Tag Archives: psychology

one day at a time…still

Hi, everyone. This is my very first posting here. Thanks to Mikel & David for allowing me to enter the fold, so to speak. I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Alma. I’m a 36 year old, single woman living in Denver, Colorado (soon to be the Bay Area). I’m an INFP and HSP as well. I wanted to chat with you guys about my weekend. I had planned on writing about something else, but I guess this relates–so I’m going to start here and meander into my original idea next time. As an introvert, I relish being alone. I mean–to me–there are few better things. My mother used to brag about how I always kept myself entertained. I was always off in my inner world. But I am also a person of extremes. When I do something, I don’t do it halfway. I do it to excess. I’ve joked a lot about how I’m a hermit. If given an opportunity, I can go long stretches of time without speaking to a single soul–and be quite happy about it. Over the last month or so, I’ve had that opportunity. My roommate is living between here in Denver and in the Bay Area while he finds us an apartment out there. So, I’ve been here alone, mostly–herding cats. It’s actually been really good for me. It’s been years since I’ve been able to let it all hang out. Living with another person, I’ve had to modify my behavior a lot, and it’s been nice to just be by myself once I’m done with work. Around the same time all of this happened, I quit my job that I hated and took on a new job with a great company in my industry. It’s the same kind of work, but different in its expectations. My job is kind of an introvert’s nightmare. While I work from home (win!), I also have to talk on the phone ALL DAY LONG. I’m in an industry of extroverts, and I’m expected to perform all day long. Part of my job–a big part–is getting people to talk to me. I make a lot of outbound calls. And I have to bug people all day. To say it’s exhausting is putting it mildly. I enjoy it, but–when people are being…well…people, it can be the most thankless job in the world. In any case, this past week was rough. I had volunteered to help on a nightmare project. No one was calling me back. People were piling on the pressure, and I was just getting fed up. I like being left alone, but I hate being ignored. And it seemed like I was getting it from everywhere. Work, people helping me with personal things, and friends not responding to me. Now, I don’t really react well to such situations. It’s childish, really. My response is usually to get really angry and basically to mentally make a note to ignore the person ignoring me–ad infinitum. Of course, I can’t do that with work. But I can do it with everyone else. Ignore me–I’ll ignore you so much, you’ll be erased from my memory altogether! Or so, the self-talk goes. It doesn’t last long. But it does produce massive hurt feelings in me. People usually aren’t even ignoring me. In my crazy brain, I’ve somehow made myself the center of the Universe. And–surprise–I’m not! Ha. People are just living their lives. Or they can’t respond for whatever totally valid reason. Or there’s noise in the channel we’re swimming in. Or no one got the damn text. It all gets explained, and I forgive. Easily. The problem, of course, is that I jump to conclusions about people and their care for me. I make it about my worth to them. It fails my expectation for our relationship–and instead of them just being busy or held up–it’s about how much I mean to them. So, a lot of times, when my needs aren’t met–I find that I’m really angry. And it’s all based in my own lack of self-worth. I know–this is heavy for a Sunday. But it gets better, I promise. I learned this stuff in childhood. These toxic coping mechanisms that allow me to push people away while also wallowing in rage. These things that reinforce the idea I have–if only sub-consciously–that I am not good enough to deserve basic respect or love. That my needs don’t matter, fundamentally. It’s an insidious, sick dance I do. And I mostly don’t even know it’s there. Recently, I started to notice it. A lot. Mostly because I noticed I’ve been depressed for a little while now–since having emergency surgery. I’ve been hermitting ever since–tricking myself into the too busy for social stuff lie–while keeping most of my friends at a distance. Getting mad at people for pressuring me to hang out when they never said happy birthday. Finding ways to isolate and control relationships by withdrawing emotionally. I didn’t even know I was doing it. But this stuff also goes hand-in-hand with my perfectionism and anxiety. All of a sudden, I was having crises of confidence about things I am so secure with. It’s been going on for months. But this week, I suddenly became aware of all of it. And it was because I started telling myself, “I’m never speaking to him again.” I’ve been in therapy for about a year now–working on these things. I recognized this avoidant behavior. When everything in my body tells me to run away and not let people in, I know that’s the time when I most need the people who love me. And I realized that I missed people. Like soul-achingly missed them. And I was the reason we hadn’t talked. So, I started reaching out to the people who love me–to the ones who never write me off–to the people who see all the goodness in me, in spite of myself. And I told them I sucked, and I missed them. And we talked. I’ve done it all weekend, and it felt so good to not keep my distance. I talked so much that I almost legit lost my voice. I feel like–little by little–I’m finding my way to the life I need. It means reprogramming my brain, in many ways–doing the opposite of what my life has taught me to do. I have to remember to keep reaching out, no matter how hard it is. It matters.

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Dry Spells – I’m Guessing They are Cross Cultural?

I’m having a dry spell, as revealed in my dearth of postings recently.

So I’ve adopted an old writer’s trick when in a dry spell or when stuck by “writer’s block” – I’m going to write about not being able to write.

The immediate effect of starting to write about not being able to write is that I have to face the fact that I CAN write as …here I am writing.

Which leads to one point of clarity – the problem is not the ability to write, the problem is something else.

I have a basic belief about myself and most humans in most situations –  if I’m not doing something then I’m not doing it because I don’t want to do it.  I might have very good reasons TO do it but still not WANT to do it, for other good reasons.

Oh that is another part of my beliefs here – all reasons are “good” reasons.  I don’t mean morally good, or good as in helpful, I mean good as in genuine, actual, real, to be respected, worth recognising and understanding.

Sometimes understanding “reasons” helps bring an internal change, but often change does not require insight – in fact there is plenty of research that suggests that ‘personal insight’ leads to changes in our behaviour no more often than any other dynamic, including external inputs such as good luck or bad luck.

Back to my dilemma, I have had a few dry weeks, each time I thought about writing a blog for this blog my “don’t think about that” skills would kick in and a couple of days later I’d notice I had forgotten to start to write.  I’d feel slightly bad for a few moments then go back to not thinking about it for another couple of days.

Clearly I have been avoiding something but I have no idea what I am avoiding.

I’m glad that David has been pressing on with his postings here, that is one of the good things about being in a partnership, being part of a team – nothing rests on a single pair of shoulders and the progress of other team members can help drag me out of my own spot of bogged-down-ness.  Yes, I could have written “inertia” but reading bogged-down-ness has a bit of the quality to which it refers and that is a great characteristic for words.  For word lovers, please note that inertia and bogged-down-ness both have three syllables, at least in actual pronunciation, but one slides off the tongue and the other grabs your tongue and clumsily flails around trying to go back down your throat rather than out between your lips.

Words are cool, a whole world of wonders and mysteries and delights and playfulness.

My basic assumption about myself is that when I’m not doing something I really enjoy doing the most likely reason for my inaction is my fear.

I assume that even when I am not aware of feeling fear and when I don’t have much clue about what COULD be worth fearing in the task or activity.

Fear and death are related, at least in the West, where I was raised and still live.  I’m not going to go off on a tangent here in which I make my argument about fear and death being related in people’s psychology and in social discourse, by which I mean, the things we discourse about only obliquely, in code, or not at all.

I think the connection for me, forgive me leaving out an awful lot of background and details that might make this seem more sensible to you gentle reader, is that death echoes with pointlessness and meaninglessness and whatever it is I fear is probably somehow related also to beliefs or concerns I have about pointlessness or meaninglessness.  It is a kind of circle, which I might unpack some other time or in some other place but not here and now as here and now my only goal is to write about not writing and thus to stop not writing at least for a few hundred words.

As to the title of this post –  I’m pretty sure that all cultures that have written language have the concept of “writer’s block” or “dry spells”, indeed as I think as I write I see that any culture with artists, even without a written language, might have the concept of ‘dry spell’.

We can see that I have ‘assumed’ a psychological explanation for my own dry spell.

That is interesting because the psychological way of seeing humans is a fairly new thing, only about one hundred and fifty years old.  We tend to read our psychological narrative back into things we read from antiquity but just because some of the words look familiar, or can be interpreted with our psychological frame of reference does not mean folks hundreds of years ago were seeing humans the way we see ourselves.

Psychological thinking is really creative storytelling tradition, it has helped us understand ourselves a lot, its a great tool, but it is not “the truth” any more than myths and legends and stories told under star bright skies around murmuring open fires are “the truth”, nor any more than the stories we tell ourselves in our movies and tv shows and pop songs –  all are tools we use to talk about ourselves to ourselves.  None are “the truth”, certainly not the psychology story but it is the story I just jumped right into using as I wrote this blog stream of consciousness style.

I wonder what narratives, what frames of reference, what explanations, other cultures use to explain a creative dry spell?

Peace,

Mikel.

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