has worked at cafes and was a cloak person at a nightclub.
    "Slumming it" is about having a really crappy job for crappy pay because it Builds Character and Proves You've Worked Hard and Demonstrates Your Willingness To Work By Virtue of Being Willing To Do Anything.
    So if you can't even get a "slumming it" job, what does that make you? Aside from, you know, obviously just lazy and not trying hard enough, cuz what kind of absolute loser can't even get a waitressing job?
    Last edited by Serpentine; 2012-11-27 at 09:23 AM.

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    I think there's a balance.

    On the one hand, it IS true that people are often capable of a lot more than they think they are. You see this most frequently in physical training. When your body hits its limits, it starts complaining. The ability to push beyond your current limits and set new ones is called "endurance".

    Of course, if you push too hard for too long, you can over-train and hurt yourself. So there's a balance there. Still, the point remains: Sometimes we have limits in our head -- set by ourselves , or by others -- that come short of our true potential.

    Sometimes we can't imagine what we're capable of until we try. That's a big part of the myth the armed forces instills during basic training -- that there are no excuses for failure. They do this to teach people to refuse to accept limitations set by their enemy , and to keep searching for ways to win even when everything seems hopeless.

    You'd be amazed by how many battles have been won because someone made use of "impassable" terrain. One of the earliest examples is the fall of Sardis , some 547 BCE.

    The greatest limitations to success are the ones in our mind. And the ones we set for ourselves -- by setting the bar too low -- are the hardest ones to break.


    OTOH, it's possible for expectations to be unrealistically high. A quadriplegic is never going to run a 3-minute mile no matter how hard they push themselves. And as for job-hunting, my two major job hunts (in 1994 and 1994) took 8 months and 9 months respectively. I believe the average job hunt is about 8 months .

    Beating yourself up because you didn't get a job in 5 days is unrealistic and is unnecessary pain. OTOH, if you're still job hunting after 3 years (I suspect that's well outside the standard deviation), it's probably a fair question to ask "am I doing something wrong?"


    So .. the idea "you can do whatever you want if you try hard enough" is silly. Magical thinking. It implies that the universe bends to human will, and the universe is made of some mighty tough stuff. But it's an idea with a grain of truth. Because sometimes the limiting factor isn't the universe but the little "I can't do this" in our own psyches. I don't know what the proportion of failure due to unavoidable factors is compared to failure due to mental factors, but the fact that organizations spend so much time hammering the mental factor suggests it's pretty high.

    At any rate ... there are two ways that I know of to motivate people to push past their mental blocks. The first one is to humiliate them in the hopes of getting them angry enough to "show you" how wrong you are.

    The second is to encourage them, to pick them up, to tell them that they are NOT worthless junk but that they just might be capable of more.

    Maybe it's a gender thing. I know that, with my female family members, the first approach doesn't work at all. Because they don't get angry and push back against people, they just get depressed and fold up, give in. They need the second approach -- they need to know they're loved and that I have their back, come thick or thin. This gives them the bravery and courage to challenge their limitations. Because they know someone else believes in them, and this allows them to believe in themselves.

    It may be that some reading this are facing psychological blocks that they can overcome. It may be that some people in their lives have tried to motivate them to do so by humiliation, and have failed. I would urge such people, if they're reading this, to both reject the worthless humiliation but also to consider that maybe they are capable of more than they're doing. And if so, to be encouraged by the thought of yet-unrealized potential rather than crushed by criticism because they haven't reached the pinnacle of perfection yet . I know that I'm nowhere NEAR that point of maximum potential, so I've got no room to throw stones.

    And .. maybe I'm wrong to say this, but I believe in Warkitty. I believe she's capable of a happy , well-adjusted life no matter what hurdles society throws in her way. I believe that she has challenges yes, but I think she's capable enough to overcome them. She's certainly clever enough.

    Maybe it's wrong of me to say that. And maybe the words are cheap since I only know her through a web forum. But they are no more expensive than criticism and , if I must err, I'd rather err on the side of helping a person up, not kicking them while they're down.


    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    "Opportunities to do good are everywhere but the darkness is where the light needs to be".

    -- Eliezer Yudkowski, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"

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    What do you do when the criticism comes from yourself and it's based on your observations? As in, you noticed a trend of complete failure first before the criticism started up? Because that's what I feel like in a lot of situations. I have things that I know I'm good at and I don't think I'm bad at them randomly. I only get down on myself for things where I'm decidedly behind the norm on and have consistently completely failed at and don't know how to improve myself. What is someone like that supposed to do?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sholos View Post
    What do you do when the criticism comes from yourself and it's based on your observations? As in, you noticed a trend of complete failure first before the criticism started up? Because that's what I feel like in a lot of situations. I have things that I know I'm good at and I don't think I'm bad at them randomly. I only get down on myself for things where I'm decidedly behind the norm on and have consistently completely failed at and don't know how to improve myself. What is someone like that supposed to do?
    Well, there are some questions.

    First, is this criticism actually helpful?

    There are two kinds of criticism: Constructive criticism and destructive criticism.

    The first kind enables you to recognize your faults and improve on them. The second time simply beats you up for failure.

    To put it simply, is this self-criticism helping you to be a better person? Or are you simple beating yourself up for not being a better person?

    If it's the first ... then you've got a step towards genuine self-improvement. No one who's blind to their faults can do better.

    If it's the second -- then it's a waste of energy and it's harmful. You're never going to be at a point where you can't improve, so if you wait to stop beating yourself until you're perfect, you'll beat yourself up your entire life.

    But even the first kind of criticism can, if it's taken as an exclusive diet, be harmful. No person can spend their entire life looking only at their weaknesses without getting down on themselves.

    So even constructive criticism must be leavened with a certain degree of encouragement and hope.

    If a person is suffering from low self-esteem, self-hatred, self-loathing, the first thing to understand is that this is not deserved . Now, it IS true that sometimes we fall short of even minimum standards. And we shouldn't lie to ourselves and give ourselves "first prize" trophies when our efforts do not merit even participation prizes. Self-esteem is not self-flattery.

    So what do we do when faced with genuine -- not perceived, but genuine -- failure?

    There are two possible answers:

    1) I am a person worthy of love and respect. I have not performed up to standard, but with time and effort I can learn to do so.

    OR

    2) I am a person worthy of love and respect. I will find something that more closely matches my aptitude and talents.

    But in neither case should we ever forget that we are people worthy of love and respect, and that failure or mistakes or even the most shockingly stupid moral flaw is reason to give up on ourselves.

    We are people worthy of love and respect. We should , to the best of our ability, live up to that. But we should also forgive ourselves if we fail.

    And if we're going to be kind to ourselves, we should be kind to others as well.

    At any rate ... I believe a proper self image is the FIRST problem to correct. Just as a person in an aircraft suffering cabin air pressure should first put on an oxygen mask before trying anything else, so a person suffering from a broken spirit should first see about getting that splinted before trying to improve their attendance, or their personal appearance, or their job performance, or what not. A broken spirit is a disease with many symptoms. Treat the disease, many of the symptoms will solve themselves. Treat the symptoms, you'll waste a lot of time and other symptoms will crop up.

    To put it simply, you've got to learn to love yourself where you are. Not set standards and say you won't give love until you've reached them. Because if you're like me, you'll move the goalposts and keep on hating yourself.

    Self-hatred is a hard habit to break.

    And one way to break it is to surround yourself with people who will encourage you, not tear you down. Not just meatspace people either. The people you meet in books can encourage you. If you're like me, certain books are a part of our daily reading. I choose to focus and dwell on those bits of the books that lift up the human spirit, rather than those parts that condemn humans for their failures.

    Find people who will give you the message " I am worthy of love and respect". To the best of your ability, get rid of destructive people who beat you up emotionally for failure. Constructive criticism is fine when it's in proper measure, but IME the people who give constructive criticism aren't the people who delight in ripping you up "for your own good".

    If you find people who will not respect you and lift you up, get rid of them if you can or minimize contact with them if you can't.

    With luck, eventually the message will sink in and you'll be able to love yourself. Just as, (I suspect), you eventually internalized the message that you weren't good enough, so you'll eventually internalize the message that you are a person who IS good enough and because of this you will always seek to improve.

    Once you've got a handle on the self esteem problem, you can turn to other matters for improvement.

    I believe you'll find these fall into four categories:

    1) Things I have aptitude for and are worth my time.
    2) Things I have aptitude for but are hobbies.
    3) Things I have no aptitude for but require effort (getting up in the morning, for example)
    4) Things I have aptitude for but aren't worth my time.

    Alert readers may recognize this as a variation on the time management matrix . And it works the same way. You focus your efforts and energies where there is the greatest return.

    Probably 1 and 3 are going to be the places where the most energy is concentrated.

    1 because that is what will give you the greatest return on your use of time, following the military principle of reinforce success and not failure . Michael Jordan was one of the greatest basketball athletes of his time but a very mediocre baseball player. Von Richthofen was a lousy cavalry officer before he became a legendary pilot.

    Both individuals and society are at their best when they pursue what they are best at to maximum potential. Society is all about different people with different abilities providing mutual support so a blacksmith, say, can become the very best blacksmith he can without having to waste time farming. So it's worth asking, if you're in an endeavor you're really bad at, whether it's worth the time and effort to become a slightly-less-mediocre baseball player or whether you should be exploring something else.

    3 requires the next amount of effort primarily because it allows you to pursue #1. You can't play basketball if you can't show up for the court on time. And it requires energy precisely because it's a miserable thing you don't want to do. So 3 is a tax you have to pay if you want to do #1.

    2 is one of the things that make life worthwhile and requires the next amount of energy. If you spend your whole life doing what you have to do and no life doing what you WANT to do, for no other reason than that you want to do it, then why live in the first place? And if you're really smart, you can make a #2 into a #1, so what you thought was a waste of time actually makes you a multi-millionaire. It's what happened to me when my passion for wargames found an outlet in computer simulation.

    4 -- WHY. Just WHY WHY WHY. WHY do something you hate that doesn't do you or anyone else any good? Axe it! Get rid of it! Make it go away!

    But in whatever you're doing , never forget to love yourself. Sometimes you'll do well and it's easy to be happy with yourself. Sometimes you'll do poorly and loving yourself is hard. But even if your only goal is self-improvement, hating yourself is just a recipe for self-defeating death spiral, and you can't forget that , no matter how greatly you succeed or how badly you fail, you're still the same person you were. Worthy of love and respect.

    After all, failure is a part of life. Just ask Abraham Lincoln. . Or Kipling . Everyone fails. But that doesn't mean we have to define ourselves as "failures". We try again at the same endeavor, or we try something else. We need to learn to be gracious in both victory and defeat, to ourselves, and to others, because both are a part of life. That's why we used to teach sportsmanship in games.

    And we always, always, always love ourselves regardless of our successes and failures without obscuring the first or denying the second. And because we extend this charity to ourselves, we extend it to others.

    I ... hope that helps. All my opinion, anyway. If it's useful, steal it. If it ain't, leave it.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    "Opportunities to do good are everywhere but the darkness is where the light needs to be".

    -- Eliezer Yudkowski, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"

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    Why is it that I still find my mother scary? It's sort of weird.

    P.S. personal pet peeve: I really really hate that time management matrix. I mean, I actually don't mind it in the general sense, I've just had one to many people throwing it at me lately for not getting important stuff done. Trouble is I have so many things in category 1 that very little from 2 gets done until it's moved into 1.

    Also, incidentally, sometimes goofing off is important. Deal with it, world.
    Last edited by WarKitty; 2012-11-28 at 05:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    P.S. personal pet peeve: I really really hate that time management matrix. I mean, I actually don't mind it in the general sense, I've just had one to many people throwing it at me lately for not getting important stuff done.
    Noted.

    Trouble is I have so many things in category 1 that very little from 2 gets done until it's moved into 1.
    Been there FREQUENTLY.

    Also, incidentally, sometimes goofing off is important. Deal with it, world.
    Fully agree. Goofing off is critical to mental health.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    "Opportunities to do good are everywhere but the darkness is where the light needs to be".

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    In any case, a practical question:

    I've been working on setting more boundaries with my mother, before the holidays get even more out of control. The thing is, she just does not seem to understand them. I've gotten to the point where I have no idea what to do. If I say something like "don't use guilt-trips", she'll completely deny that she ever does that. If I say something more specific, like "What you did in situation X was inappropriate", she'll only refrain from situations that are exactly like X, and then when I point out similar situation Y will not understand the similarity. Or she'll come out with something like, when I'm trying to work on not criticizing everything I do, she'll say "I feel like I have to agree with everything you say and do or I'm not welcome." Which isn't true, but...my impression is that she genuinely has no idea what the difference is between what she's doing and normal, healthy interactions. All negative comments are "constructive criticism", all guilt-trips and manipulation are "expressing her feelings honestly."
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    Default Re: Personal Woes and Advice 2

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    In any case, a practical question:

    I've been working on setting more boundaries with my mother, before the holidays get even more out of control. The thing is, she just does not seem to understand them. I've gotten to the point where I have no idea what to do. If I say something like "don't use guilt-trips", she'll completely deny that she ever does that. If I say something more specific, like "What you did in situation X was inappropriate", she'll only refrain from situations that are exactly like X, and then when I point out similar situation Y will not understand the similarity. Or she'll come out with something like, when I'm trying to work on not criticizing everything I do, she'll say "I feel like I have to agree with everything you say and do or I'm not welcome." Which isn't true, but...my impression is that she genuinely has no idea what the difference is between what she's doing and normal, healthy interactions. All negative comments are "constructive criticism", all guilt-trips and manipulation are "expressing her feelings honestly."
    Hmm, how does she interact with people outside of the family? Does she moderate her behaviour there? Because 'expressing her feelings honestly' all the time seems like it'd result in a bit of clashing with people. Maybe try and illustrate things using interactions with people that aren't kin?

    Also for what it's worth, I'm scared of my mum as well. :/
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    Quote Originally Posted by Astrella View Post
    Hmm, how does she interact with people outside of the family? Does she moderate her behaviour there? Because 'expressing her feelings honestly' all the time seems like it'd result in a bit of clashing with people. Maybe try and illustrate things using interactions with people that aren't kin?

    Also for what it's worth, I'm scared of my mum as well. :/
    You know, I'm not sure if she does interact with people outside of our family much lately.
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    First suggestion for dealing with family who cause problems or say annoying things: pick your battles. Call them out on the seriously destructive comments or the ones that cause the most problems. The other little things that are clearly wrong but get said anyway? Just let them slide. In my experience as the family members get older, the amount of things its simpler to let slide just gets bigger. Big issues clearly still need to be addressed, but you'll drive yourself crazy picking on any little wrong AND it just makes the other person less receptive of your suggestions when you need to stand your ground on an actual important issue.

    I used to have this issue with my grandmother all the time. Little things she'd say that were just plain wrong/bad. But it never really helped pointing those out. It certainly didn't change her mind (if she even remembered at a later date) and it just made all our conversations more confrontational. Furthermore, it simply hurt any communications that WERE needed on more important issues.

    With non-family members you don't have to continue dealing with people who say things that are constantly a problem for you. You can stop talking to said people. Unless you're willing to do the same with your family, compromise is generally the best option.

    Of course this is simply generalities and may not apply at all to what you're trying to do with your mother, but its the best general advice I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    In any case, a practical question:

    I've been working on setting more boundaries with my mother, before the holidays get even more out of control. The thing is, she just does not seem to understand them. I've gotten to the point where I have no idea what to do. If I say something like "don't use guilt-trips", she'll completely deny that she ever does that. If I say something more specific, like "What you did in situation X was inappropriate", she'll only refrain from situations that are exactly like X, and then when I point out similar situation Y will not understand the similarity. Or she'll come out with something like, when I'm trying to work on not criticizing everything I do, she'll say "I feel like I have to agree with everything you say and do or I'm not welcome." Which isn't true, but...my impression is that she genuinely has no idea what the difference is between what she's doing and normal, healthy interactions. All negative comments are "constructive criticism", all guilt-trips and manipulation are "expressing her feelings honestly."
    Chen, above, has some good thoughts.

    I must caveat this by saying that you know your parents well, and I don't. So these are glittering generalities.

    It sounds like your mother doesn't know how she comes across to you. Sort of like someone with a speck on their face.

    And , given the previous relationships between you, it doesn't sound like she'll immediately respond to reason, because she still thinks of you as a child. Fair?

    In which case, I have two basic pieces of advice.

    1) Speak her language.
    2) Change the script.

    What do I mean by "speak her language"? I mean that people will completely reject a message sometimes, depending on the speaker and the way it is said regardless of the merits. So if, for example, I say "don't be destructive", to my relatives from Oklahoma, they may very well respond with "don't talk psychobabble to me." But if I say "don't be cruel", they get what I'm saying first time.

    It helps also if you think about what the words mean to the person. Some words just flip a person right out. Some words win sympathy. How are you coming across?

    Think of it this way: If your mom says something hurtful to you, and you respond "stop hurting me!" ... well, does that sound like something an adult would say, or a child would say? Since she's already got that image of "child" firmly fixed in your mind, it's going to reinforce that "child" image, and she's going to respond to you as if you were one.

    So instead of responding as a child, think: How would a stranger on the street respond in this situation? Maybe: "Hey, stop that!" How would your mother's mother respond to it? Maybe "you stop that right now!" How would a coworker respond? Maybe "That's not really funny."

    You find the right way to present your needs in such a way as to get the best possible response.

    Which brings me to point 2) : Change the script .

    Most human interactions, I contend , aren't really original. Most of them follow a set pattern. You can call it a script. Or you can call it a game . It's a way we humans learn to deal with other humans.

    Case in point: What do you do when you see a coworker first thing in the morning at work? It probably follows a pattern something like this:
    A) Hey , what's up!
    B) Not much. What's up with you?
    C) Not much. Things are good.

    End script.

    I think if you'll think about it, you'll find that many of your interactions with mother follow a set script. And the sum total of those scripts result in a play called The Tragedy Of WarKitty. In other words, you're the loser in this play. It somehow always works that your mother gets a payoff from this, and you're left sad, or frustrated, or hurt.

    At any rate, once you know what the scripts are, you have one great power:

    YOU don't have to play along.

    YOU don't have to follow the lines.

    YOU can rewrite the script and make new lines. YOU can rewrite the script and create new actions.

    You can change this play.

    Now, it's true that you can only change your own actions and words. You have no power to reach into your mother's head and rewrite HER script, only your own. But humans seem to have this psychological need to follow the lines of whatever script is presented to them. So just by changing the script YOU'RE following you can have a strong impact on the script the OTHER person is following , unless they put forth strong effort on their own behalf to consciously force the conversation down the pattern of their choosing.

    Let me give you an example.

    We talked about the greeting script above. Let's throw a ringer in:

    A) Hey, what's up?
    B) Not much, how are things with you?
    A) Not too good. My dog just died.
    ...

    What is B's likely response?

    Most likely something like "Oh, that's terrible. How can I help?"

    You see that A has subtly taken control of the conversation and shifted scripts. They're no longer reading The Play of Greeting. They're reading The Play of Consolation.

    You can do this too. Look at the set interactions and common patterns your mom has with you. Look at the patterns she has with OTHER people she respects more. Her boss. Her husband. Your other family members.

    If you don't know these things, reason by analogy with other people's moms. Even ones in books or from fiction. Your mother is a human being, but she's also playing a role, the role of "mom". There are lots of mom-scripts out there, in real life and in fiction.

    Find a script that works. And change it.

    Instead of following the pattern with your mom you've followed all your life, change the script. Try lines from some other play, like The Workers, or The Husband, or The Stranger On The Street. Experiment. Some lines will work better than others. If one doesn't work, toss it. If another works, keep it.

    Once you understand this, then you're going to be in control of every conversation you have, because you're the one choosing the script. Even when you're the interviewee in a job interview, or the employee being dressed down by the supervisor, or the recruit being dressed down by a drill sergeant. When the play shifts to you and you have the lines, you can choose what script to follow. And the power of expectations is such that many people will simply follow your lead. You can then shift the script for the point of maximum benefit. There are limits. It's unlikely you'll be able to talk down an angry boss into giving you a raise, but you may be able to keep from being fired.

    All of which is to say that you have a great deal more power over your mother than you realize, because you have power over yourself. And people respond, often unconsciously, to the script you're following.

    So rewrite the play. From this moment on, the Tragedy of Warkitty is no longer showing. Warkitty Conquers Her Personal Universe is the new show. You can only write the lines for one of the actors in this play. But , as I said, that's more power than you might think. People ad lib off of what they see other people do. The more convincingly you act a role, the more people respond to you as if that role were true.

    The best example I can think of is Joshua Abraham Norton I , the Emperor of the United States . He was a homeless man, but he acted his role so well and so convincingly that he was fondly remembered and loved by thousands of people. And they put his completely invented title on his tombstone, because he was so good at the role he sucked people into it -- and it wasn't even against their will. He made the world play by his script.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    "Opportunities to do good are everywhere but the darkness is where the light needs to be".

    -- Eliezer Yudkowski, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"

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    Over the course of this year I've lost nearly all my friends through a variety of upsets. I hardly see anyone any more.

    I can't figure out how to make new ones. I don't enjoy doing anything.

    I'm waiting two weeks for my next therapy session. I almost feel compelled to gather evidence that I'm crazy to justify me needing it.
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    I feel like my worry is not just that she doesn't know how she comes across to me, but that she doesn't exactly care. Not that she doesn't care about me, but...well, she likes to abuse the line "no one can make you feel anything" to mean that she isn't responsible for what she says. She seems to have the idea that, if I'm hurt or frustrated by what she says, the problem is that I'm too sensitive or feeling guilty over my behavior (that she dislikes) or something, and that I'm trying to avoid it by "controlling her."

    My other problem is that, as far as I can tell, anything that's not the response that she wants causes her to flip out. I don't mean just a brief thing...I mean hours-long lectures, constantly coming up and asking me what I was thinking, responding to any refusal to engage by yelling about how dare I treat her that way and she's just trying to help and I won't even deal with her.

    My impression of her is that some of this is just how she operates. She treats my father the same way she treats me. If life's a play, she's convinced that she's the main character. Everything is about her somehow. See for example, her big lecture about my clothes last Christmas...for some reason she'd gotten it into her head that my dark clothes were making me depressed, I have self-esteem issues making me wear all that makeup, and above all I'm doing it out of rebellion against her and doing it to try to hurt her. She talked at me for maybe 30-40min about this (yes, talked at is the right term, as at this point I was thoroughly ignoring her).

    None of this is new behavior. She's been like this as far back as I remember...especially the anger at getting any response that's not the one she wanted. I honestly don't expect a whole lot to change right now, but I want to give her one decent chance before I start limiting visits, out of respect for her being my mother.. I expect she'll need to see consequences enforced before she changes anything.
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    Is there no one, no one at all, that she will defer and respect and not play center of the universe?

    Hmmm ... well, if that's the "rules" of the game. there's only one winning move .

    Of course, there's nothing stopping you from offering your mother the option of playing other games with you, games that allow you some satisfaction. But she can either play a fair game or not play. And even in the "games" you're forced into in unavoidable family obligations ... you can still alter the script.

    Over the course of this year I've lost nearly all my friends through a variety of upsets. I hardly see anyone any more.

    I can't figure out how to make new ones. I don't enjoy doing anything.

    I'm waiting two weeks for my next therapy session. I almost feel compelled to gather evidence that I'm crazy to justify me needing it.
    If you've been through a number of stressful situations, shock and a certain degree of numbness are to be expected. Grief is a process that can't be rushed.

    I'm no expert, but possibly the best thing to do is give yourself time to recover. Allow yourself time to process the things that have happened. Then, when you have, you can start to make friends again.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
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    -- Eliezer Yudkowski, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"

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    Quote Originally Posted by pendell View Post
    Is there no one, no one at all, that she will defer and respect and not play center of the universe?

    Hmmm ... well, if that's the "rules" of the game. there's only one winning move .

    Of course, there's nothing stopping you from offering your mother the option of playing other games with you, games that allow you some satisfaction. But she can either play a fair game or not play. And even in the "games" you're forced into in unavoidable family obligations ... you can still alter the script.
    That's pretty much what I'm doing. In the last few years she's retreated farther and farther into the house and her control over a family that increasingly does not need her. Loves her, cares for her, but does not need her. She's barely interacting outside of the home.

    That's what I'm offering. I'm not playing her game anymore, at least not to the level she wants it. If she wants to play, she can work with me. It's not worth it to me to revolve around her wishes so she can be happy. That's what I did as a teen/young(er) adult - told her what she wanted to hear and then proceeded with what I was planning to do. Frankly I've gotten to where I'm tired of it (and also tired of my father getting mad at me because of some story she told about how awful I was to her poor innocent self).
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    Not so much looking for advice as needing to get this out there somewhere. Since August I feel I've probably had the worst 4 months of my life:

    - Broke my ankle at the start of August, necessitating a week in hospital, plate and pins in my ankle, 6 weeks non-weight bearing, two months off work and missing the professional exams I was due to sit in September.
    - Summoned home to be told that my Dad's cancer had spread, and that he maybe had six months to live.
    - Summoned home again about a week later as my Dad had suddenly deteriorated. His funeral was last friday.
    - Message today telling me that a friend had killed themself. Not one of my closest friends, but the sort of person you wish was. Honestly an awesome person who I wish I knew better.

    So yeah. Um, roll on 2013?
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