Category Archives: Solving Problems

San Francisco

San Francisco

Jane sat leaning on her bedroom’s bay window soaking up the sun on her face while she pretended she was laying on the beach in her hometown. Even though this was the first day in a week that the sun had broken through the dense San Francisco fog, the air outside, helped by the whooshing wind, still sent an annoying chill down her neck whenever she got lazy about tying her scarf correctly.

“It’s always 50 degrees here,” was her latest mantra since it was the first thing that came to mind every time people asked how she was enjoying her freshman year of college.

“Getting into a lot of trouble, I bet!” was another common one. She would stare back blankly or shrug. It wasn’t that she wasn’t enjoying herself; it was that her usual sources of fun no longer existed and the new ones being experienced weren’t reliable old friends she could turn too to ward off her boredom or need for excitement. They were simply fun new experiences with no predictable reoccurrence in her daily routine.

There was plenty going on. Parties, drunken dorm room chats, drama between roommates, and all the usual college campus life experiences that she came there to check out. She had new friends who were getting themselves into all sorts of random situations, but she was still on the outside of it all. Simply going with the flow and wasn’t sure how to breakout of herself.

Her boyfriend wasn’t helping. Even though he was staying home for college they wanted to stay together and still felt connected in their distance relationship, his opinions held her back. She bought a CD off a street performer playing the cello and played it over the phone feeling certain that John would appreciate it but all he said was, “why would you buy a shitty CD off a street performer? I can download something just like it for free online.” She sighed, “I just thought it sounded pretty that’s all. Besides it was only $5.00.” She changed the subject, “Are you coming to visit this weekend? Is your brother’s friend still driving up?” He complained, “Ugh, it is such a long drive, it’ll take like 6 hours.”

He complained. “He was never a good traveller,” his mom explained to her once. “I don’t remember a single time that we drove to Las Vegas without him throwing up. We resorted to sleeping pills once he was old enough, but then he just felt groggy and cranking for hours after we got there.”

He made the drive and was dropped off at his brother’s apartment in Berkley. When she called to tell him which train to take into the city, he was reluctant to take the 45 minute train across the bay from “We’re having a good time here, why don’t you just come join us.” She took the train.

She arrived late after having gotten side tracked by some usual dorm drama and a long deserved nap. He met her at the train station with a big hug and beer ridden kiss and suddenly she felt better. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Nothing, I just think I had a bad day, should be better now, I’m glad you’re here,” she replied with a deep breath and progressive smile. He took her hand and they slowly wandered to his brother’s place.

On Getting to Know Someone

On Getting to Know Someone

There is a certain point in the getting-to-know-people stage where they are becoming more and more predictable..and you are aware of this.  Suddenly that surprising phone call is no longer out of the blue, that invitation to hang out has a known end, and those mannerism speak for themselves.  Yep, you’ve just learned their personality.  You’ve got it down.  Now what?

In comes repetition and overlaying experiences.  You mix and mingle until, whoops!  You found out what you don’t like about them.  Oh dear, what a loss, you’re high has just fallen and suddenly all those fun memories have an hazy glow that keeps you from remembering that they were once considered cool.  Suddenly they aren’t cool at all.

Oh no! It isn’t that you realized what you don’t like about the person, you realized that you don’t like the person.  Oh a huge difference.  It is so big and potentially painful to the other party that you couldn’t bare to tell them.  So you keep going, keep answering the phone and hanging out.  After all you know you don’t like them, shouldn’t they too be figuring out that they don’t like you too?  Why is it taking so long?  How do I say no?  Why do they argue every time I say no?  How do I get out of this?  Oh god, I’m going to have to see the person soon and I have nothing to say, nothing I want to say and I don’t even feel like smiling.

Every time you are faced with the person, that first thing that you didn’t like about them becomes them.  It is there, walking by your desk, chatting in your ear, sending lines it text.  The person is no longer the person, they are everything that you do not like about them walking on two legs and they know it.  They must know that no one would ever like all of this.  How could they not know?  This is common sense to me, people don’t treat others so rudely and expect to be liked do they?  I learned this in preschool and they are still behaving this way?  Do people not know what a disgusted facial expression means?  Do they not know what it means to wear such an expression all the time?  They don’t. They don’t know.  Because they don’t know what you know.

But wait, sometimes things go the other way.  Sometimes you realize what you don’t like about someone and they never do it again.  Life just goes on and no one seems to notice.  You were waiting for them to do that annoying thing again and they didn’t.  You even held back to give them extra space to say that annoying word and nothing, there was silence.  or even better, they said something that you liked instead.  How wonderful this person is.

Then it continues for a long time and you realize that this person is stable.  They may do things that you don’t like but not every time and if it is a problem, they don’t hang their souls on the issue, they just do something else.  Ahhh, I see, this person is dynamic.  Those are my types of friends.  Shape shifters who don’t always operate on cue and enjoy having a deep pockets of happy social games to play.  You can still toss a nasty social pitch their way as a test, but you’ll notice that they deflect it with ease.  Instead of saying “you bitch!” they say, “I don’t play that game, but I like you so try another.”

Between the two extremes there ly the, well, inliers.  Those who stay in the gray.  You know enough about them that you know you don’t need to know any more about them.  They get a little annoying sometimes because you can never seem to get to know them enough to know whether you like them or not.  Which, in itself, is probably what you don’t like about them that they keep doing over and over so they really fall into the negative.  But give them a chance because sometimes it is just the situation that drives their behavior.

On feeling like I’ve done something wrong

On feeling like I’ve done something wrong

There are just so many rules in social life to follow… too many rules!  I know them all so well that I am aware of many many opportunities to to break them, but I don’t break them on the world stage.  Instead I break them in my mind.  I play out the entire scene for my own amusement and often detriment.  Generally the penalty for breaking social rules is embarrassment.  If perchance you happen to not get embarrassed then people go out of their way to explain why you should be embarrassed while giving you those looks meant to teach children to behave and conform.  Having broken many social rules, I am conditioned to be highly aware of rules, so aware that I automatically leave social gatherings with a feeling that I did something wrong.  It is an automatic response that typically lasts until I finish reviewing the event for validation of the feeling.  On a good day this feeling doesn’t bother me, but if I have been stressed, hungover, or not feel particularly well, my ability to deflect irrational thoughts decreases and I become unable to shake it off.  Dwelling in these irrational thoughts only makes me feel worse.  Awareness of what is going on helps but doesn’t fully cure my episode of despair.  All I can do is hope that my general sense of well-being returns to brighten my day.

On being allergic to people

On being allergic to people

As social beings, we are naturally inclined to react to other people.  Growing up, we are conditioned on how to behave towards people as well as how to read the basics of communication, yet there is still so much for which our vocabulary is heavily insufficient to explain.  Often people apply all the right rules and following all the social back and forths only to be further away from others than they were when they were strangers.  In all manner of capacity, the cultural social cues should have been enough, but more often than not, they fail us.  In all honesty, human connection is one of the least understood aspects of life, cognitively speaking.  There is no explanation for subtleties affecting why certain people are great friends yet others can’t stand the mere mention of one anothers’ names.  In reality it isn’t the social banter that it important, it is how others make you feel.  There are some of us who are quite sensitive to how other people affect us, meaning our internal reaction to someone’s presence drives whether or not we bother to make contact or continue on with mindless social exercises.  There are many different ways that people make me feel.  Some more pleasant than others.  One feeling in particular is horribly annoying: the allergic reaction.

Like any allergy, it take a few interactions with a person to realize that I am allergic to them.  Once the allergy is full blown, my immune system switches my brain into self preservation mode.  All energy goes into getting as far away from the person as possible.  My vision narrows so that my brain can focus solely on escape routes as well as be unable to make clear eye contact.  My vocal cords tighten to only allow out desperate cries for freedom.  My sinuses tighten so my nervous system can be ready to produce tears in case I really need to show someone how serious I am.  I instinctively want to curl up into a ball by hugging my knees to keep the individual from thinking that I am open to their presence.

I know this is an allergic reaction because once the allergen is gone, I feel relieved that I am able to act normal again.  Like any in any other allergy situation, the best thing for my health is to avoid the allergens, so I do…and guess what?!?!? I’ve been allergy symptom free! 🙂

On the known world

On the known world

I knowingly bought a ticket to the known world.  The place where all the pieces are planned and mapped out.  Where life doesn’t just happen to you.  Where most attempts to find vibrant life end with a mediocre thought of “at least I tried”.  But I bought the ticket anyway because it is a place where I knew I could sit back, feel normal, and make sense of what I’d been through.  Now that I’ve recuperated internally I’m looking out and I can’t help but struggle with my decision.  I look back and wonder what could have been done differently in all the wildness.  I guess the unrealized sense of a piece of life being over has now become fully realized.  In efforts to create a new plan it makes sense to look back and list out all the dislikes in order to make better decisions for the next round.  This time around, part of me didn’t realize it was over.  Part of me is ready to go, part of me wants to stay, and most of me can’t afford to leave.  All in all, it is good that I stepped on the train, because the known world is good for people who don’t know what to do next yet.

Negativity Withdrawal

Negativity Withdrawal

I’ve always noticed those people who always have something to be pissed off at, mainly because I have solved some sort of undesirable situation in life on their behalf and expect them to be happy now. With these people they never get happy, they just find something else to be pissed off at. After a few problems solved I tend to stop trying to solve their problems because, in the overall scheme of things, there is no point in putting any of my energy into these situations because it doesn’t actually solve the other person’s internal need for negativity in life.

Compound Stress and What Helps Me Cope With It

Compound Stress and What Helps Me Cope With It

I wrote this little diddy while waiting for my car’s oil service to finish up earlier today:

“I’ve realized that, indeed, there are things that I am stressed about, but in comparison to how many things that I used to be stressed about a few years ago (School, work, goals, money, meeting my ex’s requests, drinking, etc.), I’m practically stress free. Being unable to find a proper job leaves me plenty of time all day to hang out with my friends and family and get things done and organized around the house combine that with not having to manage a relationship (which always took up so much of my ME time before my Australia adventure) and I am allowed to do the things I like and as a result my natural tendency to overload myself and put myself aside is inhibited by this circumstance.

I now focus all that energy from those past stressful happenings to tasks that greatly increase my own contentment and the happiness of others around me (at least as best I can) and so when a stressor (like loosing my Lula Bula so suddenly) pops up, it is not compounded with many other stresses of life so coping with stress is not only clear, but bearable – almost to the point that I feel guilty for not exhibiting the same level of emotionally intense responses that I typically had in the past (when I had a multitude of stressors on my plate). In fact, I shouldn’t feel guilty at all, I should enjoy that I now know what it feels like to face storm rolling through life from a healthy prospective.”

Further to that, I have noticed that many people don’t get to this level of relaxation I feel right now (Yoga 3 times a week could be part of it….). I’ve noticed that a few people I’ve met are in a cycle of reacting to stress instead of managing it. That type of situation causes them to do all sorts of things except fully enjoy themselves. For example, if one seems to have little control over many aspects of life, this can cause long term stress to remain constant to the extent that this stress level is thought to be normal. Knowing no different (I used to be this way) one may try to control the few small aspects of life that one feels are malleable and shape them to personal whims and ideas of how it should be in a perfect world. This is an illusion because you can’t control people and thus the compounding stress gets even worse.

In reality, in some way, that same energy can be used to build oneself into the person one wants to be. That would mean letting a lot of familiar emotions and reliabilities go. Taking such a leap of faith not to mention using a lot of will power can be done in a way that actually nothing is lost except the stress, that is, only if (based on my logic) such a task is approached properly and before one is pushed over one’s burn-out limit.

So I have gone through my nutritional healing book (I’ve been diving into it a lot lately…) to list some stress coping suggestions that work for me and may be able to help anyone who actually reads these notes of mine:

*****Monitor your internal conversations. The way we talk to ourselves has a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves and our environment.

*****Avoid processed foods and all foods that create stress on the system, such as artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, chips and similar snack foods.

*****Do not repress or deny your emotions. This only compounds stress. Admit your feelings and accept them. Keeping strong feelings bottled up only causes them to resurfaces later as illness (I suggest thinking about this statement very, very carefully so see what an impact this may have had on you in the past).

*****Don’t be afraid to cry. Learning to cry can help you manage stress. Crying can relieve anxiety and lets loose bottled-up emotions.

*****Try not to take life too seriously. Learn to laugh.

Putting Feelings into Words….

Putting Feelings into Words….

I might just be a more emotional person, or perhaps I just notice my emotions more than others, not sure which since it seems impossible to really feel what others are feeling. There are many times when I just have the right words to express myself, but sometimes, sometimes I feel something building up and I react to it despite the fact that I don’t know what is causing it or why I am reacting to whatever it is. At this point it is extremely irrational because my conscious mind is reacting to a feeling that hangs over me like a cloud and is unable to see the cloud for what it is.

Traumatic situations cause this for me due to confusion and over analysis of what the hell just happened and, for the most part, time (often a lot of time) gives gradual clarity on the situation perhaps this is so because at least the source (the traumatic event) is identified. So this isn’t the type of situation I am speaking of, it is related, yes, but I’m focusing on undiagnosed feelings that bubble up in the course of everyday normal life events. I am also not speaking of ‘worry.’ Worrying implied that one knows what they are worried about and why they are worried about it. ‘Choosing to worry’ would be a different topic as well because choosing also implies one knows the object of the worry and uses a worry-cycle as some sort of means to an end or crutch in order to inhibit more productive and positive behaviors…this would in turn be, once again, another note that would go into detail of what purpose worrying has in life but I really don’t want to face that reality at the moment…. I have something more important to plop onto facebook for the time being.

I want to say it is anxiety, but I feel the term is used to write off feelings as simply “anxiety’ and thus pacifies people into believing that it is a feeling that they will just have to put up with. I don’t believe that is the correct approach, or, just not my way of approaching it.

This heavy feeling comes of many forms. the most recent that brought my thoughts together was when I was hanging out with a friend and I was kinda overwhelmed with some sort of heavy feeling that made it difficult to focus properly on the present moment and what was going on around me. Half of me could live in the present for the sake of survival, while the other half inside was wanting to step away from the social scene to organize my inner thoughts, which, weren’t thoughts at all, it was a heavy mental feeling disconnected from an particular event or issue going on in my life at the moment, or so I felt at the time, but it held me back from simply being myself in the moment and enjoying my company.

Then, like a flash of light, the heavy feeling is gone, why? How? I was simply able to express it with words and thus diagnose where the root of the feeling was. Once diagnosed it no longer bothered me on a emotional level. It turned into a rational, arguable circumstance, one in which I now understand where I have power over it and where I don’t. This understanding makes all the difference in how the feeling affects me and once in words, I can express it to my fellow bipeds and view it from a more detached, unemotionally reactive state. I am therefore able to recognize the feeling in the future and manage its effects on me (subconsciously to a degree) without going through that initial fuzzy state of confusion.

I learn about myself as a result.

Restructuring Thought Programs

Restructuring Thought Programs

Being somewhat of an immensely yoga influenced person I find that it does help once in a while to step back from life and view it from a detached position so as better to see what is going on, especially in my mind. On a necessary occasion I like to try and think about nothing and not let any thought grab my attention no matter how badly I want to take hold of the reins and ride the thought into the sunset. By doing this I can see from the sidelines how the content of my life affects me.

I’ve known forever that I am a daydreamer, I love daydreaming. Daydreams are different to other thoughts in life because they are purely for entertainment purposes and ways to fill time while in meetings, brushing my teeth, walking around campus, trying to fall asleep at night, etc. Those are great but I have (in the somewhat recent past) developed a shift in my thinking. I’ve gotten in the habit of daydreaming on my life, my real life. I don’t make up pure fictional stories like I used to, I simply use the outside world as fuel for my everyday inner world, which I probably have always done, but I used to use more imaginary figures and places… (I spent 10 years with my nose in scifi/fantasy books… what do you expect?) Anyways, so I feel like I am drowning in my over active imagination, which consists of a multitude of events in my life that have never happened to me or probably won’t.

So taking a few-minute break from my thoughts was a great idea because it allowed thoughts to pop up on my mind screen and after instantly acknowledging them out of habit, I saved them for later, all before I grabbed hold of them which prevented them from fully being played out and reacted to. So you see… these thoughts that have often taken over my time, have only done so because I have allowed them to.

It isn’t easy fighting a mental program once the program has established itself and is propagating how it fulfills my needs, but sometimes enough is just enough. I have to stamp out useless thought programs fully to keep my mind strong.

Still Wearing the Mask of Who You Wish You Could Be

Still Wearing the Mask of Who You Wish You Could Be

But you’re not that person, not yet anyway. The thing with masks is that they can only be worn for so long and only really work when no emotions are being invested in the circumstance…. in my experience anyway.

Emotions are tricky, don’t believe for a second that they won’t change your mind for you or pull the wool over your eyes. Bodies have a way of getting what they want and your mind is only a function of how it achieves that.

So don’t fight it. The emotions involved will pull through and only damage your credibility if you are trying to hide them, how? Act overly friendly…. then suddenly…silence? Doing nothing is just as much communication as saying something.

That doesn’t work to solve any part of the situation…but it will keep the hole in you wide open, giving you that constant something to fight for and with, which, you have dug so deep that it would take creating a whole new you all over again to fill it and you are too lazy to cause that kind of conflict, why? Because you went and jumped right back into what you spent so much time and energy getting away from. “This time it will be different, this life is different, more agreeable”… no. You have only changed the object, you… you’ve just created an illusion for yourself to live in and in that illusion you can at least have what you are missing. So why fight it? Why use extremes in an attempt to manipulate the outside world when they can be seen through, you’re only making it worse for yourself.

There is no reason to keep it all pent up. it doesn’t matter how you feel or what you are thinking as long as you express it in some way to the only person with whom it matters to. You can express it to a total stranger and you’ll get your quick fix…. or jump beyond it.