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wundayatta's avatar

What can I replace my self-loathing with? How can I do that?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) November 17th, 2009

On the one hand, I know I don’t deserve anyone’s forgiveness. I believe that when I think about suicide, I am really trying to find a metaphor that expresses the depth of the sadness and emotional pain I feel. It is about shame and self-punishment.

On the other hand, I know there is no “should” to life. It is up to me to make it what I can. I don’t have to judge myself. I could be happy with myself exactly as I am. I tell myself that the reason I judge myself is to kick myself in the ass and get me moving. Clearly this doesn’t work. Maybe I should try something else.

But what?

For me, it’s not as simple as “self-love” or “self-acceptance.” It’s about something I can try. Something that is possible for me. Something complex that will allow me to cut through that complexity and find the plain truth at it’s heart.

Or maybe not. I have no idea.

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55 Answers

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NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I think you are just a pensive individual. You not only enjoy and relish every great moment, you also fester and stew in every bad moment. It’s a blessing and a curse. I could be wrong.. but I’m only suggesting it because it’s how my self loathing comes about.

To be perfectly honest, the only thing that has removed the sorrow, the loathing, the self pity and self punishment has been God. If you are not a religious person it probably sounds ridiculous.. but for me.. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a gazillion times.. the only pure and true joy I’ve ever experienced has been due to God. No person on earth can provide such a feeling. When I actually shrugged off some of my worldly desires and thoughts and accepted that .. yes.. God really is there and really does have unconditional love for His creation.. it’s.. an Indescribable feeling.

Again, I realize how preposterous and far fetched it seems.. I, too, was once someone who did not believe. I can’t imagine still being so lost.

(gets off soap box)

limeaide's avatar

Do you have a lot of time on your hands? I can find myself in a downward spiral if I have a lot of time on my hands. If this is the case, busy yourself with work, hobbies, family.

As far as replacing your self-loathing:
1. Get busy on doing something
2. Avoid negative thought (as dumb as it sounds, wear a rubber band and snap yourself every time you have a negative thought a la Pavlov’s dog), replace them with nothing (silence) or
3. Tell yourself positive true statements. Even if it’s something small and dumb just make sure it’s true. Don’t think positive things “just because” it will make your mind state worse.
4. Stop worrying about the big picture, meaning of life crap, there is is not a definitive answer. Find happiness where you can.

Good luck!

gemiwing's avatar

Hmm.. this might ramble a bit but I’ll do my best.

First off- The forgiveness someone would ‘give’ you wouldn’t be for you, it would be for them.

Second off- I heard a lot of ‘accept yourself’ and ‘love yourself’. Trouble was, I didn’t like who I was. So why would I want to accept someone who drank all the time, lied, hid from the world and used sarcasm as a deadly weapon?

If you don’t like who you are- then change it.

Make a list of what you don’t like about yourself- make damn sure it’s things that are truly what you don’t like and not something someone else has put in there. I can’t stress that enough.

For example- Something I hated about myself was that I was lazy. Where did that come from? My mom loved to tell me I was lazy because when I was 12 I didn’t like to clean my room. That long-held belief about myself wasn’t formed by anything I thought, it was formed from someone else. So that had to come off of the list because it wasn’t my own personal truth.

Then make a list of how you could change those things. Then it’s a matter of doing it. It’s not going to be easy or happen overnight, yet it’s completely doable and worth the hassle.

dpworkin's avatar

I’m not sure that replacing it is the answer. I think the answer will prove to be learning how to put those feelings in proper perspective, and realizing that they are maladaptive and that you don’t have to focus on them and ruminate over them.

When the bad feelings come up, you can recognize them, nod to them, and allow them to drift away. They are familiar, they may always be there but you can rob them of their power.

SuperMouse's avatar

For me it isn’t about “self-love” or even necessarily “self-acceptance.” For me I think it is mostly a case of “fake it til you make it.” For a long, long time I was incredibly unhappy with who I was – who I am. I spent a lot of time contemplating who that person was and who that person should have been, but just kept chasing my tail with no answers in sight. Finally I decided that I was wasting the time that I did have lamenting the fact that I am not the person I (or others) think I should be. I decided to try not to spend so much time thinking about such things and spend more time just being. Slowly but surely it seems to be working. One thing that has definitely helped to that end was getting out of an old, toxic relationship and spending time with someone who love me, all of me, good and bad.

tinyfaery's avatar

Write down all of these questions. Take some LSD or some mushrooms. Take a hike in the woods. Really.

HGl3ee's avatar

@tinyfaery : With a GPS! We’d hate for one of our fellow jellies to go missing in the woods somewhere! O_O

ninjacolin's avatar

daloon, life is what you remember. it isn’t anything else.

if you don’t remember spending your time doing anything else but self-loathing, you will be unable to consider yourself anything but a self-loathing individual.

if you only remember doing other things besides self-loathing.. you will unable to consider yourself a self-loathing individual.

do you get what i’m saying? in a sense it’s not even so much about what you do. it’s more about what you have done, and what you remember doing, in the recent past.

listen to @limeaide (or tiny) simply keep your mind on other things. stop working alone if that’s what you’re doing. start focusing on positive things regularly. change all the paintings in your house to positive ones. paint your walls. change the things you interact with daily in a new and positive way. read new positive books. create new memories. start now.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

You don’t have to replace it with anything. Once you train yourself to let go of it, that’s not a void that needs to be filled. Try volunteering time to charity. That can be a rewarding experience.

I don’t recommend the drug thing. That’s only a temporary fix that leads to other problems. These things mess your dopamine and serotonin levels which could make things worse.

Best of luck to you.

JLeslie's avatar

I realized at a young age that I contemplated suicide because I wanted to be out of the pain I was in, not that I wanted to die. Once I came to this realization I never was suicidal again.

tinyfaery's avatar

Hallucinogens are something that should be taken during some sort if search. After a trip, you and your worldview will be different.

oratio's avatar

@daloon

Have you tried painting, music, clay sculpturing? Creative activities put you in a place inside you where you are one with the moment, channeling and drains dark feelings, supporting the balances of the mind. It is quite meditative.

One great thing is, you don’t have to be good at it. At all.

drdoombot's avatar

What do you need forgiveness for? It’s not like you killed someone. The worst thing you might have done was betrayed someone’s trust. They might not forgive you for it, but if you honestly feel remorse about it, that puts you above most people. Your remorse, and if it’s possible, rectifying the mistake, is all that is required of you.

As mentioned before, you can’t love or accept yourself if you see something in yourself you don’t like. So change it. First, you need to contemplate the areas of your life that you are not happy with. Then, you have to think of what changes would make you happy. And finally, the hardest part will be implementing those changes.

It will also help you to have patience. Things don’t change overnight, but as long as you’re working toward goals that you know will make you happy, you should feel great about being on the correct path.

Good luck to you.

nebule's avatar

RealEyesRealizeRealLies gave me this recommendation…to read The Artist’s Way I ordered the book and started it yesterday and I am feeling better already…try it…you might find it works too….

where has realeyes gone anyways?? anyone know??

oratio's avatar

@lynneblundell He deleted his account.

nebule's avatar

why??

oratio's avatar

@lynneblundell I don’t know.

Harp's avatar

Bring attention to bear on this process of self-loathing. Step back from the cycle and suss out its mechanism and its component parts, catching them as they arise and seeing how each entrains the next. Become the observer of the process rather than its subject. Study it as a scientist would, from a detached perspective.

You already know that you learned the steps of this dance from your family, since you’ve written here about it. You know that expectations and standards are at the root of it, ideals of what a perfect you would be like. This too came from your upbringing. As noble and pure and commendable as that ideal may seem, it’s a fantasy. It doesn’t exist anywhere but in your head, and it never will. If you want to kill something, kill that. It does you no good. It will always be separate from you, out of reach, the you that should have been. See it for the sham it is.

Learn to recognize when a self-judgment first shows its nose, and stop it right there. Call it what it is – “this is just my old habit of judging myself – and fix it with your attention. Just stare it down, without letting it make its case, until it withers under your scrutiny.

Your habit of constant measuring against an ideal standard is really just a secularized version of the “sin” model. I don’t believe that model has ever worked well for anyone, do you? Try the “compassion” model instead. It has no ideal associated with it. It just looks for the way that doesn’t lead to suffering. Suffering isn’t evil or loathsome; it’s just …well, suffering, and we’d all rather see less of it in the world. Creating as little of it as you can for others and for yourself (which, when you observe carefully, really amounts to the same thing), is a far more useful purpose than trying to live up to some phony ideal.

susanc's avatar

Poor Daloon. No amount of attention to this recurring question ever seems to help him.
I hate to be shitty – though I am shitty, so maybe I should Embrace It – but constantly seeking attention by claiming to be full of self-hatred seems kinda scammy to me. What about seeking attention for all the good stuff? I’m really scratching my head here.

YARNLADY's avatar

I love the philosophical answers, but I’m just going to go for learn a craft. You could take up painting, woodworking, or my personal favortie, plastic canvas needlework.

YARNLADY's avatar

@susanc Maybe this all for a self-help book, and we’ll be famous

kruger_d's avatar

Don’t focus on self-improvement. Focus on doing good for others, and you can’t help but feel good about yourself.

rooeytoo's avatar

when I feel down, it means I am spending too much time in my head. “I” am too much the center of my universe. I am not the sort of person who lives to do for others, but when I get too much into my own head, that is a good way for me to get out of that rut.
Volunteer in a soup kitchen or pick up rubbish in the street.

The other, which could be the same thing, is to get busy, don’t give yourself so much time to think. You know what mothers always used to say, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” The same is true for idle minds.

the last thing is to simply accept that this is the way your head works and stop fighting wars in your head about the feelings. You haven’t killed yourself so far so unless you’re getting worse all the time, you probably won’t do it now. You say you are better than you were, so be grateful for the progress and get a job or a hobby and keep busy and stay on the meds.

Like they say in AA, it will pass, take it one minute at a time if you have to.

Blondesjon's avatar

Anything anyone gives you to try that is simple and true you will pick apart. You take pride in how unique you believe your mental afflictions to be. You need to get back to animal basics.

1. Go out and buy a shock collar.
2. Wear it around your neck 24/7.
3. Give a controller to everyone whose opinion truly matters to you.
4. Give them a list of behaviors you would like to modify.
5. Every time you exhibit one of these behaviors they give you a shock.

I’m guessing about the second or third time you piss down your leg you will begin to see the light.

you’re welcome

tyrantxseries's avatar

@daloon been there, done that, got the straight-jacket tee-shirt
this is the one and only time I will speak of this
The day after I learned I had schizophrenia (from my own online search before I went to the doctor) I became very depressed about it, each day it got worse and worse, my self-loathing and self-hatred grew every day, I stopped going out, I stopped working, my life stared to spiral downwards to it’s eventual end, I wanted it to end, I wanted to die.
I kept thinking how my life has ended, everyone will know what is wrong with me,no one will ever hire me because of this, all my friends and family will hate me and leave me, (as well as) That I’m a horrible person, I deserve this, this is my fault… The same things would go over and over in my head. So one night I decided I would end it the next morning, I got up the next morning ready to do it but had to go to the store first to get cigarettes lol in a round about way smoking saved my life after getting them I lit one and started to plan how I would do this(I was pacing up and down the sidewalk), after about an hour of pacing this guy walks up to me (I have never met him before and haven’t seen him since and I’ve looked for him) he asked what was wrong, I said “nothing”, he bugged me for 15 min to tell him what was wrong, (I decided since it didn’t matter anyway) I told him everything that happened and what would happen if I lived(I didn’t tell him what I had planned)
He listened to the whole thing without saying a word, then when I finished he said the straingest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say (and the best advice I have EVER received)

Him: ”GET OFF OF THE FUCKING BUS
me: ??? I’m not on a bus I’m on the sidewalk
Him: your on the “poor me bus”
me:???
Him: “The poor me” bus is a bus that never goes anywhere, it drives on the same street around in a big circle with only one stop (the only spot where you can get on or off the bus)
Him: If you ride the bus too long it will kill you so ”GET THE FUCK OFF THE BUS
Me:.....uh…ok thanks (thinking this guy is seriously fucked up)
then he turned and leaves, I went back to my apartment thinking about what he said…and how strange it was,
I realized that I WAS on the bus
It took me a wile to figure out how to get off of the bus, since I did I haven’t felt like that that was 5 years ago

this story may help you it may not

@daloon GET OFF OF THE FUCKING BUS

Kraigmo's avatar

How sure are you that you loathe yourself? I know from your answers here that you are relatively self-aware. But are there specific aspects of you that you really judge harshly? Or did a therapist at one point implant the idea that you don’t love yourself enough? It might be true… but the concept of self-love and self-hate is almost foreign to me. There’s aspects of my body and life that I find negative… even very negative on some things… but none of that tortures me since none of it’s that major. I wonder if you have the same types of negative thoughts but feel them more deeply? Or if you are having self-judgments that most others don’t even ever experience?

I realize there’s an aspect to 3-dimensional life that is plasticky, hollow, and cruel, and compounded with the fact that all comforting things eventually decay or fade away… I can easily understand a suicidal feeling… but I’m not very understanding of the concept of self-love or self-hate.
PS I know I answered a question with another question, so I won’t be offended if you don’t answer me back since you’re looking for an answer yourself

wundayatta's avatar

@susancPoor Daloon. No amount of attention to this recurring question ever seems to help him.

I’ve been wondering about that lately. I was asking myself why I’m back here (in that self-pitying place), again. This question, I realize, should have been asked in a more impersonal way, since it wasn’t reflective of how I was actually feeling at the time I wrote it. I had just been describing to someone what I had been through, and I found myself contemplating the question, and then, knee-jerk, I had to ask it.

I think I have been singing the same song for too long. And I wouldn’t blame anyone for getting tired of it. Hell, it’s boring me, too.

What about seeking attention for all the good stuff? I’m really scratching my head “here.

Good question. I’m trying to figure out how to talk about the good stuff, but not sounding conceited or like I’m bragging (although I usually am bragging). So, one of my brags is that I’m a good musician. So, for all of you who suggest the creative activities—yup. That’s been going on the whole time, and when I was at my worst, it was the only thing that could make me forget it for as long as I was playing. I’m resisting going back and editing that “good musician” to make it into a “decent musician.”

Wow. This is really hard. There are a number of things I think I am good at, but I’m also ashamed about some of them at the same time. But fuck it. Good or bad—doesn’t really matter. It’s if I enjoy it, and if other people are helped by it.

One frustration is that I often don’t know if I’m helping others. When I had my 20K celebration, people kind of came out of the woodwork to let me know I had made a difference. And there are some other people who randomly tell me they appreciate me. I’m tired of not being able to hold onto the feeling that people do find what I do to be useful.

I guess that I don’t have to claim to be smart or insightful or useful. I don’t have to do any marketing if I don’t want to. But I do want to be able to be comfortable thinking those things without necessarily getting outside confirmation. I actually do think those things, but it’s those “am I fooling myself?” “Am I deluded?” questions that get in the way.

It’s odd. I think I have a strong voice. I think I am actually pretty resilient. I’ve worked hard to figure out how to participate in conversations without getting thrown by other people’s opinions. I try to always see the truth of almost any opinion (not so much on the religion and politics stuff), whether it agrees with me or not.

And yet I do cultivate this doubt of myself. It’s easier to be sad and expect nothing than it is to risk falling off the ladder. I could easily condemn myself for that. I could call myself lazy and any number of other things, but that… seems weak, sorry seems not very helpful? It’s something I’ve gone through, and maybe will continue to struggle with. But…

I think I made a mistake in letting something I probably can control get to me. So what? It’s just a part of my life. I can beat myself up for it, or I could just feel it as a part of my experience. I’ll make mistakes again and again. They are good for teaching me stuff. And what the hell? Even if this question of mine is self-indulgent, it still generated some pretty… uh… vigorous comments.

Geez. On some occasions, I crack myself up!

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloon . . . BZZZZZZZZT!!!!

wundayatta's avatar

@Blondesjon ....PLPHPHPHPHTTT!

And another thing. I have such witty come-backs!

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

A Course in Miracles and/or the work of Byron Katie is what I would recommend. You have to go “higher” for your answers, I think.

You are not what you have been labeled. You are not what others think you are. You are not what you think you are. You were set free long ago. You have just forgotten.

The new journey for you…..really….is to remember.

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloon . . . BZZZZZZT!!!!

wundayatta's avatar

@Blondesjon [Heavy Sigh] My son is fond of telling the same joke over and over, if he gets a good laugh the first time. He keeps on doing this despite our comments that jokes kind of lose their humor after the first time. This does not apply to you, @Blondesjon, of course!

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloon . . . BZZZZZZT!!!

ninjacolin's avatar

that artistic thing is interesting, @daloon but i haven’t finished thinking about it yet… anyway, clearly all your woes can only be fully exorcised by a fellow think-too-mucher!

You have a guilt issue? do you know that i find that extremely peculiar? i really don’t believe in blame anymore so the way i see things.. i think the feelings of guilt you’re experiencing at this level indicate that you’re exceptionally deluded, more so than the average person, about how material our connection to our past deeds is. To me, seeing you upset about “guilt” is like seeing a toddler crying that his mom is leaving the room. It’s just not a worthwhile concern for the amount of energy you’re putting into it. Like the toddler, you just don’t seem to realize it as yet so you’re making a bigger deal of it than it is. so… it makes me very curious and i’m wondering.. what would life would be like for you if you shared this perspective? please respond! :)

it’s made more interesting when you say this: I know there is no “should” to life.

clearly you don’t know that, else you wouldn’t be able to have guilt issues this severe.

I could be happy with myself exactly as I am.

actually, no.. you can’t be happy with yourself “exactly as you are” unless you already are. This is a chronological fact!

I tell myself that the reason I judge myself is to kick myself in the ass and get me moving.

also no! wagging finger you don’t do it for a reasoned-reason. you don’t do it by choice. you do it by habit alone.

nebule's avatar

god I love you people…you’re all so insightful…I’m getting so much out of the advice on this thread xxx

wundayatta's avatar

@ninjacolinwhat would life would be like for you if you shared this perspective?

I’d probably be a real asshole.

”I know there is no “should” to life.” Clearly you don’t know that, else you wouldn’t be able to have guilt issues this severe.

Knowing something and acting on that knowledge are quite different things. I know many things that I do might have seriously negative consequences, and might make a lot of people think I’m immoral, and yet I still do them.

no.. you can’t be happy with yourself “exactly as you are” unless you already are. This is a chronological fact!

Well that’s true, except I said “could be” not that I was (or am).

you don’t do it [kick myself in the ass] by choice. you do it by habit alone

So there is no reason for habits? They [habits] just are? I think you can dissect this in a little more depth than that.

ninjacolin's avatar

@daloon: “I’d probably be a real asshole.”

lol, okay. but besides being an asshole, do you see room for depression in a world where you don’t feel as guilty about anything?

“Knowing something and acting on that knowledge are quite different things.”

Actually, I’ll try to show you how this statement is kind of untrue/misleading. The important difference is between Knowing something and NOT knowing something. The way you act will necessarily be caused by what you happen to know AS WELL as by what you happen to not-know in a given moment. The proof for this is in every and any action we take. You just have to look closely enough at what you’re doing and not doing.

For example, go ahead and grab something you can throw right now… really, right now! Like a pen or a ball of paper or a cat or whatever you have there. Now, Target something small (like another pen on the ground, for example) across the room and hold position..

Right now, you know what you want to hit. But do you know how to throw the object in your hand in such a way that you hit the target dead on? Try it, best out of 3.

My results: Miss, Hit, Miss. (i was throwing one pen at another)

For every (1) hit, clearly, I knew how to act to accomplish what I wanted. For every miss however (and this applies to any action that we TRY to take and fail at whether it be applying for a job, missing an important lunch date, failing to stay motivated, anything!) the truth of the matter was simply this: I did not truly know how to act in that moment in order to accomplish what i wanted.

I knew the end result of what I wanted to achieve, but I did not know what needed to be done in order to ensure success. Because of my ignorance, I missed twice and hit once (and even that one hit felt like a fluke!) Really then, could it be said that I “knew” what to do? Obviously not. But people beat themselves up for just these kinds of errors all the time. “Shit! I knew what to do and i didn’t do it!” No, you moron, you didn’t know what to do and that’s why you didn’t do it.

Notice: I did succeed 100% at the first goal which was throwing an object across the room. That goal, I fully well knew how to accomplish it as is evidenced by my success rate. But the goal with more parameters, I simply was not prepared for greater success than what I accomplished.

Knowledge = Action = Accomplishment.
Ignorance = Inaction = Lack of accomplishment.. and Morally, Ignorance = “Wrong Action.”

Anything you do “wrong” in life is necessarily a product of knowing not how to do anything but what you did in that moment. Anything wrong you do is the result of ignorance.

Daloon, if you practice that exercise for 10 days you’ll see that your ability to hit the mark improves. The more you play, the more knowledge you gain about how your arm needs to be positioned and about how much or how little to use your muscles. Eventually, you’ll truly “know” how to hit that mark. Success will come with knowledge.

What this all points to is simply this: We learn from mistakes! Mistakes are a part of our education. They teach us what not to do in the Future. You aren’t really “allowed” to not like your mistakes because your mistakes are what make you who you are.

sooooo long!

ninjacolin's avatar

@daloon Well that’s true, except I said “could be” not that I was (or am).

more words with issues. “Could” implies “potential”.. what I was saying is that there is NO potential to be happy with yourself, unless you already are happy with yourself. see what I mean? so, your statement is meaningfully inaccurate even though you tried to soften it with a “could.”

In any given moment, there is no “could.” There is only a CAN and CAN’T.
“could” is a hypothetical, it has no bearing on reality.

ninjacolin's avatar

@ninjacolin said: you don’t [judge yourself] by choice. you do it by habit alone

@daloon said: “So there is no reason for habits? They [habits] just are? I think you can dissect this in a little more depth than that.”

k, first, let me try to be more clear about what i was saying:

daloon, you don’t judge yourself by choice. you judge yourself by habit alone.. and then, needing a reason to justify your harsh judgments against yourself, you accuse yourself of simply trying to help yourself to get motivated.

In other words, you’re suffering from battered wife syndrome (making excuses for your abusive husband’s violence) and it just so happens that you also play the roll of the abusive husband.. against yourself.

Moving on.. the “reason” that you have a habit is because you trained yourself to have it. It takes time and “effort” to create habits. Once they are formed, the only way to get rid of it is to spend time and “effort” eradicating it.

I could list any number of books about addiction and bad habits and how to cure them. So, please take a trip to your local book store soon. But for starters.. the next time you criticize yourself, I want you to “catch” yourself and then be sure to counter it with: “But I’m still the best!” And smile when you say it. Don’t worry, it’s just acting. But do it and pretend that you mean it. Eventually, you’ll get better at it.

Every time you catch yourself self-deprecating, follow it up with positive words about yourself. Create a new habit of complimenting yourself IN RESPONSE to self-deprecation.

mattbrowne's avatar

Other people appreciate you, my friend. Both on Fluther and in real life!

wundayatta's avatar

@ninjacolin “Knowing something and acting on that knowledge are quite different things.”

Hypothetical situation:
I know that if I work hard, I can make more money. I want to make more money, because if I do, the love of my life will love me back. I push myself to work hard, but instead I goof off. My love gives me a couple of chances to change, but I still don’t work hard. Finally she breaks it off with me, as she had told me she would, and I am thrown into a dark pit that I can’t climb out of for a year or two.

You’re saying I don’t know how to work hard? I’m saying I’m not motivated to work hard in a situation where anyone else would work hard, both the gain the girl and also to avoid the black hole. I know how to work hard. I want to work hard. But I don’t, even as I am screaming at myself to work hard. Let’s say that not working hard carries a stigma that will cut you off and marginalize you from society. You lose your moral credibility, you are branded with the “lazy” sign, so everyone can see who you are and so no one will hire you ever again. And still, I don’t work hard, even though I had been doing so up until that point.

I don’t know how? I suddenly lost my ability? Please.

Sure, we learn from mistakes, but some mistakes have huge negative consequences. What if a person has lived for decades without making a mistake like that? I.e., he knows how to behave well—he’s proven it. What if a person, in full knowledge of those consequences, continues to behave in a way that will bring those consequences down on their head? What’s going on there?

This is not a mistake, my friend. This is a choice. Yet the person making that “choice” truly believes he doesn’t want to make that choice. He doesn’t want to suffer the consequences that he knows will happen. Some might say it’s a self-destructive choice. Some might say it’s a sign of stupidity or immorality. Maybe it’s a character flaw. He doesn’t understand it. He can’t explain it. So what is left?

It’s like a person carrying a gun. He doesn’t want to kill anyone. He knows what will happen if he kills someone. But he still kills. You’re going to tell me he doesn’t know how not to kill someone? Do you not believe in morality or judgment?

Habits

I’m sorry, but I don’t believe in habits. My feelings about myself change in response to nothing. They just change. All of a sudden, I’m beating myself up. I change the meds, and after a while, my thinking about myself becomes irrelevant and easy to ignore.

I hate failing. I hate making mistakes. I hate not being liked. I hate hurting people. So I never try very hard, nor do I try to do much. Do I need to justify that? If I want to, I suppose I could try to justify that to people who criticize me for not doing very much, compared to what they think I could do.

Let’s suppose people think I’m a fuck-up. I guess that means I can’t show my face unless I want to suffer some abuse. That would be fine if I had some other community to belong to, but these would not be the people who know me the best. If I want to be able to hang with my family, then I better not fuck up. My family does not tolerate mistakes.

I don’t think fluther does, either. Nor places of employment, nor most of society.

ninjacolin's avatar

Laziness and Effort don’t really exist in my understanding of things. Everything just happens in one single swing called Time. Imagine a courier working for UPS who is trying really hard to be ontime for a delivery but happens to be stuck behind a train. He’s frustrated and shaking his fist at the train and cursing the day the conductor was born.. but when you zoom out and look simply at that van from a distance (which is what his boss will be doing when looking at his delivery record) all you can see is a van that just doesn’t want to move. From an outside and ignorant perspective, it looks like that courier is just slacking off, having a nap by the train. An alien race looking down on the van would be like: “Uh.. why doesn’t he just teleport to the other side? What a lazy buffoon!” And that’s just it. Because the driver is ignorant of how to get passed the train, he’s going to just have to wait it out. Ignorance is what is preventing his progress.

In the case of not being able to work even though you’re screaming at yourself to work, same deal. You know what the outcome that you desire looks like, but you are ignorant of how to get yourself from miserable-wishing-i-was-working-You to i-completed-my-work-You. Ignorance stalls your progress.

Think about it: If you could push a button that will automatically motivate you to work instead of complain about wanting to work.. you would push it! The only thing preventing you from pressing that button or from doing whatever it is you would hypothetically need to do to get motivated.. is ignorance of where that button is. ignorance of what that “thing” is that you need to do to get motivated.

“You’re going to tell me he doesn’t know how not to kill someone?”
Someone with a gun who’s shooting people is similarly unaware of any other actions that would help him achieve his goals besides the actions he happens to be taking. Someone who is shooting other people, does not know that it is wrong. He is ignorant to that fact.

“Do you not believe in morality or judgment?”

I believe Morality = Doing what makes the most sense, all things considered.
A rock that falls down to the earth obeying the laws of physics, for example, is moral. A rock that literally defies gravity would be amoral.

I believe Judgment is an animal characteristic. It simply means weighing facts and attempting to figure out what would make the most sense, all things considered.

Going back to the UPS driver.. the fact is, he wants to just sit there. He would like to get going, he wants to.. but he values not having an accident over progressing closer to his goal. Ultimately, he is doing what makes the most sense to him, all things considered, based on what options he believes are available to him.

wundayatta's avatar

So you’re saying you can’t want anything other than what you want. Others make inferences about your wants by seeing what you do. What you say you want, if not backed up with corresponding behavior, can be ignored. There is an individual morality for every person, because what makes sense to do is different for everybody.

What happens when you don’t do what you believe makes most sense for you to do?

ninjacolin's avatar

@daloon said: “What happens when you don’t do what you believe makes most sense for you to do?”

clearly, the universe as we know it would collapse and everyone would cease to exist… in this universe, you must do what you believe in the moment makes the most sense for you to do. it’s a matter of physics!

I know what you mean though, like with that work example you gave. the guy wants to but he just can’t get himself to produce. what’s going on there? he’s incapable. Maybe he’s lacking sleep, or has had a poor diet, maybe he hasn’t been practicing his craft enough, maybe he’s lacking in memories of positive work experience. Maybe he’s in the wrong business all together for either his genetics or his aptitudes! It’s for some reason that he is unable to do it, that his body shuts down on him. It’s no different than if he got diarrhea from mexican food. It’s just a reaction to what he’s taking in tempered by whatever he’s built for physically and mentally.

On Habits

I wish i could disagree with you about the non-existence of habits more but I may see your side of that one. Essentially, habits are just actions that we take often and.. well, we take every action often so what’s the point of giving some the “habit” label. Makes you wonder if it’s some sort of Vice marking system where any action labeled a “habit” could potentially lead to your downfall. haha, but “habits” still are something real enough that we were able to talk about them at all.

I would define habits as ideas that have a certain (high) percentage of mental triggers and associations attached to it. They’re not on a time cycle, they’re on a situation cycle. When the right situations are present, you find yourself wanting to do the habit. Maybe because it makes sense to (like locking your door behind you) or maybe it’s more frivolous (like smoking after a meal). Habits are kind of the complex structures you’re good at building out of the raw materials you’re given.

But the important thing, I think, is the fact that it’s all about the associations. If you have a bad habit, it just means that you need to stop associating with the materials that lead to your fulfilling that habit. Or else you need to change the way you associate with those materials. Your wants come from the presence of the materials because your brain makes the associations based on memory/experience/what it “knows”.

susanc's avatar

@daloon: You choose to ARGUE with @ninjacolin about his ideas/experience although (because?) his approach could ease your distress? Your resistance throws me back to something he said earlier: “you’re suffering from battered wife syndrome (making excuses for your abusive husband’s violence) and it just so happens that you also play the roll of the abusive husband.. against yourself.”

Yes. An abused person readily integrates the abusive behavior/attitudes into his/her own character. This can be turned around. Lots of people have done it. But not without
accepting outside help, because the courage to take risks has atrophied, and has to be relearned.

I was harsh earlier (and @YARNLADY gave me hell for it, in her decent way) but feel I must persist, because you respond better to blame than to praise, dude.

Which supports @ninjacolin‘s point (see above).

So let me say this: It’s pretty sad to picture a family in which, if someone fucks up, they’re
thrown out. What kind of damn family is that? Walk away! Walk away!!

With regard to that, you’re wrong about fluther, and we don’t deserve it. Expulsion has never happened to anyone here unless they were a Class A Asshole, Repeatedly and Consistently. You haven’t been bad enough to earn dismissal.

bzzzt

wundayatta's avatar

You don’t know who I am. You don’t know what I do. You don’t know what I am risking.

I am different in the way I behave. It’s not acceptable to most people. I’m a bad person in this way, and like your battered wife, I feel I deserve to be punished. Twice over—once for being bad, and a second time for being stupid. Oh, and a third time for being self-indulgent and asking people to think about me one more time. And I could go on, I suppose, endlessly finding reasons to punish myself.

And all because I can’t have what I really want. I can have one thing… or another… but not both. It makes me sick—physically. Not that anyone should care, since it’s just another form of manipulation. Don’t get sucked in. Even if you did care (and you shouldn’t), it wouldn’t matter, since none of you are real.

The best way to reply to this is with silence. Face it. I don’t want to get happy. I don’t want to get out of here because I know I’ll only end up back here, and when I do end up back here, it will be so much worse. In reality, I don’t want love. I’ll only lose it.

I just keep on living my fake life. I keep on attending to my responsibilities. But I’m not really a person and I never have been. I think I could have been a person had I been strong enough. God I hope my children don’t ever feel like I do.

Weirdness. My daughter says she prefers it when my wife and I are cool and distant from each other, not lovey-dovey like we have been recently. I’m dying to ask her if she really liked that time better. Maybe she already is like me.

Maybe calling it as “habit” is the best description. It’s so comfortable. I don’t have to face any praise. I can deny everything. I don’t have to worry about achieving the things I really want to achieve because—oh, I don’t know. There must be some logical connection. Fear. Fear of success. Fear of happiness. Fear of being helped. Fear of being found out, yet wanting to be found out. Maybe I’m trying to get sick enough to go to a hospital. Ah. Lovely, lovely thing, where I can work on myself all day long, and people will help. Just what I need. I need to fucking ignore my own fucking self, and just do what I have to do. I need to defocus on whining, and on love. They are just blurry signposts on the side of the road as I whiz past at 65 mph. It’s too much information and I can’t begin to think about it or sort it out.

I can’t please anyone else in this because I don’t want to admit that anyone else could be right. I want to see myself as different, although I probably am not, and anyway, it doesn’t have to matter. I want to throw imprecations at myself because I think it will make people back off a bit, knowing that I know how… whatever it is I’ve been (stupid? hurtful? self-indulgent? obtuse?). Maybe I haven’t been these things, but they help me roll out from underneath the burden of people appreciating me.

As I write this, I fantasize that it is an interesting kind of rant. Perhaps it portrays some character walking across the bed of coals that is his psyche. Maybe it could even be something someone would want to publish. Or put on a blog. Not that I would ever do such a thing. Too much work. Too risky.

But, of course, it isn’t interesting; it’s just self-indulgent and will make people ill to read. They won’t even have gotten close to reading this paragraph. Of course that’s a blatant beg for someone to say that I’m not all those things and that they have read it all. @Blondesjon knows that trick very well. Calls me on it every time. bzzzzt. Whatever that buzzer means. Is it like saying “wrong?” Too stupid to even understand that.

‘Ok.’ I tell myself. ‘Gotta wrap up here. On the odd chance that someone actually did read all this, I can’t try their patience any more. That would just be pure evil.’

So what is this? What have I spewed out here? Is it a diary entry? Am I actually talking to anyone besides myself? Is it a call for help? Is it a call to be left alone? I’m not sure I have any idea. I feel like I’ve gotten myself entangled in a giant ball of string, and it’s too knotty to ever be untangled.

It’s a journey sometimes—writing these things. I go through this set of emotions that makes me feel totally depressed, knowing that later on today, I’ll not feel this way—at least for a little while. I wonder what people will say because when people talk to me about these things it is a time when I feel…. least alone? almost connected? appreciated? loved?

That’s why people should be silent. No one should respond to a blatant call for love, no matter how well it is hidden. But I need it. Over and over. I need it.

Won’t you please love me (but only if you really do)? And tell me every day? And be patient with me when I don’t believe you?

oh god! what have I done? What if they don’t?

nebule's avatar

@daloon I read it and I know how ya feel…and I love ya x

rooeytoo's avatar

Your feelings are not unique. You don’t sound much different than a lot of people I have been in groups with or most of the people you meet up with in an AA meeting.

I think you should go to some AA meetings, I don’t know if there is booze in your history or your parent’s history but you sure sound like it.

Your attitude bothers me, it does sound as if you enjoy your misery and wallow in it. That is okay for a day or two but it is self defeating long term.

Act yourself into a way of thinking is an AA saying, it helps me.

YARNLADY's avatar

@daloon That was amazing. I read all the way through. You win. I can’t teach you how to be happy any more than you can teach me not to be afraid of spiders.

Blondesjon's avatar

@YARNLADY . . . An individual doesn’t need to be taught to be happy. An individual has to want to be happy and be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

It sounds simple but it is VERY hard to do.

notice i did not use the word impossible

YARNLADY's avatar

@Blondesjon Yes, of course the desire has to be there first, but just like learning anything, there are methods, tips and ideas that can be taught. Many people don’t have the foggiest idea how to do it, and if it doesn’t just come naturally – you can be taught.

Learning how to be happy can be as difficult as learning to not be afraid of spiders, and neither are impossible.

susanc's avatar

@daloon – what @YARNLADY says is so smart.
You might like reading a long article in the 11/30 NY Times Magazine, called Women Who Want to Want. The topic’s not directly pertinent, but the ideas are. It’s about learning how to ease into desire when the thrill is gone. That easing-in actually allows desire to grow, but because we expect desire to overwhelm us and carry us away – O ecstasy!!! – we don’t try.
But many good things really can be about learning rather than feeling.
Wishing you well.

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