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Intermitent Display Of Emotions


pdallair91
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On 11/24/2021 at 8:18 PM, Pochatok said:

[...] partially it was simply due to the fact that my brain was so used to games.

I am glad you confirm the belief that I am alluding to in my previous post.  That I am bound to find some satisfaction elsewhere in the future, as long as I keep trying.

On 11/24/2021 at 8:18 PM, Pochatok said:

I have trouble getting into things I'm usually passionate about

Have you contemplated why its hard to "get into" these other interests?  Why these new behaviors/routines aren't as easily becoming habitual?

I can't answer this question for you.  However, in my case, I believe I tend to be burdened with the fear of failure, self-inflicted shame, and a dependence on external validation.  What has lead me here today is, to say it bluntly, being a "sore loser".  I just played and lost a game of chess online with a stranger (a old hobby I'm trying to get back into).  It hurts, which dissuades me from playing again.  I have similar experiences with electric guitar (another old hobby I'm trying to get back into).  I try to play a riff or chord progression, but I struggle a lot.  It hurts, which dissuades me from playing again.  Why does it hurt?  Well, in both cases, I'm going down the shame spiral with thoughts like "I should've been able to do better", "I can't do it", "what's the point".  You get the picture.  At some point I've dissuaded myself from doing anything that isn't instantly gratifying and I relapse.

I really covet (to the point of envy sometimes) the "blessing" that some people seem to have cultivated: am intuitive positive but humble outlook on things, including themselves;  a subconscious that doesn't pass hard judgements, with little to no fear of failure; someone that tends to accept the possibility or occurrence of failure, learns from their mistakes, and finds a sense of reward from within.  Although there certainly is an unrealistic degree to which one can idolize this but I don't think it's too late or impossible to cultivate this myself now. This, in theory, would effectively counteract what is getting in the way of self-actualization ("really getting into" something, achieving ones "potential").  I guess I'm on the right track for at least believing its possible.

So here I go... I'm going to start by saying:

  1. I am glad I persevered through the fear of failure and played a game of chess against a stranger today.
  2. I am glad I had the mindfulness to stop, listen and question the thoughts that came to mind.
  3. I am glad that I have all these journal entries and replies to look back on and managed to find some inspiration.
  4. I am glad I haven't given up, that I am, always have and always will be doing my best (at that moment in time).

Thank you @Pochatok, I really appreciate your appreciation for mine and other people's posts.  Judging from the statistics, you clearly a very active member of this community, I hope this behavior helps you as much it helps others.  Take care comrade.

REBOOT!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 19 — Optimistic Loneliness

I like to say I'm a ~70% extroverted individual.  I like to express my feelings and I tend to express myself more than I listen 😅.  My ideal social life would be to hang out, in person, with a friend (not always the same person) 2 times a week.  Spending the entire week alone is a bit painful.  That said, I haven't interacted with any friends (in person) since last Saturday.  None of my friends are available to hang out this weekend.  So, yeah... it's turning out to be one of those weeks.

I don't have that many "regular" friends.  I have a lot of acquaintances — i.e., "hang out on special occasions (public/group events)" kind of friends — but not very many "hang out regularly (including private/1 on 1 events)" kind of friends.  You know, that "dude" VS "bro" kind of distinction.  I can only think of 2 friends of the latter kind these days and well, as I should expect, they don't always have the time or desire to spend it with me.  Expecting this in only fair, after all, sometimes I'm the one that needs a break or has other plans.  It's my responsibility to take care of myself or find alternatives when my "bros" are unavailable but this can be easier said than done.  Suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, I have trust issues.  I tend to bounce between 1) anxiety — being clingy/demanding as a result — and 2) depression — being avoidant/dismissive as a result.  It currently takes a deliberate effort to not go too far down these lines of thought, to not let these feelings "get to me".

One of my friends has plans with his girlfriend's family and he, as many do, values family above all else.  Sometimes I get very jealous.  Like, he canceled some plans at the last minute just so he could go to the groceries with his perfectly able girlfriend.  Anyways, this time he has a larger family event which I can more easily make a commitment to respect.  My other friend however, "just doesn't feel like it"... that is not so easy for me to cope with...

First of all, it's vague and I'm biased to assume the worst about peoples intentions — i.e., I tend to take it personally.  Thoughts like "what did I do wrong?  what could I do to make him want to come back?" do come to mind.  However, I acknowledge that these are assumptions that aren't grounded in facts.  The allegations and judgements are coming from me, not from him.  As difficult as it is for me to "deeply" believe the more optimistic (and realistic) narrative, I can at least acknowledge it on a surface level:  It is more likely not to have anything to do with me, more likely that this situation will pass, and more likely that we will see each other again in the future.  For all I know, he may simply not be well rested.  The only problem that I have left now is that of "greed" with thoughts like "why does it have to be like this?  shouldn't you want to spend time with me if I didn't do anything wrong?"  Again, there's an assumption here that isn't grounded in facts; It's wrong for me to assume how someone else can or dictate how they should feel.  Even if "not feeling it" had more to do with emotions, it is not up to me to decide how he would cope with them.  In fact, I have done all I could already by letting him know he could talk to me if he wants to.  The reality I am facing isn't what I want it to be but giving into this "greed" and try to force reality to match my desires will likely fail and lead to more pain.

All that said, I still feel lonely but at least I have the mindfulness to accept it, giving it some attention but not letting it take control of my entire day.  I'm glad that I have the mindfulness to describe my thoughts and feelings.  I am glad I have some knowledge as to where these thoughts and feelings come from and where they could lead.  I am glad that through month after month of therapy and self-help, I have am putting to use the knowledge I've acquired to cope with these feelings, guiding myself in a more favorable direction.  In a way, I am glad to experience this loneliness knowing that, at times, other people surely feel the same way.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm not alone.  This loneliness is only a small part of my present experience and it too shall pass.  I hope this strikes a bell if any of you folks.  Either way, take care folks. ❤️

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  • 3 weeks later...

Day 39 – Good enough

I haven't been here in a while mostly because I've been successfully keeping myself busy, or at least not cracking whenever I feel bored or distressed.  I'm really glad I can confidently says this. 😌  I was afraid I might relapse during the holidays but so far I've been taking care of myself and the very few contacts I've had support my decision to abstain.  I have a friend who wants to play less and is struggling to do so as well.  I think we're both glad to see that we're not alone.

Anw, I'd like to return to what I was doing.  I hope you all have a happy new years eve.  Good luck throughout 2022.

Peace out.

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On 12/31/2021 at 12:40 PM, pdallair91 said:

Day 39 – Good enough

I haven't been here in a while mostly because I've been successfully keeping myself busy, or at least not cracking whenever I feel bored or distressed.  I'm really glad I can confidently says this. 😌  I was afraid I might relapse during the holidays but so far I've been taking care of myself and the very few contacts I've had support my decision to abstain.  I have a friend who wants to play less and is struggling to do so as well.  I think we're both glad to see that we're not alone.

Anw, I'd like to return to what I was doing.  I hope you all have a happy new years eve.  Good luck throughout 2022.

Peace out.

Ohhh, this is so awesome to hear, glad you were able to stay so consistent throughout holidays. I feel like having someone else to support you through a difficult journey, or perhaps simply go along with you is always so helpful 🙂

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Hi/Salut Patrick,

I've read most of your journal and it's really inspiring. I see a lot of myself in you and struggle with comparable challenges. Thank you for taking the time to do this, for you and for us. You've helped me realize some of the "cognitivo-emotional" patterns I have. You seem like a very intelligent person. Keep going and I'm sure you'll find a way to live a very meaningful and happy life.

 By the way, this is my first post ever on this forum. 



 

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Posted (edited)
On 1/4/2022 at 11:42 PM, Nico Indigo said:

I've read most of your journal and it's really inspiring. I see a lot of myself in you and struggle with comparable challenges. Thank you for taking the time to do this, for you and for us. You've helped me realize some of the "cognitivo-emotional" patterns I have. You seem like a very intelligent person. Keep going and I'm sure you'll find a way to live a very meaningful and happy life.


 

Aaaah Jee Whiz, thanks a lot for this positive feedback. ☺️  I am, in fact, primarily doing this for myself but I do, in the back of my mind, hope that I can help other people.  It means a lot to know that I'm accomplishing this secondary goal.  As Pepe the frog would say: Feels good man.

Merci beaucoup :12_slight_smile:

Edited by pdallair91
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Day 48 – Just Another instance of Loneliness

I've been visiting my mom and step-dad in my childhood home for the past month or so.  This place is just over 1000 kilometers (~621 miles) away from my actual residence.  Naturally, I want to spend as much time as I can with friends I can only see on these rare occasions.  Unfortunately, this small town isn't immune to the covid-19 omicron variant and on top of that there seems to be a post-holiday flu spreading.  Unsurprisingly, people are hesitant if not outright prohibited by pandemic regulations from gathering.  This is especially true in my case because I have contracted the post-holiday flu; I have been mildly sick for the past 5 days or so.  Although a rapid test at home did reassure me and my hosts (mom and step-dad) that I wasn't experiencing covid-19, understandably, I wasn't allowed if not unable to go out.  My health is getting better and I was hoping to spend time with my friends one last time before leaving on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, all of them are now dealing with the post-holiday flu... So, yeah... sadly, I won't be getting the "closure" I was hoping for...

I've mentioned this before, in my December 11th post, that I like to hang out with different friends ~2 times a week, that spending a week "alone" is rather unpleasant.  Having to spend this week outside of my own home, without access to all my usual resources makes this a bit harder as well.  So, I am experiencing a similar kind of frustration I was experiencing then.  Part of me wants to get mad, to blame everything on someone else if not myself but it's obviously pointless, if not harmful.  As I've said in that post as well: "The reality I am facing isn't what I want it to be but giving into this "greed" and try to force reality to match my desires will likely fail and lead to more pain."  But if I take the time to think about my situation, there are some comforting thoughts/beliefs that come to mind, such as:

  • We will likely see each other again at some point in the future.
  • My friends value me, understand me, and also wish they could spend more time with me.
  • We are doing the "right" thing; this is for our own and the greater good.
  • I'll be alright.

Anyways, to quote myself even further, I think I'll end of the same conclusion as I did in that post as well:

Quote

All that said, I still feel lonely but at least I have the mindfulness to accept it, giving it some attention but not letting it take control of my entire day.  I'm glad that I have the mindfulness to describe my thoughts and feelings.  I am glad I have some knowledge as to where these thoughts and feelings come from and where they could lead.  I am glad that through month after month of therapy and self-help, I have am putting to use the knowledge I've acquired to cope with these feelings, guiding myself in a more favorable direction.  In a way, I am glad to experience this loneliness knowing that, at times, other people surely feel the same way.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm not alone.  This loneliness is only a small part of my present experience and it too shall pass.  I hope this strikes a bell if any of you folks.  Either way, take care folks. ❤️

 

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On 1/16/2022 at 9:37 PM, Nico Indigo said:

Hey, how have [you] been in the past week? I'm eager to read you!

Hey Nico,

Since my last post my cold is gone but I'm still stuck over 1000 kilometers (~621 miles) away from my home.  The person that was going to drive me back is going through a medical emergency in her family.  Naturally, their stay has become indefinite and therefor I need t find another ride.  Their might be a public transit option but the ride is very long (16 to 20 hours) and you know, due to covid, I'd rather avoid public transit if possible.  I'm waiting for someone to confirm by the end of the day if they can give me a ride back home this upcoming Sunday. 🤞

Of course, this is all having an effect on my mood.  I had written down a whole paragraph to complain about my circumstances but I decided to erase it. As I wrote in one of my other posts:

Quote
If there is a remedy, then what is the use of frustration?
If there is no remedy, then what is the use of frustration?

I've done all I was willing to do so far in order to remedy this uncomfortable situation.  If I keep trying things will fall into place eventually, for as with everything else, this too shall pass.  In the meantime I could chose to focus on what I have while I'm here instead.  So here goes:

  • My mom, for he delicious food and random favors that tell me how much she cares.
  • My step dad, for all the rides and time spent nerding out over various things.
  • My friend Dave, for all the free coffee, his sense of humor, love, and compassion.
  • My mom's cat, Simba; he may be a jerk but his fur is hella soft.

Anyways, it is what it is but I have plenty of hope that things will change.

Peace out!

Edited by pdallair91
mom's car -> mom's cat (lol)
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Heyyy, it's good to hear from you!

"If there is a remedy, then what is the use of frustration? If there is no remedy, then what is the use of frustration? "

Sounds logical to me, but sometimes speaking about it can help especially because we often need empathy when we feel that way. 

Is your family in Quebec? I live in Quebec city. 

"In the meantime I could chose to focus on what I have"  Yeah gratitude is so powerful, it certainly can elevate your mood.

Your mom's car has fur? Nice! 😛 


Again, glad to hear from you!

Peace!

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Day 63 — What's your 1st and 2nd arrow?  How do you dodge the 2nd one?

Replying to the following post made me think about the Buddhist metaphor of the Two Arrows (not to be confused with the Poisoned Arrow metaphor).

If I understand correctly...

  • First arrow -> the visceral reactions our bodies have (conditioned by our environment, evolution, or both) to unpleasant event or circumstances (physical or emotional).
  • Second arrow -> the cognitive-behavioral reaction to the first one that ends up causing more pain.

The thing is that the second arrow can often be dodged; it's an unskillful coping mechanism used in response to the pain of the first arrow.  All addictive behaviors, I believe, is one one of these unskillful coping mechanisms, i.e. second arrows.

So, I guess what I'm asking in the title is more along the lines of:

  • What are common "triggers" for you (first arrow)? 
  • What are some of the unhealthy/unskillful thoughts and behaviors that you tend (or have tended) to resort to (second arrow)?
    • How do you handle/contest these thoughts and beliefs?  i.e., how do you dodge that second arrow?

Personally, a common first arrow for me is when friends cancel our plans, especially if the reason(s) are vague/unclear.  For e.g., I felt triggered in December when a friend canceled on me saying he "didn't feel like it".  There was a pretty visceral reaction in me; my heartbeat went up a bit and it was difficult to focus on anything else.  I say this is visceral not just because of the physical symptoms but because this "fight or flight" stress reaction stems from childhood trauma and I don't think it'll ever go away completely.

The second arrow I tend to shoot myself with is one of the following:

  1. Pressure that friend to justify or alter their choice. This often just ends up creating or expanding an already existing rift in the relationship.
  2. Resort to binge eating, gaming, and smoking marijuana to numb the pain of the first arrow.  This often ends up making me feel even worst down the line physically and emotionally.

In both cases, the second arrow's force — i.e., the damage that is does — is fueled by not accepting the reality before me.  By desperately attempting to avoid the pain of the first arrow I shoot myself with the other. 

The best thing I can do to dodge, or at least mitigate the damage of the second arrow is contemplate the truth.  What are the facts here?  When I do this, reality is often far less repulsive than I am biased to assume; the fear of abandonment I am conditioned to feel is often disproportionate to actual current circumstances and has more to do with previous ones.  When I was a kid, some of my friends "disappeared" (they died), some of them stopped playing with me, and some of them hurt me with words and others with sticks and stones.  However, that's probably not the case before me now, there's probably good reason to assume that my friends want to hang out with me but simply can't be everywhere at the same time (damn physics!).  In a "spiritual" way, I'm not alone.  Deep down, I haven't been abandoned, far from it, they remembered and cared to let me know. 

In summary!

  1. First arrow -> Friends not being willing or available to chill.
  2. Second arrow -> Trying to force things my way or going numb with pleasure.
  3. Dodging the second arrow -> Take the time to check the facts.  Remember that things aren't as bad as they used to be.  Some people love me and care for me, even if there not here.

Peace out folks.  Don't hesitate to share your 1st and 2nd arrow and how you can better cope with your 1st one.  Either way, take care. ❤️

P.S. @Nico Indigo
 

Quote

Is your family in Quebec? I live in Quebec city. 

My parents are separated.  My dad is from and lives in La Doré, QC, near St-Félicien in Lac St-Jean.  However he and my mom met and had me in Hearst, ON.  I lived in Montreal for 2 years of my adulthood but before then and now I've always lived in Ontario (I live in Ottawa now).  I am French-Canadian and proud of it of our raunchy and sarcastic sense of humor.  Our anglo friends have no idea what it was like to hear La P'tite Grenouille for the first time. 🤣

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Salut Pat!

Great post btw, I really like the analogy. It makes a lot of sense to me. Events do trigger past wounds and sometimes that trauma is distorting our perception of reality. Taking that into consideration can be very helpful in one's recovery from addiction. However, it doesn't mean that we have push all the pain away. True healing is done when we hold everything that comes in a space of love.

Reading you makes me think of a wonderful video by Jeff Foster. I highly recommend you watch it. 
 

On 1/24/2022 at 10:02 PM, pdallair91 said:

My parents are separated.  My dad is from and lives in La Doré, QC, near St-Félicien in Lac St-Jean.  However he and my mom met and had me in Hearst, ON.  I lived in Montreal for 2 years of my adulthood but before then and now I've always lived in Ontario (I live in Ottawa now).  I am French-Canadian and proud of it of our raunchy and sarcastic sense of humor.  Our anglo friends have no idea what it was like to hear La P'tite Grenouille for the first time. 🤣


Oh! Cool! I figured that by your last name you might be from Québec. I've always lived in Quebec city or around it but I was fortunate enough to learn english, in part because of gaming, hahaha. If you ever pass by hit me up, maybe we could hang out or something! 

Peace! 

 

 

Edited by Nico Indigo
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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 1 — I took a 2nd arrow to the knee.

Stating the obvious: I hadn't logged in for a couple of weeks.  As those who have read my previous post in this thread might understand what the title of this post implies, yes, I have relapsed and I'm getting back up now.  So, what happened?

While experiencing the discomfort I described in my January 21st post in this thread, I neglected to mention that I was already "cheating" at that point.  I had convinced myself that it wasn't "too much", that I'd be able to get right back on track when I'm back home.  Unsurprisingly, the time spent playing and the number of different games increased.  I made it back home on January 23rd and now sitting in front of my PC, unlike I had anticipated, the cravings started to become even stronger.  I staved off my cravings with junk food for a couple of days.  Yup, that's what I was doing when I wrote my last post.  Ironic how we often don't heed our own advice.  I don't remember what day exactly, I wouldn't be surprised if I relapsed on the same day I described the 2 arrow parable, but around that time I gave in to my cravings, purchased a game on steam and played ~8-12 hours a day for ~2 weeks.  I wasn't sleeping well, I wasn't eating well, and neglected my hygiene (more than I usually tend to).  For e.g., it was 5 days after my return that I finally took the time to go make a serious grocery trip.  I basically lived off pasta, chips, and pizza during that time.

Anyways, I'm coming out of it now (I think).  I finally got to spend some time with friends I hadn't seen in a long time and I have plans for this week.  I think this has helped me find the will to take better care of myself.  Another thing was a realization I had last night.  I was having trouble falling asleep so I contemplated my situation.  It had been a couple of times now that I had told myself, before going to bed, that it was my "last day" of gaming. Of course, I wouldn't have had to say I did this multiple times if I didn't fail to abide by my statement the next day.  I think that what was happening is that I was still clinging to the privileges I had while I was on vacation at my mom's place.  I wasn't taking care of my living conditions at home because I rarely had to for ~5 weeks over there.  It's as if I was looking (or more accurately: waiting) for an easy way to get back up to the pace I used to have.  This desire for something that I cannot have, that was my second arrow.  There's an interesting quote from one of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy handouts that I have.  It's not the best quote I ever heard but it describes what I had to accept, not just in theory but also in practice:

Quote

The path out of hell is through misery.  By refusing to accept the misery that is part of climbing out of hell, you fall back into hell.

In other words, I needed to let go of my desire.  I needed to notice the feelings of discomfort that I would likely feel throughout the day rise, acknowledge it, label it and just sit with it for a while.  I don't have to be ashamed and there's nothing to be afraid of.  It's O.K. This discomfort is just a small part of who I am as a whole and as with everything else, it is temporary. 🙂

With that in mind on top of the energy boost I got from my social contacts, I managed to uninstall my games today.  I actually went one step further than usual and completely uninstalled Steam for the first time. 👍

Anyways, it is what it is for now and another thing is just that: I'm super hungry. 😆  Take care folks.  May the force be with you (unless you're a Sith Lord).

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Day 5 — I have cravings but I can endure

This is going to be really short, I just thought that journaling this moment, recognizing and being grateful for my effort, is going to make it more memorable.

I was experiencing strong cravings for the past couple of hours.  I was bored and I didn't want to feel bored, I was craving stimulation, i.e. instant-gratification.  But the cravings were too intense for a simple snack + anime break or wtv, it was an insatiable craving.  So, I sat down with it, took the time to calm down and read-up a little bit on some notes and handouts I have around mindfulness.  I was reading about Adaptive Denial, a short-term distress tolerance strategy for people that suffer from addiction.  I haven't read much about it but it sounds like a "faith-based" where one just stops trying to reasonably justify their abstinence and simply stick with it out of faith that it will succeed.  As a staunch atheist, I'm quite skeptical of "faith-based" systems but I must admit that sometimes it is to my detriment; applying high-levels of scrutiny towards myself can be harmful at times.  It felt soothing for me to realize that I didn't have to prove to myself that this abstinence is the "best" path or that I will definitely succeed.  These cravings, sure, they come around every now and then but they also go away, they don't last forever.  I'm going to be patient, I can stand this... somewhere else... away from my PC. 😆

Peace out!

Edited by pdallair91
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On 2/13/2022 at 6:39 PM, pdallair91 said:

Day 6 — I have cravings but I can endure

This is going to be really short, I just thought that journaling this moment, recognizing and being grateful for my effort, is going to make it more memorable.

I was experiencing strong cravings for the past couple of hours.  I was bored and I didn't want to feel bored, I was craving stimulation, i.e. instant-gratification.  But the cravings were too intense for a simple snack + anime break or wtv, it was an insatiable craving.  So, I sat down with it, took the time to calm down and read-up a little bit on some notes and handouts I have around mindfulness.  I was reading about Adaptive Denial, a short-term distress tolerance strategy for people that suffer from addiction.  I haven't read much about it but it sounds like a "faith-based" where one just stops trying to reasonably justify their abstinence and simply stick with it out of faith that it will succeed.  As a staunch atheist, I'm quite skeptical of "faith-based" systems but I must admit that sometimes it is to my detriment; applying high-levels of scrutiny towards myself can be harmful at times.  It felt soothing for me to realize that I didn't have to prove to myself that this abstinence is the "best" path or that I will definitely succeed.  These cravings, sure, they come around every now and then but they also go away, they don't last forever.  I'm going to be patient, I can stand this... somewhere else... away from my PC. 😆

Peace out!

Good luck Patrick! It seems like you've been able to develop a lot of efficient strategies to keep yourself moving in the desired direction; that's really cool 🙂

Thanks for bringing up the concept of Adaptive Denial, I feel like that is something inherent to my behaviours but I've never heard of it until now. Super excited to look more into it!

Po

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Day 9 — Insatiable Cravings

I'm tired.  No, I mean literally.  It's ~9pm and I it's becoming hard to focus.  So why am I here?  Well, although I'm tired part of doesn't want the day to be over.  I had loads of fun today and I don't want the fun to stop.

Part of me was trying really hard to convince the rest to play some video games.  It felt insatiable.  For a while, the phrase "I NEED video games" was echoing in my mind.  Luckily, some of the advice I've received in the past popped it's head: Check the facts & keep try to keep it non-judgemental.  I had to force it but the thought started to alternate between "I NEED video games" and "I simply want to play video games", the latter gradually become more often present.  I don't need games.  I mean, I won't die any faster or stop enjoying everything else in life without playing video games.  Actually, I might die slower depending on what I decide to do with my time. 🤣

It's easy to recall why I decided to quit once I've calmed down.  It's mostly because it's too hard to stop playing once I'm started.  Like, I tend to neglect important things far more often when there's gaming involved.  Not to mention the shame I experience as a result.  In the moment, when I'm at my most vulnerable, it can really take deliberate effort for these reasons to come to mind and even if they do, the don't seem to feel as "true".  Maybe I ought to right them down, assert them more often and recognize the extra things I accomplish because I haven't given in to my urges.  For example, I'm about to go to bed at a more reasonable time.  👏

Anyways, I'm glad I have this platform and you comrades.  Coming here to journal was enough of a distraction to let the intense cravings pass.  I'm gonna follow through on what I ended the last paragraph with.  Peace out folks.

Edited by pdallair91
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Day ??? — Fear of Knowledge

CW: Canadian Politics

First of all, let me make this clear: I'm not posting this here to start a heated "conversation" (i.e. "debate").  If you don't agree with me, please don't reply to me here, in this "personal journal" thread.  If you want to quote me in yours, that's fine, I will offer you the same courtesy as I am asking of you now; I will not engage with you directly on your journal (if at all).  Everyone needs to express their feelings about polarizing topics sometimes.  If you feel like I'm judging you personally, keep in mind that I don't know you and thus it definitely wasn't my intention.  Anyways, here goes...

For those that aren't aware, I am Canadian (maudit osti francophone syrop d'érable orignal maudit criss poutine de coliss).  The recent political situation in Canada has been rather unpleasant for many over the past 3+ weeks, although it appears to be coming to an end, at least for the people that weren't directly affected by this.  A rather small and yet very disruptive minority of anti COVID-19 mandates (vaccines, masks, and other limitations) advocates; i.e. the self-proclaimed "Freedom Convoy".  I don't want to get into the nitty-gritty of it all so I'm just going to point out that, according to many polls, ~60% (if not more) Canadians did not support this "protest", and that's not to say the rest outright supported it either (~5-10% tend to just answer neutrally) and I side with that 60% here.  In the end, after more than 3 weeks of ongoing disruption with no sign of diplomatic resolution, this assembly was deemed unlawful by our government and law enforcement stepped in to put a stop to it.  Throughout this period, I was often "triggered" to engage in impractical polarizing discourse on social media, sometimes with family members and often times with complete strangers.  I wasn't always kind and compassionate towards the opposition and neither were they towards me.  Judging from the sheer quantity of accusations being made back and forth between people and groups, It was a very polarizing, and distressful by extension, situation for many Canadians.

One of the things that irritates and scares me the most is the sheer baselessness (or "anti-sciency-ness") of these anti-vax, anti-mask, covid-hoax stances at the core of this "protest".  I mean, it's a good thing to be skeptical of scientific studies and such, in fact, that's why peer review processes are downright fundamental to the scientific method.  However, the "skepticism" of these viewpoints can often easily be traced down to simply not understanding the science and/or not trusting reliable sources; i.e. the poor application or the lack thereof "scientific-literacy" and "media-literacy" skills (deliberate or not) seems to be at the base of a conspiracy theorist's thought patterns.  To be fair, this skills aren't easily acquired and I haven't mastered them either.  I don't know what is surely being taught in elementary and high-schools now, but it wasn't in the common curriculum of my youth that I learned about some of the rigorous studies behind the scientific theories I was being taught.  Similarly, it wasn't in the common curriculum of my youth that I learned how to evaluate the reliability of sources (to be fair, I'm probably still not very good at it).  To put it more simply, I didn't come out of high-school with the scientific-literacy and media-literacy skills I have now, I continued to acquire some here and there because I wanted to.  However, what if a set of beliefs you've been upholding (i.e., one of your ideologies) comes into question by inquiring or simply applying these "scientific-literacy" and "media-literacy" skills.  Well, I doubt you'd adamantly want to keep going down that road.

A couple of days ago, I re-watched a 2021 video by PhilosophyTube entitled "Ignorance & Censorship".  Some of the things that stuck with me after watching it were that:

  • Your ideology is characterized as much by the beliefs you don't have than the beliefs you do have.  The same can often be said about behavior (it's not just what you do, it's also what you don't do).
  • Sometimes people go out of their way to remain ignorant in order to maintain their personal status quo. (Doxastic Anxiety)
    • For example, Abigail Thorn, who isn't a vegan, points out how she's deliberately choosing not to acquire more knowledge about factory farming, and even, up until that point, deliberately chose not to believe that she was doing so (deliberate ignorance of her deliberate ignorance).
  • With doxastic anxiety and doxastic courage (deliberately challenging one's own ignorance, I assume) added into the mix, one could argue that there actually are moral ("good") and immoral ("bad") ways to think.
    • For example, Abigail Thorn, talks about how cigarette companies have systematically taken advantage of the doxastic anxiety of smokers via small injections of doubt about cigarettes causing cancer in the public discourse.  Here doxastic anxiety and it's deliberate reinforcement can cause a lot of harm.

You can totally call it confirmation biase on my part because it sure felt good when I made associations between anti-vaxxers and cigarette smokers, the far-right activists that spearheaded this "protest" (that I hadn't mentioned so far) and cigarette companies.  The nonsensical speculatory (and often racist/xenophobic) narratives spouted by far-right advocates (whether they believe what they're saying or not), like the cigarette companies' private and therefor selectively disclosed studies about cancer, reinforces anti-vaxxers, like cigarette smokers of old, to remain ignorant about the harm they might be causing to themselves and others.  That's why this "anti-science" positions scares me.  How far will we let our own ignorance or the ignorance of our friends and family go?  What can we do about this without risking to impede on innovative ideas that ought to be researched and debated?  How do you teach something to people that don't want to learn it?  Anyways, it's a complicated topic and my understanding has been stretched out to become pretty thin but yeah... it's pretty depressing... I'm starting to believe that although it isn't bad to be passively ignorant (I don't know X, I never needed to know X to make the "right" decisions), on the other end however, being actively ignorant can be pretty harmful (I don't know X, and ought to know X in order to make the "right" decisions, but I'm going out of my way to avoid knowing X or even admitting that I don't know X).  Anyways, it's complicated topic that I don't know much about.  But I think it's safe to say, things wouldn't go out of hand so much if we were more willing to admit whenever we don't know  or understand something important.

Anyways, in the end, I relapsed again Saturday.  Right now, it's 2:30pm and I'm still sitting in my underwear in front of the computer, engaging in my own form doxastic anxiety, deliberately choosing not to look into what might benefit me the most in the long-term, what could help me maintain "sobriety".  I'm literally scared of learning more about the potential benefits of making radical changes like fully deleting my steam account or getting rid of my gaming PC.  I don't and I'm not really trying to know if I can succeed at this.  At least, not in the present moment.  The only thing I can say is that at least, unlike the participants of this "Freedom Convoy", I'm not harming anyone but myself with my negligence, for the time being.  Right?

Anyways, peace out comrades.  I hope you have a nice week.

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Ahh man, I love your writing! This was such a long entry but I read it in one breath. Do you keep a public blog somewhere (cuz you should heh)? Either way, I don't agree with you fully, but following your request, I'll speak about what I do agree with you on 😄

The issue of ignorant ignorance bothers me too quite a bit. Folks in my family are fairly good at acknowledging if they are practicing ignorance (at least when it's obviously so, similarly to your examples), but not always. There are certain things about my father that really bother me; he doesn't let go of some problematic slurs/terms, and, I think, they are a way for him to stay connected to the places he grew up in (we're immigrants). I have some faults too; when I get a bit more hotheaded during an argument, I begin to impose my own perspectives much harder than usual, and have a hard time staying compassionate and hearing others. I think that we all practice ignorance at some points in our lives as a way of defending ourselves. Defending from something too difficult, something that requires an amount of courage and/or flexibility we might not necessarily posess at the moment. 

One of my favourite quotes ever comes from the movie "Stalker", kind of speaks to the importance of overcoming practicing deliberate ignorance: 

"Weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a person is just born, they are weak and flexible. When they die, they are hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant."

Thanks for reading! Po

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  • 3 weeks later...

Day 1 — Wakey Wakey

'sup peeps?

To anyone who's read some my previous posts, it might not come as a surprise that my ~3 weeks of absence correlates with a relapse. Throughout February, I experienced quite a bit of emotional turmoil which triggers cravings for pleasure as an escape mechanism.  On top of the political storm in my area in February, my disability insurance provider (Sunlife — or as I like to call 'em: Sucklife) out of nowhere decided to accelerate my return to work.  I was willing to attempt a gradual return to work but they gave me no say in terms of the schedule.  Based on some third party expert that has never talked to me or my personal therapist, and who happens to live and practice thousands of kilometers away from where I live, who apparently had no idea what treatments I had access to nor did he have any recommendations, they concluded that I should be able to return to work 2 months faster than the period I'm entitled to.  In order to extend this, I would, once again have to jump through hoops, prove to them that I can't keep up with their demands.  This process can take months (and cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars) within itself... it's a real dick move on their part and I honestly hope there is a hell with a special place for people that enjoy the profits generated from this industry.  Anyways, this all coincided with the release of a game that had it's grips on me since it was first announced to be in development (back in 2019, before the pandemic).  Even if I didn't follow news about it, it's release made it into my youtube recommendations and trended on reddit.  I ended up giving in, buying it, and playing over ~190 hours over a ~2.5 week period.

Why did I give in?  It's tempting to blame it all on external factors mentioned above but that's not quite right.  I'd be a fool to not at least acknowledge they had a strong impact but on the other hand, I personally wasn't prepared to handle the cravings I'll inevitably experience time and time again.  As much as I was aware I had them and that I wasn't supposed to give in, I had become "out of touch" with the deeper motivations (i.e., my personal values) behind all of this.  Basically, I wasn't mindful enough to skillfully fulfill some of my personal values.  The deeper motivations that are particularly at play here are what I like to call "Competence" and "Autonomy" (which typically amount to a sense of "Control" or "Power").  Watching the world around me apparently, and metaphorically, burn while not having much of a choice in my own recovery pace leaves me feeling quite powerless.  What I really wanted when I turned to video games this time, was a sense of "control", not just over the virtual world I get immersed in but also seemingly over my own emotions.  However, as I'm sure you all know, this sense of control I gain from gaming, over my emotions especially, is an illusion.  The emotions are still there, the only difference is that I'm not paying attention to them.  The only real way to gain some control over these emotions is to acknowledge them and handle them with care.  What I need the most right now, I believe, is to change my perspective away from shame and anger, towards compassion and kindness, especially for myself.

Anyways, I'm going to leave this at that.  I'd like to mention that if it wasn't for my therapist, I might not have even considered what my personal values are and how they might be coming into play here.  This, to me, is definite proof that proper psychotherapy can make a difference.  It took me a while to address this wake up call but I'm glad to say I'm up and about now. *tap myself on the back* 😅 Time to smell some of the roses. ❤️🙂

Peace out folks.

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Day 5 — I'm doing ok

It's Friday and I'm having a good week.  Nothing mind-blowing but little victories here and there.

First of all, I started my gradual return to work last week.  Although I only worked 8 hours this week, I did receive a rather warm welcome, had time to finish a task, document, and submit my work.  I got to meet one of the newer employees and we seem to get along pretty well.  I got to chat with some of my old coworkers and mentors.  Pretty heartwarming really.  On the technical side, I have some catching up to do but I'm making a deliberate effort to acknowledge my limitations and not "over-promise".  I'm trying hard not to try too hard. 😅 One of the most common pitfalls when I try to be productive, as I've mentioned many times in previous post, is that "all or nothing" tendency.  Like, I'm super motivated at first.  However, if things don't go according to plan, the fear of failure (anxiety) starts to pile up and the "prophecy" fulfills itself; the anxiety and shame build-up becomes to hard to handle and I give up.  The saddest part is that none of this pressure comes from my actual peers, most of it comes from me.  I always have the opportunity to express my feelings and opinions or ask for help with the work, I'm often in one of the best positions to determine if the task is too hard or not, but I don't.  So, I'm taking it easy for now.  If gonna take a dozen weeks to ramp up and even more if I feel the need to.  Right now, I'm working less than 20 hours a week and I'm not taking anything with a stressful deadline.  I need to take the time to get acclimated to the changes returning to work implies and that's ok.

After watching a video last Wednesday, I began reflecting on self-acceptance and said to myself "It's ok.  I'm proud of you." I burst into tears.  It's ok to feel the way I do, considering all the circumstances that have led up to the present moment.  I'm proud that I'm trying my best, even if it isn't always enough to get what I want.  I really wish I got that kind of feedback more often growing up, maybe then it would be more intuitive to have these thoughts on my own.  Anyways, I can't change the past but it isn't to late to start manually injecting myself with these thoughts now.  Hopefully, they'll come more naturally in a time of need.  Maybe one day, it won't feel too good to be true, maybe I won't cry.

Peace out folks.  May you feel safe, happy, and live with ease.  May you accept yourself just the way you are now.  Take care. ❤️

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Day 8 — Accidentally Hypervigilant

Starting in February 2020, I've been through short-term disability, a failed attempt at gradually returning to work, long-term disability.  2 weeks ago was the beginning of my second attempt at a gradual return to work.  So far, things have been... decent.  As I've expressed in my last post in this thread, my coworkers have been very welcoming and easy going on the tasks delegated to me.  Psychologically however, I haven't always been as stable as I was hoping for.  I'm still prone to make things harder than they need to be.  Don't get me wrong, putting in a extra effort can feel good sometimes; when our efforts yield noticeably better results.  However, there are often times where that extra effort just isn't worth it, or maybe I don't even have the skills (technical, social, emotional, etc.) to make it happen.  I often don't even notice when that's the case until I'm deep into it and regardless, I have a hard-time letting go (i.e., lowering my expectations).

Case and point: Yesterday I did a half-day shift in the afternoon.  I arrived at the office at 12:30pm and so I initially intended to leave around 4:30 to 5pm.  I knew I only had one simple task to do, but I was so determined to make the "best possible solution" that I ended up spending the entire afternoon practically writing an essay about the problem and various solutions.  Figuratively speaking, I was tasked to build a doghouse but I ended up making blueprints for a condo, a cottage, and a mansion.  When I was done I happen to run into the user I was doing this for and after trying to justify the extra complicated solution I was like "The problems I'm preparing to handle are never going to happen, right?"  At that point It was already around 5:30pm, past the time I initially intended to leave.  After all, none of the tasks given to me where urgent.  And yet I jumped on another task (a code review) and ended up extending my stay until 6:30pm.  By the end I was tired, hungry, and frustrated.  I had to cancel plans with a friend and I turned to cheap instant gratification (not video games, just to reassure you, though it did cross my mind).

Luckily, I hand an appointment with my psychologist this morning so I used it to talk about what happened.  We agreed that I had went into a state of hypervigilance; I was really sensitive to details, seeing problems and even threats where their weren't any.  I was seeing "warnings and red flags" in the code, in the tools that we use, in my methodology, and so on... For those who've read The Subtle Art of not Giving a F**K, it's pretty much what Mark Manson would call a feedback loop from hell.  But why does this happen?  What beliefs where driving me and where do those beliefs come from.  Luckily, it's not my first introspection rodeo.  I brought up that the irrational belief (or an academic might say: the cognitive distortion, or schema) was: "I NEED to do this perfectly.  I'm going to be in trouble if I don't."  As I've called it before: The Fear of Failure.  Having this subconscious bias makes sense.  Growing up, I had a dad that yelled a lot, a mom that criticized a lot, and peers that ostracized me a lot.  But when my efforts stood out, when the outcome was beyond expectations, boy did I get some praise then.  Nowadays however, I'm surrounded by professional and respectful colleagues.  When I make mistakes now, in the context of work at least, I'm much more likely to experience constructive feedback more than anything else.  Deeply accepting this reality the way I just described it, especially when I am experience that state of hypervigilance, is easier said than done.  There's emotional regulation tool I learned about from Dialectical Behavior Therapy called Opposite Action, which would probably come in handy.  If I remember correctly, it is ideal for situations when our feelings don't fit the reality before us, which is pretty much exactly what I described above.  I'll need to look into more details on this, their should be more specific advice if I can narrow down my feelings to 1 or 2 specific emotions mentioned in the handouts I have.

ANYWAYS, that's it for me today.  I'm gonna go bowling tomorrow. 😅 Wish me luck!  Peace out and take care folks.

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Totally relate to this- I used to also play the perfectionist, always taking the hardest way possible to complete a task ("cuz the easy path is for losers"). Instead of optimizing my workflow and getting projects done quicker, I would take the route that would give me the most exhaustion and require the most amount of time/effort. I had to unpack a lot of bad teenage experiences with internal unrealistic expectations and consequential failure/dissapointment and learn to structure my goals much more precisely to get over it. But, I still end up putting far too much effort and time into things sometimes, though now I don't feel as stressed out about it afterwards?.. Kind of, I guess- last time was a couple weeks ago, when I pulled off three amazingly done projects (when I really didn't need to) and got shingles right after because my immune system was pretty wrecked after an extremely stressful week. 

Good luck with this! Was (and is) a long, difficult journey for me, but I'm definitely in a better place now- fingers crossed for you!

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