Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

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

Post by Jason » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:25 am

I'm a Christian and I don't hate gays any more than I hate most people. What I do hate is when people tell me that because I am ethically opposed to something that they do that I am being hateful or fearful or that I am threatened.

Anyways, as usual, love the postcards from the black hole that you call your life. I would never give you advice because its obviously as fruitless as a Seventh Day Adventist compound, but recently I read the entire serenity prayer. I didn't realize that the one I learned to recite while standing around in a circle holding hands with crackheads was just the abbreviated version. The full version has a line that says "So I may be REASONABLY happy in this life." I thought that was interesting. Maybe something to think about while you're skiing with your kids.

suomalainen
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Book Review: Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Eric Barker

Post by suomalainen » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:33 pm

I'm lazy when it comes to book reviews, but this was one that was recommended by @dragline almost a year ago and I finally got around to reading it. So, a few thoughts and quotes that connected with me:

In chapter 3, some interesting ideas about re-framing so that the only thing that changes about a situation is how you view it. Say you’re frustrated about your life and you think about all the other great things you could be doing (ski bum, biking, traveling the world, vanlifing, etc). If you focus on that story, you will be miserable comparing your actual life to that. Instead, let go of the story that doesn’t exist and focus on your actual story. If there are things you don’t enjoy about your current story, decide whether to keep or quit certain parts. Whatever you keep, re-frame. If it’s a hard thing, re-frame it as a game - break it down to simpler goals, give yourself rewards, etc. The important part of it will be how you change your story.

Page 99 - “ Research shows that when we choose to quit pursuing unattainable goals, we are happier, less stressed, and get sick less often.”

Page 179 - “Why is confidence so powerful? It gives us a feeling of control. [quoting Marshall Goldsmith:] People who believe they can succeed see opportunities, where others see threats. They are not afraid of uncertainty or ambiguity, they embrace it. They take more risks and achieve greater returns. Given the choice, they bet on themselves. Successful people have a high ‘internal locus of control.’ In other words, they do not feel like victims of fate.”

Page 195-196 - “Compassion for yourself when you fail means you don’t need to be a delusional jerk to succeed and you don’t have to feel incompetent to improve. You get off the yo-yo experience of absurd expectations and beating yourself up when you don’t meet them. You stop lying to yourself that you’re so awesome. Instead, you focus on forgiving yourself when you’re not...Research suggests that self-compassion is strongly related to psychological wellbeing, including increased happiness, optimism, personal initiative, and connectedness, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, neurotic perfectionism, and rumination.”

Page 235 - “American Culture has increasingly emphasized high expectations and following your dreams – things that feel good when you are young. However, the average mature adult has realized that their dreams might not be fulfilled, and less happiness is the inevitable result. Mature adults in previous eras might not have expected so much, but expectations are now so high they can’t be met.”

Pages 237-238 - “Here’s the problem: we love having choices. We hate making choices. Having choices means having possibilities. Making choices means losing possibilities. And having so many choices increases the chance of regret. When work is always a choice, everything is a trade-off. More time working means less time with your friends, spouse, or kids. And if you choose wrong, it’s your fault, making choices even more stressful. We work harder but feel worse because everything is being judged, constantly.”

Pages 238-239 - “But when we feel such intense pressure to succeed both at work and at home, when there are always choices and it feels like it’s our fault, we become desperate for a solution. Some of us set aside a facet of our lives so that other categories can thrive. Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson, the authors of Just Enough, and HBS Professor Clay Christensen call the strategy “sequencing“. The attitude being: First I’ll work a job I hate and make a lot of money and then I’ll have a family and then I’ll do what I want and be happy.… As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.“

Page 240 - “Barry Schwartz says we have to become “choosers” instead of “pickers”. A picker selects from the options available, leading us into false dichotomies created by the options we see in front of us. But a chooser “is thoughtful enough to conclude that perhaps none of the available alternatives are satisfactory, and that if he or she wants the right alternative, he or she may have to create it.”

Pages 241-242 - “In Just Enough the authors refer to it as a “collapsing strategy“– collapsing everything into one barometer of whether or not our life is on track. Most find it easy to focus just on money and say “make the number go up”. Convenient, simple... and dead wrong. As we saw, the insanely successful people the authors spoke to often felt they were missing out in another area of life, like their relationships. When we try to collapse everything into one metric we inevitably get frustrated. The researchers realized multiple yardsticks for life were necessary...It can be intimidating to have to determine, right now, what balance of these [suggested yardsticks] will provide what you need for the rest your life. You don’t need to go that far. What made you feel fulfilled at age 10 isn’t true at 20 and won’t be true at 80. Things will change and that’s OK. Specifics will shift, but your values probably won’t move nearly as much.”

Page 242 - “ Barry Schwartz says that what we often fail to realize is [that] constraints are welcome. They make decisions easier. They make life simpler. They make it “not your fault”. So they make us happier. We believe these constraints are ultimately worth the trade-off. Limitless freedom is alternately paralyzing and overwhelming.”

****

Also, a couple of other items that have stuck with me from the last couple years:

Can’t Stop Ruminating About the Past? Here's What to Do Instead
Do you know the literal meaning of rumination?

I was curious when I looked up the definition for the first time: “To chew the cud, as a ruminant.” I was put off when I looked up the meaning of ruminant: “Any even-toed, hoofed mammal … and including, besides domestic cattle, bison, buffalo, deer, antelopes, giraffes, camels, and chevrotains.” And I was horrified when I searched up cud: “The portion of food that a ruminant returns from the first stomach to the mouth to chew a second time.”

That’s when I decided never to ruminate again! Needless to say, I struggled initially, but the visual image it conjured was powerful enough* to keep me from playing the past over and over again in my mind.

*[Suo-editor's note: More graphic to me than a ruminant chewing cud (which is how it's designed) is the scriptural image of a dog turning to its own vomit.]

It was a continuous struggle nonetheless. I felt I was forever on guard, in perpetual fight-or-flight mode, trying to run away from my own past. It tired me out, but it also made me wonder whether denying past experiences was the best way forward. Why would we have this capacity if it didn’t hold at least some survival value?

I found my answer in science. I learned that the tendency to go over the past wasn’t a bad thing after all. The key was in how we reflected on what was already a fait accompli. I had been unaware of this distinction. And in my ignorance, I had been throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Where Does Your Past Take You?
According to research by Matt Killingsworth, human beings spend almost half their wakeful hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. This includes contemplating on what happened in the past, regardless of whether it was positive or negative. When you find yourself somewhere other than in the present moment, don’t rush to knock yourself out of your brain’s natural default mode. Instead, ask yourself whether you made the journey to a pleasant memory, or to one that continues to haunt you?

The Benefits of Story
When your mind has wandered to negative events, and is replaying them ad nauseum, it helps to know that it’s trying to make sense of the past so it can finally put it aside. Except of course, it’s struggling. That’s where you can help by grabbing a pen and pulling out your journal. Research shows that writing helps us piece together disjointed emotional events into a narrative that helps with resolution and meaning making. It also helps us learn from our mistakes, enhance our understanding and advance our growth and resilience.

Savor the Peak Moments from Your Past—the Right Way
Sometimes the mind does wander to the sweetness of the past, although given the natural negativity bias, it’s a less frequent occurrence. Hence the importance of hanging onto it when it does appear, and reviving it when it doesn’t. Take your time to savor what went well. Relive the conversations, the awe-struck moments, the playful times that brought you alive. But beware of writing them down! It appears that examining them in detail removes their aura of mystery and makes them less emotionally intense. It takes away from their “peakness”—which, according to psychologist Daniel Kahnemann, is a key factor in forming the story of our lives. In his book The Time Paradox, psychologist Philip Zimbardo states that the ideal time perspective is one of the past positive, the present hedonistic, and the future. And that’s a great ratio for happiness.

But meaning lies in making sense of adverse events, and building coherence between our past, present and future. The past negative has much to teach us—but only if we write it down!
***

I copied this down but can't find the specific page, but it's somewhere from homairakabir.com. It's been really helpful perspective when I find myself falling back onto my sheep/follower/deferential tendencies due to my authoritarian upbringing. It's framed as a way to analyze whether you should pay any attention to criticism that comes your way:
When you do take action, there’s always the possibility that you’re criticized or rejected for your views or your actions. Instead of closing down in shame, consider where is the criticism coming from Is it from 1. someone who cares, or from 2. someone who’s attacking or rejecting you to feel better about themselves? (dismiss #2)

If it’s from someone who cares, are their values and vision for your life aligned 1. with your own, or 2. to their own vision of how you should live your life? (dismiss #2)

If your visions is aligned, 1. are their concerns justified, or 2. are they based on their own beliefs that may be misguided or exaggerated in some way? (dismiss #2)

If their concerns are justified, what plan will you put in place and what action will you take right now so you live a life that’s both true to yourself and wise within the larger perspective.
****

Deliberate mindfulness. Force quitting zombie processes. Stop thinking and stop planning - for a while you can just live. Quit pursuing unattainable goals. Reframe when you feel stuck. Stop ruminating.

All of these dots are essentially synonyms arrived at via different pathways, but they are slowly coming together to form a picture with sufficient power to cut through the haze of my anxiety. Letting go feels like killing yourself - no, not yourself, but killing the vulnerable little boy inside you that's "trying to make sense of the past." It's terrifying, but it's time.

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theanimal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by theanimal » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:00 am

Great post. Thanks for sharing. I just requested Barking Up.. from my library, looking forward to digging in further.

Seems like it touches on what has been a consistent topic of conversation on here this year. That attaining FI or anything else for that matter isn't where life begins. I find this something worth being reminded of, so that I live now and hopefully avoid what Emerson talks about.

Smashter
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Smashter » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:20 pm

Dang, as a fellow ruminator, that part hit home. There are so many good nuggets in the whole post. I second theanimal -- thanks!

The one part I wonder about is where it's advised that you should only write down negative experiences. I find that writing down positive things (like in a gratitude journal) can be very helpful.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:54 pm

Smashter wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:20 pm
The one part I wonder about is where it's advised that you should only write down negative experiences. I find that writing down positive things (like in a gratitude journal) can be very helpful.
My $.02 - I think the point is don't analyze the fuck out of it, you'll just ruin it. Keep it light and fun, the way you experienced it. For example, I really enjoyed the book and those few quotes are sufficient to remind me of the salient points made and their effect on me, but I don't need to go into why those passages are salient for me. The connection to / reminder of the positive emotion elicited by the concepts is sufficient.

EDIT: Compare as a counter example, this:
suomalainen wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:14 pm
I zoom from "I want to try this" to "I want to try that" and instead of making room for this or that in a small corner of my life, I blow it out of proportion. This or that becomes "I should have built my life around this or that." Like, I get a sense that there's something missing in my current life, and instead of just making room for that on a go-forward basis, I look backward at my life ruefully that I haven't made room for this most important thing that I clearly didn't previously find all that important as I didn't do anything with it then.
For a while there, I used to even over-analyze the positive happy experiences I had. Like "why was this such a good experience? how can I do this more often? maybe I should tweak this and that about my life to make my life look more like that positive experience? and maybe I should...etc, etc." And it was...umm...not...healthy. This may come as a surprise to some folks, but I scored very highly on neuroticism on that IPIP test. :shock:

Smashter
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Smashter » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:05 am

Gotcha. Sounds almost like AA for rumination. :) Better to not even "just have one."

suomalainen
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Change is in the air

Post by suomalainen » Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:34 am

Couple three things:

- This may just be the summer talking, but anxiety is mostly at bay and peace and warm and fuzzy feelings abound. Serenity now.
- This week I turn 40 and for the first time I will also reach 5 figures in TTM dividends. Round, but otherwise meaningless, numbers, yay.
- About a month ago, my SAHM (for past 11 years or so) wife and I had a fight over money over text message while we were sitting in different areas of the elementary school auditorium at a child's concert (good times!) and it ended with her saying "I'm tired of being resented, I'm going back to work." Sure, fine, whatever, I don't care either way, it's your thing. Fast forward a month and she mentions that she's been looking for jobs. Fast forward a couple of days to last night and she says that she could be a teaching assistant in the local school district to get her feet wet and try to re-build a resume and then maybe get certified and look for a full-time teaching position in a few years. The pay is $90/day or about $8/hr after tax. Kinda demotivating for her, but she needs to find some way to address what she perceives as my resentment towards her stay-at-homeness and what I think is similar to what @clarice and @7w5 described as feeling like a teenager on an allowance. I support and nod and do all the appropriate active listening stuff. The conversation also turns to budgeting and I mention the difference between earning money and cutting expenses and how the latter is so much more powerful due to the WR multiplier. I say something like "It would take me about 10-15 years to save a million dollars, but the equivalent could be achieved if you 'work' at cutting our spending by $40,000/yr. If the work you're looking at is going to pay you shit and not give you any sense of purpose for $8/hr, why not work for us and make us millionaires overnight?" Understanding dawns on her face. "I'll have to think about that some more..."

Smashter
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Smashter » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:30 pm

Happy bday and congrats on the progress, that's huge!

Clarice
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Re: Change is in the air

Post by Clarice » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:37 am

suomalainen wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:34 am
I'm going back to work." Sure, fine, whatever, I don't care either way, it's your thing.
Are you REALLY sure? Did you think it through? It's hard to imagine you not being affected by such a drastic change in your wife's life... Do you live in suburbia? If yes, who will drive the kids to school? Who will pick them up? Who will get them to where they need to go (play dates, activities)? What else is your wife doing instead of working outside the house? Who will be doing this?Maybe tutoring instead of TA? Seems like a good way "to get her feet wet" without introducing a drastic change into the life of your family while still earning some money. I feel your wife's pain. :cry: Her feelings are facts. These facts will affect her and you regardless of whether or not she acts upon them. I have some entirely unsolicited advice to your wife. :lol: Pass it on to her at your own risk: :twisted:

1. Frown your eyebrows really hard and come up with the area of your future expertise (math? English?);
2. Think of credentials in this area that you already possess (any relevant education, volunteering experience in the past, current experience in the kids's school);
3. Put it all together and engage in a sustained advertising campaign;
4. Get your first victim;
5. Now you have real, recent, and relevant experience; get more students.
6. Frown your eyebrows really hard and think of the money that you've earned. Think a little bit harder.

I remember the days of sitting through DD's shows at her elementary school separately from DH... ugh...You'll get to the other end of it in one piece. :o

suomalainen
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Re: Change is in the air

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:35 pm

@smashter thx. Not really progress, methinks - more like an opening. We'll see if any seeds get planted.
Clarice wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:37 am
suomalainen wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:34 am
I'm going back to work." Sure, fine, whatever, I don't care either way, it's your thing.
Are you REALLY sure?
Yes. A few years ago I quit. I came home from having drinks with colleagues after work (at a time I didn't do this often) and she was all pissy at me for coming home late even though I had cleared it with her before and she had said it was fine. And she tried blaming me for her emotions. I was like "I quit". From that moment on, I have ZERO tolerance for her not owning her own shit and I no longer go out of my way to try to solve her problems for her (a problem habit I previously had). As I think @7w5 put it so nicely: don't accept responsibility where you have no authority. And you definitely have no authority over another person's emotions and how they choose to express and respond to them.

Anyway, point being that it is 100% her thing. I will neither encourage her to do X because it's what I really want for myself nor encourage her to do Y because it's what I think she really needs. She'll either figure it out on her own or she won't. The best I can (and will) do is offer clear and honest (and non-manipulative) feedback that "This isn't working for me" or "I can't support that" or "This works great" or "I can support that" so that she is aware of what the consequences of her choices are (or probably will be). She is free to ignore that feedback or include it in her decision making. That said, I have long thought that some structure (job) would do her good. Full time would not work well for her or our family, but part time would definitely be a good challenge for her. She appears to be of the same mind. But if she chooses full time work, the rest of us will be forced to adapt and...who knows? Could be good, could be bad. Few choices are irreversible, so a poor choice simply requires a new one to correct it. Time will tell.

As to your other questions: we live in suburbia. The bus picks up the elementary school kids and the middle/high schoolers can walk, even in winter. :twisted: Wife does drive them sometimes when it snows or if she otherwise wants to. I don't chauffeur when they have working feet and reasonable distances. Wife is pretty introverted and always hated play-dates so the kids rarely had them. Activities are after school and she has driven. I drive Wed and Sat. If she decides to take a job that interferes with the activities she chauffeured to, the activities would have to be dropped. She volunteered at a teaching position at her church when the youngest was in 1, 2 and 3rd grade. That's finished now. She handles most of the shopping and kids stuff. That stuff would have to be shared more if she went to work. I wouldn't mind as I would simply do the things that needed to get done my way without worrying about doing it her way. As noted above, the control issues in our marriage have been completely solved for a few years now. She is also considering some sort of business doing art teaching (her area) rather than through the schools.
Last edited by suomalainen on Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Clarice
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Clarice » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:41 pm

Looks like you are full of resolve. Best of luck!

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:50 pm

Meh. I don't know that it's resolve so much as an acceptance of the fact that it's not my problem. My problem isn't deciding whether or not she goes to work but how I would adjust to it. And in fact the question isn't really "Do I go to work or not?" The question is "how do I address these emotions" and her solution so far is "go to work". I think that is a fine solution but there are others, which I have relayed to wife. But she is the only one that can decide how to resolve her emotional reaction to our current situation.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Change is in the air

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:34 am

suomalainen wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:35 pm
I no longer go out of my way to try to solve her problems for her (a problem habit I previously had).
I still struggle with this. After years of marriage, my instinct is still to respond to her complaining by offering solutions. I always have to remind myself that its not about the nail. Just stick to the script: "I'm so sorry, darling. That must be really difficult."

suomalainen
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Re: Change is in the air

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:17 am

ThisDinosaur wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:34 am
I always have to remind myself that its not about the nail.
Ha ha ha ha ha, that is freaking hilarious! I also try to remember this (referencing a link to a video in the prior comment on the thread):
suomalainen wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:41 pm
~18:15 - The problem is to a hammer everything looks like a nail; to a problem-solver, everything looks like a problem. So that leads to a negative critical attitude towards life. Here's a problem, there's a problem. If I can't find a problem right here and right now, then I have to go out and find a problem, cause that's a problem if I can't find a problem. So I will go looking into the past for a problem to solve in the past and that's usually a resentment of some kind; I gotta solve that resentment problem. Or I'll go off into the future and try to solve some future problem and that often results in fear if I don't think I've come up with the perfect solution to that future problem. The Thinker also argues with reality - this shouldn't have happened; why did that happen. The Thinker is always rehashing and rehearsing - rehashing the past and rehearsing the future...negative emotions are a problem for the Thinker - how do I make sure this thing doesn't happen again this thing that caused this negative emotion, that's a problem. Positive emotions are also a problem - how do I make sure this happens all the time? In fact, a Thinker can turn a positive emotion into a negative emotion - the fear of what happens when this goes away, I'm going to be unhappy.
Also applies to other people's problems.

And that quote also fits nicely into a prior post about too much rumination.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:51 am

Totally. A problem solver with no problems is a problem. But I don't really understand how to execute any alternatives. We have a brain to DO things. Nervous systems connect to muscles to make movements and effect the world. Plants don't have brains because they don't need to move. A successful Buddhist, who eliminated all desires from himself, would fail to do anything but sit still and starve to death.

I definitely ruminate too much, but I also can't tolerate the absence of goals.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:28 am

ThisDinosaur wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:51 am
A successful Buddhist, who eliminated all desires from himself, would fail to do anything but sit still and starve to death.
Sitting still is doing something, wanting something. Try sitting still without wanting to sit still or trying to sit still. Can you have a goal to not have a goal? (Is this sentence false?)

Anyway, at the very least you can use your brain to choose what it is you do (spend time on), what effect on the world you have. When it comes to relationship enmeshment, choose to view a surface problem and tease out what the real problem is in your own mind. If wife complains about something, solve the problem of what's the real problem? And then use your brain to tease out who's problem is it (who has authority/responsibility to solve it)? For example, she complains you did X and it hurt her feelings. You're not (and indeed cannot be) responsible for her feelings, but did you do something that you agree/think you should change, because the identified behavior is not congruent with your values? Or is she projecting her needs/emotions onto you? If it ain't you, be compassionate but move on, she'll get over it when she sees you're not manipulable. You have plenty of your own problems, my friend, so focus on those. I doubt you spend time on the mid-east peace problem, so why spend time on your wife's problems? Unless she asks for help removing the nail, at which point by all means go to town and dig that sucker out.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:01 pm

Well, I meditate (badly) and I am sort of analytical. So I've come to the stoic conclusion that its not the thing, its how you feel about the thing. Compulsive ruminating makes me uncomfortable. Is ruminating the problem? Or is my discomfort about it the problem?

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:13 pm

ThisDinosaur wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:51 am
A successful Buddhist, who eliminated all desires from himself, would fail to do anything but sit still and starve to death.
Don't Buddhists believe in reincarnation? They come back as an earthworm or cat or an annoying Hollywood actress? Unless Serena William's shower head is on the table, I want no part of having to return to this bundle of bullshit. And even then I'm not so sure. To have to go all through all this again. Childhood with a bat shit crazy mother, then a life of work, saving money to retire. Fuck it. And my luck I'll come back as Soumalainen. Or worse, his wife.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:51 pm

@TD

Patient: "Doctor, it hurts whenever I do this [indicating]. How can I make it stop hurting?"

Doctor: "Don't do that."

Is there a deeper answer to your question? Maybe ruminate on it until you find The Truth.

@jace Well aren't we just Mr. Grumpypants?

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:24 pm

@Suo

JKing

My therapy has been focused on getting out of a performance based mind set - "I will be happy if" or "If only I had done this" or "I need to do this." The whole system is doomed to failure. I think people are afraid that if they give it up, they will realize that they will have nothing in its stead. But it's not being. It's performing. And I'm tired of being a clown to some artificial expectations that I have just assumed without even knowing I have taken them on.

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