Posts tagged with "psychology"

Level 8

Shawn and I go deep once a week, usu­ally with a decent amount of psy­cho­analy­sis mixed in with our Magic matches. I real­ized I still need ther­apy, but in a dif­fer­ent form from what my ther­a­pist could offer1. I need to work with some­one who isn’t restricted by time lim­its when I’m in the mid­dle of extremely time-sensitive events, and it’s vital that I work at my own pace, since it’s easy to rush things (that should be dealt with very care­fully) when it costs $180/hour. He also stretches me out in all the right ways, and I’m learn­ing that phys­i­cal com­fort is often just as impor­tant as emo­tional validation.

Shawn admits it’s all pop-psychology since he has no for­mal edu­ca­tion, but he’s spe­cial­ized in peo­ple and rela­tion­ships for so long that it’s no less effec­tive. Sometimes, it’s scary to work with some­one who func­tions at such a higher level of under­stand­ing of the world. I recently heard Jon Kabat-Zinn say, “Buddha was not a Buddhist”, which I started repeat­ing to Shawn when try­ing to relate mind­ful­ness with mod­ern reli­gion. He fin­ished my thought by say­ing, “and Jesus was not a Christian”, an idea I’d only come to after a lot more research and reflec­tion. He was able to reach the same con­clu­sion by exam­in­ing pat­terns in his exist­ing knowl­edge; an extremely pro­found and impact­ful con­cept to me, which I was still try­ing to fully grasp, was applied com­mon sense to him.

That means I’m occa­sion­ally con­fronted with how narrow-minded I can be in com­par­i­son. It’s mess­ing with things I take for granted, like my ideas of right or wrong, parts of my world-view I’ve held for so long and with­out ques­tion. Sometimes, I real­ize the per­son I was until that very moment would have done things I’d now con­sider embar­rass­ing (being judgmental/intolerant/hateful), based on igno­rance, parochial­ism, or naïveté. Thankfully, I’m also get­ting bet­ter at accept­ing my past self(ves) by under­stand­ing all the influ­ences that have led me to think a cer­tain way. It also helps know­ing that the truly impor­tant thing is that I have the power to change now, and that it’ll affect me pos­i­tively for the rest of my life.

Shawn used to say I was a wiz­ard stuck on level 7, always on the cusp of lev­el­ling up. I had enough wis­dom and intel­li­gence and other attrib­utes to be a much more pow­er­ful char­ac­ter, but was still a mage who couldn’t start his main quest, due to a very low stat in his rela­tion­ship score. This was hold­ing me back because rela­tion­ships are a huge part of my needs; ironic that I’m also so bad at them.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months though, through a new aware­ness of deeper parts of myself, and a view of the world that’s get­ting more objec­tive. I’m apply­ing these things by pur­su­ing healthy inter­ests, which cur­rently means build­ing my rela­tion­ships and prac­tic­ing uni­lat­eral virtue. While the lat­ter has been both empow­er­ing and hum­bling, it’s also dras­ti­cally shaken my under­stand­ing of my rela­tion­ships, my needs, and my past. I can tell I’m only begin­ning to fig­ure out the dynam­ics of peo­ple and how they func­tion, but Shawn says just com­ing to that under­stand­ing means I’ve finally reached level 8, and with that foun­da­tion, I can begin the next part of my journey.

Then he gave me a high-five. My ther­a­pist never did that.

  1. Not that he was bad in any way. It’s just that the nature of open­ness tends to get more com­pli­cated when money is involved. You know some­one truly cares when they lis­ten with­out hav­ing to get paid, and it’s eas­ier to be com­fort­able with that. []

Swine Flu Movie Reviews

Being sick is one of the most dif­fi­cult things for me. It’s a psy­cho­log­i­cal mind game. Not only am I unable to be pro­duc­tive1, which is some­thing that nor­mally keeps me sane, it’s the only sit­u­a­tion in which I feel like I can’t take care of myself. All I’m left with is this mis­ery, this suf­fer­ing that men­tally wears me down. On a long enough time line (though I’m talk­ing months to years), I lose the will to live.

I started get­ting some symp­toms since Tuesday after­noon, when I was feel­ing faint at work. When I woke up the next day, the symp­toms had got­ten worse. I spat into the sink, and cheered the fact that my phlegm wasn’t dark green, which is the case when I have strep throat (some­thing that seems to hap­pen annu­ally to me). I should say that I only sus­pect swine flu, since I didn’t have a blood test con­firm­ing it, but the per­son who gave it to me told me she had it, so I’m going on her word, and my symp­toms match up with how swine flu is dif­fer­ent from sea­sonal flu.

For me, it’s been:

  • runny nose with extremely watery mucous
  • stuffed nose
  • loss of appetite
  • mildly sore throat
  • dry cough
  • headaches
  • very slight fever
  • hot flashes and sweating

This flu, though drawn out, has actu­ally been eas­ier than strep, which is so painful for me that I get fairly severe headaches. I went through two entire boxes of tis­sues, and I’m sure I would have gone through more, I had not spent almost the entire time like this:

Nose tissues

On the upside, it was an excuse to drink Neo Citran every night, which I also call Yummy Sleep.

In the five days since I real­ized that I have the flu, I didn’t leave my house, aside from going across the street to buy gro­ceries. Not a sin­gle one of my friends called me (although some of them prob­a­bly didn’t know I was sick), which was a lit­tle dis­heart­en­ing, but I didn’t let it get to me. Jen offered to pick up gro­ceries for me, but I didn’t take her up on it because the offer was enough of a morale boost.

This time, I sur­vived, I did it by myself, and I’m stronger for it.

To keep myself sane, I watched a record num­ber of movies. Usually, it’s hard for me to watch movies, because I feel guilty for not being pro­duc­tive, but this time I embraced my sick­ness. I may watch one every two weeks when I’m healthy, but this time it was nine in five days (ten if I hadn’t passed out in the mid­dle of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice). Here are some quick reviews. Warning: SPOILERS.

Continue read­ing “Swine Flu Movie Reviews”…

  1. I have the moti­va­tion, but it isn’t enough when my head feels like it’s explod­ing from the inside. []

The Case For Nature (vs Nurture)

When I was young, my dad had a fight with his brother over open­ing a con­ve­nience store next to a phar­macy (my uncle is a phar­ma­cist) in a plaza that my grand­mother owned. Both types of stores have lots of com­pet­ing prod­ucts, so the argu­ment was about who would be the one to open their store. I guess my dad won, because he bought the con­ve­nience store and ran it for quite a few years.

After that, I didn’t see my uncle or his fam­ily at all. For so long that I com­pletely for­got that I had a cousin, Crystal.

When my grand­mother came from Hong Kong to visit one year, she reunited the fam­i­lies again, and I saw them for the first time in a long while1.

At that time, the pop­u­lar thing to do was play cards. I had the rep­u­ta­tion as being the fastest, most dex­ter­ous dealer out of all the kids. But when I went over to my uncle’s house one day and we were play­ing Asshole, I noticed Crystal deal­ing exactly the same way I did, except faster, with­out even pay­ing attention.

It was at that point that I real­ized, “This per­son is my family”.

The only other time I had such a stark real­iza­tion was dur­ing my trip to Hong Kong ear­lier this year. At an inter­na­tional buf­fet, we grabbed some dessert from the cart and ordered some tea. My uncle, aunt (both sib­lings of my dad), and I were sit­ting at the table, with deli­cious pas­tries in front of us, but none of us were touch­ing them. When some­one asked my uncle why he wasn’t eat­ing his dessert yet, he said that he has to have tea with his sweets. And it turns out that was the exact same rea­son me and my aunt were wait­ing too. One of these lit­tle quirks that one never expects some­one else to have, and some­times we’re even ridiculed for it, and yet here we were, three peo­ple doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason.

I gen­er­ally believe that humans are more likely a prod­uct of their expe­ri­ences, with a touch of inher­ited qual­i­ties too. After all, I’m almost noth­ing like either of my par­ents. It was only these two expe­ri­ences that made me admit that there’s a lit­tle more of us that’s inher­ited, that we’re a prod­uct of our genes, than I would have believed.

  1. I even dis­cov­ered that I had a new cousin, Darren, who was Crystal’s brother. []

Issues In Others

After going through ther­apy, I’ve started to rec­og­nize com­plexes and issues in other people.

Some put their hope in some­one, then hurt them. Some only fall in love with peo­ple they can’t have, and as soon as inter­est is rec­i­p­ro­cated, they lose the attrac­tion. Strong signs of emo­tional depri­va­tion, stem­ming from trau­matic rela­tion­ships. (Unfortunately, I’ve been the cause on more than one occa­sion, and it was my own issues that lead to this destruc­tive behav­iour where I didn’t treat a heart as del­i­cately as I should have.)

Most peo­ple aren’t aware of their issues, but I’m always baf­fled by the ones who are aware and still don’t do any­thing about it. They repeat­edly make the same mis­takes over and over again.

I’ve always believed that self-improvement is the high­est form of liv­ing, and I’ve been able to work through my own bag­gage, so I refuse to accept those who don’t work through their own.

This Is Not A Cry For Help

I have sui­ci­dal thoughts every now and then.

They don’t nec­es­sar­ily come out dur­ing bad times. It’s rather ran­dom. And it’s not like these thoughts involve plan­ing how I’m going to do it, I just think of how much sim­pler things would be if I weren’t liv­ing. A line from Being John Malkovich comes to mind:

[Consciousness] is a ter­ri­ble curse. I think. I feel. I suffer.

I think the root of my “suf­fer­ing” is the anx­i­ety I har­bour. Anxiety about social sit­u­a­tions, the state of the world, and other triv­ial details that make life seem com­pli­cated. I don’t want to have these thoughts, but I do. Then life gets even more com­pli­cated, and I get more anx­i­ety. It’s a vicious cir­cle, until it becomes not about the anx­i­ety itself, but anx­i­ety about hav­ing anx­i­ety. I didn’t really iden­tify it until I was in the car with Julie, feel­ing sick and sicker until I almost asked her to pull over on the highway.

All I want to do is stop think­ing. Suicide would be such an easy solu­tion, and as much as I dis­agree with the rea­sons for sui­cide in the first place, I hon­estly believe this is true.

It makes me scared that one day I’m going to make a stu­pid mis­take with a per­ma­nent consequence.

I know I have a good life, I know how illog­i­cal these thoughts are, but that doesn’t stop them from reoc­cur­ring on a monthly basis. I remem­ber hav­ing these thoughts as early as high school, although they were much more com­mon back then.

More fre­quently, I have thoughts of muti­la­tion, about once a week. Not self-mutilation, because there’s never any­one specif­i­cally doing it to me. It’s just me in black­ness, then a float­ing knife fly­ing into my wind­pipe, or an axe split­ting my head down the mid­dle, or an ice-pick in the back of the neck, or…well, you get the idea.

I’ve never told any­one about this. Not because I’m ashamed of it, but because I didn’t want any­one to worry. Not even my clos­est friends know.

But har­bour­ing this fear and anx­i­ety, I’m slowly real­iz­ing, is dif­fi­cult. It’s pre­vent­ing me from enjoy­ing life. I’ve decided to get some help; my first appoint­ment is in three days.

I’m tired of liv­ing with this.