Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
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Stahlmann
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Stahlmann »

Interesting, but depressing perspective. Especially when you're incompatible with workforce and you don't have energy to find (at least a bit more like you) humans after work.

(I guess it's possible to write 5 line script which would emulate me over here :lol:)

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

@cL - Agree. I like to differentiate between personality and skills. Can an introvert become an extrovert? Probably not, right? But an introvert can learn necessary social skills and how to apply them in the appropriate circumstances to be able to successfully navigate this life. You may not like it, you may not enjoy it, but you may find the benefits outweigh the discomfort. On the other hand, if instead, you look at your introversion as a character-flaw and you try to force yourself to be extroverted thinking that that is "how you should be", then you are likely to suffer brutal cognitive dissonance, without understanding why you feel like shit all the time. As you put it, much better to see yourself clearly and clearly draw the distinction between personality and skills. Accept the personality, develop the skills.

This comment also applies to @stahl - you can discover and accept the manner in which you are "incompatible with workforce", and with that honest self-examination, you can then decide how to address the situation so that you live the life you want to live. Find a job that fits you; develop skills to manage the incompatibility; find a rich sugar mama; etc. Find a solution that accepts and honors you for who you are while also giving you what you feel like you are lacking (income, challenge/purpose/meaning, or whatever a job gives you).

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

@suo
Very much agree. I think this cognitive dissonance internally, is similar to expectations externally. They lead to broken people, relationships and institutions. Thinking I am broken because I am something, is bad. Thinking someone else is broken because they are something other than my expectations is equally bad, and perpetuates the former (ie me reinforcing to them they are broken). Accepting that I, or they, are what they are, and learning to cope with that as best we can creates functionality.

In this way I very much think that perpetuating ideals as a possible reality is so very harmful. Ideals are just that, ideals. We strive towards them without attaining them. We cannot expect anyone else to reach ideal either. We waste so much effort trying to change ourselves to fit into our lives, when what we should be doing is creating lives in which we fit. Put another way, we waste so much effort trying to make the world more compatible to us. Instead we should be focusing on ways to interact with the world as it is, knowing who we are.

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Lemur
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Lemur »

@Suo

Accept the personality, develop the skills.

I like it....this succinct sentence might be a great reminder for me when I'm feeling the negative effects of 'moving up' my career ladder (which is something I've accepted that I can not avoid at this time). I was arriving to somewhat similar conclusions as I tackled my recent career dilemma of resisting or going for management. I rationalized that the former (my personality) would be a 'Peter Principle' and something I should avoid. But....managing and organizing people and resources is a skill at the end of the day that can be learned. A great reminder that even extroverts can suck at managing.

suomalainen
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Mistakes Were Made

Post by suomalainen »

suomalainen wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:10 am
6. Kids make everything complicated, and separation/divorce even more so. If you love them, that love forces you to put them first in your dealings with them and your (former) partner, meaning that you learn really quickly just how adult you and your (former) partner can be about navigating the dual minefields of past grievances and future planning. See also #3 above.
I wrote this exactly one year ago. I've written and deleted several posts in the last couple of months detailing my emotional processing over that time period. Something about them was either too vulnerable or too ... something, that I didn't feel right posting them. The gist of the last few months, however, is that I read "Mistakes Were Made", a book that @Jacob had alluded to a few posts back, and I spent an ... incredible amount of time examining myself and my relationship for all of the places where I made mistakes. Talk about a mindfuck. Long story short... I've made a lot of mistakes.

The summary of the book is this: people have cognitive dissonance, and they typically react to cognitive dissonance with selective memory, confirmation bias and self-justification. As applied to marriages, you basically have cognitive dissonance and you develop a theory (narrative) that appears to resolve it; you remember what you need to to support your narrative; you focus on new facts to support your narrative; you disregard new facts that challenge your narrative; and you make yourself the good guy and your partner the bad guy. This pattern is what causes many break-ups - you refuse to acknowledge your mistakes and make changes while blaming your partner for their mistakes and refusal to make changes.

But "cause" here is a "how", not a "why". Because I was pretty focused on understanding the "why", at first I had tremendous anxiety that the book would show me that I had made a huge mistake in leaving my wife - that the book would somehow leverage my conscience and indict me. It took me a while of thinking and reading to understand that the book was describing a mechanism rather than containing an Absolute-Truth-Backed-By-Science that "you should stay married and if you don't, you're a bad self-justifying asshole". Yes, I made mistakes, and yes I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking "Well maybe if I'd done this that way..." or "maybe if she'd done that this way...". But it's a fool's errand. Identifying all your mistakes might help build the explanatory road of HOW exactly the relationship deteriorated, but not why.

The "why" you have cognitive dissonance cannot be explained by reference to a discussion of how humans typically subconsciously react to cognitive dissonance. What caused the cognitive dissonance in the first place that engenders the reactionary self-justification that accelerates the demise? If cognitive dissonance is the wedge and self-justification the sledge hammer, removing the sledge hammer could perhaps save a marriage, but it can't by itself remove the wedge. As I thought more about this, and thought, and thought... I twisted myself in circles, often confusing the mistakes of using the sledge hammer with the existence of the wedge. In the end, I think the answer is this: relationships don't work out for any number of reasons. Mine didn't work out because we got married young, we were immature, we waited too long to learn what we would have needed to learn to stay together, and/or we were just too different to really bridge the biggest gaps in the deepest parts of ourselves. Self-justification may have played a role in my break-up, and it may continue to play a role in my post-break-up psyche, but it doesn't have to.

As an example of self-justification's reactionary impulse to cognitive dissonance and when I realized that I needed to do something different: In November, we had a fight about custody and I became ... feral. I felt she had threatened me, and shit just hit the fan. She quickly backpedaled which helped me to quickly backpedal and disaster was averted. But from that exchange, I realized that I have to put my hurt and pain aside. I always felt like I couldn't put my needs aside for her, because I feared she would never take care of my needs - it felt like the choice I had before me was to lose her or to lose myself in service to her. Perhaps she felt the same way and this is just a vicious cycle, but that feral custody fight opened my eyes. I need to get over myself, for the good of the kids. I need a good relationship with this woman, and I was never going to get it if I expected anything for myself from it. So, that's what I've been trying to do since early November - not reacting to her provocations as I would have in the past; making friendly gestures to her without any expectation of receiving anything in return or of receiving gratitude; not expecting her to ever think positively of me or even caring whether she does. Self-justification might have caused me to continue relating to her in the same (unhealthy) manner as before, and perhaps I could have built up a narrative that she was the bad guy, etc., but I just didn't want to do that. I had to decide who I wanted to be regardless of who she decided she wanted to be (or if she just stayed stuck in sub-/unconscious patterns).

Cognitive dissonance isn't going away. It will crop up from time to time, but the better way to approach cognitive dissonance is to go at it eyes wide open and make as clear a decision as you can as to how to address it. As to my marriage, I hope this paragraph can be used to describe its dissolution:
"Couples who part because of clear external reasons - say, because one spouse is physically or emotionally abusive - will feel no need for additional self-justification. Nor will those rare couples who part in complete amicability, or who eventually restore warm feelings of friendship after the initial pain of separation. They feel no urgency to vilify their former partner or forget happier times, because they are able to say, 'It didn't work out,' 'We just grew apart,' or 'We were so young when we married and didn't know better.'" Pgs 176-177.
To those of you experiencing "wedges" in your relationships, I highly recommend this book so that you can stop taking a sledgehammer to those wedges and can begin to address those wedges head-on. Wishing you peace at the end of this bumfuck year and a much better '21.

*******************

The remainder of my reading notes for "Mistakes Were Made":

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). Carol Tavris and Elliot Arronson. Discussion of self-justification as our way of dealing with cognitive dissonance, with confirmation bias being a primary mode. Also discusses how memory can be faulty and how we can shape our memories to make ourselves look better to and feel better about ourselves.

As applied to marriage, “A moderate amount of postwedding, eyes-half-shut dissonance reduction, in which partners emphasize the positive and overlook the negative, allows things to hum along in harmony. But the identical mechanism allows some people to remain in marriages that are the psychological equivalent of La Conchita, on the brink of constant disaster. What do deliriously happy newlyweds have in common with unhappy couples who have remained together, in bitterness or weariness, for many years? An unwillingness to take heed of dissonant information…Unhappy spouses who have long tolerated one another’s cruelty, jealousy, or humiliation are also busy reducing dissonance. To avoid facing the devastating possibility that they invested so many years, so much energy, so many arguments, in a failed effort to achieve even peaceful coexistence, they say something like ‘All marriages are like this Nothing can be done about it, anyway. There are enough good things about it. Better to stay in a difficult marriage than to be alone.’ Self-justification…keeps many marriages together (for better or worse) and it tears others asunder (for better or worse). Couples start off blissfully optimistic, and over the years some will move in the direction of greater closeness and affection, others in the direction of greater distance and hostility. Some couples find in marriage a source of solace and joy, a place to replenish the soul, a relationship that allows them to flourish as individuals and as a couple. For others, marriage becomes a source of bickering and discord, a place of stagnation, a relationship that quashes their individuality and dissipates their bond. Our goal in this chapter is not to imply that all relationships can and should be saved, but rather to show how self-justification contributes to these two different outcomes.” Pgs. 159 - 161.

“[There's self-justification about dumb shit, but the type of self-justification we are talking about is not little shit.] The kind that can erode a marriage, however, reflects a more serious effort to protect not what we did but who we are, and it comes in two versions: ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ and ‘even if I’m wrong, too bad; that’s the way I am.’…[it’s not] ‘I’m right and you’re wrong about that memory.’ [It’s] ‘I am the right kind of person and you are the wrong kind of person. And because you are the wrong kind of person, you cannot appreciate my virtues; foolishly, you even think some of my virtues are flaws.’ … [You get to the crux, and] the steps they take to resolve the dissonance between ‘I love this person’ and ‘This person is doing some things that are driving me crazy’ will enhance their love story or destroy it. They are going to have to decide how to answer some key questions about those crazy things their partner does: Are they due to an unchangeable personality flaw? Can I live with them? Are they grounds for divorce? Can we find a compromise? Could I - horror of horrors - learn something from my partner, maybe improve my own way of doing things? … Self justification is blocking each partner from asking: could I be wrong? Could I be making a mistake? Could I change?…[you develop an implicit story of the marriage and] the trouble is that once people develop an implicit theory, the confirmation bias kicks in and they stop seeing evidence that doesn’t fit it. [You don’t remember or you downplay the good things about the person - the things that show that “she always” is wrong. In addition, for yourself, you will likely give yourself credit for your good things and have a situational excuse for your bad things (I was tired or similar); whereas you might do the opposite for your partner.] … Successful partners extend to each other the same self-forgiving ways of thinking we extend to ourselves: They forgive each other’s misses as being due to the situation, but give each other credit for the thoughtful and loving things they do… While happy partners are giving each other the benefit of the doubt, unhappy partners are doing just the opposite…Implicit theories have powerful consequences because they affect, among other things, how couples argue, and even the very purpose of an argument. If a couple is arguing from the premise hat each is a good person who did something wrong but fixable, or who did something blunder headed because of momentary situational pressures, there is hope of correction and compromise. But, once again, unhappy couples invert this premise. Because each partner is expert at self-justification, they each blame the other’s unwillingness to change on personality flaws, but excuse their own unwillingness to admit they were wrong or modify a habit that annoys or distresses their partner [by saying, ‘I can’t help it, that’s just the way I am.] Pgs. 167 - 171.

“Contemptuous exchanges like this one are devastating because they destroy the one thing that self-justification is designed to protect: our feelings of self-worth, of being loved, of being a good and respected person. Contempt is the final revelation to the partner that ‘I don’t value the “who” that you are.’ We believe that contempt is a predictor of divorce not because it causes the wish to separate, but because it reflects the couple’s feelings of psychological separation. Contempt emerges only after years of squabbles and quarrels that keep resulting in yet another unsuccessful effort to get the other person to behave differently…Anger reflects the hope that a problem can be corrected. When it burns out, it leaves the ashes of resentment and contempt.” Pg. 172.

"Couples who part because of clear external reasons - say, because one spouse is physically or emotionally abusive - will feel no need for additional self-justification. Nor will those rare couples who part in complete amicability, or who eventually restore warm feelings of friendship after the initial pain of separation. They feel no urgency to vilify their former partner or forget happier times, because they are able to say, 'It didn't work out,' 'We just grew apart,' or 'We were so young when we married and didn't know better.'" Pgs 176-177. This reminds me of my ex’s often saying that she looks back on us with grace.

My reaction to the marital section is the idea that, yes, it seems clear that self-justification and confirmation bias and selective memory is the mechanism by which “implicit theories” of marriage are reinforced, but the book doesn’t really address the question of WHY those theories are chosen and/or HOW one should choose one’s implicit theory. In this instance, it is somewhat a case of first impression and/or water torture. An implicit theory seems to be built up brick by brick over time, with the first steps laying the foundation. If you start off on the wrong foot… over time it gets harder and harder to make changes. This appears to be what happened with me and my ex.

In discussing the usefulness of external feedback of our blind spots, “In our private relationships, we are on our own, and that calls for some self-awareness. Once we understand how and when we need to reduce dissonance, we can become more vigilant about the process and often nip it in the bud…By looking at our actions critically and dispassionately, as if we were observing someone else, we stand a chance of breaking out of the cycle of action followed by self-justification, followed by more committed action. We can learn to put a little space between what we feel and how we respond, insert a moment of reflection…” Pg 225.

“The goal is to become aware of the two dissonant cognitions that are causing distress and find a way to resolve them constructively, or, when we can’t, learn to live with them. In 1985, Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres was thrown into dissonance by an action taken by his ally and friend Ronald Reagan. Peres was angry because Reagan had accepted an invitation to pay a state visit to the Komeshohe Cemetery at Bitburg, Germany, to symbolize the two nations’ post-war reconciliation. The announcement of the proposed visit enraged Holocaust survivors and many others, because forty-nine Nazi Waffen-SS officers were buried there. Reagan, however, did not back down from his decision to visit the cemetery. When reporters asked Peres what he thought of Reagan’s action, Peres neither condemned Reagan personally nor minimized the seriousness of the visit to Bitburg. Instead, Peres took a third course. ‘When a friend makes a mistake,’ he said, ‘the friend remains a friend, and the mistake remains a mistake.’” Pgs 226-227.

“All of us have hard decisions to make at times in our lives; not all of them will be right, and not all of them will be wise. Some are complicated, with consequences we could never have foreseen. If we can resist the temptation to justify our actions in a rigid, overconfident way, we can leave the door open to empathy and an appreciation of life’s complexity, including the possibility that what was right for us might not have been right for others… [tells a story about a woman named Betty who divorced after 20 years and 1 child was supportive and the other devastated. After so-and-so many years, she reconciled with the devastated child and said] ‘Nowadays, when I feel passionate that I am 100% right about a decision that others question, I look at it again; that’s all.’ Betty did not have to admit that she made a mistake; she didn’t make a mistake. But she did have to let go of her need to be right.” Pgs 228-229.

It also talks about how mistakes in American culture are tied to stupidity. It is widely believed that stupidity leads to mistakes, so confronting someone about their mistakes can lead to them feeling like you are accusing them of stupidity. So lecturing, shaming or other versions of “sharp elbows” are totally unhelpful and will only trigger self-justification. November 2020.

suomalainen
Posts: 748
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Everything that has a beginning has an end

Post by suomalainen »

I find myself at a crossroads, having chosen to better align my external arrangements with my internal truths, at quite some cost (divorce settlement days away from being finalized, the total (not present) value to be transferred to ex-wife: well, let's just say that it's a lot* - and all tax-free to her to boot!). No matter. That price having been paid, I find myself free - not free to go casting about for some external picture that will “complete me” - a laughable concept, but free to accept the internal truths that will inevitably be reflected in a newly constructed life. Acceptance should come first; the choices will follow. Some truths I will embrace:

1. Life is nothing. It ever has been and ever will be. Life is ... simply because it is, and nothing more.
2. Life is everything. My heredity, my social constructs, my close acquaintances - all of this nothingness means everything to me because I am the center of my universe.
3. Therefore, I am Sisyphus, and I shall enjoy my toil, for it is what I am, and a thing can aspire to nothing greater than to fulfill the measure of its creation. Consciousness, and therefore imagination, allowing for the desire to be more (or other) than oneself, is an irony.
4. My toils, for now, encompass bearing others’ burdens too, including, but not limited to, my childrens’. Bigger kids equals bigger problems (see also, elderly parents).
5. For this reason, early retirement is a chimera - meaningless, useless even, a solution searching for a problem.
6. ERE, however, is different. It has nothing to do with retirement. Systems thinking, continually developing and broadening skillsets, resilience and anti-fragility - these are the core useful tenets of ERE, and I will forever be grateful for this community’s assistance in sharpening and formalizing my thinking about these core truths.

Acceptance comes first; otherwise, you’re pushing the wrong rock.

* I originally wrote out the figure. But it's embarrassing. And given the recent discussion about post deletion, etc., perhaps discretion is the better part.

suomalainen
Posts: 748
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Relationship Dynamics

Post by suomalainen »

I re-read The Intervention part of my journal. Good times. The gist of it is this:
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:17 am
What I see going on here is a classic pattern where nobody is truly willing to be the decision maker within the relationship. IOW, you are not offering your wife the straight-forward choice of going along with your plan or striking out on her own, because you are running some sort of covert script/contract in your mind only. So, your behavior has become largely passive aggressive rather than assertive.

...but one good thing about gender-dichotomy relationship theory is you can often just do your part and then your partner will naturally assume complementary better functioning. Basically, what you are doing is attempting to free trade Cherishment for Respect within the boundaries of your relationship.

What you are doing now is the often observed repressed grouchy guy thing. IOW, you don't quite have the balls to deal with the possible consequences of offering your wife clear leadership directive, so all you can do is sulk and occasionally snap.
Somehow, after all of the last year's worth of ruminating on the causes of my divorce, when I re-read The Intervention a few days ago, this clicked. At the time of The Intervention, I misread "basically, what you are doing is attempting to free trade cherishment for respect" as an admonishment to me of my particular behavior (i.e., that I *shouldn't* be trying to trade cherishment for respect), rather than as a general statement of heterosexual relationship dynamics (i.e., that men and women do this trading naturally in every relationship). 7w5 was instead basically telling me that I suck at giving cherishment and/or expecting (projecting?) respect, and that I should get better at it.

I've been spending an inordinate amount of time seeking a "first cause" to my divorce, but now I see that our relationship has been a struggle of her lacking cherishment and my lacking respect for our entire relationship. Every struggle, every argument viewed through this lens causes me to say "Wow. That's exactly it." She never felt cherished by me, and I never felt respected by her. Early examples:
  • I had a good friend who was female (older, married) when I met my wife. My wife always felt that I compared her (negatively) to my friend. And, in truth, I probably did. Ergo, I did not cherish her, even from the beginning.
  • My wife and I took a ballroom dancing class together when we were engaged. We had to quit after a few classes because she was completely unable to let me lead and/or I was completely unable to force her to follow. Ergo, she could not respect me, even from the beginning. (There are other examples, but this is the funniest, most visual.)
You'd think this realization might make me sad, but it gives me peace, closure. To have mentally chased a "first cause" for so long, to see where exactly we might have gone wrong along the way, where we might have made better choices, endlessly torturing the lines of life that would have resulted had I said this in that conversation. But, in the end, as it turns out, the first cause is this: we were two stupid kids who didn't know what we were doing. We fell in love with two ideas of persons, and not the persons themselves.

The Mason, Jake Scott
I held on so long
To what I've wanted
You to become
I see that you are not
What I dreamed you to be
That's not your fault

See, long ago, I made up my mind
She would be the love of my life
Now I see ignorance is bliss
See, I fell in love with an idea in my head
That's not who she is

See, I, I take a thought
And I'll let it grow 'til underneath it's weight I am caught
When all I saw was a glimpse of who you might be
I laid down these bricks

Building walls, so lovely and strong
There's no way, no chance I am wrong
Our castle stands, and I know just where she'll fit
She'll be with me here in my arms, I'm crazy in love
With who I think she is

When I finally get to see you
I latch onto the hope I see in you
And I won't let go
I'll say look there's a chance what I hoped for might actually be so
But I cannot justify this
Small suspicion that slowly is creeping in
That our castle walls are shaking
I fight the fact maybe I was mistaken

And I hate when I knew
That nothing was real in all that I had believed to be true
And the walls came crumbling down
And all I could think was where is all that wasted time now

See, long ago, I made up my mind
She would be the love of my life
Now I see I never really knew her one bit
See, I fell in love with an idea in my head
But that’s not who she is
No, that's not who she is
That's not who she is
And I can have empathy for, and forgive, two stupid kids.

edit: it's also a real shame that @Augustus' contributions to The Intervention were deleted. They were hilarious additions.

7Wannabe5
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Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I didn’t mean to recommend sexual dichotomy theory as be all end all. However, it is interesting to play with within context of conventional dating where its presence or lack of presence is usually fairly obvious. For instance, if a man suggests that I come over to his apartment and pick up a pizza on the way, I’m not feeling the cherishment. OTOH, if he inquires about whether his car heating is good for me and remembers my mentioned preference for Thai food in his planning then that’s better.

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