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Category: Psychology

How to Be Yourself (Even When You Don’t Know Who You Are)

It’s one of the most cliche cliches out there: Just be yourself. I remember being told this once and thinking, “What does that even mean?” and “Yeah, but who exactly is this self that I am supposed to be?” Whether you are in the stage of identity-development of trying to decide on a persona to play or of slowly shedding the many personas/identities/egos you’ve accumulated, not knowing who you are is pretty normal. Furthermore, most of us (myself absolutely included) are so used to playing predefined roles in the majority of interactions that authenticity is hard to even wrap our heads around. Like what would that even look like? If you hate someone, do you have to tell them? Does it mean you shout, “please, leave the sick bastard!” in the middle of a movie theater in response to the heroine’s obviously terrible choice of a romantic partner? Because that’s how you feel? Well, responding authentically “as ourselves” is something that is fluid and cannot be easily defined. Obviously. But obviously, by the fact that I am writing this post, I…

You Don’t Have to Be Miserable to Make a Different Choice

Do you ever find yourself wishing for misfortune to befall you so that you will be forced to do what you want to do but feel that you can’t do for one reason or another? Please tell me I’m not the only one. For example, do you ever… -Wish you would lose your job and be unable to find another one, so that you would be forced to pursue your dream of becoming a famous actor/writer/comedian/entrepreneur? -Wish you would find out your partner was cheating on you so you’d have an excuse to leave them? -Wish you would survive a terrible car accident and require months of rehab so you would be forced to drop out of school/quit your job/spend more time with family/focus on what is most important to you? -Wish you would find out your house/apartment has black mold/was a meth house so you would be forced to move? We want life to force us to make the decisions we want to make, to force us to take the action we want to take. I realized I was doing this when I found…

Living Gracefully With Regret

“No regrets.” It’s a phrase I will probably never understand. All I think when I see a meme like this:   this, or this is….seriously? For real, bro? There’s nothing in your past you wish you could change? On the one hand, there is the whole, “I ate 3 more tacos after I was full… no regrets” kind of no regrets. You know, or the “I danced ‘The Macarena’ in front of my entire office…no regrets” kind of no regrets. But what about times we have just plain screwed up? When I hear these inspirational quotes about how you should have no regrets, because your choices have made you who you are today, and mistakes are just lessons learned, I am left thinking, “yeah, but what about the impact our choices have on other people?”  Yes, the other humans who inhabit this planet. We don’t live in a vacuum; our choices have consequences for us and for other people as well. If I could go back and change the ways I have hurt people, I would do it in…

Paradigm-Shattering Experiences: Mind=Blown

(Image Credit llreadll) One time, my friend had what I like to call “a moment of clarity.” That is, a moment of awakening, a moment in which she was at peace, a moment in which her thinking mind had stopped trying to figure out ALL THE THINGS, and paradoxically, it all made sense. How do I know this? Because for about 60 seconds, she had a look of wonder on her face. And then panic. Then she said something to the effect of, “But how do you hold on to this?” Which is nothing but the hallmark of a fleeting experience of awakening. And it’s frequently those very words, thought or verbalized, which bring it to an end. I could never forget being there when this happened for my friend. My friend, on the other hand, had completely forgotten about it two years later. How could that be? I like to think of our minds as containing a vast maze of filing cabinets. All incoming data is processed through the dependable-yet-conventional filing lady, Mildred. Mildred always wears sensible shoes. She is very kindly, and she isn’t taking any chances with our well-being. She does…

In Which I Overthink a Simple Nursery Rhyme

Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Wisdom for the ages. An exploration of the nothing matters/everything matters paradox. A beautiful image of the unfolding of wisdom, of awakening. For me, this nursery rhyme ranks up there with advice from the spiritual masters. Also, I tend to get all awkwardly deep about random, casual things and I thought the internet was the perfect place to unleash my weirdness on this topic. Let’s break it down, shall we? Only let’s do it backwards. Life is but a dream… During moments of clarity, across time and cultures, people have been struck with a realization that the world as we know it is illusion. We only interact with the world though our paradigms, what we view as solid is shifting, who we think we are is not real, we see only “through a glass darkly.” We realize all we stress about and strive for and obsess over is only “dust in the wind” and all our busy comings and goings cannot change the Truth of Our Being. When this happens, it is like a 2×4 to the head which puts everything into perspective…

Note to Self: About Anxiety and Procrastination

I have created a handy flow chart detailing two ways to handle the urge to procrastinate, and the outcome of each. This is a note to self for when I don’t know what to write/don’t want to do paperwork, etc. Way #1 – My preferred method of THE PAST! Because from now on I’m going to follow flow chart #2! Right? And… Flow Chart #2! The flow chart I will follow to banish procrastination from my life FOREVER! Right? Truly though, it does work pretty well. If only the siren call of googling random stuff weren’t so strong… That would help. I guess the chart should include a step where you unplug your modem/router if use of the internet is not 100% necessary to do the thing. What are your favorite strategies to overcome procrastination? What are your favorite distractions to keep you from doing The Thing You Need To Do? &nbsp…

Yes, Goodness and Courage Exist. Here are 10 Books that Taught Me So.

When I was an undergraduate in psychology, we learned some less-than-pleasant things about human nature. We learned about how “bad barrels” (situations) can produce “bad apples” (behaviors/people), about how people frequently stand by and watch atrocities without intervening, and how pressure to conform can cause people to do terrible things you would never think them capable of. Ultimately, fear of personal risk, pressure to conform, a feeling of powerlessness, and a belief that someone else will handle the situation (passing the buck) lead otherwise good people to allow horrific things to happen, or even participate in making such things happen. I found all of this to be useful in helping me understand the world we live in, one in which people do terrible things… all. the. time. In that same class, we debated whether altruism (doing something for purely selfless motives) even exists, since we benefit via warm fuzzies and in other ways when we help people. I come out firmly on the side of yes. Yes, altruism exists. Yes, people can do what is right. I have seen it in person, and I have read of it happening. The books below…