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gandolfication

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gandolfication last won the day on February 28 2019

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About gandolfication

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  1. Kogent5, Good to hear from you. That's great. A coup[le weeks ago I was reading the marketing legerdemain for a book called Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life (by Susan David), where she recommends a technique she calls "tiny tweaks." We used to call this "chunking" or breaking down bigger goals into smaller component parts. You're right. This is what you have to do when you're really down in depression. It's often all you can do. I'm bipolar. The good and the bad is that when I'm in the lowest throes of major depressive episode (which has been most of the last 10-12 years), like everyone else in that state, everything seems (and is) soooooo difficult. I happen to have just had one of the most revitalizing months of my adult life, just catching fire, and overnight it seems, reviving a great workout routine, being focused, productive, efficient and effective in my job running my law practice, moving to a larger/better office (had to), hiring a paralegal (really needed, but was a big risk), getting a website up in one Saturday morning, writing out a very detailed, formal goals program for myself, and even for the business, and accomplishing several of them already, reading and listening to good books, working on improving my family relationships, and a hundred other things. It sounds great (and it is). But I am so conditioned to think that it's kind of all or nothing like this, and have the vertigo-inducing anxiety (or terror) a lot that....this will fade, it won't last, I can't sustain it, I'll crash. It's like walking a tightrope without a net, and 'knowing' or at least believing, I'm going to fall, I'm going to fall, I'm going to fall again, and its going to be more painful and calamitous than I can bear. This is almost over; it's going to happen any second, and it'll be my final humiliation...what an idiot I am for thinking I could do, let alone sustain this. I remember though, how extraordinary capable we are as humans to change, to learn, to respond. To grow in insight, habits, practices, and....to get back to your point...in what is truly the only way and thing we can - the littlest things. For it is all we can ever have - is this moment. I've been wrestling and savoring this, even when I feel so nervous I think I'm going to fall apart. Looking back, I realize how during all those months and years of suicidal depression, where I hated life, and everything seemed so perfectly awful, hopeless, pointless, and that I'd never be able to feel even decent, let alone good again, it was, of course, the little things I managed to be able to do, that has led me to these broader sunlit uplands now. So thanks for sharing. It encouraged me. I know how hard it is to be beat down in the trenches of misery and fear and depression. Keep doing the next right thing you can. You can do it. There's a doctrine (for lack of a better term) from information theory that the most fundamental stuff of reality is not atoms or matter or even energy of any kind, but rather data. information. bits. And the definition I once heard the theorists give is that the definition of this information is a change that causes a change. It seems circular, but then again ultimately all knowledge is. This is how I think about the ebs and flows and even evolution of change, neuroplasticity, etc. now. Don't know what you can do with that, but keep reading and doing what you can. I salute you.
  2. The past 24 days I redesigned and implemented a robust goals program. I said a written daily schedule and have strived mightily to stick as close to as possible to track in my time, which I have to do is to turn anyway. productivity has soared, I have gotten difficult things done and many of them. I moved to a bigger office, hired a paralegal, I'm taking on and have the most revenue in my account since I started 8 months ago. I have started to develop a practice that I am that I ultimately intend to develop into a niche specialization of mental health law. there is already been a lot of fear in the last two or three weeks that I'm fading or that I can't hit the marks I've set for myself and that I'm going to inevitably spiral downward and crash in severe depression. Of course it's possible that that happens, and I just have to take heart and courage in the fact that I continue to learn and grow and change, I have resources and support and I do know how to handle it and make it softer and faster. I've been listening to some really exceptional educational and motivational materials during my morning exercises which I've been almost 100% consistent with (This is a major accomplishment for me). It is a capstone goal to maintain consistency in these things for the next 6 days which will add up to a full month, to have the confidence that I can and have already gone a great distance in embedding new habits. Anyway all of this was background to say that I've had several mornings like this morning where I still hit the snooze button It didn't get up at 6:00 like I need to and want to. In fact I didn't get up till 7:30, And that's felt very lousy both physically and emotionally and psychologically because of that. I was debating and weighing heavily whether to just get in the shower and get into the office like I feel like I need to early or still try to do a 10-15 minute workout. I did the workout so glad I did. Not only do I always feel better afterwards, but it was important to maintain the ritual even when I didn't hit my mark of getting up. I feel better and proud or about this imperfect start to the morning then some of the other sublime idyllic mornings. It has taken, and will take, a tremendous amount of work. I still have a lot of work to do with my family and also building the practice and my skills and professional capability as a lawyer. The first time in so long, I feel like I can accept myself notice be aware of judgment let it go or respond and reject it and just simply be and realize that I already have everything I need and down my best self.
  3. Sounds like victim blaming without evidence like Job's friends. Honestly, "I let 'the Devil'..." as if the Exorcist is non-fiction. This is a good example of fundamentalist literalism I'm so glad to leave behind. I was taught all this stuff, and when I started really struggling with depression, I read The Screwtape Letters (I read almost all of C.S. Lewis at one time or another), and then Frank Peretti (sorry, but what garbage that was), heck, I even read the first 4-5 Left Behind books until even as a then-Christian, I realized they we pulp sophistry. I even went to one Christian/pastoral counselor for a while, who anointed my head with oil. 4 years of Pentecostal college and I managed to avoid this, and then I get it in 'counseling.' This stuff is toxic. Anyway, yah, "The Devil." I'll be sure to keep a lookout for sulfur and black footprints, or to do spiritual warfare with the principalities of this world. Maybe I need to have an exorcism performed or be bled with leaches, or see if I sink to make sure I'm not a witch? Nah, if I could just get myself to focus on my job, I'll be a world better. I don't mean to sound sarcastic here, but I really wonder and want to ask: do you see how damaging this unfalsifiable superstition is? To anyone? Let alone, someone trying to excavate the fundamentalism I was indoctrinated into since birth, complete with total depravity, original sin, utter worthlessness in myself, etc? I would ask you to give some rational thinking to that.
  4. That was more succinct than my typical rambling. I have strong feelings about it too, but then again, I'm a tortured soul when it comes to this, and the Bible is a lot of things. It contains some great and truly beautiful ideas, literature, poetry, etc. I simply am trying to reprogram my mind to realize that (at least for me), it was never meant to be taken as some strictly literal, inerrant, infallible, take-all or leave-all thing.
  5. god, I can't seem to help myself right now, and just want to take a ton of sleeping pills and never wake up.
  6. There is a difference. I'm not sure I can fully articulate it here (although it is part of what Learned Optimism is about). One point Dr. Seligman makes repeatedly in the book is that optimism is much more appropriate and should be used for lower-stakes items/decisions, e.g., I can do x-project. Rather than very high-stakes items/decisions, e.g., I'm optimistic I can make it across the train tracks in time. He gives better examples. He doesn't posit that we have anything like total control. He points out--and so does evidence-based CBT--that we can control much more within ourselves, our thoughts, and our actions, than we often believe when we are going through the motions mindlessly. I'm not preaching here. I do think it is mind-opening and needed for those of us tormented by depression, to remember that we have a large measure of control over our attitude and explanatory style, and how we interpret events, and this in turn, does influence how we think, what we do, and the results. I think its too limiting and simplistic to label all of this 'just' a self-fulfilling prophecy, but hey, virtuous cycles are good things. When I listen to Seligman's books, I constantly think, yes! that makes sense, I buy that, etc., in part because he is one of the most accomplished research and even experimental psychologists there is, so he backs things up with data. These aren't some self-help guru wannabe. Selgiman, is credited as being the father of positive psychology. For years, decades, at Penn and in the field in general, he caught hell and was criticized as not being part of the serious part of psychology. But he basically overcame it through persistence and proving results. In the 90's, he was elected as the head of the American Psychological Association by the largest margin in its history. Although he doesn't dwell in detail, he also talks about how these things helped him through some of his own depression. These are why he has high credibility to me. Besides, by this point, I've read enough psychology and personal growth, self-help books to feel like I can ferret out things that aren't well supported. I like to think being a lawyer helps, but really it comes down to a simple DBT maxim. Do what works. Seligman had just a slightly different spin in keeping a gratitude journal, and presented the very simple evidence and data showing that this works. I did it for 40 days and shocker, I felt better. I'd tried this before, but never put together 40 days in a row. Anyway, I'm not trying to sell his books, but I do think if you listen or read learned optimism (again, I think the Audible version I listened to, which is only like 120 minutes is abridged), I think he does a good job of making it clear and non-controversial. He defines terms and explains what he means and doesn't mean. I found myself wanting a work book and/or therapist who could help me practice and apply the ideas more.
  7. Hmm, bit of a Rorschach there. There is also a tremendous amount of negativity and violence, and disorder and manipulation in the Bible. The capstone doctrines of original sin and total depravity, taken right from the text are prime examples. They teach, quite literally, that human beings are worthless, evil, and deserve eternal torture. Take that in for a moment. The doctrines of grace, mercy and redemption, somehow didn't solve or assuage this for me, especially as I got older. I read and studied it the first 35 years of my life, and unfortunately the fundamentalist milieu I came out where we were taught strictly to believe every word of it literally, did really profound damage to me. I still sometimes read certain compendiums (collections of versus), as I try to move from fundamentalism to a much more open and expansive faith. There is a lot of actual stretched-out trauma to get through with it though. In short, being taught the Bible in fundamentalist Christianity in my formative years (but really into my 30s) did severe and lasting damage to me, from which I'll most likely be trying to recover from for my entire life. It may even be a central cause of my depression (I try to be careful because this is probably unknowable, but certainly it hurt much more than it helped, and is why I eventually had to leave the church).
  8. There is a difference. I'm not sure I can fully articulate it here (although it is part of what Learned Optimism is about). One point Dr. Seligman makes repeatedly in the book is that optimism is much more appropriate and should be used for lower-stakes items/decisions, e.g., I can do x-project. Rather than very high-stakes items/decisions, e.g., I'm optimistic I can make it across the train tracks in time. He gives better examples. He doesn't posit that we have anything like total control. He points out--and so does evidence-based CBT--that we can control much more within ourselves, our thoughts, and our actions, than we often believe when we are going through the motions mindlessly. I'm not preaching here. I do think it is mind-opening and needed for those of us tormented by depression, to remember that we have a large measure of control over our attitude and explanatory style, and how we interpret events, and this in turn, does influence how we think, what we do, and the results. I think its too limiting and simplistic to label all of this 'just' a self-fulfilling prophecy, but hey, virtuous cycles are good things. When I listen to Seligman's books, I constantly think, yes! that makes sense, I buy that, etc., in part because he is one of the most accomplished research and even experimental psychologists there is, so he backs things up with data. These aren't some self-help guru wannabe. Selgiman, is credited as being the father of positive psychology. For years, decades, at Penn and in the field in general, he caught hell and was criticized as not being part of the serious part of psychology. But he basically overcame it through persistence and proving results. In the 90's, he was elected as the head of the American Psychological Association by the largest margin in its history. Although he doesn't dwell in detail, he also talks about how these things helped him through some of his own depression. These are why he has high credibility to me. Besides, by this point, I've read enough psychology and personal growth, self-help books to feel like I can ferret out things that aren't well supported. I like to think being a lawyer helps, but really it comes down to a simple DBT maxim. Do what works. Seligman had just a slightly different spin in keeping a gratitude journal, and presented the very simple evidence and data showing that this works. I did it for 40 days and shocker, I felt better. I'd tried this before, but never put together 40 days in a row. Anyway, I'm not trying to sell his books, but I do think if you listen or read learned optimism (again, I think the Audible version I listened to, which is only like 120 minutes is abridged), I think he does a good job of making it clear and non-controversial. He defines terms and explains what he means and doesn't mean. I found myself wanting a work book and/or therapist who could help me practice and apply the ideas more.
  9. Taking one day at a time is always good advice. So is forging a good set routine, which seems to be one of the hardest things for me to do. It drives me crazy why and how hard this is for me. I just struggle with it immensly.
  10. I've been having a really hard time lately, what seems so often. So, I needed to write something positive and hopeful, and did so in the form of a letter to myself. I hope it might help some others too. Much of this came from then abridged version of Martin Seligman's book, Learned Optimism, I re-read a few weeks ago. Dear Rob: Wow, I know you’ve been through a lot. So first, I just want to say congratulations and way to go! Really. This isn’t trite or patronizing. I know you come from a school of thinking and habits that says, you should be hard on yourself to be your best, and that trophies for participation are bunk. But you’ve fought through severe depression, anxiety, mental illness, job losses, strained relationships, cross-country moves, changes in career, and long, sustained and painful suicidal hopelessness. Oh, you also lost your faith in the god you thought provided and tied together the only love and hope that was ever worth living for in the first place. A lot of people wouldn’t have made it as well. In fact, unfortunately, a lot haven’t. But you have. Yah, I know, you naturally think and focus obsessively on what’s gone ‘wrong’ and what you’ve ‘lost,’ and the very real-seeming feelings of total hopelessness. And that’s much of what I want to say to you. Those feelings, while not to be taken lightly, are false. They’re not facts. Sure, they’re based on thoughts, but--and here’s the hard part--those thoughts are so distorted. They’re distorted by very deep emotional pain, feelings of fear, regret, disappointment, anger, disgust, and sadness over all of this. They’re distorted by a million subtle, imprecise distortions in degree or conclusion. All the CBT usual suspects - black and white, all or nothing, catastrophic thinking, etc. These things that have happened in and to your life have multiple causes, not just one. Sure, actions have consequences, we reap what we sew, we have agency, and personal response-ability. But events cause things too. Circumstances beyond our control. And sure, our thoughts and reactions to them. Before I get into how you still have control over your thoughts and reactions, I want to remind you that you’ve gradually had an extremely powerful toxic kind of pessimism seep in. Pessimism--a negative self-referential bias--tells you that all the bad stuff is permanent and can’t/won’t ever change. That’s nonsense. It can and does all the time. There is much you can do, and even much you are already doing to change it. A lot of these negative causes are temporary and highly changeable. It makes you forget that some good things are fairly permanent too. Second, the enormous pain you’ve experienced from depression and circumstances is actually not as pervasive as you usually assume. Whether you view the negative events and responses as failures, helplessness, flaws, etc., you can compartmentalize them. They are not global. This is how you can be more realistic and optimistic. Yah, there’s a little self-fulfillment involved, but you don’t have to read The Secret fortunately, because the science very clearly shows that this is real. When you correct distortions, using tools like CBT thought correction journals, even gratitude journals, two things happen with remarkable reliability and power. First, you begin to feel happier (which is the goal!). Second, you begin to realize it was the excessive pessimism that was the real false pie-in-the sky distortion; not proper, psychologically-studied realistic optimism, which you absolutely have a hand in creating. Third, you’re not guilty. You don’t need to blame yourself for nearly everything that’s gone wrong. These are mindsets, explanatory styles, attitudes - not factual conclusions in and of themselves. And they’re chosen. It really isn’t “all (or even close to all) your fault.” That’s not just a good line from Good Will Hunting. It is true. In reality, most things have multiple causes. How and why are you where you’re at today? Sure, some of it is your own actions and behaviors. But, first, let’s remember, we do NOT have total, 100% control over our own actions and behaviors (if we did, I suppose we’d be gods and we’d all be perfect beings, who don’t get tired, wear out, make mistakes, etc.). Second, there are other causes. LOTS AND LOTS of other causes. Economies, technology, bosses, the market, illness, depression, and hundreds more that are too many to list. Because we don’t see or think of many of these on a daily basis, they don’t seem real. But they are. You didn’t choose everything that’s happened to you, or to your family. You didn’t choose what you were taught, or how it affected you. You did make an awful lot of really good choices - a fact you tend to forget and completely discount. So, let’s look for ways to be more optimistic. More positive. Hopeful. Cheerful. So very much of “What happened was an unlucky situation (not personal), and really just a temporary setback (not permanent), and just for this one particular goal, not every global aspect of who I am and my whole identity (not pervasive)". Learned Optimism means we can change our attitude and behaviors – by recognizing and challenging our negative self-talk, among other things. It is the opposite of learned helplessness, which is the part of pessimism that is false. (The false belief that we’re incapable of changing our circumstances after repeatedly experiencing a stressful event). And so, remember, recite, practice. And practice again. If You Think You Can, You Can By Denis Waitley You can be a total winner, even if you’re a beginner If you think you can you can, if you think you can you can. You can wear the gold medallion, you can ride your own black stallion If you think you can you can, if you think you can you can It’s not your talent or the gift at birth, It’s not your bank book that determines worth. It isn’t in your gender or the color of your skin. It’s your attitude that lets you win. You can redirect a nation, make each day a celebration. If you think you can you can, if you think you can you can. Even if you’re hesitant, you can be a woman President. If you think you can you can, if you think you can, you can. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before. It makes no difference what the halftime score. It’s never over ’til the final gun - if there were one. So keep on trying and you’ll find you’ve won. Just grab your dream and then believe it. Go out and work, and you’ll achieve it. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can, you can.
  11. Well Epic, thanks. I typed a lengthy, detailed response to each paragraph you included here, but it got lost in a 404 error when I tried to post it. Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful comments.
  12. I felt like this response, especially--and maybe my whole topic--are unproductive (especially for me perhaps). So I hope I may now be permitted to change the subject or take it in a different direction....and if needed, I'll start a new thread. How do people heal from their deepest pain and resentments? The life-changing regrets or disappointments? That's the emotional center I know, of why I still seem to keep coming back to the existential questions, especially god. Maybe I really haven't changed the question, but there must be different perspectives. I thought I'd try. (Hope I'm not being uncharitable here over my own frailty).
  13. Interesting. I've either heard you say that before or something like it somewhere. There's a paradox of being patient to all that is unsolved...loving the questions themselves, and Do not now seek the answers" vs. feeling that bond with any person "seeking the truth." I have come to (very grudgingly) acknowledge about myself, (if not entirely accept), that I dislike ambiguity, except perhaps in art. That is to say, in the sciences, and especially in metaphysics, logic, I long eternally for a Platonic-like ideal perfection where all reality is indeed a seamless web (what else does reality mean if not what is actually real and exists without true contradiction?). Every question has an answer. Every problem has a solution, and more, if "god" is real, they are actually ultimately solved. It's more than just symmetry. In fact, this became in some part the definition of god and perfection to me at some point, without consciously wanting it to be. And thus, I suppose it may be made more clear why a full embrace of mystery is uncomfortable for me to say the least. I want to know..... Well, I know there are childish notions there, and it does me little to no good to cling to them. So I try to just be open and smile as often as possible and muse at my lack of real knowing (meanwhile, I'd be a liar if I said that the desire to know really abates).
  14. I'm impressed. because that was LOOOOOOOONG. Thank you.
  15. I certainly know this feeling. One way it is described in Christendom is hearing the 'still, small' voice of God. If I may describe the following as taking it a step further, do you know the feeling of losing that feeling? I do. Even though we are talking about mystery, we are still by needs, talking about knowing or feeling that something of mystery. My personal experience is that losing that knowing, or feeling, or belief, or resonance (or really whatever descriptor one could interject), is a howling pain. I think this is a major reason it is so difficult for me to celebrate mystery in this area in particular - because it deals with nihilism and whether all this pain had a purpose, or if or why I couldn't seem to just 'be' (content) regardless. Restless heart and soul and all that I suppose.
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