oldbeyond's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
oldbeyond
Posts: 231
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:26 am

I tend to write headings for different parts of my life. I try to make the whole > (sum/product) of the different spheres and make sure my goals are aligned, but I need some structure that chops the chaos of life into manageable pieces.

There are different ways of looking at the whole. It can be conceived as a simple sum. In that case, moving from 9 to 10 in one category (the numbers/scale obviously being arbitrary) is the same as moving from 1 to 2 in another. Or, it's some kind of product where the impact is much greater if you move from bad to ok than from very good to great. One could certainly create many different models that were all providing some truth, and debate their respective merits (and of course how you define and weigh the different spheres is also arbitrary). But it seems to me the product route is the way to go.

Looking at myself, what I usually call the MENTAL sphere is obviously dragging the whole down (half empty), and that's where the potential for great improvement lies (half full). The other spheres, as I've defined them, are OK to good at this point, even if none of them really achieve greatness. But the MENTAL part of my life is, if not terrible, bad. There are a few separate issues I'm dealing with (anxiety, self-esteem, meaning), but the most acute problem (that also feeds into the others) is my poor sleep. There have been periods of relative stability, but overall I've struggled with sleep since my teens. Right now, the last six months have been bad, and the last few weeks terrible, with sleepless nights and accumulating fatigue that is starting to alter my personality and restrict my life (energy is too low for a lot of activities by this point). So short term, I need to get out of this bout of insomnia, and medium term I need to to everything I can to improve sleep quality, making sure that my lows are much higher. With good sleep, I should mellow a bit and be able to attack them from a place of (relative) strength.

oldbeyond
Posts: 231
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: oldbeyond's journal

Post by oldbeyond » Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:00 am

I'm over my acute sleeping problems, but there are still a lot of ground to cover in order to solve, or at least more robustly manage them. Thinking about it more clearly now without the insomnia clouding my brain, and without the frustration and panic of ”no sleep”, I feel it’s quite obvious that it is my anxious habit of continually turning over thoughts in my head, usually in a desperate search for certainty and permance, that keeps me up at night. When I’m not actively engaged in thought, I’m in the chaotic emotional aftermath of it. The desire to avoid pain really is the pain. And this is felt in other parts of my life, too. Basically, I’m a person craving total stability who spends a large chunk of his day mulling over potentially very serious problems (ecological, economical, political, social, cultural). Clearly, something has to give. Logically, there are not too many options:

1. Alter reality - basically solve every issue that would menace humanity. Obviously not an option, really.
2. Alter my perception of reality - basically active ignorance. This seems like a poor and brittle strategy and is perhaps most unworkable for someone with my temperament.
3. Alter my craving for stability. Which is basically what our great ethical and spiritual schools try to teach us. I guess this really is the only option.

This feels like a rather daunting and nebulous task, obviously. I’ve read quite a bit on the subject before - Seneca, quite a bit about daoism/zen, Nietzsche, Peterson etc. I’ve done some CBT before and was quite successful in the defined realm where I applied it. But I’ve never really put in the work to alter my more basic anxieties.

At it’s root, I think it comes down to a lack of humility. I have this sense that I should not have to endure inconvenience and discomfort and that the world should cater to all my needs, without me really having to do or even say anything to aid the process. This leads to me being easily annoyed by any hiccup, both in people or things. Continued failure leads to an inversion of the basic feeling, where I am now uniquely wretched and useless instead. This creates a lot of unnecessary suffering for me and others, and maintains a rut that should never have been.

So what do I do? Journaling helped me a lot with my sleep. The act of having to look at my routine and choices and reflect on them allowed my to cut through a lot of the emotional cobwebs. This will be the first tool I employ - a short written reflection on my day, my emotions, thoughts, actions and passivity. I will keep it simple and concrete as I have a tendency to loose myself in long, ornate musings. Hopefully this will be a first good step.

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