Monthly Archives: January 2016

My “The Anatomy of Choice”

Try ‘googling’ that quoted title. There are an exhausting (while certainly fascinating) number of articles and books…

science: “goal-directed decision-making in terms of embodied or active inference… associate bounded rationality with approximate Bayesian inference that optimizes a free energy bound on model evidence…constructs such as expected utility, exploration or novelty bonuses, softmax choice rules and optimism bias emerge as natural consequences of free energy minimization” blah blah blah (Friston K1, Schwartenbeck P2, FitzGerald T2, Moutoussis M2, Behrens T3, Dolan RJ)

change & pragmatism: “Choice is defined as “the selection between alternatives”. To select one alternative over another… “Why did you do that”… “What would make you do/not do that again”” etc etc…(Loy & Elder 2013)

a guide for actors who are building their characters: “discover and define a character’s scene and super-objective, obstacle, beats, and tactics… how to build a character…and what to do when nothing is working.” (Seriously, the book is called Anatomy of a Choice).

But have you ever thought about the anatomy of your own choices?? Really, to the depth that you know the most intricate threads that hold together and make sensible not only the ways you decide to act and do, but also the feelings that are attached to these that you take as ‘given’?

Well, I have been doing some of that terribly arduous work…because I decided with some conviction in the past few years that I REFUSE to continue on in this life of mine feeling like I am navigating an obstacle course. With brazen and courageous intention I am looking at, most importantly this past week, Guilt. My guilt.

Seriously. How many of the choices that you make each day do you make out of a terribly obvious or a terribly insidious and evasively disguised guilt?

None? Ok, good on-ya! Wow, I am dying to know what that feels like. (Not that I’m asking you to describe it…because you don’t know…It’s automatic. And besides I want to know what it feels like for me, not you.)

Well, most of mine are made that way. (Yes, this is one of the ‘wonderful’ reasons why my blog is anonymous…).

And my guilt…it comes from a place that has absolutely nothing to do with me having wronged someone or misbehaved, or committing some kind of heinous crime. I learned to take blame for the ways other people felt around me or about me, for things that happened to me because of that, AND for the entirely natural and human reactions I had to these things.

At five or six years old I cried when I was scared, and my ___ tried to smother me with a pillow so that my mother wouldn’t hear me cry. I couldn’t breathe…

I cried because I was already scared. I tried to hide that I was scared, but I could only hold back the tears for so long.

Although I have not faced that situation again, especially in my adult life…the fear was there to stay. Under the guise of ‘being a well-behaved little girl’ I suppressed fear of a man who I knew was unpredictable and an oblivious mother and acted like having a child was a little inconvenient.

My guilt is a life-long construction of how other people felt. About themselves and their life first of all. And about how they felt about me. My guilt had nothing to do with me.

Until, I realize now, that I began to act as though I needed to suffer everyone else’s ‘condition’ in life. Please forgive the ‘academic-ness’ of this next phrase or two, but I love this philosopher, and his techniques for understanding human beings. The Archaeology of my guilt is the discursive traces of fear, power, and powerlessness left by my past with which I can write a ‘history of my present’. In other words archaeology is about looking at my history as a way of understanding the processes that have led to what I am today.

Now that I know that my guilt came from nowhere legitimate – it came from me being human in an insecure environment, etc – , and that I am not my guilt (although I have made myself guilty…), I am looking for the answer to the question: How does someone without a fear of other people’s response to their humanity LIVE?? What does that person look like? Feel like?

 

To Be Conscious of Me

I choose to live, and I choose what I do as I live.

I choose to move on with motivation, not because of manipulation.

I choose being useful. Not used

I choose change. I make my way around excuses.

I excel from within me, I don’t compete with what is without.

I choose self-esteem – valuing what I am even at my weakest –

not self-pity – waiting for others to value me.

I choose to listen first and foremost to my inner most voice and act on it, not the opinions or advice of others.

I choose to do the things that others won’t so I can continue to do the things others can’t.

~adapted from the poem “I Choose” by WisdomWarrior.com

 

No, It Will Do No Use

gavel1Things it will do no use to judge myself for today.

I stayed in bed until almost 1pm.

I gave in.

I procrastinated all day about finding a job instead of finding something to apply for.

I played the avoidance game.

I didn’t exercise on purpose until 740 tonight, when I walked to a meeting and back again.

I judged people in my mind.

I thought of things on my to-do list and then thought about how I could do them tomorrow instead of today, including sending birthday presents, selling books and clothes, and calling a friend back. And purging. And putting clothes away…

I watched a movie tonight instead of doing something ‘productive’.

I ducked out of a situation so that I didn’t have to talk to people, or not for too long.

I thought about things I could spend money on even though I do not have any income right now.

I thought of excuses for not doing things, instead of reasons.

I didn’t clean out the cat’s litter box.

I ate cookies at 10pm at night, or later. I made cookies at 9:30 at night.

I forgot things.

—-So—-

If I don’t judge myself for these things, what exactly am I supposed to with this repertoire of (in)actions?????

Hm. Acceptance, eh…?

What do these things mean? About me? About my sense of responsibility? About my fragility? About my ability to take care of myself?

There are a lot of different ways to look upon oneself…

Deserving

One of the things I am interested in doing today is asking for my self-pity to be lifted. I am still not ‘religious’. I do believe, however that as human beings we have very powerful powers of perception…AND very powerful powers of perceiving things differently than they truly may be.

Self-pity…I had to look it up:

“Pity for oneself; especially exaggerated or self-indulgent pity where you believe that you are the victim who has done no wrong and is deserving of condolence from everyone.” (Urban Dictionary)

Yes, do I ever(!) There is a part of me (a much smaller part than it used to be) that believes that life is happening to me. That other people’s actions are happening to me. And that my actions are solely actions of survival and that I do not deserve to be subjected to others’ imperfections and the ways they make me feel. Woh. Now that is almost too much…

Inside, almost without me being conscious of it I think things like: “If Greg had been more honest with me I would not have turned distrustful, I would not have taken my attention off my school work, I would not have put energy into making him feel comfortable or accommodated rather than keeping my work time safe, keeping my sleep time sacred, feeling happy with how fine I am regardless of anyone else. If “people” understood the situation I was in, the choices I had to make, how strongly I felt about him they would give me a break, let me work on my thesis longer, give me more help, not leave me to do everything all my myself…” etc. etc… Unbelievable that things we (I) can experience so deeply and feel so strongly about are not ‘true’ or helpful, or right for us (me).

I would like that perspective on my life to change. That perspective on others. That perspective on what I have experienced and have to look forward to in my life. I am absolutely at the end of my desire to be my own personal martyr in my own personal ‘play’ of life…

I would like to feel differently.

They say (see book ‘Drop The Rock’ for example) that when we are asking for our shortcomings to be removed we must definitely be working on the opposites. What is the opposite of self-pity? Humility? The feeling that we are not entitled to ‘compensation’ for things that have ‘happened to’ us? Acceptance? Self-reliance? Self regard? Personal responsibility?

And how do I practice any of those?

Take myself through the moment. And be open to seeing how I come to that challenging moment. That challenging decision. Where did I exercise my free will? What can I say that I learned from my exercise of my free will, alone? What do I know about how such a situation can play itself out differently?

Please take self-pity away. I want to practice something else.

I will change my experience.

i deserve close attention so that I do not repeat the same mistakes, not attention that compensates me or gives consolation prizes for surviving a situation that I, as much as others, brought myself into.

 

 

What Holds YOU Back?

resolution pollution

Elizabeth Conrad

It’s resolution time again! Time to look back on all the mistakes and regrets of the passing year. Time to look forward with unrealistic expectations for how everything is somehow going to be completely different this time.

When I look back on 2015, my honest thought is: well done, me. I did a lot of good, hard work this year. My honest thought when I look forward to 2016 is simply this: I am onto something good. Don’t stop.

I haven’t shared any of my writing for a few months. Like most of what I do in life, I didn’t worry about why – I didn’t put much thought into it at all – I just stopped because I felt like it. Only much later did I think about my decision. It had become time for me to dig deeper, somewhere uncomfortable and frightening; and to do that, I needed a break…

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