Saturday, April 28, 2012

But Isn't There Time Enough?

I've been rockin' on my 2012 resolutions. I already managed to make reading my primary form of entertainment, to the point that I'm starting to garner a distaste for videos and the like, and am well on the way to becoming a typical voracious bookworm. My emotional health is leaps and bounds better than when I first resolved to spend a hefty chunk of time to healing myself, and am doing well to regain my previous, more idealistic self, and am setting myself up to surpass that. Finally, I've halfway completed my goal to get into fine dining, as I now have a second job in fine dining and now need to work to get another one and work my way up to prep and line cook. Life is good and getting better.

My new work schedule does, however, make me think about the importance of managing one's time properly. My free time will decrease dramatically with the prospect of maintaining two jobs, especially when I have two different shifts in one day, making me work nearly 16 hours in one go. I'm fine with that of course . . . it's all on the path to achieving what I *truly* want to achieve in life . . . but what does that mean for my other values? Doesn't that mean I have less time to read and write, or do other things?

One of my favorite things to say to myself is "There's time enough for everything; you just have to use it." As humans with a finite lifespan we consequently have only finite time, of course, but when you keep in mind in how much of that time can be so easily wasted, such as by surfing on the internet or even idly daydreaming on a walk up the stairs, how valid is the complaint that there's not enough time to live to the fullest extent that you want to? If you have time to unnecessarily daydream or to surf mindlessly on the internet (outside of useful rest), you have time to pursue values that will further your life. Anybody would be astonished at the figures if it could be scientifically recorded each individual minute we spent *not* doing something useful for our life, and then turned it into an observable sum on paper. Minutes can easily add up to years. How many years could you have spent doing something different other than daydreaming or idly surfing?

I question myself on this in the frame of other activities I'd like to maintain, such as reading and writing. All this working means less reading and writing, does it not? Aside from the pleasure and emotional benefits these activities add to my life, they also add what I believe are to be immense values to the development of my character, aiding me immeasurably in becoming exactly the person I want to become. Won't all the work I'll be doing squeeze that out?

I think not. There's time enough for everything; you just have to use it. Get up earlier and begin moving. Stay up later and pursue fruitful activities then. Bring a laptop to work to type upon during break, or a book to feed the mind. Write down little mental activities I could be doing when walking from point A to point B, so that the trip between destinations is spent constructively. Establish self-improvement goals that make you do things a little bit faster, so that you can accomplish more of value in lesser time, such as speed reading or making grammar skills second-nature to speed up good writing. There may not be time enough for everything of course, but when you focus on *only* the essentials values that will make your essential happiness, there's plenty of it! You just need to direct it in the right venues, eliminate even the slightest of wasteful minutes, and hustle.

My work at my new years' resolutions goes on, and provides new challenges. Now my next mission, on top of all my others, is to readjust my routine to squeeze every ounce of value I can out of my minutes, so that even with two jobs and an ongoing job hunt for another fine-dining position, there still exists plenty of room for private development, enjoyment, and creation, so long as I want to live. A person who truly wants to live will want to get all the life he can out of his minutes. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Life Has Been Unusually Good Lately . . .

Ha, no! I haven't been a cretin in my blogging, having just freshly written an article about forcing myself to write everyday -- and then going silent for two. These past two days have been pretty busy, with my writing being elsewhere on Sunday and having almost my entire day taken up on Monday.

My life has been unusually good lately. I finally managed to secure a position in a fine-dining restaurant, which is certainly a huge event for me; I've been trying to get to that point for the past two years with nearly no avail, now finally having made success. A new chapter in my life! I'll still be washing dishes for a little bit . . . but the prospects for advancement are, I think, much much better.

Additionally, I've been getting some unexpected attention from chefs lately. A chef I performed a stage for well-over a year ago called me to recognize me for the document I had handed to him a few weeks ago, and just a few days ago I got a very surprising call from a French chef at a very impressive restaurant, calling to suggest that I apply for the position of weekend line cook. It's a long shot for me even getting a stage . . . but one must take risks, no?

It's refreshing to see that the pieces are falling into place, so long at last. I've worked hard these past years, and have had little else happen except observe the building up of my frustration. Over the past weeks it was nearing its peak, when suddenly all these good things have been happening. It bolsters my confidence and contentment, and encourages me to resume hard work.

This, I think, can be taken as a definitive refutation of the malevolent universe premise, the belief that the universe itself is somehow set against mankind, relegating humans to endless suffering without any avail in any of their pursuits for betterment. It's sad how many people inflict misery upon themselves by believing in such a thing, particularly when they self-sabotage themselves as a consequence. For instance, if I had strongly believed in this premise then I probably would have made myself believe that there's no hope for me getting into a fine dining restaurant, and consequently wouldn't have tried. By not trying, I wouldn't get my career where I want it to go, and be unhappy, and by being unhappy I would "justify" my malevolent universe premise and strengthen my belief by voluntarily fixing the game against myself.

Instead, even with an economy this terrible and a world on the verge of collapse, I kept going and applied to those restaurants. And now I got what I wanted, didn't I? It proves that the realization of your happiness in this world IS possible, and that there's no mystical/magical force putting the odds against you. The only way to make the malevolent universe premise "true" is to believe in it and have it curtail any good behavior and practices you would otherwise maintain, which will make you create by yourself the very problems you think the universe is handing towards you.

Well, from here for me there is little else except self-improvement needing to be done. I've got to learn meticulously the workings of my place, establish goals to chance, and even continue applying to fine dining places. On that last, I don't consider my job hunt complete, as for financial reasons I need to hold two jobs, and I'd like to make it so that they're both in fine dining, as my other current employ is mid-scale.

Now then, don't give up on your life!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Forcing Myself to Write: Pruning for Fruit?

I've noticed something odd about my handwriting practices. As mentioned a few posts ago, in my mental health improvement ventures I've begun again the practice of maintaining a handwritten journal, where I try to fill up at least a full page daily as early as possible in the day. The strange thing is that the practice seems to be becoming easier and easier to maintain, and what I have to say seems to be increasing.

At first it was very awkward. Doing so much typing had made my handwriting skills soften, so I wasn't that apt at writing things out and took quite a long time to fill up a page. Additionally, I never really felt like I had something significant to say or anything worth a full page. A few moments of thinking always led me to filling out that full page or more, but there was still that awkward hesitation. Now it's just beginning to feel more and more natural . . . nearly second nature. When I first started it felt like an unwelcome intrusion on my time; now it feels like an essential part of my day that takes up mere minutes.

I know that what's happening here is that I'm cultivating a skill successfully. By doing the handwriting over and over again I'm getting better and better at my penmanship, writing speed, my ability to convey myself in handwritten words, and my ability to convey myself on paper. The thing that strikes me as odd is how the amount of what I have to say seems to be increasing, not decreasing, as I write more and more. I would have thought that I would exhaust my stores and only need to wait for an event to happen for me to feel the need to write again, but everyday it feels like there's plenty enough to say.

I liken this to pruning a fruit tree to get the dead and unproductive matter out of the way to make room for new branches to bear more fruit. Cutting up the tree may, on surface, appear to be reducing its overall capacity to grow and produce, but the restoration process increases its ability to drop fruit, no? Writing might be doing the same to my mind: I prune my stores in the morning, live my life and have experiences to think about during the rest of the day, and find myself next morning with something new to talk about.

Perhaps this is the mode of thinking I should apply to blogging. I know I've been dismal in staying on a regular schedule for you, and maybe the lack of blogging itself is why there's such a lack of blogging. In other words, by abstaining from blogging I'm exacerbating the very problem.

I remember the old days, when it wasn't so hard to construct regular articles. The sole frustration was the meticulous editing standards I tried to uphold, which was the primary reason I felt so adverse to blogging: It took far longer to edit the pieces and was far more stressful than the initial writing of the pieces themselves, so I let go. Now I try not to be so paranoid . . . but it's a worry in the back of my mind still.

Another question I need to address is whether it's really important to maintain a running theme to this blog. As little as I write, I actually think of article topics all the time, but I get too afraid to actually write them because I believe altogether they might be too random to hold regular readers. But perhaps that's an overinflated worry too, since this is just a measly personal blog after all.

I've lost sight of why I write at all. Not only is it emotionally satisfying, it's also very good for the mind, for writing precisely trains the mind to think precisely, and nurtures the skill to be able to say what you want to say in the words you want to say them in and with the minimum amount used. Regardless of what topic I might be engaging in, that's always the purpose: To continue nurturing my ability with words, whether it be thinking precisely or expressing myself concisely.

I don't want to hold myself to any goal yet -- I know, I'm being flimsy and borderline flip-floppy -- but I'm thinking I should perhaps actually "force" myself to write a blog post per day, in order to cultivate my writing skills further beyond the limits of my introspection, in order to make it a more natural and desirable habit. People like Gus Van Horn can maintain very intellectually intimate blogs for years and years without faltering, all while balancing a busy career, a child, and marriage, so why can't I get myself together on my end? It might be a worthy goal.

Hmm. I'll think about it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fundamentals of Mental Health?

Okay, I know I've been severely bad to you, being so irregular and sparse. I write tons more on my Facebook page, and I think the reason why I tend to hover around there is because I feel more visible before my audience, especially when people hit "like" or comment. As such, oftentimes when I have an idea for a full-length article over here, I end up writing it over there. I won't give up on this blog, however, I just need to keep thinking about my writing habits. Still, if you'd like to see my other, more frequent writing over at Facebook, friend me here. (However, please send me a message stating you found the link here if we don't have mutual friends.)

Now, while my writing may be deplorable here it hasn't been deplorable in other aspects in my life. In fact, I think I may have finally identified the essential habits for me to maintain in order to cultivate and sustain mental health, as per my primary new year's resolution.

The most important thing I've learned is not only do certain practices offer singular values that can't be replicated with any other practice, I've also learned that some practices are most effective when they're practiced in sets, exercised on a regular and concurrent basis. Done in isolation they still offer benefits, but I've noticed that in times when I'll adopt one practice at the sacrifice of another I'll lose the benefits of the practice I dropped, and if I go the other way around I'll then regain the benefit I once gave up and then lose the benefit of the other practice. The answer for mental health, then, is to identify the bare minimum of practices you need to maintain at all times, and then practice them religiously.

For me, that means about three, maybe four practices: Reading, speaking (rubberducking), writing, and sometimes whistling. Practiced altogether I've noticed not only considerable improvement in my character, but also sustained benefits that don't vanish and continual progress.

1.) Reading: I'm a very mind-oriented guy. Contrary to my intellectually idle past, I managed to develop myself to the point that I find myself most satisfied when I'm intellectually stimulated. That means thinking, learning, practicing, or anything else that leads to mental stimulation.

Another one of my new year's resolutions is to make reading my primary source of entertainment, which I think I've easily accomplished. I've always liked reading, I've just had a hard time making it a habit. Now that I'm much more habituated in it, to the point that I'm losing interest in watching videos or the like, I've observed how much more content and relaxed I am as a person. Engaging in a nearly pure physical labor job, I used to be under very intense pressure because I would be very distraught at how mindless it was, as I was harshly craving to work my mind at something. Such pressure really took a bite out of the quality of my life, and left me an overall anxious and unhappy person. The introduction of regular reading has been very soothing, and I found that if I do it before work I'm very satisfied in my shift, like eating a satiating snack before dinner. The reading works to satisfy the "input" realm of my mental desires, in which I desire external stimulation, so if I do enough reading before work I'll then go into "output" mode during my job and be perfectly satisfied at thinking on my own terms, which makes activities such as mopping a room much more pleasant.

The lack of reading in the past has certainly impoverished my spirit. By including it more I'm not only developing my intellect I'm satisfying a very deep need within me, so I try to make it a regular habit to reading 45 minutes before work and all evening afterwards before bed.

2.) Speaking: I refer mainly to the practice of rubberducking, which is when you take an inanimate object and speak to it as if it were actually listening to you. It has a multitude of benefits that deserves an article all on its own to detail them, from polishing your vocabulary from enabling you to express yourself more efficiently.

Because I spent most of my time in Texas living with other people I ceased the rubberducking practices I had established in Michigan, and only by reestablishing them have I realized how much I've suffered without it. It offers a very unique form of comfort that nothing else seems to be able to match. By telling it the problems on my mind it helps clear it of troubles and aids in preventing me from frequently revisiting the thinking pattern. It also helps me increase my speed in introspecting effectively, which has, I think, enabled me to think faster and more efficiently pick out the right words to express myself.

I don't want to spend too much time on its multiple benefits since I'd prefer writing a separate piece for it, so I'll just leave it at the fact that it offers a unique soothing effect that nothing else seems to replicate. Writing, for instance, can be very soothing as well, but it doesn't offer it in the same form as rubberducking does, so even if I've written on the problem I'll often still push myself to rubberduck about it, or even if I've rubberducked about it I'll still write about it in my journal.

The two difficulties I have with it, however, are doing it consistently and maintaining flowing speech. In my private life it's hard to just up and spontaneously decide to rubberduck, as I find it more natural to remain silent, no matter how practiced I am in rubberducking. Secondly, when I do rubberduck I never lose sight of the fact that I am speaking to an inanimate object, so I'm very prone to cutting off my speech, even in mid-sentence, to resume introspecting in my head without noticing that I've stopped talking.

The former problem seems like it's already solved. I recently got a new job (in fine dining, yay!) which will now give me an appreciable commute. I find the best place where I'm most inclined to rubberduck is in the car while driving, so the commute is easily going to drastically boost the amount of time I spend speaking. The other problem, however, may need a self-improvement goal on its own: I'll just need to dedicate myself to maintain awareness of when I suddenly stop talking, and push myself to go on.

3.) Writing: Handwriting, in fact. Typing doesn't seem to render the same psychological benefit. I don't know why it seems to be so, but from my experience it seems that the best and most effective way to change one's emotional nature and very character is to handwrite one's thoughts. In a journal, just about every day, I'll either write a thought record in line with the methodology laid out in Mind Over Mood, or write at length about issues in my life, the thinking behind them, and what I'll do about them, or just plain ramble if I have nothing pressing to say. My primary rule is to try and write at least a full page per day, so that I'll keep a consistent amount in consistent practice, and force myself to ramble if I have nothing to say so that I don't fall out of habit.

It's impressive the speed at which psychological change can occur with this practice. Certain emotional problems, such as rage or deep depression, have been severely dented in a scant few weeks by writing them out. I don't know why handwriting in particular does it so well. It's as if the act of hand-forming one's thoughts on paper is the way to access the deepest parts of your being, allowing you to make deep, effective, and efficient changes.

It's important to have a methodology, however. Before I read Mind Over Mood I did managed an introspection journal, but I didn't really go anywhere in terms of emotional progress since I didn't know where or how to focus my thinking. It was just rambling all the time. After reading that book I learned how to treat which pieces of information as important or not important, and developed a way to write that allows me to just hit the important point, thus speeding up the process and actually making the writing effective. If something important happened emotionally, then I'll do a thought record like the book teaches. If not, then I write freely on whatever's on my mind. If nothing else, then I'll allow myself to ramble just to sustain the habit, and perhaps even fish something out.

4.) Whistling: This is kind of off and on. I don't practice it everyday, but it has been a gigantic help beyond my highest expectations, and is probably one of the most useful methods I've ever stumbled upon. I only taught myself how to whistle so that I could join in on the whistling that my coworkers tend to do, and only by accident discovered what an amazing help it can be.

One of my worst mental issues is compulsively doing obsessive thinking. Often there's been a particular issue or two that I'll invest a lot of thinking into, but I'll invest so much thinking into that it'll develop into a very bad habit, i.e., an obsession. Once I begin thinking about that topic I would be almost helpless in trying to stop, and would go round and round with the same thoughts for hours on end, and I do mean hours. Sometimes I've spent almost entire days dwelling on one particular thought, simply because I simply couldn't get away from it. It's certainly thinking I haven't enjoyed, and which has caused me to waste portions of my life. It's like, out of one's own irrationality, getting badly stuck in traffic on the expressway, where the exits are always blocked off by a car on your side.

Having a job that heavily emphasizes physical labor makes it worse, as in those periods I can't engage myself in a mentally stimulating activity to shift my mind elsewhere, which often leaves me suffering for an entire shift. Miserable.

The key to undoing an obsessive line of thinking, I've realized, is indeed to learn how to mentally shift to another activity when you're engaged in it or about to be engaged in it. Since that type of thinking tends to be at its worst at work, I thought to try out whistling, and it has worked better than I could ever imagine.

Whistling demands attention, but not so much attention that I can't do the task at hand. What's special about this type of attention is that when I whistle it is literally impossible for me to think about anything else, not even if I tried. All I can have on my mind while I whistle is the music I'm trying to whistle, which shoves any negative thought out. And, unlike with my rubberducking, I'm able to sustain a bout of whistle without suddenly stopping and not being aware that I've stopped, so it's easy to keep going and going with it.

It's really kicked my obsessions in the pants, to the point that I would say I'm cured of them. When you're about to engage in an obsessive mode of thinking that's probably when you're most ideally sensitive to positive change, so by making myself whistle whenever the obsessive pattern came up I probably very effectively rewired my brain and mental habits by engaging in it at those times. Above all else, it's enjoyable!

It may not be a fundamental since it isn't a practice I keep up everyday, but it's been ultra-improvement in bringing forth the changes I've wanted.

* * * * *

Your needs may vary and be different, but for me, these seem to be by far the most important practices that I've picked up that have not only created the most positive change, but have also led to sustained change, as opposed to a benefit that comes and goes. Sure, I have done other things that have reaped benefits as well, such as doing deep breathing during times of anger, but these are the most important.

I know I still need to write up that big mental health post on all the important methods and things I've learned in pursuing my health, but for now I'll say that these are the musts for me.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

How a "Self-Evidently" Wrong Enemy can Still Win

One of the greatest things that annoys me about our culture in general in when someone recognizes that someone maintains a different belief set than they are and are acting on it, but will not go any further in thinking why they have alternative beliefs, how it's affecting their actions, and why the other person's beliefs are any more or less valid. Let's take an example from television, *South Park*.

An ongoing theme in the show is that Eric Cartman often maintains alternative beliefs than his other friends do and acts upon them, which drives him to do such things as commit racist acts or try to gain dictatorial power in the name of the "good." The interesting aspect is that he isn't adopting these ideas to justify acting on his emotions, such as adopting a racist belief that "justifies" a racist action he wants to take, but rather that he SINCERELY believes in these other ideas, which is why he's motivated to act upon them.

When other characters like Kyle or Stan confront him about his beliefs Eric is genuinely confused as to why they're opposed to them. In the episodes I've seen, neither Stan nor Kyle try to persuade him intellectually of alternative ideas, but rather try to somehow point out that it's "self-evident" that Cartman's ideas are bad and wrong. For instance, in an episode involving a water park Cartman was frequently expressing his fear of the country becoming dominated by "minorities," indicating his racism, xenophobia, and a misunderstanding of the term. (If a minority becomes a majority, they're no longer a minority.) The other children sloppily tried pointing his error out to him, but wouldn't actually delve into the meaning of the terms, leading to confused conversation which resulted in Cartman retaining his racist beliefs regardless. The other boys were pretty much saying, "What do we mean? Well, look!"

With hardly any intellectual opposition, Cartman in the end always retains his terrible beliefs, which is pretty clearly a result of no one bothering to actually persuade his mind.

This bothers me because it happens all over the place outside of the media. People in many cases will recognize that another person has different beliefs and is acting on them accordingly. They disagree, and sometimes try to "move" a person to adopt their alternative beliefs, but the reason I say "move" is because no intellectual persuasion is involved. This is what contributes a hefty amount of problems to the world, in the most dangerous of cases of impending dictatorship or a foreign country threatening annihilation.

For example, in my own case -- just to demonstrate the logic -- when I first adopted the Paleo diet people either thought I was preposterous or gave lip-service approval. However, when I put those ideas into practice people were actually surprised, as if my actions were an unpredictable bolt from the blue, and tried pointing out how absurd my diet was by telling me "That's not what other people say," "that's not what my doctor tells me," or "that's not what I've been told all my life." They would adamantly refuse to look at my resources, such as my reading, and pretty much use scoffing as their sole style of argument. My diet was "self-evidently" wrong, and all others could do were roll their eyes at me. Such behavior did not motivate me in the slightest to cease my new eating habits given I was intellectually dedicated, except to make me get away from those people.

In cultural terms, people are too often avoiding intellectual engaging beliefs contrary to theirs that WILL have an impact on their life. Recognizing there are intellectual differences, this behavior is like finding a book in a library that has the answer to a question you have, only you don't open it. The answer the book happens to contain is why the world is going destroyed. A man on another continent says Americans should be murdered. What's your intellectual opposition? Without saying anything, his viewpoint gains more power since fewer oppose it. Without opposition no one will do anything about it. Consequently, that man may very well get his way.

When people express ideas that are contrary to yours -- though I know this is context-sensitive, as you don't need this rigor 24-7 -- you should take care to flesh out your own beliefs and justify why you hold *those* and not *theirs*, and try to persuade the other person or audience when appropriate. Bad mannerisms such as eye-rolling and pointing that it's "self-evident" that the other person is wrong will do next to nothing to legitimately persuade others, except to garner the most easily intimidated (i.e. weakest) or passive people on your side.

When all you can say is that it's "obvious" how your enemy is wrong and do nothing to persuade him or others as to why, it's ultimately the enemy that wins.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Brain as an Irrational Real Estate Agent: Emotional Retrogression

One psychological issue has always bugged me severely over the years: The topic of retrogression. As you all know, my primary new years' resolution this year is to get my emotional health in order.

Of all the years I've engaged in emotional self-improvement I've always been distraught at the phenomenon where I would actually make good progress towards establishing my well-being across a few days, and then one day I would experience a rekindling of my emotional problems that would be so intense that they knocked me backwards into old ways of feeling and bad habits. Struggling with those cycles have been immensely frustrating, and have been going on for a few years now. I just couldn't understand why. If I was making smooth progress the days prior, why did it all of the sudden stop and return to the way things were?

Well, I think I may have found the answer in neurology.

A major change I've made to my emotional self-improvements this year is that I'm now taking physiology into account. On the psychological side I'm focusing on what beliefs and thinking I'm doing that's making the basis for the type of emotions I'm experiencing, and on the physiological side I'm focusing on what my thinking and emotions are doing to my brain by wiring its circuitry. Both sides need to be taken into account for the achievement of total well-being, as you need to both understand what drives you emotions and how you can not only make a mental change, but also change your brain as well so that the transition to a better state of being can be complete and less difficult.

For me, I think the reason why I've been retrogressing is neurological: The brain simply doesn't want to change. This logic applies to the whole body actually. It's not that your body or brain wants to resist positive change; it just doesn't want to do any work to change something, nor does it want to give up anything as well: It just wants to relax easy in a routine of keeping things the way they are, where energy demands are consistent and easily met.

Think of your muscles. Exercise can be pretty uncomfortable, can't it? It takes some pretty intense lifting to be able to grow your muscles, and that can lead to some pretty incredible discomfort. The discomfort is probably due to the body's rebellion to change: It's very hard work for it to do repair and build more fibers, so unless it has to it's going to send you signals of discomfort to stop, which you must resist and fight through in order to reach the state of positive change. Note that I state it's sending you signals of discomfort, not pain: the body is making you uncomfortable in order to try and persuade you to stop, but if you ignore it and fight through then you can persuade your body back to make the changes you want. With work you can obtain the body you've always dreamed of, but almost always in the process will your body complain and complain with what work you're making it do.

The same applies to the brain, I think. It wants to remain wired right as it is now. It doesn't want to undo and construct circuits. When you make progress on your emotional health, you're actually affecting the very wiring of your brain: You're undoing the bad circuits which generate the manifestation of your problems, and beginning to build new ones. But being energy-demanding and work-intensive, your brain doesn't want to do it unless you push through and encourage it to, so, I think, the cause of my retrogressions have been due to my brain suddenly stimulating the circuits that generate my problems, as an effort to notify me that something is coming undone, and that leads to my sudden outbursts which, due to my failing to understand, leads right back to negative habits.

Distinct from you your body isn't rational. It alone can't tell you what foods are best for you or what type of exercise to take on; you have to use your mind to decide that for yourself. A lack of magnesium may make you crave a sweet chocolate in order to bring levels back up, but that probably isn't the best nutritional choice given the option of leafy greens and supplements. Your body can suggest to you a nutritional option in the form of a craving, but it's up to your mind to make the rational decision. The same should go for the brain: Regardless of whether or not it generates feelings of discomfort or negative physiological effects (such as stress hormones), your brain will signal to you, during a period of lack of usage, that some particular brain circuitry is about to become undone by directly stimulating that circuit to notify you.

In concrete terms, the problem I've been having in the past is dealing with obsessive thinking patterns. Back in Michigan my problems were nearly omnipresent externally, so I continually thought about them over and over again in the attempt to figure out a solution, but since the only solution possible to me wasn't available then, I ended up going around in circles for hours on end in great distraught. I didn't need to think about it since I made a determination towards the only solution, but since it took so long to enact that solution I kept thinking about the problem since it hindered me in the meanwhile, making me intensely crave the solution and continue looking for new ones. Once I recognized I had obsessive thinking patterns I took an effort to resolve them, and in various cycles I would be successful. After doing some proper introspection, doing writing and talking and whatnot, I would successfully manage to get the problem off my mind for several days, but then suddenly out of nowhere a negative thought would come back and flare up the obsession all over again, sending me right back where I was. Going back to step one, I would be so demotivated that it took a long time to actually try and resolve matters again, and when I did I would have only a few days or scant few weeks of peace that would end in me falling right back into those terrible thinking patterns.

I think that since the obsessive thinking led to such a strong set of circuitry in my brain, my brain was rebelling against my undoing it, since it wanted to preserve itself the way it was, not making positive or negative changes. Those days or weeks of mental peace were probably starting to have an impact on my brain, which then triggered my brain to stimulate the bad circuits in order to encourage me to strengthen them, and since those circuits led to obsession it inevitably meant I would restrengthen them, thus falling right back to where I was.

If I'm right, then this identification will offer incredible help. Now I'll know that when I have a sudden retrogressive episode in the midst of a period of progress that they're probably the most important days to fight to retain my mental health practices, as it's my brain signaling that the negative circuit is coming undone and that I must push through the discomfort to actually be successful at undoing it.

In order to aid in the fight, I think I'll take my introspection journal with me wherever I go. In terms of neurological and psychological change, I've known no stronger trick than to write down and address one's emotional problems on paper with handwriting. In terms of total change, I think writing has the deepest and most long-lasting effect. Therefore, any time I feel a very intense emotional episode it would probably be the best time to write out an entry, as those periods might be the time I'm most sensitive to neurological change.

As a layman with neurology as only a casual interest I am not certain that my thinking here is correct, but it does follow logically from the reading I've done. From The Brain That Changes Itself I've learned that the brain does not want to give up any portion of itself, so its plausible that it stimulates circuits about to come undone in favor of new functions in order to encourage you to retain them. With effort, you can overcome your brain's "encouragement" and wire in the circuits you truly want to be there. Your brain, separate from your mind, is an irrational real estate agent. You don't have to be.