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Coping with Negative Self-Talk

Negative Self-Talk can be crippling at times. Just last night I spent hours running over negative thoughts in a repetitive pattern, and felt almost helpless as my various demons chewed over my mind. One thing I avoided was making a judgment based on these thoughts though. I withheld judgment of myself, or of others throughout it. A snap judgment may have given me a slightly easier ride that night, but then I would have paid for that rigid judgment over the coming days when a reality presented itself to me that my inflexible judgment was unable to digest.

It is a very difficult thing to withhold judgment, but I guess this is the idea of just being aware of your thoughts. At times it can be quite simple, you may just have one or two slightly off thoughts that you need to deal with. But sometimes it can be much more difficult, you can find yourself bowled over with a torrent of negative thoughts. Trying to knock you off center. The thoughts that had me preoccupied last night revolved around an assumption on my part that had no place in reality. An assumption of a worst-case scenario that led me to go through in detail all the consequences of that scenario if true. Imagination can be a great thing, but at times like this, some of us do seem to have imaginations that really go into overkill.

Well, I survived the episode at least, and can move forward again now. Confident that I have some ability to handle these challenges. An important point I think that many of us miss in the modern world is belief in something beyond ourselves. And I think such a belief can help you to get through these kind of difficulties. If your belief is focused on some steady point, beyond your own ego, then there is a steady frame of reference to help you keep things in context. If all you have is belief in your self, and in your own personal goals, and in your own physical body, then what resource do you have to get through difficult mental challenges like this? I think for many they rely instead on “fake” fixes, like distractions, drugs, etc. But much better and easier is to have a belief beyond your own mind and body, to give you a steady reference point. Then you can focus on this till the turbulent waters have settled again. This way you gain from the experience, and can grow as a human being.

Tapping into The Source

Slithering through the moments

heart beats to the drum of my torments.

Savoring the feelings as they pass over me,

like waves crashing down on the shore of the sea.

Deflecting, side stepping, like water through fingers

the feelings pass me by, only my Self ever lingers.

This Self as ever will always reliably emerge,

the original source of it all, the Demiurge.

 

 

Daily Reflection – Catastrophising

So I am delving further into the book Mind Power by James Borg, trying to glean some insights from it to take in my own life. Firstly I want to say what a good book it is in the sense that it promotes these ideas in a very no-nonsense, straightforward manner. It is not like the usual self help stuff that tends to fall into one of two categories: 1) Spiritual and tied up with moral pronouncements regarding altruism, generic humanity and such like. Concepts that I find irksome in recent years. 2) Business like and geared towards success and making money and “progress”. An approach that far from motivating me just brings up thoughts in my mind of what a selfish, conceited world we live in, where if this is what we are pursuing then forget it I would rather not pursue it. Thankfully, this book Mind Power avoids both those categories. It portrays the concepts for you, and leaves it to yourself what values and use you want to make of those concepts.

Today, reading through chapter 2 on Distorted thinking I did come to some insight on some of my tendencies to engage in one of these thinking styles, namely catastrophising. So something happens, and you straight away rush to catastrophic consequences. For example, some girl rejects my advances. I catastrophise, no girl will ever be interested in me, the whole world is against me, making it impossible for me to meet a girl, etc.. Such a thought chain for me lately led me to even contemplate suicide as may have come out in some of my poems. Its hard to imagine now that I am somewhat free of these thoughts, but such can be the power of distorted thinking.

The problem I think comes down to my inability to handle rejection, as I tend to see it as a rejection of everything I am and ever was, and of my very existence. I don’t just see it as a rejection there and then of me as an immediately viable candidate for a partner. I see it as a once and for all rejection of everything I have ever lived and fought for in my life. No wonder I then catastrophise about it! But clearly I am seeing it wrong, and not seeing it for what it is. I am doing a disservice to my reality and to myself, and to the reality of all those around me by thinking in this way.

This is tied up with another kind of distorted thinking I engage in, which is to criticise not my mistakes themselves, but myself for making those mistakes. You can change a mistake if you identify it, but you cannot change yourself, so if you start thinking you are the problem in some generic way, you give yourself little room for change and improvement in the future. I have here a clear pattern to work on in the future, namely not to catastrophise when rejected, but to practice shrugging it off and moving forward. Not internalising it, but leaving it there where it happens and moving on. Maybe I need to make a thousand mistakes approaching a girl, before I get it right. And so be it, the lessons learned from a thousand different mistakes is infinitely more than the lessons learned from the same mistake a thousand times.

I just need to always find ways to focus on criticising the mistake itself, in its context, and not myself for making the mistake, that way you ensure yourself against making the same mistakes over and over.

No more Post-_____ Crap

Yes, it really is time we stopped being drawn into these ineffectual, empty labels: Post Modernism, etc. They denote a lack of something positive to say about our era, they indicate our era’s dependence on a previous era, that all it can to do distinguish itself is say Post-____. As if that magically, by negating a previous era in one label, distinguishes you from that era. This is not how social reality works. This is not how history works. The whole purpose of these labels is to promote lazy, relativistic thinking in colleges and universities throughout the world.

Culture and community changes on a continuum. There are not abrupt points for post-thinking to come in. They are just an excuse to ignore the intricate complications of that continuum of change in our modern era. They are an excuse to lose touch with reality, to negate any attempt at placing yourself in a culture or community. A futile, failed effort, it may be added. For culture and community will just hit back harder and on a more irrational level if you refuse to address it on a rational level. This could be what we have seen the past year with certain election results.

When someone says we live in a postmodern era, he is merely professing his ignorance of recent social changes, and declaring, we have changed somehow, he just doesn’t know how. We are different he declares, and arbitrarily so, and negatively so, from the modern era. We have lost truth, lost various values, lost religion, lost philosophy, lost belief. What have we gained? You will then get given vague abstractions such as technological progress, commodities. Basically all the things that have turned us into powerless consumers. So the postmodern is really about promoting our impotence and powerlessness within society. By abstracting us from a context from which we could draw something empowering that we could identify with.

I would almost go so far as to say that it is a conspiracy theory of the new economic and intellectual elite, to manipulate us all and herd us around to whatever belief they want us to hold. We are more flexible, more mobile etc etc, all these things mean we are more easily moulded by the brainwashing techniques of an elite with too much spare time on their hands. We are non-plus about values and morality and truth in the post modern chimera. Great, says the prospective brainwashers, all the more easy to manouever people around to believe whatever we want them to. All the less will we face resistance from their values and own sense of reason and critical judgment.

Please don’t fall for this crap, don’t be a sucker. The more we think lazily, the more we lose our freedom and dignity as a species and as a civilization. Just think about the kind of world you may be leaving for your children, before you rush to turn them into lazy commodity consumers. Don’t rely on school and education to provide mental discipline for your kids. These institutions are much more concerned with indoctrinating them with empty Post-_____ relativistic thinking. It’s simple, easy, and puts them on a nice conveyor belt into adulthood as obedient passive consumers, with petty resentments against caricature elites and wealthy people, but with no tools for addressing those resentments as they are simply too out of touch with social reality, lost in a fog of fuzzy post-______ thinking.

Daily Reflection – Chain Reactions

As valuable as the emotional release of writing poetry can be, often it is better to express some thoughts in more of a prose style. For poetic thinking can be quite a compulsive outpouring at times. While something I want to focus on right now, is to stop and think more about my thoughts. To assess them, mull over them, and not rush to emotional chain reactions of thoughts. For this obsessive, compulsive style of thinking has been a real problem for me the past few months, and has effected my health in many ways. Yes, it has brought out some creative poetry from me, and some valuable insights and inspirations, but it has also unleashed a lot of negativity and demons in my thoughts about others that often can go into a downward spiral of negative thoughts feeding negative feelings, that inspires more negative thoughts, and so on in a vicious circle.

A book I started reading lately, alongside speaking to some people has helped me to gradually come to this realisation. The book is called mind power. And the realisation is quite a simple one. In fact it is one that my official philosophy should mean I would have known about already, but somewhere it seems I lost track of the practical implications of my theoretical views regarding the mind-body connection, and all of that stuff. Basically the point is that we are not slaves to the thoughts that come through our minds. Yes, we cannot avoid the content of our thoughts, at times this comes on us at a whim out of our control, but what we can control is how we assess those thoughts, and we can control whether we choose to follow that thought into a deadly physiological spiral of bad thought, bad feeling, more bad thoughts, more bad feelings, etc..

These chain reactions can be avoided, and it is our own choice to do so. We cannot blame anyone else, no one else can help us here, we have to choose to help ourselves. The hope is that once I do this I can avoid some of my usual self sabotaging thoughts, where I am too hard on myself in my assessment of my thoughts, and give in to a self defeatist chain reaction. Having said all this, there is another aspect to it, a more practical side, which is that in our lives we need to give ourselves some space by asserting our rights and standing our ground against unhealthy intrusions. If you let others in too much, and do not assert your own basic rights, you will never have the peace of mind to begin pursuing these techniques for controlling your assessment of your own thoughts.

The converse side is that positive thoughts can also create a chain reaction, of positive feelings, more positive thoughts etc, so this is something to focus on and work on. The best way I have found up to now to do this, which has worked on a few occasions is simply smiling, rather than arbitrarily trying to construct positive thoughts, as out of a vacuum this can feel fake and contrived, you smile and start thinking the positive thoughts at the same time, this way you get the positive feel also, as looking in the mirror, or someone else smiling back is reassuring and adds to the positivity. This interplay between mind and physiology is crucial. Many, including myself, may say, but surely this is a fake process. But then, what is more fake: an actual smile, or a thought in your head? Surely a smile has more reality than some thought running through your head? So detach a bit from that thought, don’t let it dictate your reality. Maybe my philosophical idealism here causes some problems for me, as I tend to take thoughts and mind as the primary reality. The truth could be much more like the physical subject of Merleau-Ponty. There is an interplay between mind and body, and each provides a context and meaning for the other.

Does this mean my ontology is wrong? Maybe I will need to reassess some of my priorities in this area, as the last month or two has shown me that my thoughts have been ineffectual in reality, other than when they are positive, and they are effective when positive because they are connected up with positive chemicals and feelings in my body and physiology that promote me to pursue those things more, build my confidence and most importantly build others confidence and assurance in me. Thoughts do not exist in a vacuum, though they may come out of nowhere often, when we have them they are channeled through our body and our senses and influence our emotions as to what thoughts to have next. And so the thought is not the causal agency, just as we may get dazzled by a bright light, a powerful thought can at times seem to be a causal agency all of its own, the reality is that there is some other source of that light, and then there is ourselves who can choose how we react to the stimulus. This sort of puts me back towards some sort of dualism in mind/body, when I have long been an idealist, which is interesting in itself, and something I will need to think on more at a future time.

 

 

Condemned

Once more entering the catatonic state

emotional numbness from head to toe

trying not to provoke or exacerbate

my childhoods many traumatic blows.

 

It’s not the greatest of places to be,

still it is better than where I had been.

Of my body I am now somewhat free

though my mind remains murky and unclean.

 

Moving away from this physical form.

Watching on from a safe and distanced height,

inside me there may be a brewing storm,

but looking down it’s a pitiful sight.

 

A sad maelstrom of conflicting feelings.

A lost and lonely boy without a home,

refusing help that could be his healing,

preferring to ever wander and roam.

 

No more apologies, no more second chances,

just mad soliloquies and suspicious glances.

Distanced ever further I find some peace,

fleetingly nice, buts its just a disease.

The desperate, dying, delusional wish,

of the condemned mans last hot, tasty dish.

 

 

Social Relationships and Emotional Closeness

I don’t think people realise how difficult it can be for some of us just to keep up some of the basic social niceties. For those of us unfortunate enough not to be taught how to socialise and not encouraged enough when young to engage with others, it is never easy. It’s like having to learn mathematics or a language as an adult, when you were never taught these things when you were young. And with no one to teach you, as everyone else just assumes you know these things and there is no clearly visible external or behavioral signs of the difficulties you have. So no one even makes allowance for you, and people regularly tend to misunderstand you. They see a quietness as coldness, when it is simply an inability most the time to know what to say in certain situations, so you freeze up and keep quiet. Other times it will be you misunderstanding others. Not recognising warning signs of a coldness of someone towards you, through failure to read between the lines, or/and not recognising a warmth directed towards you, and so fearing how to respond in kind, just in case you were to act inappropriately.

The thing that makes it even worse, is that often the harder you try to relate with people and form bonds, the more unnatural you become in your approach and in your actions. You end up pushing people away who start to feel uncomfortable around you as they are not sure how you may act next, given your limited awareness of the social conventions for acting, behaving etc in many situations. Particularly in open situations where there are not clear cut rules of what can be done and what can’t. What should be said and what shouldn’t. These situations are where you develop natural closeness and relationships with others, and these situations/area’s are what seem to be largely barred to me due to my difficulties.

This makes life a real struggle a lot of the time. It is a basic emotional need to have atleast 1 to 3 close friends who you can trust and on who you can rely regularly in your life. Without this need being met, you are never going to feel you have a strong foundation to move forward in your life. Particularly when you are someone who struggles anyway to socially relate to others, and someone who often doesn’t have much in common with many others. It makes life an uphill struggle, climbing a ladder that is falling down a drain all the time you are climbing it, and so you spend a lot of effort just to keep above the surface, always anxious of being dragged under the ground if you don’t keep scurrying away up the ladder.

Then there is family pressures. The very same family who did not teach you how to socialise properly is often now quite happy to use that against you to ensure your dependence on them for emotional closeness well into adulthood. The whole situation then becomes a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. The only hope is to improve my social relating, but at times it just feels I am fighting a losing battle. Things that come easier to others take me a great effort. I get less reward for more effort as a result, and always feel unfairly done by. The resentment swings one way then the other. First against the unfairness of this social reality, then against the family who have manipulated me into a lifetime emotional dependence on them. Then back again and back and forth.

It has been a problem in all my endeavors in my life, that though I enjoy the task at hand and get on well with this, I always end up accruing more and more problems and difficulties in my relationships with others. From running at the athletic club, the act of running I love, but the social relating tends to wear me down over time. To jobs that I do, the requirements of the job give me a good challenge and sense of purpose, but as relationships form through working with the same people regularly, I begin to feel more and more strained and unsure how to act and relate with them.

I can only keep trying my best, and bringing it to the focus of my awareness will help, I guess I need to focus on achieving some small things in these areas for now, and not try to burst in and try to be straight away seamlessly capable of forming lasting emotional bonds and relationships with others. Not to set the bar too high, but just try for some steady level of achievement and then be content with that, and not trying to push on too soon to the next level before my body/mind has had time to adapt to this level. Its like progressing through running, you have to gradually increase the load on your body so it can adapt in time, but there is always a lag as your body adapts, it is not instantaneous, and so you have to practice patience, otherwise your body will just breakdown.