S is for Skills, Coping

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These are lovingly borrowed from Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder, which is a great tool for mindfulness, especially if anxiety, emotional intensity and distortion are things in your life. ❤ These are easy to learn, but hard to consistently apply…but if you work on applying these skills in non-stressful situations, it will become a habit and be easier to use in a crisis.

Awareness/Mindfulness

*Throughout the day, focus on healthy breathing and posture to keep yourself grounded.

  • Multi-tasking is bad for concentration. Focus on the task at hand, and re-direct yourself when your mind wanders. When you learn new tasks, it is easier to recall them if your mind was completely on them at the time.
  • Practice with eating, or another everyday activity. Notice the smells, sounds, and taste, and notice how much you distract yourself during the process. A component of BPD is what is beautifully termed “mental chaos” – the tendency to move into high-speed associations that can be highly emotionally charged and inappropriate associations with the past and projections into the future.
  • List-making. Order your tasks based on their priority, and complete them in order, one at a time. While focused on them. Probably reward yourself for this, maybe.

 

Labelling

Observe the world around you, and focus on one thing. Instead of using emotional and non-judgemental language, apply objective terms to the person or thing. “They are wearing orange pants, wearing headphones, and moving slowly.” No projections into what they are doing that is not immediately obvious, why they are doing it, or what kind of person they are.

Awareness/Non-judgement

Allow yourself to observe sensations in your body, focus on an area of pain. Instead of judging the pain, objectively describe the experience, focusing on accepting the current reality, focus on what can be done to improve it in the future.

Emotional Disregulation

  • Check to make sure you’re not picking up on some else’s emotion. A component of BPD is sensitivity to subtle displays of emotion, it’s easy to make mistakes with this, and project too much into this. The mind plays complex tricks with this – you end up reacting to what you assume the person is feeling and why you think they are feeling it.
  • It’s important to recognize that you might be sensitive to other’s emotions and to do so without judgement. Being aware will help you to step back and make sense of what emotions belong to you and what emotions belong to someone else.”

 

“RIDE THE WAVE”

  1. Register your body sensations. When intensely emotional, it sometimes becomes difficult to identify what exactly is going on. If you can identify physical sensations associated with your emotions, it becomes a good short hand in emergencies.
  • Anger: Chest and shoulder tension, a sense of pressure building up, warmth in your face, yelling
  • Fear: Butterflies in your stomach, shakiness, a pit in your stomach, a lump in your throat, urges to run or hide
  • Joy: Lightness in your body, a smile on your face, laughter
  • Love: Feeling warm toward others, a lightness in your step
  • Sadness: Heaviness, emptiness, hollowness, slugishness, stillness, tears
  • Shame: Tightness all over your body, curling into yourself, feeling jittery or numb

Burying your emotions is bad – it can help in the short term, but eventually those little assholes are going to slip out in a weird backwards way if not addressed correctly.

 

  1. Identify your action urges. What do you want to do? Remember that your immediate impulses are generally influenced by emotions, which are not factual and do not need to be acted upon.
  2. Determine the emotion
  3. Express to yourself nonjudgmentally
  4. Take deep breaths.
  5. Hands and body are open
  6. Establish a grounded position (Yes, physical posture affects mood, this is important.)
  7. Wave: Watch and notice your emotion as if it were a wave.

Ask for time in intense situations, clearly and unemotionally communicate your distress, make statements when calmer.

R is for Reading…

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Awesome books from the past year, mostly self-help.

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It annoys a lot of people, and it’s very…if you liked “Fight Club”, you’ll like this. However, if you’re easily distracted and tend to get too involved in unimportant nonsense and what are essentially the concerns of other people, it’s a good read. Really would recommend this to a lot of women, actually! What some other dumbass does is not your concern, results are.

Takes a while to incorporate these things….*muttering* Back in the day, I was the most fuck giving motherfucker – I’d chase grown ass people around, wipe noses, it was horrifying, really…Much tears and misery ensued, and nothing got done. Then I started to focus on my own problems a little bit more, and realized they were legion. Happy ending eventualy?

The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.

The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

It’s what the philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backwards law”—the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The more you desperately want to be rich, the more poor and unworthy you feel, regardless of how much money you actually make. The more you desperately want to be sexy and desired, the uglier you come to see yourself, regardless of your actual physical appearance. The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you. The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-centered and shallow you become in trying to get there.

Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.

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Alice Miller’s lifework is helping adults overcome the negative effects of dysfunctional families-primarily personality reintegration, while promoting growth and (re)union if possible. Haven’t read a lot of her work, but this books focuses on over-coming negative emotional patterns, and physical illness as a result of denied emotion. She does tend to wander off into theoreticals (something involving Hitler’s upbringing?), but over-all a good work.

 

The real tragedy of people never given the chance to express their needs in childhood is that, without knowing it, they are leading a double life. As I made clear in The Drama of the Gifted Child, they have constructed a false self in childhood and do not know that they have another one where their suppressed feelings and needs are hidden away as effectively as if under lock and key. The reason for this is that they have never encountered anyone who could help them understand their distress, identify the prison in which their feelings are confined, break out of that confinement, and articulate their true feelings and genuine needs.

Later, in therapy, she found an answer to these questions. She gradually realized that she had been forced, perhaps since birth, to develop a strategy to protect herself from the pain of a child never perceived by her parents as a person in her own right, merely used to gratify their own needs. To evade that pain, Isabelle had learned to banish her own needs and feelings, to hide them from herself and others, to be absent, nonexistent. Today, she says that it was as if she had killed herself. She now believes that in childhood she actually split her own personality.

She herself had no right to her own identity. As a child she had been refused that right, and she went on denying it to herself for fifty years. The merciless abdominal pains ravaging Isabelle’s body after her reunion with John confronted her with questions: Who am I really? Why am I not really there in all my relationships? I suffer when others fail to see me as I am, but how can they see me if I don’t show myself, if I conceal my true nature from them? And what makes me do that?

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A classic, for a reason.

Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you

 

We have come to know Man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips. HAROLD S. KUSHNER

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Betrayal of the self is a betrayal of nature

Inner certainty is hard to come by if one’s own truth, one’s very being, is constantly denied. As adults we are usually most affected and influenced by assaults to our psychic boundary when they are couched in an attitude of righteousness, blame, or caring by our mate or a family member. Unless we know that people are pretending to know our inner reality when they define us, other people’s definitions of us can shroud the truth, cloud perception, dim the light of awareness. If we accept them, we may come to believe that what is so is not so, and that what is not so is so. Most significant, we may then base our choices upon false beliefs about ourselves and find ourselves under someone else’s control

The consequences of disconnection are many and profound. They are pertinent to our problems — our daily struggles to live in a world of justice and freedom. They are problematic for a person who, after being disconnected from his or her self, wants to connect with another person.
Awareness and freedom are intrinsically linked. Without freedom awareness fades. Without awareness freedom fades. If our freedom of choice is lost, life itself loses meaning. Despair fills the void of lost meaning.

When people unwittingly form their identity out of one imposed on them by others, how they appear to others becomes an all-important barometer by which to validate their existence. In a backwards construction of self, there is no three-dimensionality, no depth, no space for future evolution and integration with the world. Human empathy, warmth, allowance for error — all that is considered to be humanity itself — may find no niche, no accommodation.

P is for Productivity

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Everyone has some level of challenge with prioritizing and getting things done. Here’s a few tips & tricks I use:

  • Write it down.

The human memory is a tricky thing, if something is important enough to remember, it’s important enough to write down. Personally, I find having too much to do in my head results in anxiety, and nothing getting done. Too much stuff piles up and I swear I just want to curl in a fetal position and think about the order to do things in and how much disaster is going to potentially ensue. This is not productive.

There’s several ways you can handle this – evernote is a nice app for note-taking, calendar setting, anything you need reminders for. Personally, I like it  because what I do on my phone transfers over to the chromebook, and it’s free! Google keep is pretty decent, as well.

My dayplanner is pretty indispensible, though – nice to have a physical thing that tracks what’s going on.

  • Turn off notifications

So, somewhere between my tendency to compulsively respond to messages, and overly aggressive people (seriously, if you called me twice in a row and I didn’t pick up – maybe I’m doing a thing? Maybe this worked the first few times because I assumed there was a crisis and it never is, so I hope you’re not dying, but no?), I needed to step in and parent myself.

You can mute conversations on messenger, and most phones have settings that allow you to block notifications for apps, disallow the phone to ring after a certain hour – there are numbers you can white-list, generally.

Same with the computer. Are you doing a thing? KILL YOUR NOTIFICATIONS. RUTHLESSLY. MURDER THEM. EMAILS BE DAAAAAAAAAAAAMNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD.

  • Eff social media

why the hell anyone feels the need to know what is going on with 300 people they don’t talk to is beyond me. Ok, ok – I blog, but like…this format makes sense to me. Longer, more meaningful and personal, but also fairly anonymous. Really, each to his own, but if messenger wasn’t a thing I wouldn’t be on FB.

There’s been a lot of studies done that social media actually enhances depression and isolation, and feelings of less-than-ness. People don’t really post about monotony.

Even with mine – what, am I going to post a status like “paid my electric bill. went to work. cleaned”?

I totally don’t mention the mundance and annoying shit, but will occasionally try to put up something positive? Otherwise the only stuff I allow myself to post are articles and songs, and no one really gives a fuck about that, so I’m stymied on the entire concept of status updates at this point. FB is good for group photos, and like, people you used to be close with and there’s like a half-ass vague mutual interest? Maybe? Some groups are ok?

Help, what is facebook?

Like why would I want to just publically broadcast my shit at this point? Ew. If I could get away with wearing a burqa and being referred to as Anon Citizen, I would.

*blogs about self, unironically*

If you have issues with facebook or time-wasting sites, try stayfocused. you can block yourself for certain periods of time.

Honestly, I have a fb, with approximately 20 people on it, none of which I’m related to. Kind of got in the habit of talking to 2 people on messenger, and I have this annoying tendency to delete it, honestly it made sense like twice, but now I just like…don’t want my fb tied to anything. Vestigal facebooking, at thirty.

I have a total “grandma” fb at this point. Dislike the privacy failures by the corporation and just don’t want random people up in my personal history so much. It’s weird and creepy, don’t get why I was so into that at one point. Had an ex, we were totally over-the-top with our fb love of each other and now like, it’s conceptually gross to me. Plz don’t declare your undying, pure love of me on the internet and tell me I’m a piece of shit three seconds later? I question my sense of reality enough, thanks.

  • Clean environment

So, if I’m busy, I’m prone to let orderliness slide a bit, generally clean on my days off from work. You know what happens if my apartment gets messy? Less motivation to clean, then depression, and all of a sudden there’s fifteen feet of newspapers that I’m trapped under, then I’m fired and lose my job? Oh, sorry, was projecting a bit there…but it might be different for you, but anything beyond “slight mess” is super-demotivating for me.

  • Schedule in rewards and self-care along with errands and necessities

Only scheduling in unpleasant tasks makes your dayplanner feel like the “Today’s Punishment Is…” book. Also found out that regularly doing things I enjoy *gasp* makes me less of a miserable asshole. So, make time for things that nurture you and aid in relaxation.

  • Exercise

It enhances dopamine (<3), and increases energy and motivation. Also you’re less likely to die as much, that’s pretty dope.

  • Utilize your commute time

If you drive, try an audio book. If you’re a public transportation user like me, you have more time for writing and reading- as long as you’re familiar with the route, lol.

  • Have your groceries delivered

You can order them online and have them delivered to your house. It makes life so less hellish.

  • Get up early

Yeah, it’s unpleasant and weird, but actually waking up early, eating breakfast, and exercising make you less of a miserable, lazy bastard.

 

the art of living – epictetus

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The Art of Living is a collection of teachings written after the death of Epictetus by his student. I’m new to stoic philosophy, like maybe I read the republic like ten years ago, lol.
 this book is pretty up my alley at the moment – there’s a focus on self-control, and acceptance of external events and lack of interference with others. Was recommended to me based on it’s east/west flavor, it can be found online here.
I guess my current difficulty in life is consistently applying ideals/ethics to communication. Hell, consistency is a challenge in itself.
Kind of a procrastination death spiral at the moment, pulling back out of it – what a self-perpetuating mess these things are.
Here’s a couple quotes.
Know what you can control and what you can’t

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.

Within our control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires, and the things that repel us. These areas are quite rightly our concern, because they are directly subject to our influence. We always have a choice about the contents and character of our inner lives.

Outside our control, however, are such things as what kind of body we have, whether we’re born into wealth or strike it rich, how we are regarded by others, and our status in society. We must remember that those things are externals and are therefore not our concern. Trying to control or to change what we can’t only results in torment.

Remember: The things within our power are naturally at our disposal, free from any restraint or hindrance; but those things outside our power are weak, dependent, or determined by the whims and actions of others. Remember, too, that if you think that you have free rein over things that are naturally beyond your control, or if you attempt to adopt the affairs of others as your won, your pursuits will be thwarted and you will become a frustrated, anxious, and fault-finding person.

Stick with your own business

Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours. If you do this, you will be impervious to coercion and no one can ever hold you back. You will be truly free and effective, for your efforts will be put to good use and won’t be foolishly squandered finding fault with or opposing others.

In knowing and attending to what actually concerns you, you cannot be made to do anything against your will; others can’t hurt you, you don’t incur enemies or suffer harm.

If you aim to live by such principles, remember that it won’t be easy: you must give up some things entirely; and postpone others for now. You may well have to forego wealth and power if you want to assure the attainment of happiness and freedom.

 

The right use of books

Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.

(oh crap.)

Exercise caution when mingling with others

One of two things will happen when you socialize with others. You either become like your companions, or you bring them over to your own ways. Just as when a dead coal contacts a live one, either the first will extinguish the last, or the last kindle the first. Great is the danger; so be circumspect on entering into personal associations, even and especially light-hearted ones.

Most of us do not possess sufficiently developed steadfastness to steer our companions to our own purpose, so we end up being carried along by the crowd. Our own values and ideals become fuzzy and tainted; our resolve is destabilized.

It’s hard to resist when friends or associates start speaking brashly. Caught off guard when our associates broach ignoble subjects, we are swept along by the social momentum. It is the nature of conversation that its multiple meanings, innuendos, and personal motivations move along at such a fast clip, they can instantly shit into unwholesome directions, sullying everyone involved. So until wise sentiments are fixed into your as if they were instinct and you have thus acquired some power of self-defense, choose your associations with care and monitor the thrust of the conversations in which you find yourself.

The soul’s cry

Philosophy’s main task is to respond to the soul’s cry; to make sense of and thereby free ourselves from the hold of our griefs and fears.

Philosophy calls us when we’ve reached the end of our rope. The insistent feeling that something is not right with our lives and the longing to be restored to our better selves will not go away. Our fears of death and being alone, our confusion about love and sex, and our sense of impotence in the face of our anger and outsized ambitions bring us to ask our first sincere philosophical questions.

 

Don’t defend your reputation or intentions

Don’t be afraid of verbal abuse or criticism.

Only the morally weak feel compelled to defend or explain themselves to others. Let the quality of your deeds speak on your behalf. We can’t control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character.

So, if anyone should tell you that a particular person has spoken critically of you, don’t bother with excuses or defenses. Just smile and reply, “I guess that person doesn’t know about all my other faults. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have mentioned only these.”