Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Review (in Pics)

It's the end of the year and now is the time to reflect on who we are, what we've done, and where we're going.

You can do that on your own time, because I'm posting funny pictures today. New post on Wednesday. Happy New Year!












Friday, December 28, 2012

How do you find a therapist that doesn't suck?

Dear Edahn,

You've posted before about not trusting most therapists. While I didn't start out that way, a couple of bad experiences with therapy have made me distrustful, even cynical, about trying again. I have some major life issues I haven't been able to get past on my own and I would love to find someone who can help me. Neither the counselor I saw in uni nor the one I saw shortly after seemed to know what to do with me (the first said this to me; the second just repeatedly pushed a label and treatment option I didn't think was right for me and acted like a condescending ass). I'm quite embarrassed and ashamed about the main reason I'm seeking "help" in the first place and hate the notion of having to explain it over and over to different people. Because of this, I dread the "shop around" advice I've heard so often about finding a therapist. It's hard enough to get myself to go through with this initial contact stuff even once. In the past, I've put too much hope in one person and continued with them longer than I should have, partly because I wanted so much not to have to seek out someone else.

It's now been over three years since I last tried. It was never an easy thing to do to begin with, and now with all the bad memories I have, I keep picturing similar things happening and don't want to bother. I'm wondering how you'd suggest I approach this if I decide to go through with it again. What should I look for in deciding whom to contact? What questions should I ask and what should I look for in the answers? I'm afraid I'm going to be too quiet and passive to be able to advocate for myself much. How can I stand up for myself in the face of someone who's supposed to be The Expert in the situation? I have a damn hard time doing that, even when I strongly believe the "expert" is full of it.


THINK ABOUT IT THIS way. You have a goal, and you were met with certain obstacles. So all you need to do is pinpoint what the obstacle was. Then you'll know how to overcome it.

Your goal is to explore and address something bad that has happened in your past that is creating difficulties in the present, and the means you selected is psychotherapy. You met with a few psychotherapists who failed you in two ways. The first, they told you they didn't know how to help you. While disappointing, that's understandable. Just like mechanics and doctors have varying skill sets, so do therapists. Second, you found them to be overbearing, not respecting your ability to determine the course of your own therapy, and seemingly, relied on their authority/power to persuade you, rather than reasoning and common sense. The last parameter is that you don't want to have to retell to some shmuck who isn't worth your time because it's personal and painful. 

Therapy is such a bizarre relationship because on the one hand, it's professional. On the other, you're preparing for a very intimate relationship. With that said, interviewing a therapist is like going on a date, so don't feel embarrassed being forward and asking whatever you want. Most therapists have email these days. I'd suggest what you is craft a form email that states:
  1. What you're seeking treatment for, generally.
  2. Your hesitations: you were in therapy before and your therapist pushed a certain treatment on you that you didn't want and didn't listen to you. I would state what you didn't like about it (the treatment, not the therapist ;) specifically. Was it too intellectual? Too abstract? Did it neglect your emotions? Not delve into your past enough? Delve into your past too much?
  3. A few questions for them to answer: (1) Would you feel comfortable treating me, or is this outside of your skill set? (2) How would you approach treatment? (3) Do you offer a free consultation?
Go online, find a website with a directory of therapists in your area, pare the list down to those therapists that fit your criteria in terms of fees and location and whatever (hair?) and email 20 of them with your form email. When the replies start coming in, look for the one that sounds warm and smart. See if they're able to capture how you must be feeling now or how you must have felt with your therapist. That's a good indicator of a good therapist. Bonus points if they mentions something about how a client should never feel bullied by an "Expert" therapist. See who speaks to you the most and who seems like they'd be trustworthy. Then go for a session. 

To some degree, you can't totally eliminate the pains of shopping for a therapist, just like you can't eliminate the pains of shopping for a partner...but you can make it more efficient by being strategic. 

Shares appreciated! Got a questions? Email AskEdahn@Gmail.com. Have a great weekend, nerds!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How do I overcome ED?

Dear Edahn,

I have been struggling with sexual anxiety since I first became sexually active (three years ago, at 20). The anxiety gives me ED. It ultimately lead to the end of my first long-term relationship. My gf at the time was supportive, but the emotional fallout ultimately ruined things. My second relationship went better, and the ED didn't present itself until a few months in. However, the sexual portions of the relationship had started off with the use of Viagra. As soon as things became emotionally rocky though, the ED kicked in hardcore, and caused an early end.

Two years later, I have started seeing a very attractive and wonderful woman, and I think it is all coming to an end, again, because of the anxiety and ED. I have had difficulty achieving erections already, even with the use of Viagra. She has never been demeaning, and has helped me to overcome the issue in most occasions. Her patience is running thin though, and it's understandable.

Now here's the clincher. I don't think this is just related to plain old anxiety about achieving an erection. My anxiety is related to being able to achieve long-lasting and meaningful relationships, and social interactions in general. For instance, I have achieved this one through my sexuality. So if I can’t have sex, I lose a meaningful relationship. Pressure much? Also, my social life (and self-esteem) is in a sorry state of affairs, and the closer I become to a woman, the more I worry about my incompetence and inability to maintain intimacy. So we're not just dealing with performance anxiety, it has to do with all sorts of anxiety! And it's all self-feeding!

So before throwing a grenade at this relationship, like I have before, I was wondering if you might have any advice on what the best way to navigate this multi-headed monster might be.

Yours truly,
Sexually frustrated in California


YOU'VE PROBABLY GOTTEN REALLY used to being in that state of worrying when you're trying to be intimate or approaching moments of intimacy. Your thoughts start taking off, you start trouble-shooting and coming up with all sorts of plans, start trying to pump yourself up (psychologically, not penisly, but who knows), and your whole "issue" and your understanding of what it is, what causes it, and what to do comes into view. That whole state of mind probably feels very familiar to you by now, am I right?

The thing is, that whole state of mind is really the issue. It's something that you keep defaulting to when you're afraid. It actually IS fear. Fear kind of makes your mind scatter in all these different directions, kind of like what happens when you see an piece of fruit covered with ants and tap it or stomp near it...all the ants scurry about and get disoriented. That's kind of what anxiety is. And you, being smart, have your mind working overtime to examine and address the anxiety, which is another feature of anxiety.

The cause, as I see it, is basically a lack of self-love. Not the kind of self-love where unicorns are shitting rainbows into your heart, but just a healthy dose of knowing that deep down, you are a good, kind person. That kind of self-love helps you deal with anything because in the end, you know that you even if you fail locally (i.e., right now, in this moment), you haven't failed globally, as a person or a man. In fact, you can't fail globally unless you become a bad person, which you won't because bad people never have those kinds of thoughts. Self-love is kind of like emotional-insulation: even if things become really cold outside, you still maintain your warmth inside, so you don't panic anymore when you see a storm. You still might feel the anxiety, but it doesn't compound itself anymore.  

Without that self-love, what happens? Failures assume more significance than they should be allowed. Every failure takes priority. It's like it automatically takes the top comment on the YouTube video that is your life, "what a fucking loser. will never have a relationship," until the next asshole comment rolls around. Even the anticipation of failure, which is being triggered by intimacy and emotional strain, can be scary because the experience of failure is so tragic and destructive. There's no mercy. So when it's around the corner, it's all you can think of, which by itself is enough to eject you from your body and from the moment and dull your senses (penisly). 

Maybe this makes sense to you. But maybe it doesn't, because I'm not sure you've really experienced the kind of unshakable self-love (and self-compassion) that I'm talking about because you've been so used to experiencing fear and trying to work your way around it, like I described in my first paragraph. 

My advice to you is to stop thinking with about your penis for a second. This isn't just about you and your sex life; this is about you and your relationship with yourself. This is much more important than sex and relationships. Take some time to listen to your own pain, as you would for a friend or as I would for you. Just be there for yourself, without needing to sort it all out or come up with solutions. People don't really need solutions as much as they need someone to listen to them and hold them, physically or emotionally. Show yourself that you're there for yourself, that you're there to stick up for yourself no matter what, and that you won't throw yourself away because something bad happens. Because you're a good person. Really. You're a good person. 

When you see that and you FEEL that, wholeheartedly (no fucking faking!) then you'll see it's tremendous, sacred value. Practice it; nourish it; cultivate it as a way of life. Practice compassion by being compassionate to others and listening to them as much as possible. When you start to get anxious, rather than going into that trance of thinking and planning, ask yourself if you've let your self-love slip into disrepair. If you have, pull back and identify your pain. Again, be there for yourself, gently. Don't rush yourself. If you can't find that place of self-love, then identify and hold your frustration. No matter what, you can always be there for yourself. In time, maybe you'll see this as a loving wake up call to examine your life rather than an obstacle.

Your shares are appreciated! Got a question? Email AskEdahn@Gmail.com.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A new year, a new wallpaper

Hi everyone. Here's a simple wallpaper I put together. Made for widescreen formats. Enjoy. Or not. Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Trolling the WBC

The Westboro Baptist Church is an embarrassment to humanity, not just Americans. These are the people that go to funerals or children and soldiers shouting "God Hates Fags." Here's a video of a couple blokes from Australian trolling. Awesome.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Name's Edahn, and I'm an Internet Addict

So a friend asked me why I haven't posted here much lately and there are a few reasons. But a big one that I wanted to own up to is my internet addiction.

For the past 2 years, I've been completely addicted to the internet. Reddit, Facebook, Facebook, News, forums, Lifehacker...it's been a trip. And it's sucked up all my time. I stopped investing in myself in a lot of key ways. I stopped reading about topics I found interesting and meaningful--things like Buddhism, self-helpy junk (that realistically, I would have probably stopped reading anyway because it's all the same), books on history, psychology, and whatever the hell I'm interested in that very second. I stopped exercising. I stopped going out with friends. And I stopped writing too, in my journals and in this beautiful blog.

It makes sense. The internet is monetized through advertisement, and advertisement is triggered by pageviews, so websites have incentive to make you keep visiting over and over, as much as possible. But at what cost? Our social lives? Our well-being(s)? Our mediocre blogs and adoring fans?

NAY NAY!

Well, this week I gave up Facebook. A month ago I gave up the news (that was hard, but it's relieving). You may see me post here a little more often in the coming months. And yes, I realize this is part of the internet, but hopefully a less addictive part. Mind you, I never advertise and never will.

What do you think? Facebook? News? Does it enrich our life or detract from it?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Buddhist Templates

You might know that I'm obsessed with PowerPoint these days. Started my own company, crazy shit happening. It's great. I've been making pitch decks, educational decks, and templates.

Buddha made templates too, but his templates were philosophical. He said that your problems in life can be understood through a simple formula. You get attached to things, meaning that you get desperate to control them, to make sure they happen or don't happen. That makes you obsessed, and that makes you think and detach from your body and from your surroundings, the elusive "present moment." That present moment is where you find joy. So if you want joy, look at your attachments.

The template works for a lot of things. It helps you make sense of your relationships. Your career. Your body. Your future. Because we attach to all these things.

Addressing your attachments is tricky. You don't just mentally say "OKAY, THIS IS WHO I AM, I'M GOING TO BE AN ASSHOLE AND THAT'S THAT." No. And you don't just TRY and do this thing called acceptance so you can be happier, because the reason you're doing all that is because you're still attached to feeling different and to some private, idealized conception of yourself.

Attachments dissolve when you tame your mind and listen. Listen in a very deep and meaningful way.

I'm not perfect. I'm not unattached. I'm not happy all the time. But I have my moments where my attachments dissolve and where I'm quiet inside. In those moments I realize the value of nonattachment and the value of the Buddha's teachings. And I'm compelled, by some unexplainable force, to share that with others.

Want to submit a question or topic? Email askedahn@gmail.com.