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kortheo

My Journal - Travis

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Day 120

Missed my journal yesterday - a rare occurrence!

Cam: My date went very well. Ha, maybe too well. I had met her through the trivia group I go to each week. I was interested in her and then she started texting me, so I decided to ask her out. We got coffee and then it kind of turned into an all day thing. We're hanging out again next weekend.

My normal weekend routine was thrown off a bit this time. I'm realizing that I tend to do my best when I'm following a routine, and it feels good to feel like you're checking all the boxes and doing everything that you need to do. But life doesn't always work that way, and you need to be able to roll with the punches, to develop a protocol for how you respond to times that don't go as planned. I think I've been able to keep certain anxieties in check by making sure that I'm following routines and rules and doing everything right - but unfortunately you can't control life quite that much. Sometimes life just happens to you and you have to adapt. I think I get anxiety a lot because of thinking that if I deviate slightly from how things 'should' be, then everything will go to shit. But one thing I'm still learning is that life is a bit more forgiving - or at least it can be, if we learn to be more kind to ourselves. Life isn't always a tightrope walk where one small mistake will fuck everything. You have room to make mistakes, and learn, and grow. I know this is all pretty vague/abstract, but it's the easiest way for me to express what's on my mind right now.

I'm considering cutting out alcohol/caffeine from my life temporarily and seeing how I feel. I think just drinking water for a while might do me good. Caffeine gives me anxiety and makes it harder for me to sleep... this isn't a new issue, but my approach to it might be. A worthy experiment anyway.

Have a great day everyone :).

Gratitude
  1. Date went well!
  2. Sleep.
  3. Drinking water instead of tea.
  4. Hanging out with friends.
  5. Sticking to my morning routine.

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Day 121

Forgive any typos, I'm feeling a little out of it. Woke up feeling kind of sick today. Again! I keep getting these little mini-colds this year... usually I'm pretty healthy. Oh well.

I've been having more anxiety this week than I usually do. I don't really want to get into specifics at this time. But I came across a book that might help me: 

http://www.amazon.com/Redirect-Changing-Stories-We-Live/dp/031605190X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453218177&sr=8-1&keywords=redirect

Can't wait to read through this, I get the feeling I'll get a lot out of it. I read the intro. It's about scientifically validated methods that can allow us to change how we interpret the events that happen to us, and change the stories we tell ourselves. I definitely have some events in my life that I've interpreted in the most negative way possible that still haunt me in some ways, and I'd like to change that.

Not much else to say - I just went home last night, cooked dinner, and went to bed essentially. I was exhausted. I feel like removing the daily intake of caffeine from my life is pulling off this mask of energy and allowing me to feel how tired and sleep-indebted I really am. Chamomile tea for me.

Gratitude
  1. Being much better able to handle anxiety than I was in the past.
  2. Coming into work today even though I didn't feel great... I think it was the right choice.
  3. Meditation.
  4. Being back in touch with my ex.
  5. The right mindset to improve my life continuously.

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I stopped coffee for 90+ days in the fall. I certainly felt a lack of energy. I didn't find that my energy level, ever really came back up. What I did find though was that over time was that key times for mental engagement shifted from early in the morning to about 5 hours after I woke up. I found generally that my uptake of knowledge was significantly easier, and I preformed well on cognitive tasks even though my perceived state was quite low. I slept a lot in those 90 days. I wen't back to coffee, and am working on simply 2 cups. I have certainly had the pull to ingest more than that, and at time it has been hard to keep that cap. I have managed to keep that cap in effect thus far. Obviously my account of my experiences is anecdotal, but sometimes that's what people are looking for. so, good luck! 

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Day 122

I think my life has officially become as busy as I would like it to be. When I first started here I basically had no social life. Now, I'm struggling to find time to stay in at home alone so I can get laundry done. A great problem to have. In the past week I've basically only had one night where I didn't do anything social.

Last night I went to a going-away dinner for a friend who's moving out of state. I was feeling pretty tired and part of me wanted to stay in and rest, but I felt obligated to see him off. He was someone who introduced me to one of my current social groups and he was a good guy. So I went, and it was actually really fun. Glad I went out, even if it was a long drive.

@karpet - thanks for sharing. My caffeine detox is progressing nicely... Monday and Tuesday were, simply put, hell. I had no energy and tons of brain fog. It was a struggle to get through work. I don't know why I decided to go cold turkey. If I ever have to do this in the future I might taper. I'm not feeling totally normal yet but I did sleep well last night and I feel a bit more rested and calm than usual today. So we'll see how it goes. Hope my energy levels will come back up to normal eventually.

Gratitude
  1. Going to new restaurants with friends.
  2. Sleep.
  3. Getting work done yesterday.
  4. Opening up with male friends.
  5. Caffeine-free tea.

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If you can find some I highly recommend barley tea.

Very interesting, I'll check that out! I see a Japanese brand for $10 on Amazon, I'm intrigued.

Day 123

Tonight I'm going to see my ex for the first time since we broke up, nearly 4 months ago now. We had agreed to a period of not talking, which I think was a good idea. I'm definitely ready to see her and talk about things though. Because we haven't spoken much, there are probably things that need to be aired or concluded or what have you. I'm excited to see her. I don't know how it will go. I think we will try to be friends, which I think could work, but we'll see.

And something else is on my mind. Have you ever moved too quickly with someone you're dating? Well, I may be in that position. Now I'm dealing the possibility that she may be more interested in this than I am, and now I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable. Such is life. I guess these things are never simple, and I'm still learning the ins and outs of dating. I'm seeing her again this weekend though. I'll feel it out from there.

There's something else, too. I'm not sure if I can put my finger on it. Well, one thing I realized yesterday is that I generally expect new people to not like me. And when I get into relationships, early on it's easy for me to doubt and think that I'm going to be rejected at any moment. A male friend reassured me that I would be fine because I'm an awesome dude, and that I have a lot to offer. Which felt great to hear. His candor was rare and vulnerable and helpful. It contrasted strikingly with the way I view myself. Why don't I see myself as awesome? This is nothing new, perhaps just a new angle on it. It just jumped out at me in a way that it hadn't before.

Gratitude

  1. Having a full social life.
  2. Having tomorrow off.
  3. Driving through fog banks on the way to work today.
  4. Feeling OK.
  5. Eating breakfast.

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It takes time and effort to actually become friends with yourself. We can be our hardest critics. That's why it's so important to surround ourselves with people who are honest in the way they give us feedback.

Also it's often easier to notice our shortcomings than our average or strong points. We might even be ashamed of some of our good qualities!

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Day 124

Met up with my ex last night. I didn't quite know what to expect going in. She seems to be doing well. We talked about common interests, and laughed together, and that reminded me why I was attracted to her. We talked about our relationship and our breakup, and how we had treated each other poorly or failed to meet each other's needs, and I was reminded of why I had ended it. I saw in her certain ways that she had improved herself, and I was made aware of ways I would like to improve myself as well - to be less selfish, and to be more assertive. The whole encounter stirred up emotions in me that I realized haven't been resolved yet, because there was no way to resolve them without seeing her, really. Going into to it all, there was an irrational part of me that wished that time apart would somehow make us magically better-suited for each other in such a way that we could get back together - I wanted to have my cake and eat it too, have the good parts of her without the bad ones; I realize now that that's not possible. I think this will help me move on.

All in all, this has been a crazy week. I learned that my sister's mental health isn't great and she needs help that she doesn't have access to. Work has been exhausting and stressful (especially without caffeine). Seeing my ex was important and good but emotionally jarring. I have a second date tonight with someone that I'm still getting to know. I'm chatting with a friend later, and getting lunch with my sister soon. Plans with a couple of friends this weekend. Managed to clean my apartment today and get laundry done. Ordered cooking equipment to start working through the 4-Hour Chef.

My brain hurts.

Gratitude

  1. Birds chirping outside my window while I meditate.
  2. Going to the doctor when I needed to.
  3. Waking up naturally without an alarm.
  4. Ordering barley tea.
  5. Listening to music.

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Great to see that you're analysing with a clear perspective Travis! I've started analysing how I've been doing again and it has helped me to identify what I need to work on, but in your case has helped you to identify your previous beliefs and how they may have been wishful thinking rather than realistic. Keep it up and well done for keeping on the path to success! :)

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Day 125

For a long time I've had in my head the idea that I had to strive to be something or someone special. There are a few 'why's to this. One, I've always been 'smart', good in school, etc, so if I didn't capitalize on that somehow and make something of myself, somehow become special or extraordinary, then I was wasting that in some way, or not living up to my potential, or whatever. Two, I've always been a perfectionist, and to not be special in this way would be less than perfect, and then I would feel inadequate, and thus I would fear that people would think less of me. I'm realizing recently how much I view of other people's love and acceptance of me as highly conditional - contingent upon my performance in various areas of life. If I do something wrong, or mess up, or am somehow less than perfect, then no one will want to bother with me and I'll just be ostracized and rejected. My parents didn't have many demands of me that I remember growing up, but what I do remember is that as long as my grades were good, things were fine. But my grades had to be good. And they always were. I never really risked finding out what might happen if they weren't. That would be horrifying.

So I'm examining this. And I'm thinking - instead of trying to be someone special (whatever that means) - can't I just be me? Why do I have to hold myself to such a high standard? Can't I just be normal, and have that be acceptable to myself and to the people in my life? Currently I feel like that isn't acceptable or enough. It's hard for me to accept that people can like me for who I am, rather than for how I perform. But finding the courage to accept myself and exist in the world as myself, rather than as someone-striving-to-be-perfect, would probably do a lot of good for me. But here I am, even striving-to-be-someone-who-accepts-himself, rather than just actually being that.

 Gratitude

  1. Cheese danish.
  2. Looking at a perched hummingbird from 2 feet away.
  3. Discovering new music.
  4. Meditation group.
  5. Honest conversation.

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Day 125

For a long time I've had in my head the idea that I had to strive to be something or someone special. There are a few 'why's to this. One, I've always been 'smart', good in school, etc, so if I didn't capitalize on that somehow and make something of myself, somehow become special or extraordinary, then I was wasting that in some way, or not living up to my potential, or whatever. Two, I've always been a perfectionist, and to not be special in this way would be less than perfect, and then I would feel inadequate, and thus I would fear that people would think less of me. I'm realizing recently how much I view of other people's love and acceptance of me as highly conditional - contingent upon my performance in various areas of life. If I do something wrong, or mess up, or am somehow less than perfect, then no one will want to bother with me and I'll just be ostracized and rejected. My parents didn't have many demands of me that I remember growing up, but what I do remember is that as long as my grades were good, things were fine. But my grades had to be good. And they always were. I never really risked finding out what might happen if they weren't. That would be horrifying.

So I'm examining this. And I'm thinking - instead of trying to be someone special (whatever that means) - can't I just be me? Why do I have to hold myself to such a high standard? Can't I just be normal, and have that be acceptable to myself and to the people in my life? Currently I feel like that isn't acceptable or enough. It's hard for me to accept that people can like me for who I am, rather than for how I perform. But finding the courage to accept myself and exist in the world as myself, rather than as someone-striving-to-be-perfect, would probably do a lot of good for me. But here I am, even striving-to-be-someone-who-accepts-himself, rather than just actually being that.

Huge. :)

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hi, 

I have this problem too. In no way am I suggesting you should take my thoughts on this matter, but I feel compelled to share them. I feel compelled to share them to create dialog, because maybe there is a chance I have missed something in my train of thought. so, here we go.

In a world of participation awards and a congratulatory acceptance of mediocrity, I am hard on myself because no one ultimately will be. I have to set my own standards. I hope to set my standards high, because generally, high standards lead to high accomplishment, and with high accomplishment comes a greater ability to affect positive outcomes in the world. I feel it is short sighted to assume my personal comfort is the highest concern when literally billions of people are in danger. If I truly believe that I am special and deserved of greatness, then it is my duty to to achieve that and positively affect the world around me. My standards and my success should not be a reflection of who I am, but rather what I can do (to change the world?). If I do fail to achieve greatness, if I fail to live up to my standards then I really have failed the world and people should look down on me. now this leads to the idea that I may not be great, and if the cards play out that way, I can at least be happy that I made the effort to test my assumptions of myself and my abilities. 

I'd love to discuss this further.

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hi, 

I have this problem too. In no way am I suggesting you should take my thoughts on this matter, but I feel compelled to share them. I feel compelled to share them to create dialog, because maybe there is a chance I have missed something in my train of thought. so, here we go.

In a world of participation awards and a congratulatory acceptance of mediocrity, I am hard on myself because no one ultimately will be. I have to set my own standards. I hope to set my standards high, because generally, high standards lead to high accomplishment, and with high accomplishment comes a greater ability to affect positive outcomes in the world. I feel it is short sighted to assume my personal comfort is the highest concern when literally billions of people are in danger. If I truly believe that I am special and deserved of greatness, then it is my duty to to achieve that and positively affect the world around me. My standards and my success should not be a reflection of who I am, but rather what I can do (to change the world?). If I do fail to achieve greatness, if I fail to live up to my standards then I really have failed the world and people should look down on me. now this leads to the idea that I may not be great, and if the cards play out that way, I can at least be happy that I made the effort to test my assumptions of myself and my abilities. 

I'd love to discuss this further.

Hey karpet, thanks for sharing. Your viewpoint is very familiar to me because I used to hold it, but I'll tell you why I don't think that way anymore.

There are two things at play here - 1) wanting to achieve things, to have a significant impact upon the world, and 2) being hard on ourselves or beating ourselves up when we fail at that.

It's admirable to want to improve the world, but it's not healthy to beat ourselves up when we fail. This is for two reasons - one, beating ourselves up is counter-productive and make us less effective (how can you focus on improving when you're busy criticizing yourself and feeling bad?). More importantly, it will prevent us from being happy and feeling satisfied with our lives. ("Perfectionists fear that if they give up perfectionism, they won't be good anymore at anything; they'll fall apart. In fact, perfectionism harms performance more than it helps.")

I think the main mistake here is thinking that having high standards lead to high accomplishment. It's true that having goals is important. You need to direct your energies and actions towards something worthwhile (i.e. not video games). But viewing our worth as contingent upon accomplishment is psychologically harmful. Better to focus on being happy and accepting yourself as you are - from this place of happiness, you are actually more likely to be effective and successful in your life. And regardless of the standards that you set for yourself, objectively you have a certain capacity to achieve things. I believe that if we're happy we will naturally want to achieve what we are capable of - you don't have to whip yourself to get there.

If you fail to achieve greatness, then you may have failed to live up to your standards, but you haven't failed the world, and it's simply not true that people should look down on you. It's just not how the world works. Human existence is complex, and it's not at all clear that the goal of any one person's life is to accomplish any one thing. Regardless of the standards you may have for yourself or what you achieve out in the world, the people in your life value you for other things - for your humor, your intelligence, your presence, their relationship with you, your personality, your quirks, for being able to talk to you during a hard time. In all likelihood these things matter more to most people you'll meet than anything you could accomplish.

It's possible to devote all your energy to achieving something great during your lifetime. Maybe you'll study to be at the top of your field and invent a great new technology or go into government and end poverty, etc etc. But at the end of that life, will you be happy? Maybe, maybe not. There is an opportunity cost to everything we do. All the time you might dedicate to mastering your craft is time that might have been spent with your family or friends. Maybe you'll achieve something but it will be forgotten in a decade and it won't actually matter much, in the grand scheme of things.  At the end of that life, will you be a better, more important, more worthy human? I don't happen to believe that any one person is more valuable than any other, regardless of what they achieve in life.

It's true that we can decide for ourselves what success looks like - but I don't believe that there's one answer to that, and I certainly don't think that in order to be worthwhile people we have to achieve anything "special". We just have to be ourselves, authentically, whatever that entails.

https://youtu.be/P8b4mZvrui4

Edited by kortheo

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If you fail to achieve greatness, then you may have failed to live up to your standards, but you haven't failed the world, and it's simply not true that people should look down on you. It's just not how the world works. Human existence is complex, and it's not at all clear that the goal of any one person's life is to accomplish any one thing. Regardless of the standards you may have for yourself or what you achieve out in the world, the people in your life value you for other things - for your humor, your intelligence, your presence, their relationship with you, your personality, your quirks, for being able to talk to you during a hard time. In all likelihood these things matter more to most people you'll meet than anything you could accomplish.

This is so insightful! I've found myself oftentimes communicating with people working with the assumption that such-and-such part of me is likeable and I need to present that side, whereas such-and-some-other-such part of me they would be repelled by or think strange and I need to hide that part. But the truth is in practice, when there is a connection between two people, the rare kind anyway, you see straight into each other and simply like each other for "who you are," whatever that means, the guard can be relaxed and you know you can be yourself around that person, and others can enjoy all those little things about you that you might not be aware of are so likeable about you because you are just so used to them. When people like me for the simple things that you listed I oftentimes have found myself having thoughts running through my head of the "oh well they wouldn't like me if they knew such and such" caused by lingering self-esteem issues / reinforced by recent bouts of gaming :) Need to practice loving and accepting myself more...always good.

By the way, I was recently introduced to this tea called Dandy Blend that has a coffee-like taste. I believe it includes some barley tea in the mix but the main ingredients are dandelion and chicory roots. It is used by folks weaning off coffee (it also has a pleasant energizing effect, but no caffeine)...I have never been much of a coffee drinker so I don't know how someone who loves the taste of coffee would find it, but it definitely stands on its own legs with a little cinnamon and some cream. Thought you might enjoy it :P

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I liked the youtube video, it made it clear that "success" is very much a personal thing, IE there is no generalization.

I need to spend more time thinking about everything you said. I think most of it is quite sound.

 

 

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Hey, there were a ton of gems in your response and I wanted to capitalize on them and break them down with further thinking. I really enjoyed your response. I'm really bad at using forums and my fancy quoting ability is limited. my responses are tabbed, again sorry for the ugliness.

Hey karpet, thanks for sharing. Your viewpoint is very familiar to me because I used to hold it, but I'll tell you why I don't think that way anymore.

There are two things at play here - 1) wanting to achieve things, to have a significant impact upon the world, and 2) being hard on ourselves or beating ourselves up when we fail at that.

It's admirable to want to improve the world, but it's not healthy to beat ourselves up when we fail.

I would feel this depends on why we failed. I don’t think it’s correct to assume that all failure is the same, nor is all success the same. Sometimes situation and luck are a major contributor, and other times it’s because we did or didn’t do something. Identifying those elements, the ones we control or have control over, make it easier to replicate for future growth later on. This is also why I am a huge fan of not doing as much as possible because for me, it’s easier to evaluate my actions and outcomes.

This is for two reasons - one, beating ourselves up is counter-productive and make us less effective (how can you focus on improving when you're busy criticizing yourself and feeling bad?).

I agree we shouldn’t beat ourselves up, but at the same time how can we improve if we don’t identify the areas we have failed at, or could have done better at?

More importantly, it will prevent us from being happy and feeling satisfied with our lives. ("Perfectionists fear that if they give up perfectionism, they won't be good anymore at anything; they'll fall apart. In fact, perfectionism harms performance more than it helps.")

I certainly don’t advocate perfectionism, and totally think those with a perfectionist mindset need to look at that.

I think the main mistake here is thinking that having high standards lead to high accomplishment.

This is probably a statement that I will have to look at more deeply, I feel that it is correct in isolation or as held in absolute terms.

It's true that having goals is important. You need to direct your energies and actions towards something worthwhile (i.e. not video games). But viewing our worth as contingent upon accomplishment is psychologically harmful.

I can also see that this is probably true. And I did say “If I do fail to achieve greatness, if I fail to live up to my standards then I really have failed the world and people should look down on me.” That ultimately is a harsh statement. I should probably lighten up on that.  

Better to focus on being happy and accepting yourself as you are - from this place of happiness, you are actually more likely to be effective and successful in your life.

On some level, I believe this to be correct, but I also feel it is a slippery slope. Where does one draw the line on accepting yourself. I mean if I were to completely accept myself, where would my incentive to grow come from? Why would I want to say –quit playing video games?

And regardless of the standards that you set for yourself, objectively you have a certain capacity to achieve things. I believe that if we're happy we will naturally want to achieve what we are capable of - you don't have to whip yourself to get there.

I suppose then, if we are happy and we will want to achieve what we are capable of, what would be the motivation behind that? Where would that come from? If I’ve just accepted myself as happy, and I’m not basing my self worth on achievement, what is driving me to achieve what I am capable of? Could it not be “my duty to achieve that [greatness] and positively affect the world around me”. Again, why if I am naturally happy am I doing what I am capable of? Just because

If you fail to achieve greatness, then you may have failed to live up to your standards, but you haven't failed the world, and it's simply not true that people should look down on you.

Agreed, “now this leads to the idea that I may not be great, and if the cards play out that way, I can at least be happy that I made the effort to test my assumptions of myself and my abilities.” No? 

It's just not how the world works. Human existence is complex, and it's not at all clear that the goal of any one person's life is to accomplish any one thing.

Sure, I think it would be terribly hard to make that jump, and it would be a total nighmere to try and make those connections. I think this is why I like the existential view as highlighted by Sartre of ones choosing their own project, that project being their life and its purpose.

Regardless of the standards you may have for yourself or what you achieve out in the world, the people in your life value you for other things - for your humor, your intelligence, your presence, their relationship with you, your personality, your quirks, for being able to talk to you during a hard time. In all likelihood these things matter more to most people you'll meet than anything you could accomplish.

It is likely then that no matter what happens “success” or “failure” these conditions would hold, so it’s not as if this fact negates the desire to be great? In fact, because I do see this point as universal, it should be the guiding light saying “Hey, no matter what happens, people love me” and should encourage me to push forward.

It's possible to devote all your energy to achieving something great during your lifetime. Maybe you'll study to be at the top of your field and invent a great new technology or go into government and end poverty, etc etc. But at the end of that life, will you be happy? Maybe, maybe not.

I feel it is short sighted to assume my personal comfort is the highest concern when literally billions of people are in danger.” I think it takes very little to be “happy”, gratitude, something many people on this forum practice certainly helps with that, but it makes sense that if we are happy, and we are capable, that it will take work of some effort to get there. I feel like the summation above renders work and effort invalid, no?

There is an opportunity cost to everything we do. All the time you might dedicate to mastering your craft is time that might have been spent with your family or friends. Maybe you'll achieve something but it will be forgotten in a decade and it won't actually matter much, in the grand scheme of things.  

            Improving the world (or human condition) is a noble pursuit, simply in and of its self, is it not? I think if things can be elevated by one, we could continue the elevation                 further.

At the end of that life, will you be a better, more important, more worthy human? I don't happen to believe that any one person is more valuable than any other, regardless of what they achieve in life.

            I do agree with this, but again, I think it’s a slippery slope, leading to the potential for inaction.

It's true that we can decide for ourselves what success looks like - but I don't believe that there's one answer to that, and I certainly don't think that in order to be worthwhile people we have to achieve anything "special". We just have to be ourselves, authentically, whatever that entails.

https://youtu.be/P8b4mZvrui4

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Day 126

Fitness bootcamp this morning. I am beat. I will be sore tomorrow. On the plus side, I'm getting noticeably more muscular.

I don't know why, but I used to have a pretty simplistic view of physical health... that there wasn't much 'depth' to it, that it didn't take much time to get in shape and then once you were 'in shape' you were done. I'm realizing now that it builds slowly over time, isn't linear, and takes consistent effort (duh). It is complex, there is depth. I guess an analogy would be going into gamequitters I thought you just quit games and then ...what else could there be to it? Well, a ton, it turns out.

Probably going to get a haircut today and cook food. Went and saw The Revenant last night with a friend, which was both brutal and excellent.

I don't have much to say today, it turns out. So, I'll leave it at that!

Gratitude

  1. Pennebaker Writing Exercise.
  2. Self-compassion.
  3. Music.
  4. CBT.
  5. Sticking with my plans.

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@karpet Thanks for your detailed response. I'll respond to the points that I felt were most important:

I agree we shouldn’t beat ourselves up, but at the same time how can we improve if we don’t identify the areas we have failed at, or could have done better at?

So you're on the right track - there's a difference between beating ourselves up for failing, and identifying how we can improve. These are totally different things. We can and should analyze why we didn't succeed - but that doesn't require thinking negative thoughts about ourselves. One way I like to think about it is that you're either succeeding or you're learning. "Failure" is actually inevitable and normal, and at our best, we learn from it. It can't be avoided, so we should just expect it and view it as learning. If we want to improve, we need to "fail faster" so we can learn from our mistakes faster.

 

 On some level, I believe this to be correct, but I also feel it is a slippery slope. Where does one draw the line on accepting yourself. I mean if I were to completely accept myself, where would my incentive to grow come from? Why would I want to say –quit playing video games?

Again, there is a distinction to be made here. Self-acceptance isn't the same thing as abandoning a drive for improvement. Self-acceptance means not blaming ourselves for our current state - for being OK with how we are now. For understanding that we have worth as human beings. If you do this, your desire to improve and become better won't magically go away. What are we trying to achieve through self-improvement, anyway? Probably: feeling that we are good enough. But with self-improvement, once you take a step, you adjust to it, and you have to take the next step to get even better. This cycle will never end until you stop and actually accept yourself as you are. It's not about how you objectively are, it's about how you relate to yourself. I know this one does feel like a paradox in a sense, but in practice it's not. Sometimes the realities of life don't fit nicely into little logical boxes (much to my chagrin, I assure you - but you have to learn to roll with the punches).

 

I suppose then, if we are happy and we will want to achieve what we are capable of, what would be the motivation behind that? Where would that come from? If I’ve just accepted myself as happy, and I’m not basing my self worth on achievement, what is driving me to achieve what I am capable of? Could it not be “my duty to achieve that [greatness] and positively affect the world around me”. Again, why if I am naturally happy am I doing what I am capable of? Just because

Happiness is not a static state that, once achieved, locks you in place and prevents you from ever pursuing meaningful things in life. Happiness comes and goes. Here you make it clear actually that if you are basing your self-worth on achievement, then your motivation to act is to simply have self-worth. But that's not the only thing that can motivate people. In some ways it's actually an unhealthy way to exist - failure is inevitable at some point, so this sets you up for your self-worth to be contingent upon your performance, which is sometimes based upon factors outside of your control. If you accept yourself and your sense of self-worth comes from within, then you have more stability. If you do accept yourself, other things can and will still motivate you - your desire to help other people, your desire to create something awesome or beautiful in the world, your desire to simply learn new skills because it's fun or interesting or adds joy and meaning to your life.

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@kortheo I think this was an awesome exercise! I can totally see where you are coming from, and I do agree with you on all the points you brought up. I think one of the issues with my original post is that I used very broad terms. Once we got granular, things became much more clear. Thanks again for this.

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Day 127

This post is vulnerable and deals with sex and shame. Just FYI.

When I first became sexually active in college, I had an episode that made me worry that I had an STD. I went to the doctor and they told me I was fine. And I'm pretty sure I was. But it was the sort of thing that you can't get 100% confirmation on, and absent that certainty my anxiety, doubt and insecurities took over and I couldn't get past it. It's taken me a long time to understand why exactly it got to me so much, and even to this day I haven't fully gotten over it, to be honest.

I think I understand it now, though. Much better than before. There are only so many core human insecurities. I think in this case, the fear would be that if I did have an STD, no one would ever want me, and that it would mean I couldn't have meaningful relationships or sex ever again, that I would be alone for the rest of my life, etc. That is a core human worry - as social creatures, if we are ostracized we will die alone and not reproduce.

But in order for this narrative to make sense, I would have to believe that I had so little worth as a person that no one would bother with me if I had an STD. Which isn't true, either in terms of common sense or empirical data on this stuff; STDs are common and people don't stop living meaningful lives because of them. The narrative in my head is based on cognitive distortions and irrational thinking. But underlying it all is the belief that I don't have much value to others, that my value is conditional, and that if I'm 'damaged' someway those conditions collapse and no one will value me. This is how I must think unconsciously, because of how terrifying the prospect of getting an STD is to me, even if I'm having safe sex and getting tested and generally being responsible.

I guess of course the general cultural perspective of STDs being shameful and horrible is at play, too, which is also not exactly a realistic assessment. Most STDs are either curable or not any worse than a common cold, and even the worst ones are highly manageable - a testament to medical science is the fact that HIV, which 30 years ago was a death sentence, today doesn't even reduce your life expectancy if you receive timely treatment for it. Blows my mind.

Intellectually, I know I offer things to other people, that I have value... integrating that emotionally is work that I still need to do, to truly believe it. Thanks for reading.

Gratitude

  1. Cooking meals for the week.
  2. Gaming group last night.
  3. Sleeping more soundly after quitting caffeine.
  4. Being vulnerable.
  5. Spending time with people on a regular basis.

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You're digging in all the right areas. Thanks for sharing man. :)

Thanks. Yeah. It is digging all right. It's work. But so worth it.

 

Day 128

Random assortment of thoughts for the day:

  • My hip flexors hurt like hell from that workout on Sunday. Dear god. Aggghg. Okay. At least I have a desk job where I can sit all day.
  • I've been sleeping much better the past few days, about a week after quitting caffeine. I had one green tea and one soda in the past week but that was all; pretty inconsequential. I fall asleep much easier and sleep much more soundly, and I'm starting to wake up just before my alarm, and I have more energy in the morning when I get up. All in all... feels great. I don't think coffee is really compatible with me, at least on a regular basis.
  • I'll do a review at the end of the month, but I have to say that January is going quite well for me. I'm actually exceeding my expectations on goals that I had planned for myself. More detail to come!
  • @karpet Btw, I ordered some Barley tea on amazon and I'm liking it. Definitely a different taste, but a pleasant alternative to coffee.
  • I made enchiladas last night for the first time. It was fun! I even made my own sauce. They turned out really great - for the first time in my life I'm learning to enjoy cooking instead of viewing it as a chore. I'm saving a lot of money because I bring my lunch to work every day, as I've always aspired to. I highly recommend budgetbytes.com for simple but tasty and cheap meals.

Reflections on my journey

I'll say something about games, since I haven't actually talked about them in a while now. Looking back at the beginning of my journal is interesting. Day 1, I committed to a 90 day detox. Day 11, I started Respawn and uninstalled/deleted all my games. Day 92 (I think), I followed through and actually deleted all my gaming accounts, truly quitting games for good. Somewhere around Day 110 or so I stopped having urges. I'm sure urges will happen in the future, in certain situations, but I haven't had them lately.

And where am I now? Well, I don't think about games much anymore. My life is actually pretty busy these days, so I don't have a ton of down time where I'm bored and would want to play them or seek them out. The free time I have at home is consumed cooking or with chores or reading. It's just not something in my life anymore, so it doesn't occur to me.

Where am I heading? Well, I continue to work on myself in myriad ways. That's kind of my plan at the moment. I'm picking areas of my life that I want to improve and choosing a daily, weekly, or monthly way to work on it as appropriate. Life becomes the game - your sense of measurable progress gets transferred from games to the real world. Ditto your sense of challenge. Immersion or escapism can be found in healthier avenues if you want it - novels, movies, etc - or fulfilled in an alternative manner with something like meditation. And ultimately the social aspect of gaming will pale in comparison to actually having a social life, once you develop it.

One thing on my mind lately is that sometimes it's hard to tell when you're making progress, or just stagnating. Sometimes change happens too slowly to notice until later. Like, I might wonder if I've plateaued or if I'm still climbing. The past week or two I know I'm definitely making a lot of progress. My life has felt intense lately. But that wasn't always the case. Sometimes I'll post here and wonder what do to next, or what I'm getting out of it. I think that's probably inevitable. I think this might become more apparent after quitting games, or past the 90 day mark - once you've already past the more salient, obvious goal posts, it's less clear what you're supposed to do. But the truth of the matter is that I think I've had some of my most significant progress in the past 30-40 days. Just my observations. I admit I do feel a bit structureless without some discrete goal of #days to get to. My goals are now more about improving specific aspects of myself, like I said. But what the hell - just to throw something out there - I commit to getting through 2016 without gaming! That will give me something to keep me going throughout the months to come :). Who's with me?

Gratitude

  1. Learning to cook.
  2. Reading before bed.
  3. Mindfulness.
  4. Deep breaths.
  5. Everything coming together.
Edited by kortheo
typos

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