3 Days Begins a New Relationship

Personal behaviors and habits rarely, if at all, change overnight. I still struggle with getting up right at 6 amto do my morning exercises.
So, changing how I engage in relationships definitely won’t change overnight. Those habits were bred from fears that continue to fuel the motivations in my decisions.
When my wife and I decided on reconciling our marriage, we agreed that we needed professional help. We had some unhealthy patterns in our marriage for many years.  We brought some patterns to the marriage and developed special ones just for us.
We wanted to change our negative patterns and to develop healthier ones, so we went away on a three day therapeutic journey.
We had tried Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) a few years ago.  I found it helpful but we weren’t ready for it then.  I knew there was something to it that would be hugely beneficial, because in one brief session I learned that my reaction to things happening to me was “normal” given my experiences as a child. “Of course that was your response. What else were you going to do?”
Those words from the therapist reached that hurt child within me. It open the door for me to believe that nothing was really wrong with me. Of course these are my responses to life. What else could I do? This is how I learned to be.
Of course, this wasn’t a Hollywood movie and one revelation didn’t change the course of my behavior.  Though, it did make me believe there was a therapeutic process out there that could help me reach down to my core emotions.
You would think getting to core emotions is what most therapy is about. There is that element to therapy as long as you can get your client to go there.
Emotions are scary. Most adults are afraid of them and they are the ones who are supposed to teach you about them.  I was taught how to deal with emotions by both being told not to express them and observing how not to share them.
Those were good skills growing up in family where there was constant turmoil and change. We moved around a lot.  No relationship seemed safe, so I had to protect my emotional safety and learned to depend on my own self-soothing.
However, those skills do not translate well when developing and maintaining healthy relationships.
I’ve always known I wasn’t good at dealing with and sharing the wide gambit of feelings I experienced. So, when my wife and I agreed to reconcile with the proper professional help, we looked, again, for an EFT specialist.
The three days of intensive EFT therapy was a great stepping stone that helped both my wife and I see our patterns. Most of those patterns were great survival techniques in the households we grew up in; though, they were unhealthy in the household we were sharing.
We were given the task to read Sue Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight.  It gave us the language to use in our therapy sessions. I highly recommend the book for anybody in a relationship. It is specific to couples but it can help people see the dynamics in the relationships they have with anybody in their lives.
In sessions, my wife and I expressed our fears to each other. Our therapist had us slow down, listen, and interpret our partner’s behaviors. We learned the different types of dialogues we had with each other.
Our dialogues stemmed from unhealthy, scary places within us because we were protecting ourselves from the unhealthy, scary things we were showing each other.
Knowing our fears and where they come from is so helpful. Speaking our fears out loud allowed our therapist to interpret for us the meaning of those fears. And allowed us to enlighten each other and ourselves.
Our primary dialogue pattern with each other, according to the book, is the Protest Polka.  This dance is based on my wife asking for closeness and connection. Though, it was being asked in such a way that I misinterpreted as anger or sadness at me. Someone’s anger and sadness towards me causes me to withdraw or try to “fix” it. My wife interpreted that as me pulling away from her or dismissing what she was experiencing.  That triggered in her the fear of abandonment. Her reaction was to intensify the anger. I interpreted that as me not being able to do anything right, which triggered my fear of rejection.
I understand now that her anger was fear that I was distancing myself from her when she needed me for closeness and comfort.  She understands now that my distancing was my fear that I could not be enough of what she needed.
This simple discovery to our unhealthy patterns is not so simple to change. Though, we want to change it. So many hidden fears, big and small, direct our decision making.
I’ve written about fear based decisions on my blog, but I didn’t truly fathom the depths of the emotional ties to those fears.
I like to take a more cognitive behavioral approach to things.  Unfortunately, that leaves out truly knowing my emotional motivation to do or not do something.
I know I cannot think myself out of making fear based decisions because they are tied to my emotions like the blood supply to a tumor. The body feeds the tumor and the tumor becomes entwined in the tissue of the body.
My emotions feed the fears, which have become entwined in why I make decisions.
In our sessions, my wife and I did learn a healthier pattern of communicating our thoughts and feelings to each other. It feels foreign and I am still uncertain how to initiate that healthier pattern.
It has only been three days since we ended the three day therapy session, so I have to give myself time.
We want connection with each other. We want closeness.  The first step is asking for those things we want.  Even when we are most afraid to.
Nate

An Option for Exploration

For the past month my wife and I have been exploring the likelihood of reconciling our marriage. This was not a process I was willing to consider not too long ago, but a few things happened.
While listening to a few podcasts, I heard a few things that stuck out to me. A number of guests on various episodes talked about their spouses with praise, love and respect. I recalled there was a time that my wife and I could express such words about each other earlier on in our marriage. Praise, love and respect.
I imagined to myself on those car rides to and from work about what it would be like to be in a relationship where those three ingredients existed. Where I was mindful of my part in maintaining a positive relationship.
Was I capable? Did I want to be capable?
One guest on a podcast (I believe it was on the Jordan Harbinger show) said that “the marriage has to work because divorce isn’t an option”.
If you don’t make something an option, you can’t consider it in your plan.
Of course, I’m speaking in general terms. Sometimes, getting out of a bad relationship has to be an option to gain safety.
I had to leave and separate from my wife to gain safety. Distance was needed for both of us because we were being crushed under the weight of our destroyed relationship that was falling down.
Leaving had to be an option in order to save us as individuals.  And to salvage any hope that we could remain civil towards each other.
Divorce was an option, too. But it wasn’t at the top of the list. It was close but not at the top.
Over two years later, and continuing to maintain a civil, caring relationship for each other my wife and I are still in each other’s lives.
And I hear it mentioned on a podcast that divorce doesn’t have to be an option.
I didn’t have a plan to ask for reconciliation, but I figured that I would be more honest in our future conversations that I have considered it. And share what got me thinking about it.
Praise, love and respect. I know we still have these in our relationship. They got lost. They were not talked about. We were in pain and when you are suffering, you don’t pay attention to the other’s suffering.
We got selfish, and it destroyed the marriage.
We are reading books, listening to podcasts, and talking more deeply about our hurt. This has opened us to explore a new opportunity for a different marriage because we see there is hope. We have heard the stories of others who have been through horrific relationship tragedies and have come out the other side. They love stronger now more than before.
They put forth effort to reconnect in ways they didn’t think possible.
Tools. They were given tools.
We have begun a process and have been given a few tools. We continue to explore options to gain more tools.
This is a fearful, yet exciting time.
We continue to explore. Exploration into newness is the option we choose.
Nate

Self-Forgiveness is Hard

Self-forgiveness is hard.  I think it has to do with how aware we are of ourselves.  Every thought, every deed.  We know about them.  The imperfection of being human is continuous in everything we do, think, say or feel.
 –
“I hate her.”
“Those people are stupid.”
“What if I smacked him?”
“What if I tripped her down the stairs?”
“What would happen to me if I did X,Y or Z?”
 –
Where the hell do those thoughts come from?
 –
“I didn’t do A, B, or C and that makes me a bad person.”
“I helped him and he didn’t say thank you. So ungrateful. That’s the last time I do that.”
“I yelled at her. I’m so horrible.”
“I ignored them.”
“I didn’t say hello.”
“That makes me a bad, self-centered person.  I don’t deserve anything positive to happen to me in my life, because I said, did or thought X, Y and Z.”
 –
It seems like a mathematical, logic problem.   If A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C.
 –
If I don’t say Hello that makes me a bad person and bad people are unworthy of love.  Then I am unworthy of love.
 –
Often times, when we judge ourselves unworthy or negative in some way, it is not we who are really doing the judging.  If we stop, close our eyes and look within us, we’ll find that the judge is a parent, teacher, friend or family member from our past.  It is with their voice we judge ourselves.  Not our own.
 –
When we first learned to feel shame and guilt, it was by the judgment of others.  A caregiver, most of the time.  Someone we trusted with our love.  Who we trusted loved us.  Then they go and make us feel badly about something we did.  But they love us.  They usually make us feel pretty good.  Now, we’re not feeling so good around them.  They made us feel pretty damn shitty.
Of course, we have to feel some kind of shame or guilt with things we do.  Especially, if those things will harm others or is not for the greater good of our tribe.  We can’t just do whatever we want to do.  There are consequences that must be suffered to keep the tribe members in their place.  Otherwise, it’s mass hysteria.
How that loved one introduces us to shame will determine how we deal with shame in the future.  Will we lie to avoid that pain?  Will we turn the shame into anger and rage against others to protect our fragile ego?  Will we avoid social contact and all conflict at every expense just so we don’t feel the pain of shame?
How we deal with the pain of shame shows up in our daily lives.  The decisions that we make are based on our thoughts and how we want to control what we say and do.  Avoidance of things is one way to deal.
“I can’t say that.”
“I won’t say that.”
“What I say won’t matter, anyway.”
“What I say won’t make a difference.”
“What I want doesn’t matter to others.”
All that equals C, “I am unworthy.”
If the person we trusted with our love and who we felt love for took a little bit of that love away from us because of something we did then love is neither constant nor continuous.  It is dependent on the other person. They have the control.  They can take and give.  And that love is based on my behavior meeting their expectations.   To avoid pain I must meet their demands.
The logic problem: If I do what he wants, he will be happy with me.  If he is happy with me, I will be loved.  So, If I do what he wants then I will be loved.
And the negative of that is true, too.  If I don’t do what he wants, he will be unhappy with me.  If he is unhappy with me, I will not be loved.  So, if I don’t do what he wants, then I will not be loved.
This logic runs deep in our brains and so we apply it to all of our relationships.  Even the relationship we have with ourselves.
That is what makes self-forgiveness so difficult.  We see all this negative about ourselves and find it difficult, if not impossible, to allow forgiveness of our negative thoughts, deeds or feelings.  We believe we shouldn’t forgiven. We continuously punish ourselves.  A punishment that if dealt by another person we would eventually tell them to screw off.  If we had a strong enough ego to do so.  A punishment that if we saw it being dealt out to a loved one, we would tell our loved one to get out of that relationship.  Run as far away from that other person as they could get.
We can’t run away from ourselves.  People try.  Maybe you have tried.  I have.  Alcohol.  Drugs. Gambling. Work.  Anything to escape the punishing negative thoughts.  Any way to get out of our heads.  Running doesn’t work. It never does.  The pain catches up.  The damage from running starts to show; mentally and physically.
The great thing is we can learn to stop running and to stand our ground.  There are hundreds of ways to learn.  And we can learn them all. We can learn what works best for us.  This isn’t a post on how or what to learn.  It is just me saying, I understand.  Our lives can feel like a mess.  It took time for life to end up this way. Due to our upbringing, we made decisions based on our experiences and used whatever means necessary to avoid pain.
It took us awhile to get here and it’s okay that we are here.  We can start by forgiving ourselves and saying one thing: “It’s okay that I am here.”  Then we can encourage ourselves to do one thing: “I can start to make a change.”
That’s it.  Don’t even start trying, yet.  It took you years to get here.  It will take years to be fully recovered.  But just like not smoking or drinking for that first day of sobriety, you are one day healthier.  Tell yourself each day, “It’s okay that I’m here.  I can start to make a change.”
Remember, this is only the start.  If you are looking for a tool, you can go back to my post on Don Miguel’s The Four Agreements.
In that post I wrote, “Miguel points out in his book that we can expect to slip up and not follow those new agreements at times, maybe a lot of times, but to not get discouraged because we can always start again. I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to get it right every time.”
You don’t have to get it right every time or be perfect. It is okay that you are here. I welcome you.
Nate

For Every Up, There Is A Down. Get Back Up.

At the end of February, I convinced myself to get out of the house and go for a walk. The sun was shining and the weather was at normal temperatures.

It was a healthy choice. So, I lead myself to believe. I’m not sure how healthy it was.

My choice was to walk on the sidewalk next to a busy road. The main thoroughfare of my town. So, first off, car fumes were plentiful. Next, I almost got mowed down by a Cadillac while in a crosswalk. The white light man had indicated I had the right of way. Then, on my return route, a number of horns beeped due to drivers frustrations with each other. That interrupting my thought flow, triggering the nature human fear response within me.

I hate car horns. I rarely use mine. The horn isn’t supposed to be used to let others know your level of anger with them. The longer the horn sound the higher the level of anger. And what is accomplished? Nothing.

Beep your horn to let others know you are present if they are merging or stepping out in front of you when you are in their blind spot or not paying attention. Or a gentle “toot” to someone sitting too long at a stop light because they were on their phone and didn’t notice it changed to green. We all have lapses in judgement. No need to take it personally.

I did have a short stint through a wooded area and that was the better part of the walk. However, due to the snow melt the trail was flooded layered with large mud puddles. I don’t have the shoes to trudge through mud soaked trails, so that was a bit nerve racking negotiating my way long the path.

I did feel better physically for having taken the walk, but mentally I was reeling from almost being mowed down, fear triggered by two horn blowers and the soggy toes from water logged trails.

I haven’t taken a walk since.

PTSD?

Perhaps, my next walk should be along the quiet back roads of my neighborhood. Or the quiet Wissahickon Trails that are a five minute drive from my place.

I think I can tag on picture taking along that walk to make it an artist’s date.

Nate

I Was So Busy. In My Head.

How busy is busy?

Busy is a word we use when we don’t know what else to use. So is it the word we mean to use?

Busy can mean doing things around the house, running errands, parental duties, or other domesticated life chores.

Busy can mean your job/career has you doing things all day; phone calls, managing people, spreadsheets, customer care, driving all around, or other job related tasks.

We tend to think of busy as things we do. And sometimes we do a lot of things during our days. These things can physically exhaust us.

“How have you been?” A friend will ask.
“Busy,” we’ll respond, not listing the five things we had to multitask in the last hour and the million and a half things we still have to do.

Besides that, busy isn’t a feeling. “How have you been” and “What have you been doing” receive the same response, “Busy.” And don’t even get me started on “Fine” as an answer.

The truth for me is that I do a lot at work and home. Tasks are not happening all the time, yet, I feel like I’m so busy. And I am. In my head. I am thinking all the time about what I’ve accomplished but mostly about what I still have to accomplish.

I’m busy most of my days thinking, not necessarily doing. During my down time my mind is going over things past, present and future. Rarely is my mind not pouring over something I did or didn’t do. Or should do.

I think I am busy not doing things most days, but I think so much about doing things that I’ve tricked my brain into believing I’m am continuously on the move. Our brains don’t know the difference between what is actually happening and what is only happening in our head.

This isn’t always a negative thing. Some of the best athetes will practice visualization for running plays, golf and tennis swings or throwing a ball. Writers visualize whole stories before even writing a single word. Musicians will visualize playing their instrument while sitting in traffic or standing in the grocery line. Fingers moving along an imaginary fret or keyboard.

Those are meditative practices that have been studied and proven to enhance a person’s performance. Watch the movie The Pianist to see what I’m talking about.

Our minds are always working, either for us or against us. We can choose to feed it with all kinds of things. Otherwise, it will feed on itself and the result is usually bad. Negative thinking will creep in and set up a home and then slowly eat away at everything until you are racked with despair, crippling anxiety and no self-worth.

I’ve been there. Many times.

Our minds are busy every second of every day. That’s why we will tell people we’re busy but not be able to give those internal examples about why we are exhausted from doing so much. We have convinced our brains and our brains in return have convinced us that we have been doing so many things.

I haven’t written a post in over a month. The past two weeks I’ve been busy thinking about how I haven’t posted in a long time. I didn’t realize just how long it had been until I looked it up this morning.

I’ve had doing tasks and thinking tasks over this past month. I’ve also had down time where I could have written something.

I was busy not writing. I was busy telling my brain reasons why I couldn’t write. I told my brain I was doing so much and had some much more to do. So my brain believed it and in return convinced me to believe it. What a lovely team of procrastinating liars we are, my brain and I. The perfect pair to never get anything done.

So, here is a post. When is the next post?

That will depend on what my brain and I decide to convince each other.

Nate

 

What’s in a number? Moments.

I have concluded that we as human beings love numbers and lists. They are everywhere.

The internet is full of those lists. Click bait lists promising you that if you follow their simple, easy-to-do steps you will reach a personal nirvana. You will be more social, you will have a fine looking body and you will be in a financal situation where your only problem will be which Tiffany’s diamond bracelet to purchase. You know, because all your other bills will have been taken care of.

So when we want to improve ourselves we turn to lists. The best lists are numbered lists.

The 5 best ways to save money. 4 easy steps to a healthy looking body. 10 things you are doing now that keep you from achieving a more relaxed and happier you.

We as humans like lists. Give us a list of things to do, buy, or talk about and you’ve given us a purpose.

What we like more that lists is checking things off the list. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment when we look at a list with lines drawn through the words on it. That is a good feeling.

Some of us can become obsessed by lists. Obsessed with the feeling of “getting things done.” I put that last part in quotes because are we really getting things done? We feel like we are and that matters a lot if we are to continue that behavior.

Sometimes we can make lists too long and so we never complete them and never feel that sense of accomplishment. We end up feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and dejected with ourselves.

Those thoughts and feelings lead to never getting things done.

A complete, manageable, numbered list is like a promise of accomplishment. It is the key to putting us in a healthier, personal and financial place. Make a list like that and you’ll have people flocking to you.

The possibilities are endless if you have the right list.

The one thing that is not endless is time.

We only have so much time alive on this planet. That may seem a little morbid but it is the truth. We don’t truly know what will happen after we die. All we know is what is happening now in this waking world.

Our time is numbered.

We are limited to the number of hours we watch TV and movies. Or spend reading books, magazines and internet content. Or the number of times we will see friends or family and interact with them.

Thinking that way could get us to enjoy the moments with them and to stop the rush of thoughts in our heads of what we have planned for after those encounters.

My kids snuggled in bed with me the other night. My daughter, 7, wasn’t feeling well so she wanted to be close to me. My son, 11, didn’t want to sleep by himself. They have to share a room when they stay with me. I’m limited to the amount of dollars I get each paycheck to pay for an apartment as a single dad.

I slept between them so my daughter could be close to the edge of the bed in case her “not feeling well” turned into a need to rush to the bathroom.

We laid down, both of them to either side of me. My daughter reached across my chest holding her hand out to her brother who took it to comfort his little sister. A real precious moment. One of a finite that will happen and that I will be witness to.

Then they turned it into a game. They squeezed each others’ hand to some musical beat in their heads while the other would have to guess what the song was. An impossible task that neither one had a chance at guessing correctly. Soon they gave up and parted hands.

That may be the only time that happens, but I was there to witness. To be present in that moment. I had to pull myself out of my own thoughts to be present. I could have ignored the whole thing and kept worrying about work the next day, would I get enough sleep, could I finish my work before I had to leave.

I was leaving work early that next day to go watch my kids sing in their school Holiday show. Another finite event.

Perhaps it was that I was already thinking about finite school show moments that made it possible for me to recognize that moment in bed as a finite experience.

I had been primed to recognize the importance of recognizing those moments.

Practicing that skill of being in the moment when it happens could be the only thing to scratch off one of my lists. Maybe it is the only list I need with only that one item on it.

Be present to recognize the importance of the moment.

Because the moment is all we really have.

Nate

 

Shear Panic

Recently, I woke up in the morning with almost paralyzing anxiety. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to go to work. I wanted to call out sick. I wanted to just stay in bed.

I was sick. I was in a grip of hopelessness.

There have been some changes happening at my place of employment and I am overwhelmed.

I’m a manager and whenever there is change, I am one of a few who have to coordinate the change among our limited staff and resources.

And I am worn out.

One of the other managers is moving on and out of the company. She is number four of those who have moved on within the past two years. Every time one of them has moved on, more change has occurred.

And I’m worn out.

In the mornings, I wake up to NPR playing on my clock radio. It’s news I can listen to. Normally. But that particular morning it was one bad headline after another. Budgets that support big business. Political support of child and women molesters. Repeal of protected lands so oil and gas companies can drill.

I had watched a Netflix documentary that past evening, “Saving Capitalism.” If you want to know what it’s about, just see my description of NPR’s news cast in the last paragraph.

A raping of society in several ways that keeps getting worse. Nothing was right or fair in the world.

And I am worn out.

I eventually got up and out of bed. I’m not truly sure how I did it but I did. I showered and even managed to get food in me. My anxiety usually suppresses my appetite, but I made myself eat.

I took many deep breaths along the way. I used all my coping techniques that I could think of to get me through.

Then while getting my shoes on, my wall broke down. My skills were of no use to me anymore at that moment.

The tears came. Real crying came. Not just watery eyes and feeling overtaxed. But real crying. Sound and all.

I hated being brought to that point. Why had I been brought to that point?

The crying felt good. I obviously needed to cry. I was hurting inside. For many reasons. I had been strong for so long. I had to stop being strong. It was hurting me.

I’m still hurting. I’m still getting up each day. I am still worn out, but I’m looking forward.

It is time. Time that I was looking and attempting to move on from my pain.

Nate

 

Those Thoughts That Destory

I am now fully aware that I have for the longest time not believed, nor felt, that I am good enough.

Good enough to be accepted
Good enough to be loved
Good enough financially
Good enough intelligently
Good enough creatively

In my head I will justify why I will not ask for more. I believe that there is always someone better to do the task.

There is someone better to be a friend.
Someone better to be a partner.
Someone better to do the job.
Someone better from whom to get love and security.

I believe I don’t deserve more money at work because what I am doing is not deserving of more recognition or financial compensation.

I was in a relationship for 20 years and I believed I was not enough. I didn’t communicate enough. I wasn’t assertive enough. I didn’t take control of situations enough. I didn’t make enough money in my single job and should have worked more to provide enough.

That is what I believed.

Some of my “not enough” thoughts are my own concoctions based on things I heard and saw as I was growing up. Some were developed through the years as an adult.

These self-damaging beliefs are so pervasive I find it very difficult, at this moment, give you a list of reasons why you should spend the day with me. Or be my friend. Or date me.

Yet, I could make a healthy sized list of why you would be bored in my presence. I will not do that here and now. It may be a healthy sized list but it would not be healthy to do.

I continue to have those thoughts that destroy my sense of positive self-worth. I knew they were here inside me. I knew they kept me from taking risks. But I hid from them. I didn’t know that hiding from them was giving those beliefs power over me.

Because I was hiding I didn’t realize that I started to accept these beliefs that I was not good enough. That is why I never paid attention to the things I do that give me worth. And even when I knew I had worth, I believed that somebody else deserved [place thing here]. They deserved whatever it was more than I did.

I would look at another guy walking down the street or in a store and my thoughts would be, “That guy is better looking than me. He’s in better shape than I am. He probably has a high paying job and can afford to go out and spend money with no problem. So, any girl I would be with would regret being with me because she could have that guy.”

I have this negative scenario that loops in my head: If it came down to a choice be between me and “that guy”, “that guy” would always be chosen over me.

Since I believe that and live that in my actions, of course “that guy” will get chosen or “those other people” deserve more than I do.

Those guys deserve the love, money, and relationships more than I do. They are more willing to bet on themselves than I am. They say “I am worth it. I want it and so I will get it.” So they deserve what they get because they believe in themselves more.

This is the battle of thoughts that I fight everyday. Or do I really fight in this battle? Sometimes I think I do. Other times I think I was defeated a long time ago and continue to nurse the battle scars.

However …

I am aware and recognize the negative self-talk that is fueling the negative self-belief. And I am able to stop wallowing in self-pity. These are steps in the right direction, but the process is too slow.

I need to get out of my negative headspace to save myself. Being more honest in my writing is part of that process.

Nate

 

Music Post 004a – My 20’s Soundgarden

Music Post 004a – My 20’s Soundgarden

I recently read the Pandora write up on Chris Cornell. I like to read up on the history of bands and other music artists. Whatever is available I’ll soak it up. So, in reading up on Chris Cornell, I was reminded that Soundgarden released an album in 2012, King Animal. I wondered why I had not purchased it or at least try to listen to it.

As I recall, a lot was going on at that time in my life. I believe, I had mentioned it in my post about the Foo Fighters (see Music Post 002). I was busy with life, family and career.

I decided to listen to the excerpts from King Animal on iTunes. The tracks rocked. I enjoyed them. And I felt a pull. A pull back to the 90’s, alone in my dark bedroom with just the light from my TV to illuminate things. Sometimes, I would listen to my CDs on my Sega CD system because I liked the screen saver. I spent many nights like that, alone, pretending to be a drummer, guitarist and lead singer. I’ve been dreaming that dream since listening to Beatles records in my bedroom in the 80’s.

Being taken back to those nights in the 90’s, I realized I wasn’t that kid anymore. Not that I don’t have those same dreams of being a rockstar, at times, but I’m not that kid, now a man. A man who cannot afford to waste my time wallowing in my own self-pity and depressed mood. There was a time I could soak up that music and bathe in the anguish and angst that was so prevalent in my generation at the time.

I wouldn’t have been able do that in 2012. The Nate of 2012 was married with two kids and had a career. As much as I enjoyed listening to the Soundgarden of my 20’s. The Soundgarden of my late 30’s wasn’t a good fit. I just wasn’t melancholy about my existential self anymore. And especially now in my mid-40’s, I don’t think I could grasp existentialism. I’ve got bills to pay and kids to feed. And not only kids to feed, but kids to maintain a healthy relationship with, and I can’t maintain a healthy relationship if I’m wallowing in some type of self induced misery.

At this point in my life, I’ve listened to and read books on ways to get shit done in life. I listen to podcasts like The Art of Charm, James Altucher, Tim Ferris and Marc Maron. The guests and authors of those books and podcasts are people who have chased their dreams and made them a reality. Or they just plain did the things they wanted to do and ended up doing those things for a living. I’ve heard their successes and how they got there. There is no room for quitting (which I do a lot) if you want to succeed.

So, I cannot wallow anymore. That is a form of quitting.

The demons I fight are my thoughts with the voices of others. My fears sound like people I know telling me, “You can’t do it. Life sucks. There is no way out. Nothing will change.”

I fight those voices everyday. The thing about having other people’s voices in your head is they start sounding like your own voice. So you start believing all the negative you are telling yourself. I never told myself I couldn’t do something. We never tell ourselves that originally. That notion doesn’t happen naturally. That shitty advice comes from others. It is their fear injected into us. And once I listened, I let that fear in. It is a bitch to shake. It doesn’t want to let go. I’ve held back doing a lot of things I’ve wanted to do because of it.

Fear doesn’t want to let go because it will die. I wish it would die, but wishing won’t make it die or go away.

I have to keep kicking at it and pushing it. I have to stop feeding it. My body needs to reject it like a transplanted organ. That donor of this fear and bad advice gave me something toxic that my body/brain should be rejecting.

My brain should be screaming, “These are not my thoughts! These thoughts do not belong here! They are killing us! Get them out of here!”

. . . Wow, I didn’t know that is where this post was going. But here I am.

I will go back and finish listening to the King Animal excerpts and most likely not do more than that.

The three Soundgarden CD’s I own from the 90’s will continue to be my Soundgarden. I think I’ll learn one of those songs to include in my year of Learning a Song per Week (sort of).

Emotion Rethink

I won’t get into how I came to listen to The Art of Charm podcast. That is a topic for another time. Right now, this is about their Minisode Monday #73 that I just listened to: The Positive Intent of Emotion.

My interpretation of the message is that every emotion is intended to produce a positive outcome. Our happiness, sadness, anger, etc. are produced in our brains to create a positive outcome for us.

That would mean that our brain is capable of helping us survive. I can see this technique used by people who suffer though trauma. Their strength and resilience lay within their ability to reinterpret the emotional pain they experience in the moments of the trauma and after.

I have lived through my own traumas and the ability to keep moving forward has been key to my survival. But I did not know the science behind it or see what I did as being a positive coping skill. I just did it.

For others, they may need to develop the understanding that a “behavior” their brain is to create emotions so they survive the ordeals in which they find themselves.

However, there are brains, like mine, that don’t seem to work in such a perfect way. Sometimes I act in ways that seem totally selfish and self-centered to get my own needs and wants met.

Maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen. In order for the host body to survive the brain must produce the emotions and thoughts it needs to keep the host body alive.

That makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense is when the brain produces emotions and thoughts that cause people to want to end their lives.

Why does my brain produce thoughts of self-harm and suicide? That is not going to prolong the life of my brain’s host body. Those thoughts come and go. Even when there doesn’t seem to be a reason. So, why do they happen?

Perhaps, the negative emotion that feeds the negative thoughts can be filtered through a more positive lense. I think that is the suggestion from Jordan on The Art of Charm. He has interviewed many doctors and scientists over the years that study human nature and the brain. They have done the research and experiments. They have written about their findings.

Life changes through explosions. One type of explosion is education. Another is application of what we learn.

I have put forth effort to seek out the books written by those specialists. I have a willingness to try the methods about which they write.

So, now, my effort will be to rethink my emotional responses (especially the negative ones) to make them work positively for me After all, my brain is trying to tell me something. Perhaps, I should listen.

 

Nate