Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How do I brand myself?

Dear Edahn,

I'm trying to do my design portfolio right now and I don't know how I want to brand myself because I have a lot of talent. Any advice?


BRANDING YOURSELF IS HARD when you're creative and competent. It's hard to decide which product represents you and which you want to focus on throughout your career. But it's important part of your development as a professional. People will be more likely to hire you when they have a sense of what type of work they're going to get, so it's important that you create a strong, consistent, commercially viable brand.

APPROACH #1: Talk to a mentor or teacher you really respect. Bring your portfolio and see what they say.

APPROACH #2: Gather all your work and lay it out on a table. Try and rank your stuff across 4 factors:
  1. Is it commercially viable?
  2. Am I proud of it?
  3. Did I enjoy making it?
  4. Do I like looking at it?
  5. Did it reflect some part of my personality?
Find the pieces that rank highest and start building a new portfolio around it. All the pieces in your portfolio should have the same voice. (Samples.) When you finish putting your portfolio together get some feedback from your mentors. If you need to build 2 portfolios, that's okay too, but keep them separate to avoid diluting your brand.

The real challenge here is transitioning from student to businessperson. As a student, you don't have any restrictions on what you create, but as a businessperson you're using your work to make a living. You have to be thoughtful and channel your creativity in ways that feed your brand and business. It takes restraint and maturity, but it's something you have to do.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How do you stop loving someone?

How do you stop being in love with someone if you've shared so much of your heart with them?

THERE ARE TWO KINDS of love. There's the love you feel for a friend or parent, and then there's romantic love. They're the same in that they make you want to be close to the other person, but they're very different in their mechanics. Romantic love is possessive or even obsessive. Romantic love is kind of like an unsealed balloon. If you're not continuously inflating it, it starts to deflate.

Like a balloon, romantic love is perpetuated by certain thoughts of longing and desire that trigger emotional, often painful reaction in your body. If you want the feelings and emotions to stop, all you have to do is stop thinking all those thoughts--stop thinking about the person. You're probably thinking how the hell do I do that? Right. Well, don't try and not think about it, because by not thinking about it, you're actually thinking about it. In fact, don't try and manage your thinking at all. Instead, focus on your behaviors. Change some things in your life so you don't have to think about it/him as much.

For starters, delete his name from your phone. Throw away or delete pictures of each other. Completely stop contacting him, email, phone, texts. Go out with your friends, pick up some new projects. Go out on some dates. Make your life interesting without him. Yeah it'll be hard, but it's the only way to move on, even if you can't really picture it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

5 Tweets

I sometimes like to wonder what I'd teach people if I was completely wise, if there was such a thing. What would I say and how would I say it? What if it was just one tweet? 180 characters to impart profound wisdom is a difficult task.

Here're some ideas I'm toying with.

1. Don't ever be afraid to experience fear. It's actually much more afraid of you than the other way around. #badassmotherfucker #courage

2. Whether realized or not, everyone is searching for intimacy. Being close to others and to one's self is the true source of meaning. #onelove

3. We blame others and ourselves instead of caring. Underneath our masks, we're still children who just want to experience joy. #untainted

4. You don't need to have it all figured out. Do your best to make the right decision at every opportunity. #dropbydrop

5. When you're on your death bed and you look back on your life, what will make you proud and what will make you ashamed? #compass

Got some? Leave em in the comments. Appreciated.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are men turned on by rape?

Dear Edahn,


There seems to be a new surge of sexism in today's popular TV, with shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men depicting women being raped, sexually harassed, and objectified. In these shows, women just take it; they don't fight back. As a woman, and as a survivor of three periods of sexual abuse by men, I find these shows incredibly difficult to watch. My female friends often feel the same way, although they haven't been abused.


My male friends, on the other hand, barely seem to notice the sexism, let alone be bothered by it. And these are men that are supposedly understanding of the women's plight. They'll skip ahead the rape scenes, but only because they see that I start shaking with fear from them. As a man, what do you feel when you see women on TV being the target of sexism or gender violence? What do men think of sexism against women? 

THINK BACK TO FREUD for a second. I think most men, at some level, fantasize about dominating women, sexually or otherwise. It's part of our id and part of our genetic heritage (but by no means a justification, obviously). But our superego, i.e., our conscience, says "uh uh uh! you can't do that because people are getting hurt and that's not nice."

There are certain situations in which the superego gets hidden and the id comes out to play. One awful place is in crowds, where people experience anonymity. People commit awful crimes in crowds that they would never commit alone like rape, theft, and murder. The anonymity makes people think they're not responsible for their actions, so the superego fades away, making room for the id to run amok.

Another situation is in the cinema. While watching television, we know people aren't really getting hurt, so our superego isn't as offended. Without that voice telling us "uh uh uh!" we can indulge in our dark fantasies. We can watch women get dominated, we can watch people get hacked up, we can explore all our private paraphilias (fetishes). And that's exactly what we see in modern cinema with shows like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, and movies like Saw and Secretary. Women usually don't have urges to dominate other women (at least, not sexually), so they're less aroused and more bothered.

In sum, people have competing thoughts and urges--to help, to pity, to conquer, and to hurt. What comes out depends on the interplay between the person and their environment which are constantly in flux. Great question! Please "like" if you can, thanks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reflections: Occupy Wall Street

People have been criticizing the OWS supporters for not knowing what they're protesting. That's not true. They're unhappy. Some know why, other don't, but they don't like being unhappy and unsettled, and they're finding people like them. Many have zeroed in on some of the systemic problems they've observed in our society, which could be crudely summarized as CORRUPTION. Corruption is all over in many forms, from the obvious corruption in politics and business, to the less obvious forms like public relations and marketing. They all possess elements of deceit and taking what hasn't been earned, or what hasn't been earned fairly.

The Occupy movement is about looking at our world through a mature, humanitarian lens instead of a greedy, reptilian lens. It's about reforming institutions and conventions that generate conflict, misery, and rob people of their dignity. It's a natural step in our evolution as a species, one that can no longer wait.



Monday, November 21, 2011

A Timeless Question

Dear Edahn,

Down through the ages has been the question: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Now I read that according to Buddhism, "the chicken is in the egg, and the egg is in the chicken". Has the question been answered then? And if so, where the heck do we go from here? ;-)


NICE TRY, BUT SINCE only chickens can make eggs, . . . all chickens come from eggs, . . . every chicken was once an egg, . . . the only source of eggs is chickens, Ahhh, fuck it.

Here's an actual picture of a chicken-dinosaur that predated both of them.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prediction Time

I'm gonna make some predictions about the next few years. I love doing this stuff. Take it very very not not seriously.

  1. More angry weather. More violent weather and strange astronomical as the Earth tries to flick annoying humans off of it. Bigger earthquakes, storms, hurricanes, and even asteroids. Cataclysms begin to reorganize communities to be closer and more self-reliant. New social rituals are born that emphasize human contact.
  2. #OWS dies and is reborn. OWS protests don't make a significant impact this election, but splinter groups form and create a powerful labor party that call for social reform and new political institutions. 
  3. Buy local movement. A turn to buying local will become much more popular. Corporations will suffers from national boycotts but will find ways to persist by networking with local businesses. Attempts are made to identify these connections, but they fail.
  4. The US, Israel, and France bomb Iran. Iran fires rockets at Israel. No one helps Iran.
  5. China and the US begin exchanging threats. China continues its cyber-espionage. The US issues condemnations, and the War of Words starts. No attacks.
  6. Birth of the cybermafia. The OWS reforms start strong but begin to crumble. The mafia who have currently infiltrated business, education, and politics, take a more subtle approach and turn to hacking and cooperating with enemy governments. The cybermafia is born.
  7. Mass suicide. On facebook. Studies begin to surface about the negative affects of computer and cell phone addiction, naming facebook as a key contributor. People abandon the site completely and replace it with a streamlined app (not a site) like the one I'm developing right now. SHHHH. (I'm serious.)
  8. Dubstep continues to prevail as the best music, ever, EVAR. Woooaaaawoooaaaawoooaaaawoooaaaaw.
Got any of your own? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What are people searching for?

Dear Edahn, 

What do you think everyone's looking for? What makes people content?

ON THE SURFACE, PEOPLE are looking for all sorts of things to fill them up. Their minds and bodies chase all sorts of stimulus/stimulation. Academics may crave intellectual stimulation. Althletes and celebrities crave physical stimulation. Strippers and therapists may crave emotional stimulation. Other people spend their life chasing certain thoughts and the feelings they trigger like “I’m smart” or “I’m valuable” or “I’m successful” or "I'm on the right track." It’s not always pathological, but very often, it is.

But in the end, there’s something I think they’re all secretly chasing, even if they don’t know it yet. That thing is intimacy. Intimacy isn’t just something you experience between you and another person—it’s bigger than that. It’s something you experience between you and your surroundings, with strangers, with music, and in a big way, with yourself. That kind of universal intimacy calms you in a very meaningful way. In fact, I think it’s the door to meaning (but that’ll take a little more to explain). Universal intimacy is always necessary for contentment and often times sufficient. Without it, you'll always be chasing something to make you complete.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Happiness Myth

Happiness has got to be the buzzword of the last 10-20 years. There's a growing army of "positive" psychologists researching happiness in labs and via surveys (sounds childish to me); the self-help movement only recently exploded with happiness manuals; and magazines and talk shows have become saturated with tips, advice, cures, and whatnot to help you feel better and think better.

I don't believe in it. Any of it. Even worse, I think it's destructive.

I believe people can achieve contentment. In fact, I think they should do everything in their power to achieve it. But I think people enter the early stages of contentment when they stop searching for things. Part of this even means giving up the search for things like happiness, which can become an elusive obsession.

It all comes back to the thought that something is missing from us, or something is missing in our lives, that we need to achieve, whether it be spirituality, money, family, security. Let's call it existential inferiority. These things aren't bad; in fact, they're wonderful. It's wonderful to have the ability to experience life in a rich, deep way. But it won't connect to you if you're doing it for a reason: to fill the void in your life or self-concept. When you're being driven by inferiority, you're always miserable on some deep, subtle, significant way.

There's nothing you can do to help yourself, because anything you do is just another attempt to escape your perceived inferiority. The good news is, there's nothing you need to do. There's nothing you need to think or feel or control or change. Or not think, not feel, not control, not change. When the time is right, when circumstances align, you'll forget to think something's missing--the partner, the prestige, the happiness--and you'll just be there, quiet, watching, content.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How do I learn to trust again?

Dear Edahn,

I've been dating a man for a few months now and we've had a rough relationship. When I found out he was being dishonest with me, I ended it and distanced myself from him. We talked and got back together but I'm so afraid of getting hurt again. I feel like my fear of getting hurt is going to break us up again. I really think we could grow into love, marriage and kids! Any suggestions on what we can do to build trust and have a healthy relationship?

IN ANY RELATIONSHIP, YOU never get a 100% guarantee that your partner is going to be honest with you, or even faithful. Instead, you have to talk to them and learn about them, their body language, and their personality until you feel sure enough. It's not really an intellectual process, but more an intuitive process that just happens.

If that confidence in your partner has been shattered, then your perspective changes because your "raw data" changes. To rebuild your confidence, you need reasons to build your confidence rather than suppressing thoughts of betrayal (how other people tend to do it). In other words, if you want to rebuild trust, you need to see what's changed. Has anything changed? Has he grown? Does he truly understand what he did and why it was wrong? How will he respond if the situation presented itself again? Picture him in that situation and, as realistically and honestly as you can, try and picture how he'd react. As long as you, objectively, you picture him betraying your trust, then he's hasn't earned your trust--for good reason. Focus on trusting yourself, not on trusting him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Self-Acceptance or Self-Improvement?

Someone on a site I post at recently asked what people would choose between self-acceptance and self-improvement. It's a bad question because real self-acceptance is self-improvement. They are not separate things. The problem is when people don't really understand what self-acceptance is all about.

Some people take self-acceptance to mean "if I have an urge to say asshole things, I should let myself be an asshole and embrace my assholery in full." That's a very shallow understanding of self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is a psychological shift that happens when you forgive yourself for all the way you fail to measure up to your own--and others'--expectations.

Most of our expectations are held in secret. They're so subtle that you don't even realize how pervasive they are. It's like air: it's everywhere, so you don't notice it unless someone points it out. Expectations drive all of our self-improvement efforts, and all our self-management efforts. When you meditate because you don't like some aspect of your current experience or think there's something missing, you're dealing with self-acceptance. You're rejecting the part of your experience (and the part of you) you can't look at. It's what Jung meant when he was talking about the Shadow as a personality construct.

When you accept the way you feel and the chaos and confusion in your life and all the ways this moment might be missing something, you lose the urge to fight. You lose the urge to be an asshole. You see how it is and you figure out, very immediately, what's valuable in life and what you need to do--your mission. In other words, you take a big leap towards self-improvement.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is it wrong to hang out with your ex?

Got a question? Email me at askedahn@gmail.com.


Dear Edahn,


I've been in a long-distance relationship for 7 months. I recently got a text from a guy I hooked up with a few times. We were intimate when we first met, but it was extremely casual and ended quickly because I wasn't interested. The text said that he'd been dumped by his girl and wanted to grab a beer and catch up. I told my boyfriend about it, explaining that it was just a drink but he asked me not to hang with this friend. I texted my friend back and explained the situation and he was really understanding. We decided not to see each other. When I told my boyfriend about my decision, and he was pissed that I confided in my friend although he was satisfied that I agreed not to see him. I feel really uneasy about the whole thing. Was I wrong? 


IT'S IMPORTANT IN RELATIONSHIPS that you gauge threats accurately. If Ryan Gosling asked my girlfriend to come over to have some wine and watch some porno while they fed each other mussels, I'd be legitimately incensed, and not just because I think mussels are gross. On the other hand, if I felt threatened when my girlfriend's dad asked her to come over and make him toast, I'd be overreacting. If you're reading threats where none exist, your partner will feel oppressed and confused, kind of like how you might feel right now.


I don't know if your guy is gauging this threat--the invitation to the bar--accurately or not. When I first read your story, it definitely sounded suspicious. This guy's vulnerable, he has a brief history with you, wants to drink, and purposefully mentioned his ex. On its face, it sounds like he wants to connect with you...emotionally, penisly, everythingly. But I can also see the other side of this: that your boyfriend is being possessive, and maybe his insecurity (which could likely be connected to the long distance) is making him afraid of losing you to anyone, especially this guy. He might have no idea what he's feeling or might be too ashamed to admit it. Talk to each other and try and figure out if this poses a real threat or not. Don't be afraid to speak up if you really feel you're being mistreated.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#OccupyAskEdahn

The Logo I Did for OWS
So the Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining traction. A few weeks ago I sent them a logo I made for their website and they took part of it. Awesome, right? Right.

I'm so glad to see this movement. It restores my faith in humanity a little bit, and I'm glad it's being run peacefully. When the Arab Spring turned violent in Egypt, and Libya, I lost hope in all long-term reform. Violence begets violence, begets violence.

I'm also glad to see the OWS being creative and organized. When some people are pissed, you can ignore usually ignore them. When a lot of people are pissed, you can still ignore them. But when a lot of people are pissed and organized? Watch the fuck out.

The OWS movement is about fairness and justice. On the fairness side, people want money to be distributed more evenly across classes. On the justice side, they want rich people to play by the same rules as others and not rig the system through bribery, lies, and thievery. Makes a lot of sense.

There a moral dimension to the OWS movement that's hidden in their economic demands. We've lost touch, as a nation, with our conscience. We're become so obsessed with our own lives, our notions of success, our group identities, and imaginary threats that we've forgotten some very fundamental lessons about being a good person and living with honor. Dishonesty and exploitation are some of the first lessons you learn as a kid and also some of the most important ones. These aren't principles we should ever open to debate or rationalization. They're principles we need to hold sacred with unshakable confidence.

30,000 hits for Ask Edahn

So this is kinda interesting. We're nearing 30,000 hits on AskEdahn. I'm probably responsible for 28,000 of those, but that means that we've got some dedicated readers, and that's pretty awesome. Site stats are all up despite the fact that I haven't posted here in a while.

Well, folks, THAT CHANGES RIGHT NOW. Soon. 

This weekend I got some very kind feedback from a family friend who found my blog through Patch.com. She gave me some encouragement and motivation to reignite this project.

You'll notice a few changes right off the bat. I changed the layout of the site to feature some of the content better. If you don't like it you can go fuck yourself toggle views with the button in the corner. I've written a lot in the past 3ish years here, posted endless pictures of cats and other annoying creatures, and composed a plethora of simple, easy-to-read flowcharts. Now you can find all the junk easier. It's like a metal detector for blogs. Also, I'm going to make an effort to keep my answers concise, since I imagine most of you have had your attention span reduced to less than 2 seconds thanks to Facebook. When goldfish can outperform you in a cognitive task, you're in trouble.

Good luck, see you soon, and feel free to write me at askedahn@gmail.com or leave a comment anywhere on this blog anonymously. Cheers, big ears. You'll probably be seeing a lot of activity here in the coming months.

Edahn

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A few thoughts on anxiety and dating

I think the reason people have trouble dating isn't because of their skills or who they are. That should be a relief for most people wondering if they'll ever learn to date well and have the intimacy they wish for deep down. Instead, I think people have trouble because anxiety makes them flip out and think they have to get rid of the anxiety to be themselves. The "flipping out" causes them to detach from who they are in that moment and when that happens, they forget why they're valuable. That's when people get sad and hurt and then turn the hurt into something else like blame or irritability or avoidance. But the key is that they forget why they're valuable and why they're entitled to relax, make mistakes, and still retain their value. It's all about value.

The typical person goes on a date and feels anxious. They think their anxiety says something awful about them or is going to cause something awful to happen (like rejection) so they start thinking how they can change who they are. They reject themselves, often taking on a more comfortable--but ultimately fake--role. They focus on what they lack instead of what they possess, and forget all the things that makes them pretty fucking great. By the time they're on their date, they think they need to hide who they are by pretending to be someone more capable, more interesting, more confident, more assured, even though they naturally possess those qualities (usually) to begin with. Deep down, they don't feel like they deserve the person. They feel smaller and lower, submissive. If you really study relationships, you'll see that lots of times the other person feels the same way. Isn't it ironic, don'tcha think?

When they find a way to remind themselves of their value, perhaps by talking to a friend or by reconnecting with their feelings or reviewing why they're not awful losers, they start to feel hole again and forgive themselves for any shortcomings they may have or errors they might make. They have a sense of natural hope that isn't forced. It's what you'd call security, as opposed to insecurity. Good therapists, good friends, good techniques help you cultivate that.

Question? Write me. Anything. As long as it's not stupid. (I'm not really sure why I do this anymore. ;)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Don't Trust Psychotherapists

I DON'T TRUST PSYCHOTHERAPISTS. Well, most psychotherapists, at least. It takes a lot for me to trust anyone's opinion about anything and when it comes to matters about life and well being, the threshold is even higher. And it should be. I'm skeptical until someone convinces me that they have better insight and accuracy into my life or life in general than I have myself. And I'm not easily convinced about anything.

A lot of therapists out there, especially older therapists, come from a school of thought that was embedded in classical Freudian psychology. Freud, as you know, believed that your problems now are a result of unconscious conflicts you failed to resolve. This creates a big problem because no one knows for sure what this unconscious mind is saying, precisely because it's unconscious. The therapist has to take a guess, and the client, not knowing what's real and what's not, has to take a guess too. No one's sure, and that leads to a lot of speculation and confusion. What's worse is that problems that can be solved directly are analyzed on a symbolic level at which point the solution is less obvious.

Not all therapists practice this way, and some therapists can use some of the Freudian concepts correctly and efficiently. One of the things I ask myself when I evaluate a therapist is "has the therapist adopted a style uncritically, or have they merged certain ideas into their own natural style?" If you've got any question about anything, write me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My dad, my job, my love: Lessons in Imperfection

This one's a little bit long, but it's good. (That's what everyone said.)

FAMILY

My dad is a know-it-all, literally. The man knows everything. I remember watching Jeopardy! with him when I was young and marveling at how he knew every answer. Even when he'd get it wrong, I'd sit there thinking to myself shame on Jeopardy! for making another mistake! Idiots...

We learn how to perceive the world from our parents. We mirror their reactions and observations when we're young and we keep those basic patterns when we get older. Sometimes it works against us, like, when we fight with people or mistrust them (without cause); other times it works to our advantage, helping us process the world rationally and objectively... and humorously.

In many way, I process the world the same way my dad does. We both value intellect, learning, humor, and knowing. Knowing what something is or knowing what to do with something like a political situation or a life situation or a business situation. My mom the therapist was better at knowing what to do in life situations while my dad excelled in the business and political arena.

When I was young, I identified with my father a lot. I felt like we were on the same team. It wasn't until my adolescence when I started viewing us at odds, on opposing sides. That competition went on for years and years, well into my late 20s. But eventually something weird happened.

I started to realize that my dad wasn't the perfect genius I thought he was. I started winning debates with him, and started correcting him. I even started getting Jeopardy! answers that he missed. What was happening was a gradual shift in power and authority as I realized something important: that my dad was imperfect. 

That changed things for me. I felt less of a need to compete with  him. We started cooperating again, but this time it wasn't so clear who was leading. Any lingering resentment I had towards him changed into understanding, for he was like me. He was a kid once too, who suffered, cared, and dreamed.

CAREER

I got an advertisement in the mail today from Chase, the bank. The flyer said something like "Something for you...." I did one of those dramatic blinks as if my eyes decided to just start lying to me. Four periods? But surely an ellipsis has three periods, does it not? Anal retentiveness.... ENGAGE!

And I realized something important, again: even professionals are imperfect hacks. They don't have any more authority or perfection than you do. They experience the same hesitation and uncertainty that you do. You may never get to a point in your career where you feel like you're not bullshitting. We're all bullshitting. Politicians, marketing gurus, business people... we're all trying to make accurate guesses because we're imperfect. The amateurs look at the pros thinking "I wish I could do that" while the pros look at the amateurs and say the same thing. It's funny.

LOVE

The same thing happens with love. I can't even count the number of times I've fallen in love with someone after knowing them for 2 minutes or hearing them say something. When I'm hungry for love and companionship, I'm so eager to find someone that I idealize everyone I meet. I think most people do this. They take a little information and imagine that this person is perfect for them, and that this is the person they've been looking for.

And what happens every single time, without fail? Two week go by (or two minutes, in some cases) and you realize this person isn't who you thought. And if you make it past that point, two months later, you start to see even bigger problems. And then you're forced to decide whether to stick it out, or whether there's someone more perfect out there for you. And you're back to the trap.

The trap is believing in perfection, that people and careers and things can be perfect, and that when they're not perfect, something is wrong. But in reality, everything in flawed and everyone is just taking guesses. Sometimes they're confident, but it's not because they know--it's because they're strategically ignorant.

I don't think this is bad news. It's just something to keep in mind when you're measuring yourself or measuring others. Knowing that people are as imperfect as I am is something I take comfort in.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A New Challenge (Movement?) for Art

I define art as a state of mind akin to beauty and "flow" in psychology. It's an emotional experience that has cognitive implications. You're focused, connected, and flowing gracefully.

Things made during the "art" state of mind are artifacts. If the artist is not in the art state of mind, it's not art. It's something else. We can quibble about semantics, and if you're dying to call it art, call it art, but it's a shame--and a mistake--to lump these two things together.

With that said, I pose a challenge to artists: to try and reduce and essential components needed to communicate the experience of art and reproduce them in some type of medium. Kind of like minimalism, but the focus is on trying to capture an experience instead of an object's essential features.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Body Language

I think the best thing you can tell from body language is mood and intention. I divided it up into 4 "types," neutral, submissive, dominant-aggressive, calm, and agitated. Here's a table.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's not you, it's him

Edahn,

I will try to keep this brief. I went out on one date with a guy and it was apparent we were not for each other. Flash forward several months which included lots of sexting and casual conversation. I didn't want anything more and it was obvious neither did he. We made plans several times to hook up casually but it didn't pan out. Until last night. 

I showed up a little drunk. I almost didn't recognize him because he lost so much weight due to a car accident. I was all dressed up and could not have looked hotter. I drank some more by him and also smoked pot (which makes me even louder although I think funny). (LOL) He had problems performing and an hour and a half later said he was really tired and wanted me to leave. I feel totally rejected and ugly and stupid. What guy has a gorgeous girl come over and flat out rejects her? I'd love to hear a professional guys perspective to help me work this out.

I'LL SEE IF I can find a professional to work this out, but in the meantime, let me give you my shiny two cents. I've noticed that girls tend to overestimate the role of their sexuality in trying to understand the motivation of other people. They think that when guys are acting weird it must be because there's something they did wrong or that they're somehow inadequate. It's wrong. People have a lot going on in their head and have their own inadequacies that they're trying to manage and control.

You assume that guy kicked you out because you were annoying. I'm not gonna tell you that wasn't a factor, because I have no idea how annoying you are when you smoke pot. (Sounds like you might be at risk, though.) But assuming there was just one factor, you, strikes me as incorrect. From your description of the event is sounds more like:
  • You both built high expectations for the sexual encounter over text, which lead to anxieties in both of you. You got drunk, he performed poorly.
  • You were drunk and high and loud, and maybe he had a hard time relating to you. Some people don't need to relate to have sex, but many people do. They might think anonymous casual sex is a good idea, but in practice, it can turn into a disaster, especially if there's very little intimacy in the moment.
  • Your were looking good, he was looking bad, and you were drunk. The combination of hot + drunk can be intimidating for a guy who's not looking his best. Even if he is looking his best, it can still be s-s-scary.
  • He performed poorly and felt embarrassed or ashamed and just wanted to end the night as soon as possible. 
So you see, his reaction could have a lot to do with him and his own personal stuff rather than with you and your sexual adequacy or personality. It can also have something to do with you though, too. If you feel like it's worth it, you can always try talking to him about that night. You can make it disarming by saying something like "so that didn't work out at all, LOL," followed by "were you uncomfortable that night? Things moved pretty fast." He's not going to come (haha) out and say "I felt ashamed because I couldn't ejaculate promptly," but you can figure it out with clues like "I felt awkward," or "that was pretty out of character for me," etc. G'luck!

Thank you everyone.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Update

I feel like it's been such a long time since I've written. I'm not really sure where to start. Lately, every time I've tried pondering or writing, I've been feeling very inauthentic, almost like I'm just repeating the same old themes that have dominated my experience these past 5 years: struggling with spirituality; struggling with dating and relationships (yes, I do); struggling with authenticity...struggling, struggling, struggling. Yeah, I suppose I do, but the nagging and complaining that something is deficient is just getting old. I don't feel like it's the current me talking anymore, but an old me.

So what does the new me want to say? I'm not sure I have anything to say just yet. Maybe I've been in a state of incubation. I certainly feel like my perspectives about things are getting a little clearer--things like politics, justice, priorities, right and wrong. Whatever. Sometimes I just want to be quiet.

I've been waiting for a leader to step up. More a group of leaders to lead this country with honor and courage and lead the rest of the world. It's time for a new political party that's in touch with the people and lets them have a say (via internet, maybe). It's shocking to me that anyone who isn't a millionaire could still identify as Republican. Wake the fuck up, Jesus.

This group of girls just walked into Starbucks and started singing happy birthday, but they started on a super high note, so by the time they got to the "happy BIRTHDAY DEAR _______" their voices all went quiet. It was funny.

Scattered thoughts. That's all for now. -_-

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trusting Others, Part Deux



This post is a follow up to this post.

Doesn't trust also require us to "assume that the same pattern will repeat itself indefinitely”? What makes trust any less presumptuous than mistrust?


One could argue that adopting a template of trust is more irrational and more presumptuous than one of mistrust, since mistrust only requires that we accept the fallibility of other humans and the potential for that fallibility to cause us harm. The outcomes of being wrong in any particular instance are far less hazardous with that model.

In fact, whether rational or not, expecting future outcomes to be like past ones is how we learn about the world. If we didn’t make (accurate) predictions based on past experiences we couldn’t navigate our way through the world at all: it’s the foundation of knowledge and intelligence. Isn't it the definition of insanity to expect different outcomes from the same behavior?

Philosophical nit-picking aside, I don’t know if I really expressed what I meant. I’m not talking about a “breach of trust” – which presupposes that one already trusts the person and they have done something to dishonor that trust. In that case, I agree, talking with the person is the right thing to do (depending on how serious the breach was and whether you want to salvage the relationship).

I’m talking about mistrusting someone from the start. Something just seems “off”. You feel it in your gut. Maybe you can find some rationalizations, but nothing definitive. It’s not worth talking to the person about, because you will likely alienate them, besides which, you don’t trust them, so why would you trust their reassurances? Opening yourself up like that makes you vulnerable, which is the last thing you want to be around someone who wants to hurt you. And that’s what I mean when I say I don’t trust someone – I don’t trust their motives. I don’t trust them not to harm me/people I care about.

How do you learn to trust your gut in those circumstances? I second guess myself all the time. I give people the benefit of the doubt over and over, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I don’t consider myself to be a trusting person - the issue is that I don’t even trust *myself* to assess the trustworthiness of others. And yet, I think I should, because I’m usually right. But am I right because everyone slips up from time to time? Am I right because I create self-fulfilling prophecies? And is it more important to have faith in others than to be right? I don’t know. It’s a big issue for me and I don’t have any answers.


I wrote a whole bunch and forgot to elucidate the problem: which is the torturous uncertainty of having misjudged someone/written them off unfairly. I find that very painful to deal with.You're probably going to say that's not the real problem, but it is from my perspective.

SOME PEOPLE ARE VERY sensitive to rejection. I'm one of those people. I've noticed a few things about people sensitive to rejection. First, they have a high need for quality intimacy even if the quantity is modest. Two, they are very concerned with hurting other people and that becomes a big reason not to get involved with them. Three, the fear of rejection hurts much more than the actual rejection itself. Four, they are actually quite strong, and when they face the fear of rejection/abandonment/being forgotten, they become immediately empowered. Five, they are very good at reading people, but poor at reading themselves. Sound somewhat accurate?

The fear of rejection (I like to think of it as a fear of isolation) is innate of course, but certain circumstances can heighten people's sensitivity. One is a rough childhood in which the child gets hurt by an abandonment and doesn't have the tools (often secure family members) to help them bounce back. Another source--and this is my own theory--is that kids can inherit fears of isolation from their environment. If a mother of father has a fear of abandonment, the kid can absorb it through interesting ways. The kid might mirror the parent's emotional panic or avoidance of close relationships or engage in inauthentic role-playing to appease others (for fear of rejection). A lot of that, I suspect, is subconscious.

When you have a strong fear of isolation, you tend to see the world as it relates to that fear. One thing that happens is you develop a script. That script might say "I will meet people, but they will always be in the process of leaving me." Then everything becomes connected to that expectation, monitoring it, consciously trying to avoid and unconsciously trying to confirm it. Your mind is always busy. You split up the world into categories of people like "trustable" and "unstrustable." You become preoccupied with evaluating others and yes, like you said, you run a very serious risk of pushing others away both accidentally and intentionally, to confirm your hypothesis that people cannot be trusted (the script).

I think I get the dilemma you're in, because I get into similar dilemmas, where I feel anxious (non-trusting) around someone but know that I'm biased and question the accuracy of my interpretations. I also understand your dilemma also has to do with unfairly disqualifying others.

The good news is that I think there are ways to get out of this dilemma which I'll divide into 3 categories: surrender, distraction/humor, and confrontation. Understanding might be another option, but it doesn't quite work for me. 
  1. Surrender. Do nothing. The situation is complex, and trying to manage your thoughts and feelings and put them all in their proper place is hopeless. The problem is incredibly complex and it may not even be something you could ever solve with proper understanding and control. Acknowledge the full fucked-upedness of the situation and just wait. Let it remain confusing for a while. Maybe something will loosen up and a new option will present itself.
  2. Distraction/humor. Laugh at something related to your predicament. Yes, we know it's very serious and complicated, but in the end, what is it you're worried about? Reduce it to something so fundamental (like atoms avoiding atoms) that it becomes absurd and takes some of the edge off. Now wait. See if things feel as heavy as they did before.
  3. Confrontation. What is it that you're ultimately afraid of? Picture it happening and just wait. I believe that people who are sensitive to rejection are some of the strongest people you'll ever meet when they confront their fears and find courage. Are you afraid people will leave you? Hurt you? Look down upon you? Afraid you'll hurt them? Picture it and confront it.
Try them out and see what works. None of these are really solutions, they're just approaches to help your mind settle so you can decide with greater clarity and confidence. When your emotions aren't stewing around and making the waters choppy, you can look clearly and see what's at the bottom of the pool. Or swamp, depending on how screwed up you are. :) You're still going to have to figure out how to respond to the situation. Maybe you're right not to trust them, maybe you were worried about nothing, maybe something else entirely.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Parents Keep Hurting Me

Dear Edahn,

I have a terrible relationship with my family. I've never really had a good relationship with them as they have always been hyper critical of me, and have never offered me any kind of support or encouragement. If they do it’s minimal, and usually paired with a slap in the face. I guess it should be inserted somewhere here that as a kid, I was physically abused by them and now that I’ve reached adulthood, it’s just a continuation of that. 


My stress levels are really high after seeing and interacting with them at times. Sometimes it's positive, and other times they end up saying something unkind and hurtful. There's no telling when or why with them. In the hopes of having a positive relationship with them, I've tried working on it with them, and even tweaked the way I act to be more understanding, but I feel (and outsiders have also noticed) that the relationship is very one-sided with me being the giving, tolerant one. They have a way of either imposing their rude judgements and comments, or taking the extreme of ignoring and tuning me out all together. 

I cannot point to a single person in the family who has my back. The other night at dinner, someone threw an insult at me that just made me say: "that's it," and I just come to the conclusion that they are rotten people who are not going to change. I’m still really hurting from it and shaken up. Distant relatives and people outside the family have weighed in saying no family is perfect, and I'll live to regret not having a relationship with them, but I feel like my well being is really at risk here. Is there a better way of dealing with this situation?

YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY to avoid putting people in harm's way but what most people forget is that that responsibility extends to you personally, too. You can't let yourself get mistreated and belittled because it's wrong. Since they're your family, I can understand why you wouldn't want to abandon them altogether. So, I think you're going to have to pull back far enough that you don't keep getting hurt but not much farther.

Pulling back your feelings doesn't mean you repress them or ignore them. It means you don't let others have such a strong say in how you feel about yourself and life. All you really have to do is talk calmly. It's actually that easy. If you always talk calmly with them, you'll start to see that your reactions will be less extreme and painful.

So when your parents say "You don't know what the hell you're talking about, so just shut up," you say "Ouch. You really hurt me when you talk like that. No one should be talked to that way." When they say "Why don't you go find another boy to use you and dump you," you say "I don't know why you're so bitter, but I won't let you take it out on me" and walk away.

At first this'll probably feel awkward, but eventually it'll start feeling familiar. What you're doing is setting up boundaries and teaching yourself new responses to triggers. Instead of getting tragically hurt, you'll be moderately hurt, but you'll be able to navigate through it and move on with your day. You won't always know what you're doing or supposed to be doing but that's okay--that's part of the growing process. You do your best and when you mess up, you adjust. If you follow that philosophy, your life is destined to improve.

It's important that you react with the same calmness and composure to both mean things and nice things. Instead of indulging in the nice comments and compliments, just say thank you, offer a quick smile and move on. If you let yourself get wrapped up in compliments, you'll let yourself get lost in the insults. Why? Because you're giving other people the power to determine your mood and self-worth. You don't even need to worry about all that though. Just start with talking calmly and honestly.

If you follow that rule, you're going to notice your moods balancing out relatively quickly. Stick to it. You'll start reclaiming your self-worth and you'll start seeking your own approval instead of theirs. Hopefully your good communication will start to wear off on them over time. But if not, you tried.

tl;dr -- Keeping your voice calm will regulate your responses so you won't be so hurt.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You rack disciprine!

I can't seem to break old habits. I feel like it's destroying my soul yet I succumb to old habits within a blink of an eye. I don't understand why I choose to poison myself over and over again when I am aware that it's damaging my spirit and my health. I don't know whether I need to go to rehab or to just accept that its okay to lose control and get wasted sometimes. I am not a conventional alcoholic but I have been binge drinking since I was a teenager. Every time I go through huge changes in my life I regress and turn into that adolescent that I thought had grown up. The next day I always wake up wondering what happened. It's not an everyday thing or even a weekly thing but I feel like it shouldn't happen at all. It's self destructive. Why is it so hard to break old habits? Can you suggest a way to break old patterns of self abuse.

IF YOU'RE REGRESSING, IT'S because you're giving yourself permission to regress. No one indulges in their addictive habits without first giving themselves permission. I'd assume that you're using your life-transition as a license to drink. Maybe you're drinking so you don't have to deal with the confusion in your life.

I used to work with addicts (not suggesting you are one, though) and the toughest part is getting them to see that their behavior is ruining their chance at having a peaceful, satisfying life. You seem to have a few doubts about whether drinking is really bad for you or not, even though you call is self-destructive and abusive. Well, which is it? What role is alcohol playing in your life? Are you drinking to avoid the chaos, complexity and confusion in your life? If you are, then you need to cut that shit out, because if you don't you're going to end up more confused and more lost. It's like you're watching TV every time someone delivers a bill to you. Eventually your bills are going to keep piling up and things are going to become even more daunting.

Instead of drinking you could examine what's making your life complicated and how to start simplifying it. (A good place to start might be how you interpret the world and how psychological and spiritual jargon have infiltrated your perception of the world.) Keep in mind that some confusion is a natural part of life that you can never escape.

If you firmly believe drinking is preventing you from addressing things in your life that need to be addressed (or doing some other damage) than it's really a matter of discipline and being smart. Make a commitment not to drink for a year, throw out your alcohol, and forswear all bars for 6 months. Create a ceremony that has some personal meaning that marks your one-year commitment. And, keep it private. Don't tell people you've given up drinking and are making a big change in your life--don't give it away like that. Keep this to yourself. When you have an urge to drink, don't fuss over it and analyze it to death and talk about it. Just let it be and use it, instead, as an opportunity to ask "Where is there conflict or confusion in my life? How do I resolve it?"

All my bestest,
Edahn

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Friend with Benefits...and Detriments

Dear Edahn,

I’ve read through your blog and advice columns and I think your advice is really authentic, clear, and helpful. I appreciate that you have a young perspective and tell things how they are without being too harsh or too coddling. I would love some advice on an issue that I’m really struggling with, it’s similar to some of the others I’ve read but would like some of your perspective. Thank you.

I’ve been seeing this guy off and on, mostly on, for two years now. I am 20 and he is 31 with a 13 year old daughter. We began our relationship as a “friends with benefits” deal. Gradually I’ve bonded with him more and more over time, assuming the role of friend and lover and girlfriend. I’ve invested a lot of time, advice, effort, compromise, favors, and some money into our “relationship”, but so has he. Although we have fun, and spend time together like a family, although he says I’m beautiful and great and would make a great mom one day, he doesn’t want to be my boyfriend. When asked all he says is that I’m too young for him. Could age be the only deciding factor in an otherwise fine relationship? The issue comes up once or twice a month and a blowup/ breakdown ensues, followed by a period of separation (just friends) and then by us having some kind of connection (either sex, a good time out together, a conversation) then we get back together until the next time he rejects me. We are fighting more and more frequently. It’s fast and intense and hurtful. I can tell he really cares about me, and I him, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to matter. He is my best friend and lover and I feel like I’m losing him.

I know what you may be thinking first hand. “Non-girlfriend relationships are just for fun, not commitment," “that sounds exhausting, you should break it off,” “look inside yourself for the answer, young grasshopper,” and other such ideas. And they are probably right, but just because you know you shouldn’t eat the chocolate cake, does not mean that you’re not looking at the plate 5 minutes later with chocolate all over your face, wondering what the hell happened. I know this is not the best situation, and I know that he may never accept me and that I should work on making myself whole before trying to be in a relationship, but I just can’t. I can’t make myself break it off with him when I care about him and his daughter as much as I do, not after all this time, and all we have been through. I can’t forget the images of him, kissing my face over and over, and the possibility that the experience could be repeated. It consumes me, this thing that feels like love, so much like love that I would settle for it in doubt that the real thing exists in my future. Some people don’t love, some people live their lives alone and end their lives alone and this terrifies me because I have so much of it to give and seemingly no one to give it to.

Any insights, answers, examples, comments, questions, would be very much appreciated. Thank you.


I'M SO SORRY, THAT'S a tough position for any person, especially a 20-something, to be in. 

I had written a long answer about making tough decisions and how to make them, but truthfully, if he doesn't want what you want, then what can you really do? There's no decision to be made here because you don't have any options. He's not interested in a future with you, but you can't take that personally, as a reflection of your worth or value. Just like you have a concept of your ideal relationship, he has his, and it includes someone that's closer to his age (and farther from his daughter's age). That's okay. We don't have to try and persuade him otherwise. Let's respect it.

You have so many feelings that are tied up in this relationship. It makes sense and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but it's going to make it hard to let go. Your feelings will keep seeking him out and attaching to him. They're like a charged magnet. Your strong feelings are the reason it's hard to see the situation for what it's worth and decide what's best for you--to acknowledge that the relationship has hit a ceiling and to move on. But I'm telling you that if you let go, stick it out, and grieve, the sun will eventually scatter the clouds and you'll know in your heart that this was the right move.

As a practical matter, if you keep breaking up and going back to him after sex or spending time with him, don't have sex and don't spend time with him for a long time until you fully recover (as a rule of thumb, wait half the time of the relationship). It's important that you give yourself time for your feelings to run their course so you can heal and move on and eventually find someone else to share your big heart with. I know that must be scary, trust me, but everything will work out just fine.

Love,
Edahn

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is reality?

I thought I've been having lately is the weirdness that is reality. and it's been really pleasant.

Most people rarely have the time or curiosity to ask this question. But it's really an amazing question. What is reality? Ask a person and they'll give you a little speech about physics or cosmology, but these are all pointless words because they don't even get close to touching the essence of reality because the essence of reality is pure WTF. It's totally, absolutely weird. Why does anything exist? What exists? What is the fabric of this stuff, and what is it doing?

Questions like these don't have any sensical answers, and the joy is in asking them, not answering them. When you have a choance to reflect on e nature of reality, you're struck with the awesome realization that you're an inseparable part of it and that is...neat. As well as relieving.

So many people are so stuck in their agendas for power, longevity, answers, image control, resolving their private issues, etc., that they forget to do this very important reflection. It's a shame.

Next up: girl and older guy and cake

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How important is passion?

Forgettable
I went on a date last Saturday with a guy named Mark. He's handsome, driven, romantic, an Ivy League graduate, also an NFJ. He's a film maker and is obviously going places. I like the guy, and he has made it quite clear that he wants to see me again and I would like to see him again. The problem is he doesn't ignite that burning flame of passion and desire that I so richly enjoy. He feels more like a platonic friend but I'm open to the possibility that that flame could develop. My mind tells me that it needs work and kindling, but once ignited it will be a strong fire that will burn long and hot.


Three months ago I went on a date with this fellow named Jack. He's handsome, funny, intelligent, if I had to guess I'd say he's an NTJ. He's logical, somewhat aggressive and teaches kids with autism (all these qualities I find attractive). Jack most definitely ignites that flame of passion, however, this intimidates me. From my friends' experience I recognize that flames of passion and desire tend to burn the people they take hold of. The thing that scares me about Jack is that he's not looking for something deeper than getting together every few months for a date and a romp.


To put it simply, Jack lights my fire, baby. Michael does not. But Michael has my trust, even though I have no reason to give it to him. I don't distrust Joshua, but I have no reason to trust him. What do I do?

THIS IS PROBABLY GOING to sound controversial, if not dead-wrong, but I actually think passion ruins relationships. When people are friends, things are simple and straightforward. They aren't looking to get something from the other person. They related to the other as a whole person.

The process of developing passion is really a process of objectification in the sense that you convert the person into an object of sexual desire. Passion changes the way you see a person. You start seeing them more narrowly and less holistically. You project all your neurotic needs and wishes that are connected to that sexual desire and lose touch with who they actually are, and often lose touch with who you are as you become more driven to possess and acquire something (the object).

So while passion definitely has its purpose of bringing two people together, I don't think it works as something that keeps people together and feeling close. All these seminars and workshops about reigniting passion, in my opinion, are completely misguided because a good relationship doesn't require intense passion. Occasional playful pouncing maybe, but burning desire, no. Yet we've all been trained to put a high premium on passion from stupid gurus with big mouths.

Onto your situation. If you just want something intense and chaotic, go with the passionate relationship. If you want a shot at something more fulfilling, for with the platonic relationship. But don't wait for it to turn passionate, but (a) your expectations will make you judge the situation and (b) as I've tried to explain, it's not necessary or worth it. Just see where the friendship takes you. The feelings that come up will help guide you. You don't have to plan it out. If it works, great. If not, back to the drawing board.


To submit a question, send an email to AskEdahn@Gmail.com.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ask the Askers: One Question

Say you were a therapist and you can only ask your patient one question to help them. What would you ask?

I'll post my response and some of the best responses here over the weekend.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love or Career?

Pretty classy with the watermark, eh?
Simple question: love or career?

IF YOU REALLY WANT to do it right, then choose neither. Choose a lifestyle that resonates with your whole being and let that guide your decisions in career and love. If it meshes well, proceed; if it clashes, pull back. In order for that to work, you need to be clear on two things: (1) what your true, correct lifestyle is, and (2) how well things are working with that lifestyle.

Your Values & Lifestyle
Your lifestyle is informed by your values, but your values need to be discovered. Cheesy as cliche as it may sound, you discover your values when you are 100% honest with yourself about your situation in life with all its confusion and uncertainty. When you stop trying to find answers, the remainder is unadulterated honesty, and with that honesty, you find some other things pop up. You find courage, determination, and your values. The funny thing is, you don't have to actually look for them. They find you like a puppy wandering back to its owner.

When you figure out what's important in life, you can get a sense of what you want your life to look like. You get a sense of what's right and correct. It's weird because it's not correct in an intellectual way. It's just right and you know it. With a little imagination, you can get a sense of the kind of currents you want to have in your life, from the broad strokes to the day-to-day minutiae. You know that it has to contain honesty and understanding and kindness, humor, focus, intellect. The exact proportions and ingredients vary from person to person, but the basic recipe is always the same.

Your Role
So by now you've got a sense of what themes you want to permeate your life. You now move onto some big questions like career and relationships. I don't like to talk outside of my own experience, so to be fully honest, I've diverged at this point a few times. One strategy is to take your talents, mix up with your lifestyle, and figure out where you fit in. There doesn't have to be one correct answer, and the answer can change.

Another approach I've taken is to forget about long-term planning and just try and assess what my role is in this moment. I ask myself: how can I act in accordance with my truest values? How can I be totally truthful with my experience? How can I make beautiful moments? (That last question is what it ultimately comes down to.)

A third approach I've taken is to identify my deepest struggles in life (self-consciousness) and resolve to help others overcome it. That's something the existential (logo)therapists like Victor Frankel and the old Rabbinical Jews would have advocated.

All three approaches have felt right to me at different times and for me, they don't conflict. They all point in the same direction. Whichever approach you take--even deciding on your own--is fine as long as you trust in it.

Your Relationships
You can choose your relationships the same way you choose your career: examine your lifestyle and see if it fits your current relationship. You have to really be honest and be smart enough to tease apart your feelings of attachment and longing (which will cloud your judgment) with the situation itself. Is this what you had in mind for yourself? Will this relationship further the lifestyle you deserve, or frustrate it?

Getting Started
I don't want to leave you with a bunch of abstract philosophy because this isn't about your ability to digest ideas at all. This is just a guide. If you want to put in the hard work and do the introspection, then stop being in a hurry to solve your dilemma and wait. It'll probably feel like nothing at first, but then you'll have the urge to go back and solve. It's at that point where you have to show restraint. Just sit there and wait, paying attention to your body. How does it feel? You'll slowly start to peel away the layers of thought until you find that there are parts of your body that feel tender. There's nothing you have to do. Just watch it and be silent.

That sets the whole process in motion.

Flowchart time!
If you do the whole process and get "pursue" for both job and relationship but absolutely can't pursue both, then I guess you'll have to make it work or pick one. But make sure you go through the process first and don't just skip. You can't know if your relationship or career harmonize with your lifestyle unless you clarify your values via the process outlined above. Good luck.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How do I learn to trust people?

How do I assess my own mistrust?

If I have a bad intuition about someone, how do I determine whether it’s sound or whether it’s just my own considerable issues with trusting others? Every time I have trusted someone it has been a mistake. Every time I haven’t, I’ve been proved right, eventually. Therefore, isn’t it rational not to trust anyone? One can always find reasons not to, if that’s what one is looking for.

NO, THAT’S NOT RATIONAL, because it assumes that the same pattern will repeat itself indefinitely, which is unfounded. It’s possible that you’ll meet someone else who you will or won’t trust, who will end up meeting your standards of trustworthiness.

I don’t know if your perception is distorted. Maybe you’re meeting mean people, or maybe you’re blowing things out of proportion to protect yourself from being rejected/forgotten/belittled. The good news is that my advice is the same in either situation—talk, and equally important, listen. When someone breaches your trust, tell them without attacking them. Explain what offended you and how you see it. Let them say their part and then wait. At first your instinct will probably be to fight and defend, but after a little bit, you’ll actually start to listen to one another and you’ll have a chance to examine what happened without being so emotionally charged.

If you change your mind, that’s okay. You now have a little insight into your distortion. Make a note of it, but don’t beat yourself up, okay? Trust is at the core of all spiritual disciplines. It takes time to work on and it’s a challenge for everyone. You’re aware, so you can (and must) nurture it. It’ll happen slowly without you realizing. 

P.S. Don't blame yourself, really. Sometimes people absorb sensitivities from their parents.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Font Change

Thanks Ivy <3
I changed the fonts around. What do you think?

About 5 years ago I developed this affinity for old books. They're kind of mysterious and have this authenticity to them that I love. I'm trying to achieve some of that feel with this new font.

Typographers who are reeling at my decision:

Consider this report about the legibility serifed and sans-serifed fonts. It concludes:   

What initially seemed a neat dichotomous question of serif versus sans serif has resulted in a body of research consisting of weak claims and counter-claims, and study after study with findings of “no difference”. Is it the case that more than one hundred years of research has been marred by repeated methodological flaws, or are serifs simply a typographical “red herring”?
It is of course possible that serifs or the lack of them have an effect on legibility, but it is very likely that they are so peripheral to the reading process that this effect is not even worth measuring (Lund, 1999 ).
Indeed, a greater difference in legibility can easily be found within members of the same type family than between a serif and a sans serif typeface. ( Tinker, 1963 , Zachrisson, 1965 ). There are also other factors such as x-height, counter size, letter spacing and stroke width which are more significant for legibility than the presence or absence of serifs. ( Poulton, 1972 ; Reynolds, 1979 )
Finally, we should accept that most reasonably designed typefaces in mainstream use will be equally legible, and that it makes much more sense to argue in favour of serif or sans serif typefaces on aesthetic grounds than on the question of legibility. ( Bernard, 2001 ; Tinker, 1963 )
So :-P.

Love, Sex, Friendship

I didn't make this, but it's bloody awesome.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Day in Court

I had to go to court today to fight some penalties that were assessed on my speeding ticket. It's unbelievable how many penalties and fees your local gubmint will try and tack onto a routine speeding ticket. Believe it or not, there's even a fee for having your ticket dismissed, meaning, you did nothing wrong but still have to pay a "processing fee." That's mafia-logic as far as I'm concerned.

So the judge goes through his list calling one person at a time. Eventually he gets to this kid, probably 19 or so, tie barely below his navel, hair ineffectively brushed, wearing a pressed suit and tennis shoes. Whereas every other case opened up with "what is your plea?" this one opened up with "I see you've brought a motion." Prepare for awesome.

The judge starts flipping through a stack of papers and has this look on his face like they were handwritten in ancient Elvish. Judge says there's only one copy of the motion which poses an insurmountable hurdle for the court. It's like they've never heard of (a) a photocopy machine and (b) common courtesy. "We can charge them a dismissal fee, but no way in fuck are we making them photocopies, Johnson!" Fuckers.

The kid tries to argue his case, but the judge just repeats his mantra.
Kid: But your honor there's...
Cooperative Judge: There's only one copy.
Kid: Yes, but in --
CJ: One copy.
Kid: But I --
CJ: One copy.
Kid: My staple --
Everyone in the courtroom, in unison: ONE COPY.
The kid regroups and launches into his explanation of why he got his ticket. Judge give fewer shits than the honey badger and demands a plea.

Suddenly I feel like I was watching the most intense round of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (<--- click that when you're done). The kid is narrating all his thoughts, rehearsing what he ate for lunch, trying to recall everything he read on the internet that morning, when finally he says: "I'm not sure I understand the charges being brought against me."

I'm thinking oh shit! Maybe something complicated happened! Maybe he was arrested underwater or maybe he was a bystander in a police chase! Or maybe his car flipped and exploded! Right? Totally! America! FUCK YEAH!

Judge shuffles through the documents, squints, and calmly says "it's for failure to stop at a stop sign." I just start laughing my ass off from the back of the courtroom. Fucking awesome.

The lesson is this: Having guts is laudable, but there's a point where you realize struggling won't do you any good because the opportunity to change the situation has passed...for now at least. Remember the serenity prayer? "Serenity Now!" "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Overcoming Social Anxiety

Surprisingly Symbolic
Hello Edahn.

I am a 23 yr old guy. I was always painfully shy. However I never faced a lot of problem with it due to my good academic records and my regular advancements in career. For some reason, two years ago I suddenly began to feel lonely and lost hope in life. My studies have been deteriorating since and right now I feel a kind of anaesthetized, detached from everything. I have no urge to fight. I even fear to talk to people I once knew. I fear as if they would know my shortcomings and weaknesses. I feel I would bore them. I can't respect the person I am.

Examples of my shyness--I fear to talk over phone. Whenever I am among a group of people, I hesitate to express myself and get embarrassed. I can't talk to my professors. Sometimes I feel dumb when I see others are talking spontaneously and I am left behind. I feel as if people are disgusted with my personality or simply ignore me. This way I am left so alone and isolated from others. Two years from now I will be a doctor and don't know whether I would really make it. Now my self esteem has hit the bottom. Six months from now, I will have to sit for a big exam and have to complete volumes of books. I don't know what I am doing.

I went to a psychologist. She told me that I have defeating personality. One psychiatrist told me I got dysthymia. I regular take antidepressants but it's not helping me anymore. If you can suggest what to do, how to take control of the situation by myself, I would be really grateful to you. Don't ignore it.


IT SOUNDS TO ME like you've gone through 3 separate stages. First, a shy phase; second, some type of depression; and third, a period where the social anxiety has been creeping into different parts of your social life and where you've practiced self-loathing. My best guess would be that you never learned how to trust that life would work out. In the beginning, this showed up mainly in your social relationships, where you predicted things would go bad. Eventually, this spread to other parts of your life and you started predicting they would go bad too. Over time you developed a sense of hopelessness, which together with the loneliness due to not being able to connect with people, made you feel depressed. Eventually, the feeling of doom kept spreading and now you expect it everywhere, so much that you probably cause it to happen. (See self-fulfilling prophecy.) If you want to read a little more about this, I'd suggest googling "scripts" and "transactional analysis." Erick Berne wrote a lot of interesting stuff about this.

But you actually don't need to read to work through this. As smart as you are, reading will only get you so far. The real work involves courage and understanding.

Here's what you gotta do. You have to be willing to endure the confusion and weirdness of this moment, whatever it is, without succumbing to the belief that there's something inherently wrong with you or with your experience that needs to be corrected. That takes balls and patience, but I would bet that deep down, you already know how to do it and what that looks like. 

Anything else you try to do to fix your situation will only fuck you up more. Any therapy or form of mental control or whatnot will reinforce the idea that something is wrong with THIS that needs to be corrected and fixed. Do you see how this is the theme that has been running through your life, robbing you of your opportunity to feel comfortable and safe, making you feel like you're defective? It's not just you. It's almost everyone. They're just playing games, hoping that if they reach their ideal (materially, socially, sexually) they'll finally fit in and everything will finally be okay. Guess what. That moment never comes, because as you acclimate to one level, your needs increase and there's a new goal to attain, and so on. The only way people ever get out of that is by facing the moment and facing themselves with all their supposed defects and unacceptable qualities, and just wait. They don't do anything, they just wait

What the fuck is the point of waiting? By waiting, you see that there is nothing actually wrong. This is fine. The thing you thought you needed was bullshit because the only thing that ever really mattered was your ability to be kind to yourself and to be kind in general. Sounds hokey? Too fucking bad. It's the truth. 

The secret is this, my friend: there's no secret. There's no technique, no special training you need, and there's no where you're ever going to go that will make you feel safe. The only place you will ever feel safe is right here, where you already are, with all the disappointment and mediocrity you already feel. You never go anywhere; you give up trying to get anywhere, and then you find yourself where you already are. You just don't have the urge to fight it anymore. You just experience it however it is. But in that moment, you stop being an asshole to yourself. Your heart loosens up and true wisdom blossoms inside you. You know what you have to do to make things right in your life and in this world. It's not a desperate kind of thing. It comes from a place of deep silence and intimacy. That's what intuition really is. It's very very sacred, and I say that as a non-religious person.

Sit with this a little, and sit with your experience. See what it's like without analyzing it and trying to gain the upper hand on it so you can erase it. Enough of that. You've been running to long. Face it like a fucking warrior. Be brave.

When you need more guidance, read some of my posts that are tagged with "Rest" like this one or this one or this one. Actually, just read them all. ;)