Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fighting the Coasting: Staying Alive

I crave to write this evening, yet not to construct any sort of outline, so I shall please myself with some rambling. Oh, don't I need to write more often . . . I so frequently write things in my head but never commit them to any sort of documentation, so I repressing my own desire for this hobby. Well, let's strive to make it more regular.

In thinking about my new year's resolutions I'm seeing more and more how my emotional goals are by far the most important of them all. As noted before, I suspect I have bipolar disorder, and I particularly think it's more inherent in the wiring of my brain rather than the setup of my psychology, as I've taken the care to repudiate the beliefs that underlie those emotions, and yet I still experience those negative swings. I think this indicates that I have yet to taken intensive enough steps for my new beliefs to have their full impact on my brain, so my brain is still firing off in old, bad ways. (Though, of course, don't mistake me as endorsing the mind/body dichotomy. I've explained my reasoning before, so check a post or two down for it. Another reason to write regularly: Habitual posting means a habitual audience, which means I can more easily build upon my writing.) So far I've done surprisingly well in practicing the interesting methods I've learned from The Brain That Changes Itself, but there's still so much work to do.

Overall, it's an interesting struggle. I've made rapid progress in controlling the swings, mitigating their intensity and frequency amazingly, and have even started building a semblance of contentment, but as I begin to change in these positive ways the bad habits fight back and I sometimes feel seized by them. While not a black depression, I sometimes feel hit by a sense of hopelessness, that no values are possible in this world and that nothing is worth doing except idling to calm the anxiety. This, as such, has become the biggest threat to my resolutions. When I get like this, I waste time. Lots of time. Consistently, from day to day. When I feel like this, I look at all my ambitious goals and strivings and see no point in them and have no inclination to pursue them as my teenage self would have been savage to do so. Despite getting up early in the morning, I often take such long walks and do other idle things to the extent that my day doesn't officially start until noon, sometimes two in the afternoon. And it always makes me feel guilty to have such a precious ability to get up so nicely as such early hours, only to waste them in this state of hopelessness. And, ack, my anxiety seems to be coming back to a minor degree.

So while I know that I have important resolutions such as doing cognitive exercises everyday, I see at root that healing myself mentally is going to be the most important root for all these endeavors and beyond. If I don't nip the problem in the bud, then I'll just maintain a self-defeating mentality that will continue to undermine all that I do.

Ultimately, what upsets me -- to vent and connect -- is what a difficult time I've had living my life out in this world. Oh, I detest it as it is and wouldn't mind crushing a few people. I grew up in a community with a bad philosophy self-esteem, so my speech impediment, caused by my bad hearing, made me a honed-in on target for bullying, which I was, constantly. The bad thing is that throughout all of these ordeals almost every single adult has failed me. The teachers, for whatever reasons I will not know, didn't really care about my fate, and didn't make any meaningful effort to stop the bullying that was done and would even side with the bullies on a consistent basis. Immense injustice. At home I had to deal with the psychological problems of my elders, which I naturally absorbed since I couldn't think for myself at the time. Worse yet, they were nearly impotent in aiding me in dealing with all the stressful schools dealings, as they either tried making me not have all this bullying affect me "somehow," without ever specifying any means to generating that effect ("Don't be angry; be happy!"). They even punished me once for actually taking their advice and fighting someone, even though they told me to do it.

After I've learned to think for myself and changed drastically as a person I find that my problems have not gone away, but rather changed in their nature. Now the once bullies who strove to stress me about my aesthetic failings now either shut me out totally or despise me for my explicit intelligence. Whenever I display my ambitiousness or enjoyment in improving myself I now tend to make people so uncomfortable that I continue to be held at a distance, and stuff like that is hurtfully disappointing when I admire the virtues I share in common with a person so that I desperately want to be their friend, only to have them avoid and neglect me for whatever discomfort they feel. And, of course, I've had to deal with the worst of surprises, my family becoming my number one enemy when, in my healing, I shut out some terrible people toxic to my happiness, only to be met with shocking, dishonest, and uncivilized disapproval.

I guess you could say I feel a terrible kind of loneliness. The kind that I not seem to be unable to meet people like me, but also that the world is somehow unfairly against me . . . culturally I mean, not metaphysically. In my old state of being I was shunned for my terrible speech; now I'm shunned for my bothering to pursue the best of my ability. Damned if you do, damned if you don't? Perhaps worst of all, I'm still aware of those people out there I so wish to be great friends with, and for whatever reason they keep the distance. There's no active dislike or disapproval on their part, so why can't we be friends? With all this, I feel emotionally dissatisfied and alone, and it intensifies when I reflect that I've always been in this position.

I believe in the benevolent universe premise. I know there are good people out there, and that a better world is possible. But I don't feel that way very often. It feels like the harder I push the more I shall provoke the evil elements in the world, and suffer more undue stress from it. When I can for a brief period indulge my ambition, this kind of thinking sends me back to that hopelessness. The stupor has grown so strong that I feel too guilty to search for a second job, for fear that I'm lying about my ambition on my resume.

And, truth be told, suicidal thoughts have come back. My, it's be a long time since those have visited me. It's strange since even in my more miserable periods in Texas they seemed to be absent and I was able to deal with the emotion on its raw terms. It's odd for it to come back since my current mode of stress is far weaker than anything else I've been dealing with, and yet I've been contemplating it intellectually.

Is this a good world to live it? Will I always have to deal with rotten louses, people I can't connect with, and ideal friendships that never get established despite my efforts? Will the obstacles indeed become more severe as I up the ante on my strivings? Intellectually, I know the answer to all is no, but I've got to work to start feeling like that, more often.

Oh, as much as I've ever thought about it I don't think I'll ever attempt it. Aside from all the current progress I've made to securing personal peace, I have tasted what genuine contentment, serenity, and satisfaction with life are like, before I plunged into the stress with my great family ordeal and the current Texas aftermath. That period in my youth was so great that I know life is worth living because of it, and desperately want to get over my current hangups so I can retain that state and continue on with my self-mastery beyond that point, like I was when I was a fresh Objectivist.

While I still have and maintain friends, I'll have to regain the understanding that it was ultimately I alone who overcame the stress last time in my youth, and it'll necessarily be me alone again to surmount this internal difficulties again. Friendly aid would be nice, but there are no people around me of high enough spiritual worth to be able to assist me with that, and I partially resent those ideal people which I held affection for, for withholding their friendship like that.

So I'll keep on living, don't worry. I knew I had that conclusion before I wrote them, and in the writing process worked to make to make it feel real. That one period in life, even just in memory, is enough to tell me in partial degree how satisfying life can be, so I'm justifiably anxious to see what degrees are beyond it. Ah, screw other people for the moment. The loneliness may be remedable with some good person out there . . . perhaps someone with a common virtue who wouldn't shy away this time . . . but for the moment I'll just have to tolerate it. The nasty aspects of the world too.

What shall I do to fight this coasting, which is inducing this terrible sense of hopelessness and suicide contemplation? Well, lately I've had a very interesting insight on how I tend to be prone to certain urges depending on how strongly they're associated with the environment, and with my habits. For instance, my habit of taking a walk every morning -- often very long walks -- has been established in my home neighborhood, and I've done it for so many months that it's my natural temptation almost every single morning I wake up. However, on days when I go to the gym I won't take my walk; instead, I go straight to the gym and start my day from that point. I don't miss the walk either. Also, I've noticed that my association of playtime with my room has made it so that I'm very often tempted to simply play around when in this environment, but if I'm in the library or bookstore cafe I have no other interest except for the work before me.

Therefore, while frustrating for a little while, it might be best to work to get away from these annoying urges' spatial location, and to get to an environment so strongly associated with work that it becomes the overriding mentality. I ought to do this first thing in the morning if possible, to squash any potential for the idleness urge to arise.

Deeper, I think this may be a problem with concentration. I have no ability to explain it, but I've noticed a very strong correlation between my ability to concentrate and my overall well-being. When I lax and daydream frequently, I'm often miserable and ashamed. When I take the effort to intensively guide myself and put my mind constantly to work at something, I feel very deeply pleased with not just myself, but life itself. With a powerful ability to concentrate I seem to take a heightened pleasure in every intellectual activity I engage in, from reading to writing to math exercises to thinking, and overall I feel more powerful a person. Powerful in that I have control over myself and can conquer anything. I'm sure that it's something deeper and broader than mere concentration, but since concentration seems to be the key to reaching this state I'm using it as a placeholder term for now. It will be sufficient.

Additionally, with impatience in dealing with all these vices, I went ahead and bought myself a computer tablet, which I should receive early next week. I have a very good way of managing to-do lists that are efficiently tracked through computer files, as they'd otherwise be a bastard to write down. However, that means my to-do lists are practically chained to my home, which makes my home the most productive place to be, to my displeasure. More difficult yet, my inability to carry my to-do lists with me, I think, has had a psychological impact in that I manage the lists to be dominated by things I can do at home while having access to my computer, so I may voluntarily limit my productive endeavors to my home consequently. Among other things, a tablet just seems priceless for the kind of lifestyle I'd like to live, where I could be equally productive in any location I choose, and wouldn't have to be chained to home. And hey, it'll probably lead to more writing on here, as one thing that drove me nuts about regular blogging before is that the long writing process too often meant staying in one place for much longer than I'd like, so I'd probably feel more free to write if I were able to do it in a library, at work during a break, in a park, etc. I should get it early next week.

Ultimately, to cure what ails me I just need to apply my mind to my efforts. It's nerdy, but the source of my contentment and happiness is how well I do to apply my mind. The more I tax it the better. Hard nights of study have often left me to have a vigorous sleep and to wake up in a good mood. In my adult life, I don't think anything else puts me in a good mood upon waking than a life of regular mental work. Oh, how I love to think and apply knowledge. One of my highest goals in life, you could say, is to max out the total intellectual capacity capable of me, applied to the culinary arts of course.

Well, see you around.

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