Monday, January 28, 2013

There's always a villain

So I'm in the shower today, thinking about nonsense, and it occurs to me that in life there always has to be a villain. I've seen this in other people's lives and seen it in my own life too: there's always someone we identify as the persecutor, the person that's holding us back. As individuals, we identify people, even friends, and turn against them. As groups, we can identify other groups who are oppressing us. The Republicans villainize the Democrats, who villainize them back. The Jews and Arabs villainize each other. Children and parents, husbands and wives, neighbors, coworkers, the list goes on and on.

That's not to say that people never do bad things and that it's all in our head. No, people fuck up and act like assholes. But when need to have someone in the villain role, you run the danger of keeping them there without cause. You also make it harder for yourself to see and appreciate acts of goodwill that disrupt your perception of their villain status thanks to confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. You also run the risk of overreacting to things to put someone (innocent) in the villain role.

Why do we do this? I can think of three reasons. One, it gives us an identity and something meaningful to do with our lives, which can often seem empty. Two, it strengthens bonds with other people who are on the in-group: friends, partners, comrades, parties, nationalists. Three, it helps us start wars (even mini-wars in a workplace) that help us climb to the top, a place in life that evolution smiles upon and rewards.

No great concluding thoughts, just something to think about when you find your life has persistent conflicts. Thanks.

Thoughts? Questions? AskEdahn@gmail.com or leave a comment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Just a normal blog post

I sometimes think this blog is a poetry blog. It's not because what I write looks like poetry, but because it's a time I just let things flow. I don't have a topic, but when I'm moved by a certain feeling, usually a clear sense of compassion for the person writing in, I let the feeling speak for me and guide my thoughts as I watch my fingers dance on the keyboard. When I occasionally write poetry (I have to be inspired), it's the same thing.

In a way, our lives can be thought of as attempts to create more poetry with every tool we have. We make poetry not just with our pens but with our actions and decisions and our interactions with the world. How often we actually get to do it is another question, but it's something we strive for, consciously or not. When you're making poetry, you're always making things beautiful. It's something you can trust. That's a big deal for me, and I'm guessing maybe for you, reading this, because I often worry that I'm going to fuck things up and leave them less complete then when I found them. But poetry takes care of that.

One of the interesting things about beauty is that it's always looking for a partner, in the sense that it wants to be shared with other people. When you feel quiet and peaceful inside, you want help others feel that way too, not because of some philosophical imperative, but because it feels right. It makes sense. In fact, that's one of the nice things about peace in general--it feels right. It makes sense. In a world where we're constantly juggling different goals and plans, we can often become disoriented and confused. But peace gives you a sense that things make sense and that the frantic need to solve can wait.

That's all I wanted to share. Thanks for reading and checking in.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Philographics

I saw found these while searching for infographics. I think they're awesome and deserve a mention. The artist was trying to represent philosophical theories in simple shapes. The design is beautiful, and the colors are too. Check it out, it's neat. 



Got a question? Email AskEdahn@Gmail.com.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Intuition, Finding your Life's Purpose, and Shit Like That

dear edahn

i have a frustration that i wish to solve. i feel a very strong yearning to achieve something extraordinary. but i distract myself with human relationships instead of focusing on the career goal i want to achieve in life. because i have had some really challenging events occur where I live. i have haunting memories. i dont like to admit that because i want to think 
NO I'm stronger than these memories they dont matter, but then i may be denying my heart, meaning, i think i want to leave this place. i have a strong yearning to move. i am scared of this feeling. i dont know what it means. i feel like in another location i could create things better. be better to society. see clearer. what do i do? how do you know what is the right path?

IF I UNDERSTAND CORRECTLY, you're telling yourself that you're strong and that you don't need to run away from your bad memories, but by saying that, you're committing yourself to your current hometown, where you don't have what you need to make your life goals materialize.

I'm sure you know this, but maybe it helps to hear it from another (sexy) person: just because you leave your hometown doesn't mean you're running away. It's more of a sign that you've healed from the trauma. In the past, your trauma was so intense that your life became a reaction to it. Either you were running away from it, running towards it, or rebelling against it. In all cases, the trauma's involved. But now you're seeing it differently. You see the power it's had over your life and the role it's played and your deeper aspirations are starting to resurface and say "hey, what about me, fucker?" Maybe healing is when you make a decision that has nothing to do with your past. It's not about running away, addressing, confronting, or challenging. It's about something else.

You know how in cartoons, when characters are faced with tough decisions, the angel and devil pop up on their shoulders? I think life is kind of like that, except the bad voice is all your baggage and egoism, and the good voice is your intuition. That doesn't mean your intuition only talks about solving world hunger. Your intuition can, and should always, drive you towards meaning and fulfillment. People can get fulfillment from lots of different places (just ask the perverts), but I think there are some consistent variables:
  1. The voice of intuition is always calming and awakening. When you hear it, you say "I hear you" or "oh! omg, yes, that makes a fuckton of sense" or something like that. It leaves you feeling determined.
  2. The voice of intuition is never harmful. It never tells you to take advantage of others in any kind of way, including financially. It doesn't say things like you should build a multitrillion dollar retail chain and rape the environment. It's a noble voice.
  3. Much like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects the Voice of Intuition. It takes you by surprise.
  4. It scares the shit out of you later and you will almost undoubtedly ask yourself...ME?
If it's your intuition talking, listen to it, because knowing that you're resonating with that will help you overcome obstacles and make shit happen. 

Gotta stupid question for me? Email AskEdahn@Gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How do I stop getting angry? (and other, more important things)


Hi Edahn,

I'm 22 years old and I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend who is 33 for a year and 3 months. Things have been less than perfect, but we love each other very much. When we fight it's not yelling although my voice does raise a little. I use to be much worse and much more emotionally out of control in my previous relationship. In this relationship I do get upset often like once a week, but I feel that it's how we handle the issue that is the problem. He is passive and I am aggressive. I always want to explain myself and, and he wants to just be left alone.

I also feel that he takes me for granted which is why I tend to get upset at little things. I do everything. Sweet things, all the cleaning, I support his career, and spend time with his family, get along with all of his friends even his exes, surprises, I'm not overly affectionate, and I tend to keep my feelings to myself, although I am very physically affectionate at times. On the other hand he spends little time on surprises, or cleaning, and he barely sees my family, and he hates my friends. I understand my friends seem dumb because hes 11 years older, his dad is also very sick with cancer, so his mind is preoccupied so I do understand but I think he should still make more of an effort. He also gets very strict about me going out in different outfits, if it fits to tight he feels its sending a message. He expresses how much he dislikes the way I am and he starts saying "you ALWAYS do this, and you ALWAYS do that". We are both generally good people, but we can't seem to get along. I feel like this relationship can be amazing.

I feel like I have a negative perspective due to my very abusive childhood, I feel that it will gradually get better the older I get. But I need to know how to work things out better. I always tell myself that I will be more understanding next time, and I do always end up resolving it with a calm mature perspective. But how can I avoid all of this and just stay mature?? I feel like I am young, and my mind cant quite understand things the way he does, but I would like to control myself more. Please HELP. Thank you.


AS MUCH AS YOU thinkand have been toldthat you're the one to blame here, I think there's a lot more going on. Your boyfriend is experiencing severe fear, and that fear is coming out in a lot of quirky ways. He's paranoid about you leaving him, which is why he controls the way you dress with subtle comments. He also becomes somewhat depressed, which is why he shits on your friends. He identifies you as the cause of his fear, instead of attributing it to himself and his upbringing (truth it, it's a lot of things), so he's pulled away from you emotionally, because in his mind, you're the thing that's causing his discomfort. A big part of him wants to pull away, which is why he hasn't made much effort to integrate with your friends and family or do the things that tell you he wants to be with you, like the surprises. You're sensing that, and it's making you feel worried and frustrated, so you're reacting. Yes, your history is part of it, but I don't think your reaction is abnormal, so I wouldn't be so quick to blame yourself despite what you're being told. 


When you fight, you want to get things out, he just wants to wait it out. Neither of you are wrong. I suspect that for him, waiting it out is a good option because a lot of his anger is being internally triggered by his fear. Meaning, talking and doing won't really resolve it. For you, the anger is being triggered externally (by him), so talking and doing will resolve it. You're not immature because you want to discuss it. That's horseshit. If you want to work through your anger, that's fine. I'd suggest you do one of two things: either wait it out or take a walk until your body has calmed down, or try and catch it earlier, before it turns into a full-blown shitstorm, and just try understanding both people's sides. The best way to resolve conflict is usually to understand the other person's side and help the other person understand your side. Doing that takes some practice at removing all the insulting language from your message. For example:
"You never say nice things to me and I'm fucking sick of it!"
 can be rephrased as
"I start to feel bad when I don't hear nice things. It makes me think that you really don't care about me, and then I start getting anxious and irritable." 
The shift in language makes it so the focus is you, not him, and that shifts the tone from blaming (you suck you suck you suck) to understanding (this is how things are unfolding). It's really like learning a new language.

The thing is, you need a willing partner to practice this style of communication. Otherwise, you're going to get taken advantage of, just like the nice guy gets taken advantage of in a negotiation. When he's upset and wants space, I'd suggest you give it to him, then approach him later and see if he's willing to talk about it this new way. If you want to read more about this, check out articles on Fighting Fair.

But I feel like we haven't addressed the elephant in the room, which is the merit of your relationship. I don't usually tell people whether or not they should break up because it's their decision, not mine. They're the ones who have to live with it and they're the ones who'll grow from making these tough decisions. They're also in a better position to make the decision, and...I'm not omniscient. I don't have all the answers and I haven't collected all the wisdom in the world, just little pieces I find here and there. This is a test for you. This is a challenge to you, to see if you can step up to the plate, read the defense, and figure out where you're going to strike. By that I mean, rising up, figuring out what's going on, taking some responsibility but not all the blame, and figuring out what the right move is. I'm not implying what you should do, and I wouldn't fault you for trying to work things out. The only thing I expect is that you be strong and know what you want and deserve.

*fist bump*

Your shares are much appreciated. If you have a question, send an email to AskEdahn@Gmail.com.