Enlightenment… or Mania?

I will admit, I’ve become slightly concerned about my own mental health in the past few days. I feel almost too good. Perhaps I am not accustom to it. Or perhaps I’m entering another period of bipolar mania.

I feel like I am entering advanced spiritual, emotional, and cognitive bliss; or, dare I say, enlightenment. In fact, I have moments where even that seems like an understatement.

I can neither share it with another human being, nor can I keep it to myself; thus, I will write about it here, where it’s certain no one will ever see it.

At the risk of starting every paragraph with a first-person singular pronoun, I kinda wanna see what happens if I just let it happen.

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She Breaks Her Own Heart

Lots of men are baffled by this article, but not me. I get it. I agree with what she says here. I just think she’s emotionally confused and self-centered. She totally believes this is a woman’s issue because she cannot perceive men who are not betrayers. She has tunnel vision for them, and will accept only a guy who will give her attention, then throws her away. She actively seeks them out, then cries and complains about it.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2017/05/you-never-dated-her-but-you-still-broke-her-heart/

I was never built that way. I learned long ago that oxytocin has way too powerful an effect on my brain to fuck around with that shit. But I see that a vast portion of women disregard me for my “serious” personality where relationships are concerned.

(Aside: That’s how I’ll put it for now, but there’s definitely more to it. I can see it without necessarily having romantic interest in them. I’ve learned more in the past three years about this than in all my previous years combined, and sex & relationships were totally off the table for me. I would not have had that kind of interaction with anyone for the past several years, very intentionally. That phase may be ending, but very gradually, and slowly. It’s not over yet. I still have one major thing to do.)

So I can see, possibly where others cannot, that these women are purposefully, perhaps unconsciously, seeking out their own emotional turmoil. And they will get it.

And I stay out of all that bullshit. That’s how I see it. I’m very interested in others’ perceptions.

I’ve given this one some thought, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far (feel free to add to or offer insights to the contrary):

My perceptions of the situation are valid. They may be wrong ‘sometimes’ (over-generalizing, for example), but they’re not wrong ‘all the time’. Then I look at myself, and compare myself to the “insincere” type of guy. I am potentially just as dominating, authoritarian, uncompromising, willing to take a leadership role, become violent for a purpose… everything prototypically Alpha masculine, but one personality dimension causes a dichotomy depending on who’s doing the perceiving… I have a strong Loyalty dimension.

Yeah, the phenomenon I described above skews to younger women. They often grow out of it, but I’ve learned it’s far from “always” growing out of it. Many women retain the trait of perceiving male Loyalty as “beta” for a lifetime. The women who do not see it that way tend to be politically and socially conservative, and they usually are married before age 30, often to a military man or police officer. The women who retain that perception tend strongly towards political Leftism.

The Loyalty dimension of personality in men often expresses itself in joining socially responsible organizations of the self-sacrificing type. Like I said, military and police types. But there are gradations, which I won’t bother listing here. But the presence of or lack of this Loyalty dimension is the ONLY personality dimension that is consistent between the ‘insincere’ (possibly sociopathic) types, and the type of man who is wired to throw his body into the axles of a truck to save a child who is not related to him. That scenario is literally impossible for a woman or the “insincere” man; they’re just not evolutionarily wired to do that, but a high proportion of men are.

I realize it comes from millennia of raising boys to sacrifice their lives in war, or hunting, or other dangerous jobs. But if you’re wired that way, you have to face that reality. If you don’t see anything worth sacrificing your life for, you have to adjust to that reality. Also, if you were not raised to cultivate that trait, as was my case, you will have to learn who you are, and what it all means for you, as you mature. It’s the male version of the female-nurturing trait.

I’ve deleted a paragraph in which I went off topic into political stuff. I’ll just end it there… except to add my psychology bona fides: I learned personality theory from the originators at UC-Berkeley. Most of them were older, and probably retired or dead now, except for Dacher Keltner, a California surfer dude professor who has since become an SJW type. No surprise there. I currently follow the teachings of Dr Jordan Peterson, surprisingly from U of Toronto.

For anyone interested in the details of cognitive-personality construction… It relates to the topic because the young woman in the article CHOOSES men that she unconsciously knows will not reciprocate her feelings. She has a need to CONFIRM her feelings of abandonment by choosing men who will abandon her. That’s first-year, maybe second-year stuff. But here’s the grad-level version.

This level of theory usually comes after 4 years of in-depth statistics learning — studies, regression analysis, etc. But there’s no reason a careful reading can’t be informative to anyone. I recommend skimming the postulates and corollaries without reading all the commentary, unless you’re strongly compelled to do so.

http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~kihlstrm/PersonalityWeb/Ch12Cognitive.htm

The World, or How to Get There

Ultimately, the world is divided into two types: 1. those who do, and 2. those who don’t. Those who don’t have their reasons, but having reasons is not one of the choices.

You either look at the world, or you look at how to get there. There are no other options in life. You’re never ‘in’ the world. If you were there, there would be nowhere to go, and you’d stop moving, and become the furniture, and furniture is not aware it’s the furniture. I know I’m not a Louis the 14th, or an Ikea chair.

Thus, I am not in the world, but always trying to get there.

Switching from one mode to the other — from ‘having reasons’ to ‘doing’ — is one of the most difficult things one can do, in my personal experience. Dealing with addiction is far less difficult. Finishing degrees, dealing with illness, or any of the emotional or interpersonal difficulties of life are nothing compared to this.

I’m building myself a ladder that seems to go downward, and I have to struggle against some internal sense that it goes not just in the wrong direction, but in the wrong spacial direction.

There’s something in our evolutionary past that tells us ‘up and down’ are far more important than mere ‘left and right’, or ‘backward and forward’.

I’ve overcome internal struggles before, many times. But no one cared, because it didn’t affect them. This one is different, and that adds a weight and a warning that I am not sure is my own voice. It comes from something very deep, so deep that I cannot tell if it’s also dark.

We may learn that our greatest struggles, battles, demons, are only overcome alone. Or we may not. No one can help much beyond an occasional word of encouragement, but even that can begin to be harmful if I start to believe I’m not on my own this time.

Some voice keeps telling me, “Dude, you’re a blogger. Accept it.”

To which, another voice replies, “Fuck you.”

I think I need to decide which one is me, and which one is not, and live with that choice. I thought I’d already made that choice, fought that battle, but it’s evidently not the case. The demon stills lurks there, its voice too powerful to allow to remain.

Little Sisyphus and the Slow-roll

I see a lot of ‘power of positive thinking’ type advice around the Intarwebs, and I’ve had lots of people tell me to ‘be more positive’, but my personal experience tells me to be cautious, and a bit more circumspect than the one-size-fits-all solutions to life’s problems.

Turns out, I might be Bipolar II. It’s a tentative diagnosis, but only because my psychiatrist & I have decided not to treat it through medication. I am instead using a cognitive & spiritual approach to treating manic and depressive symptoms.

This has been my experience:

I went straight from ‘deciding to be optimistic’ to ‘grandiose expectations with deadlines for success or complete failure’. That’s the way I roll: Downhill when I think I’m going up — Sisyphus with a inner ear problem.

So I need to be very cautious about optimism. Not everyone is really cut out for it.

Last time I made such a decision was sometime around 1999-2000, and it set off a hypomanic state I didn’t pull out of until late 2012. I tended to interpret feedback through an *ego-syntonic* lens that told me they were ‘jealous’, or ‘trying to subvert me’, or didn’t know what they were talking about.

I became socially aggressive. That’s how I interpreted self-esteem at the time. The aggression warranted a certain defensiveness, lest I be taken down to size. The defensive became perfectionism, and resulted in social isolation, which cut me off from experiences that might have helped me mature and evolve as a person.

Thus, it took catastrophe — a long process of ‘hitting bottom’ and being dragged across it for several years — before I could admit to myself that I was something less than perfect.

I’d rather not set myself up for needing catastrophe to learn the basic lessons of being human. I set aside a few areas in my life for what might pass for ‘positivity’, such as my skill as a writer and the possibility I might someday write professionally, and in these few areas I protect my ego, my self-determination, and my unwillingness to accept failure as an option… while still being entirely willing to accept criticism as feedback.

Every writer, and every human being in general, should be willing to accept thoughtful criticism, and every individual becomes a better human being for it.

As for positivity as a solution, goal, the key to unlocking power, or for its own sake, if I go there again, at this point in my life, I might never snap out of it. Some form of realism, and the gradual progress it provides, is my slow roll these days.

I may still be Sisyphus, but I’m pushing smaller rocks.

For anyone who has ever experienced depression…

For anyone who has ever experienced depression, a cognitive-developmental view:

Depression does not come from feelings of guilt, remorse, self-pity, or shame. Those are more like symptoms. They are reflexive thought patterns resulting from the depressive experience.

Depression, also sometimes called “learned helplessness,” results from childhood frustration of achieving developmental autonomy. Depression results from mixed messages over a long period of time, or the denial of opportunity to express oneself, or the denial of the opportunity to progress developmentally into increasingly mature phases, including full adulthood…

Actually, that basically describes most if not all mental and spiritual illness. We overcome this illness, this depression and its symptoms, by retroactively achieving the autonomy that the child was denied. Just like the growing-up process we were prevented from experiencing, it takes time and focused effort.

One thing we must always keep in mind: The feelings of guilt, remorse, self-pity, and shame are not ours. These are other people’s voices speaking to us from the distant past, trying to reach through the years and continue oppressing us by repressing our natural imperative to become mature, responsible for ourselves, and content with who we are.

Don’t listen to those thoughts and feelings, and don’t allow them to stay rent-free (or at any cost) in your mind, heart, and soul. Kick ’em to the curb, and fill your own spaces with your own, supportive and forgiving thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Contemplating Loneliness

My first thought on this blog is my final thought for the night: I am contemplating loneliness.
What is it?
Is it a feeling of separateness from people?
Is it the feeling of loss of something you had, or thought you had, whether it’s acquaintance, friend, or lover?
Is it the lack of like minds, compatibility, some minimum number of people who share the same view of the world and similar personality?

Before someone suggested I was lonely, and before I found out it wasn’t joking banter, I’d never thought of myself as lonely. I didn’t feel lonely. Alienated, sure. Statistically unusual. Out on the tail of some bell curve…

But I thought about it, and finally considered the last option on that list.

It would mean loneliness is not negated by quantity, but by quality, so to speak, which is a cosmic roll of the dice and implies an inherently unfair universe.

Was Don Draper correct in season one of Mad Men? Is the universe indifferent?

By odd chance this topic came up at exactly the same moment I met, by oddest introduction in the most unlikely of places, someone who saw the world more similarly to me than anyone I’d met in a long time. Some say there are no coincidences, but I have to admit that was a weird experience.

I don’t think you can be “known” without being understood; otherwise you’re playing a character in a story, and not really living a life.

To be understood, though… Seems like a gift attached with a curse that most people will never be able to perceive undermining their life on a very deep level. I’ve always thought it wasn’t worth the sacrifice, but it’s still difficult to actually live without.

It’s Nietzsche’s “anvil of personal character”: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

And its corollary must, therefore, be: Those who have it easiest must be weakest. That’s the trade off, it seems to me.

Now, maybe, I understand Bob Dylan’s Jesus-like beatitude in “The Times They Are a-Changin'”:

“The loser now is later to win.”¬†And the winner now is later to lose.

Everyone gets a turn, given enough time, which is the impetus of compassion, and explains why youth can be the bully, and the judgmental become the discontent.

Perhaps the universe is fair, in its own, strange way, after all.