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Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 4:43 am
by nikolaj
I have been thinking about this topic for a while, and i figured i would share it here, to see what you guys think about it and maybe hear if other people have experienced something similar and can share their wisdom.

So the story is that i come from a poor background with bad family relations and so most of my thinking has revolved around acquiring money and safety. The fact that most of my thoughts were related to acquiring more money, of course meant that i have had less focus on other aspects of life, like friends, family, relationships, recreational activity and all the stuff that most people focus on.

But now i have a good job and i have been doing ERE for a little more than a year, which means that all my money troubles are gone for good. Ere enables you to live on such low expenses, that you don't need a particularly large safety net, in order to survive a year without a job, in case you get fired.

And this means that now my life focus is shifting away from thinking about money, because they are no longer relevant. Instead i have to focus on all these things that other people have been working on for years, and while it is a very welcome change, it is also scary that i have to expand my horizons so much. And it is also scary, because everyone else has more experience in these areas than i have. I come from Denmark, which is one of the best developed countries in the world, so having a poor/bad background is completely unrelatable to 99% of the population. This means that it is hard to relate to other peoples experiences and views on life, i imagine my perspective would be a lot more common in other countries.

I realized that this change in behavior/perspective is exactly as described in maslows hierarchy of needs( ... y_of_needs). It says that it is impossible to care about the upper tiers of the pyramid, before you fix the lower tiers. This is precisely what i am experiencing now. Since i have covered the bottom 2 tiers i can focus on the upper 3 tiers now.

Essentially i would like to hear if anyone else has been in this situation before? Has other people experienced such a large change in their life perspective, and how did you handle it. I'm a 28 years old man, and i have this strange feeling that i am behind in life, but also that i am moving forward so quickly that i will overtake everyone within a few years. So the future will bring positive things, but also harsh lessons i imagine.

I have also been wondering about what a man should fill his life and his time with, and i have come to the conclusion that all you need is to follow the pyramid of needs. It's an incredibly simple view on life, but it also seems accurate. If anyone believes there is other things to think about, please feel free to share that perspective.

Ere seems like a solution to solving the bottom 2 tiers of the pyramid with extreme efficiency. But are there any other good systems to solve the rest of your life.

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:30 am
by Zanka
I have some experience with this. Growing up in a family with dysfunctional relationships takes its toll on most people. So when you try to move up the ladder to find love and safety there are a lot to keep in mind. If you grow up with parents that are under a lot of stress, that negativity need to get out somehow. In my family there have been (and still are) constant badmouthing of everyone (both family members and others) and guilt is always projected out onto the "weak". Being in this environment is very bad and it causes issues with trust and safety. My number one advice would be to look for what you actually want and need to feel safe and loved, and also find out what makes you feel unsafe and not loved.

/ Z

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:44 am
by ertyu
I also grew up in a dysfunctional family. Growing up in a dysfunctional family leaves one with skill gaps in areas that people who grew up in healthy families take for granted. But also, the person who grew up in a dysfunctional family doesn't necessarily recognize those gaps because that's all they've seen. Those gaps are usually in the areas of relating to oneself, being aware of one's emotions, bottling up grief or anger, replicating dysfunctional relationship strategies, replicating dysfunctional communication styles, and replicating dysfunctional coping skills for one's own emotions when things get tough. Usually, the person who lacks these skills functions ok in daily life until a crisis situation breaks the camel's back and makes all their baggage come out.

I would encourage you to take advantage of the fact that you are in Denmark and that you find yourself secure financially. Go to therapy, even if you are not "insane" or "crazy." Discuss this transition in your life with a psychologist as it happens, even before you have problems. In crisis, we revert to our training. Take to your emotional, psychological, and relational life the approach you are taking to your material life via ERE: build up the skills in good times so when hard times come, you can cope and be resilient.

Formal therapy is one avenue to pursuing this. You might want to combine it with meditation or other practices which you find useful or which appeal to you.

Good luck.

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:20 am
by nikolaj
Zanka wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:30 am
Thank you for your reply Zanka, I am definetely far removed from the bad family environment nowadays, so i don't get a large amount of unnecessary negativity into my life which is great. But i feel like you mostly addressed the problem rather than a solution. Have you managed to improve your life since?

ertyu wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:44 am
This is spot on, i feel this exact way. I am not so keen on therapy, because it seems very expensive and i have no reason to suspect that my life will improve from it.
I like your thoughts on building all these skills slowly just like ERE, that seems like a very doable thing that will become super valuable if done long enough. Do you have any experience doing this? And have you been able to successfully make yourself into more than you used to be?

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:40 am
by ertyu
The short answer to this is, no, I still suck, but less.

Two free things that have actually helped: the book Focusing by Eugene Gendlin (old by now, so possible to buy second hand and/or pirate online if it's not accessible for you in your country).

The second free thing that helped is reading the book Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro, then downloading a bunch of EMDR books written for professional therapists and EMDR-ing myself at home. This is not recommended to do on your own if you have hardcore PTSD, however. Retraumatization is a real thing. While I chose to take the risk for myself, I cannot recommend it to others in good consciense.

These two things have helped me with my relationship to myself. But when it comes to healthy communication and relationships with others, including building healthy intimate relationships, you can only go so far on your own or by reading books. This is because it's hard to know what healthy communication is like and what relating to close others in a healthy way is unless you've experienced it or it's been modeled to you. It's this second part that therapy helps with.

I understand the concern of it being expensive. I have a similar concern, which is why I did my best to do as much therapy to myself as possible. I dislike it when people recommend therapy to me, because if good therapy was available and affordable to me, I would have pursued it. I only mentioned it in your case because you shared being in a developed country (and thus likely to actually have access to quality professionals + a healthcare system that can help out with the expense) + you shared that you are in a good spot financially. Good therapy is worth it in terms of increased quality of life. Bad therapy is not. So if you have the chance to access good therapy, I say give it a try.

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:14 am
by bostonimproper
I grew up in a pretty toxic household, a lot of it a byproduct of deep financial strain. Though I think I invested more in friendship and relationships from a young age, I was socially awkward and lacked empathy relative to my peers. I've gotten a lot better since, but it took an active willingness to let go of some key parts of my former self to make happen.

I used to have a profoundly dark humor, it helped me cope. But I would often misdirect it, being overly critical toward others and thinking myself witty when I was just being mean. I lost multiple friends that way. It took me a few years, but I more or less just don't make biting, cynical, or dark jokes anymore because I couldn't trust myself to do that without hurting or alienating others. To form the habit, I would constantly monitor and catch myself as I was thinking the joke, holding my tongue when a quip arose. Eventually that thought pattern just went away.

I also had to learn how to disagree with others more constructively. I found the book Difficult Conversations by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen helped me notch down the conflict level from a near-constant 8 to a 1 or 2.

Developing empathy and understanding that everyone has their own baggage and trauma was important in my development. I spent a lot of time reading and watching media by and of the sorts of people I disliked. I imagined what their past influences were and how that brought them to what they are today.

Picking the right partner (if that's your way) is also important. It's very easy to fall back into toxic patterns that feel familiar to you. Codependency can rear its ugly head. You may also find yourself stoking toxicity in your relationship because you feel like you need the conflict for the relationship to feel real, much to the bemusement of your partner. I'd recommend checking out Couples Therapy on Showtime as an example. Not having a relationship is better than having a bad one.

Most important rule I learned: Treat others as they would want to be treated, not how you want to be treated.

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:55 am
by ertyu
Ha, I hadn't thought of it, but seconding the "lack empathy relative to my peers" thing. When you haven't been empathized with, you learn to numb that shit down. When you haven't been modeled empathy - you haven't been exposed to adults being empathetic to each other - you almost don't have it on your mental map that being empathetic to others is a thing, let alone knowing how to do it. I also needed to consciously develop that skill, and also in response to negative feedback from valued friends I lost due to being a relational troglodyte. My experience of growing up in a dysfunctional family very much jives with @bi's.

I will check out Difficult Conversations as well. Thank you for the rec, @bi

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 11:35 am
by nikolaj
bostonimproper wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:14 am
I have a similar experience of training myself to stop saying unkind things, and i feel like i have been able to stop doing it completely. I used the same method as you, but i also started copying the things another person said who is considered a kind person. It works quite well.

Empathy is definetely difficult. I started taking baby steps towards developing empathy a few weeks ago. I can't really feel much, but i tred giving a few people words of encouragement when they felt down last week, and they to appreciated it so much that i am now considered a much more important person to them. So there is clearly some very strong motivation to learn empathy, and your strategy for doing that seems good so i will copy it.

Thank you for sharing your insights.

Re: Looking for advice on large changes in life

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 11:49 am
by Ego
ertyu wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:40 am
Two free things that have actually helped: the book Focusing by Eugene Gendlin (old by now, so possible to buy second hand and/or pirate online if it's not accessible for you in your country).

The second free thing that helped is reading the book Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro,
Free to borrow in our new National Emergency Library.


As well as the one Boston recommended