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Author Topic: Learning to deal  (Read 5934 times)

Aimless

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Learning to deal
« on: 16 Jun 2008, 10:09 »

Once upon a time, I was largely oblivious to negative things in my life that I needed to deal with. I unknowingly let myself be carried by negative feelings and thoughts, without really reflecting on how they affected my mental health, and how my handling of them worked (or didn't work, rather).

Then followed a time of relative happiness, during which my chief coping strategy was characterised by an aggressive, unguided optimism--forcing myself to see the bright side of everything, always expecting the best--and a compulsion to dismiss my negative reactions as unjustified, unworthy, and unconstructive. During this time, I expected myself to be able to shake off--or sweep under the mat--pretty much any negative feeling with ease and haste.

Sometime after I'd perfected this art of wilful blindness (!!) a close friend convinced me that my strategy was a thoroughly flawed one, as it lacked the elements of acceptance and reflection that are crucial to any reasonable, constructive processing effort. I couldn't deny that, and realised that the approach I believed to be ideal for myself was vastly different from that which I believed was ideal for everyone else.

Striving for personal development (and in the name of consistency!), I decided to change my coping strategy to incorporate reflection on--and acceptance of--my negative thoughts and feelings.

As is so common in life, something went wrong, and I eventually found myself at an extreme where I heedlessly accepted almost all my negative reactions to almost everything as being justified and okay... but couldn't go on from that point to do anything about them in terms of coping, nor in terms of resolving the problems that caused them.

Slowly but surely, my optimism was replaced by pessimism and cynicism. And, untempered by my once strong optimism, my reflection--my obsessive wandering in my inner world of thoughts and feelings and emotions--quickly led me into one of those vicious cycles that can so easily cause and maintain a depression.

It's only recently that I've come out of that (sort of), and now--armed with experience and knowledge :D--I'm hard at work finding for myself a new strategy (or several new ones). One that will be more balanced, more constructive, more reliable. We'll see how it goes (look me up in five years ;)).

This long (though simplified) account wasn't intended as a blog post, but as a prelude to my question to you: how do you deal, and how have your strategies for coping developed throughout your life?

And just so we're clear: I'm posting this out of curiosity about how other people do things, not as some sort of "Help Aimy Fix His Life" workshop.

It's my hope that this will be a useful exercise in navel-gazing :) yeah



While discussing this on other forums, I came to think of something else. When it comes to somatic health issues, I think the vast majority of us can appreciate the benefits of being able to deal with the root problem directly, rather than only treating symptoms (or just ignoring the whole thing). Is it inappropriate to have a similar attitude towards mental health issues? I ask this only because that seems to be a view held by many people I've encountered (most of which are men, I think), although it is rarely explicitly stated.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #1 on: 16 Jun 2008, 10:18 »

How do I deal... You know, I really don't know. I guess I just walk away. I figure in the long run of things, they don't really matter (I'm such a cheery person...) and even if it's affecting something NOW, it's just affecting me and I don't really mean a lot in the grand scheme of the world. Mind you, that doesn't help you since it's fairly negative it's self.

By the way, isn't this a little blog-thready?
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #2 on: 16 Jun 2008, 10:53 »

Then followed a time of relative happiness, during which my chief coping strategy was characterised by an aggressive, unguided optimism--forcing myself to see the bright side of everything, always expecting the best--and a compulsion to dismiss my negative reactions as unjustified, unworthy, and unconstructive. During this time, I expected myself to be able to shake off--or sweep under the mat--pretty much any negative feeling with ease and haste.

This is how I deal with trivial things, just so I don't get hung up on the petty details of things, but for the real heavy stuff I tend to reflect a lot and accept it (eventually, in some cases).  I've noticed how much I've grown and changed and matured lately and this is one thing I've noticed in myself.  I didn't like being all mopey and stuff before, so I decided to be content with everything all of the time because for the most part, everything is pretty excellent.  I decided I wouldn't take anything for granted anymore, and I also cultivated a newfound exuberance and excited-ness that accompanied a lust to live and to experience, so, this is mostly how I cope now.  I like it a lot.
« Last Edit: 16 Jun 2008, 10:57 by imapiratearg »
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #3 on: 16 Jun 2008, 11:00 »

I 'deal' by trying to think about my own feelings about things as calmly and rationally as possible and making a conscious effort to avoid getting stressed.
I used to just not 'deal', but that got really old really quick when I had to deal with plenty of different things early last year.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #4 on: 16 Jun 2008, 11:10 »

By the way, isn't this a little blog-thready?

Probably is, if the definition of a blog-thread encompasses all threads featuring personal stories. But I hope it isn't unacceptably bloggy!

Pirate: I take it the things you reflect on and eventually accept are those things that you simply cannot do anything about, even if you try?
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #5 on: 16 Jun 2008, 11:21 »

I guess you could say that.  It's not wrong, but I don't know if it applies to all of the situations I dealt with that way.  I mean, there are things I could have done, that I probably tried, but to no avail.

Here's an example: One of my ex's, we dated for a little over a year and she broke up with me, at first I refused to believe it, tried everything to get her back and all that jazz, but in retrospect I discovered that there wasn't anything I liked about her in the first place so why was I carrying on?

I just feel I should accept everything thus far, because I've had it pretty good, but not to let myself lose sight of where I want to go an what I want to do and get lazy and let everything sort itself out.  I mean, there are things I will eventually have to directly deal with, but everything else will generally take care of itself.

That's how I deal.

(P.S. - I like discussing this stuff.)
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #6 on: 16 Jun 2008, 12:07 »

Depending on what it is I'm dealing with, I try to just brush it off and move along. Of course, there's situations where that's just not a realistic coping technique. When I'm overloaded with stress, I lay down in a warm, bright area, and meditate, usually using visualization. I imagine a soft, warm light coming down onto the crown of my head and slowly spreading through the entirety of my body, leaving complete relaxation and rejuvenation in its wake. I focus on every area of the body for a certain amount of time--the head area, The shoulders/neck, where I spend a lot of time "loosening" the muscles, the arms/hands, the stomach, the thighs, legs, feet. During all this, I keep a focus on the steady in-and-out of the breath through my nostrils. This takes about half an hour, but when it's done, I feel fresh, calm, and renewed, and whatever problems or concerns I have are greatly diminished and much more manageable.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #7 on: 16 Jun 2008, 12:52 »

Life is more fun if you don't worry too much about things! I tend to think things through when I'm trying to get to sleep.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #8 on: 16 Jun 2008, 13:19 »

My main coping strategy is to live in the moment. I don't dwell on the past, and I don't hold grudges.

That is a nice way of saying I have a bad memory. It's a lot easier to brush off negative feelings when you can't even remember them.

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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #9 on: 16 Jun 2008, 13:45 »

I have the most all encompassing and sophisticated denial of any human being I have met. I can block out practically anything that ever happens to me with the minimum of fuss. I don't know if this will eventually lead to a mental break-down but I'm actually really comfortable about it. All that bullshit about facing your demons and stuff sounds like a waste of time and money to me. I'd sooner move on and forget whatever it was that upset me ever happened. I hate melodrama or prolonged emotional bullshit because it's so dysfunctional. To me, practicality is everything. Mourning, anger, regret, aggression and to an extent guilt are just a big fat waste of precious time. I find this makes me seem pretty inhuman at times but it doesn't seriously bother me.

Without being needlessly sensationalist, there was a point in my teenage years when I was told that the chances are I wasn't going to make a recovery from the rather extreme treatment I had received to drive these potentially lethal cancerous cysts away from my major organs. I was asked if I had written a will and I began to prepare for what seemed to be an inevitability. I genuinely thought for a matter of weeks that every time I went to sleep, I wasn't going to wake up. This changed my attitude towards life no end. I realised that it's very short indeed and also extremely fragile. Fortunately, I did make an unlikely recovery but since then I changed quite a lot. I became significantly less emotional to the point that I sometimes frighten people. Not recommending this to anyone, I'm just saying this approach works for me because there is a lot of stuff I would sooner not remember.

Personally, my attitude is that life is short and your problems are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. There are people who have it much, much worse than you and it is churlish to complain too much about your life, which is comparatively wonderful. We are the blessed people on this planet and I think we should be eternally thankful for it.

I'm so thankful to be alive. So thankful just to breathe the air. So thankful to be treading the face of this earth with you all. Yes I am.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #10 on: 16 Jun 2008, 15:23 »

I thought this thread was going to be about playing cards. :(
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #11 on: 16 Jun 2008, 15:39 »

So did I...

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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #12 on: 16 Jun 2008, 15:43 »

I did too. But it kind of applies to me! Almost immediately after the ladyfriend and I split off, I went and played Spades until a very late hour of the night.

Basically, I deal with spades.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #13 on: 16 Jun 2008, 17:35 »

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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #14 on: 16 Jun 2008, 17:45 »

Personally, my attitude is that life is short and your problems are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. There are people who have it much, much worse than you and it is churlish to complain too much about your life, which is comparatively wonderful. We are the blessed people on this planet and I think we should be eternally thankful for it.

Basically, I have the opposite reaction to this. Therefore I drink a lot, listen to a lot of punk and grime and rant a lot. Oh, and a cup of tea and a cigarette, that's my main way of dealing.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #15 on: 16 Jun 2008, 18:00 »

My friends tell me I need to learn to care less about things. But caring about things has been my main mode of operation for years, it's gonna be hard to shake. Listening to music is usually how I unwind. It's hard to find a photo of me without my headphones on. Also, breathing control. But that only works sporadically.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #16 on: 17 Jun 2008, 04:23 »

I think one of the most important things I've learnt is that there is not a single or simple right answer to how to deal with life - neither for people in general, nor even for oneself.

At various times I have attempted to "improve" myself, as I am somewhat liable to mild depression.  Twenty years ago I had therapy, which appeared to lead directly to the breakup of my first marriage (after 22 years, so not trivial) - but the therapy was probably part of the process rather than changing me in any way that made it happen, or enabled me to do it.

On reflection, few of the changes that the therapy seemed to instigate have lasted in a major way, though their effect is not entirely gone.  I have not become more assertive, or more successful, or more admirable, or more directed.  But perhaps I am a little more aware of my failures in one or other of these directions, and can then choose whether to make a special effort to modify my behaviour at a particular time - but beyond that I seem unable to go, and I have accepted that*.

However, some of the stuff I do alone, in my somewhat introverted way, seems to me to be having more interest to, and influence on, the wider world around me than the kind of things that convention might suggest were "more suitable" things for me to be doing.  This can put strains on my current marriage (of fifteen years); but I try to find a balance between what is expected of me and what I want that works day by day, because, when all's said and done, sharing one's life and the mutual support which that implies have a lot going for them.

I think what I'm trying to say is, don't expect to find the answer, and then feel bad about failing to.  Each small thing that is realistic is worthwhile, and more likely to help.

Paul

* (edit) Do I think there's a root cause for this?  Yes! - it's because I'm me, and no cure is possible or needed for that.
« Last Edit: 17 Jun 2008, 04:31 by pwhodges »
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #17 on: 17 Jun 2008, 04:33 »

There's no real trick to dealing drugs. Just make sure you buy in bulk, don't put too much mark-up, don't get tangled in organised crime, learn to spot cops. You'll get the hang of it.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #18 on: 17 Jun 2008, 04:53 »

i don't think i know how to deal very well with things. i know that there are people who are worse off than me and i know everything is relative but somehow i find it really difficult to get the logical and emotional side of my brain on the same page. it's hard to distract myself from problems because i'm constantly thinking about so many things at once, so instead of pushing something else out of my brain that i was thinking about, it gets added in. i go to this place where i just think over and over about things i have no control over and feel completely small and helpless and all i can do is wait and be miserable until it gets too mentally exhausting to keep thinking about that stuff. i also absolutely hate crying so basically my method of dealing is to repress everything. once in a while there are breakdowns but i try to make sure they happen when no one is around.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #19 on: 17 Jun 2008, 05:13 »

Exposing myself to the elderly.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #20 on: 17 Jun 2008, 05:51 »

My system that I developed is rather similar to Tommy's. I come up with most of my good ideas about my life when I'm nervous and can't sleep, and that's when I figured that.

I was terrified that something wouldn't work out, and couldn't sleep, eat, et cetera, and when I was lying in my bed I realized that I'm alive! Why on earth should I spend my time worrying when I am blessed enough to walk this earth? Honestly, being alive is pretty awesome, and as long as something doesn't get in the way of that, I'm feeling pretty good. All you have to remember when dealing is that things will get better, though you may have to make things get there, or sit tight until it blows over. Don't control things you can't, control the stuff you can, and it'll all work out in the end.

I mean, you're alive, really asking for much beyond that miracle is a little selfish, and you should embrace absolutely everything, including your life, and things seem to always be a little better.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #21 on: 17 Jun 2008, 07:43 »

I have never really considered how I deal with negativity or problems within my life because I honestly could not care less.  So I guess I deal with it all by not caring all that much because I really believe, with all sincerity, that nothing actually matters very much at all. I suppose it helps that my life is a pretty peachy motherfucker in a huge number of respects (and I'm willing to bet money I don't have that yours is too) so if something happens that makes it better then that's great but I'm not going to whine if something goes not to plan. I do not understand why anyone would take anything in life seriously at all.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #22 on: 19 Jun 2008, 17:05 »

Here's an example: One of my ex's, we dated for a little over a year and she broke up with me, at first I refused to believe it, tried everything to get her back and all that jazz, but in retrospect I discovered that there wasn't anything I liked about her in the first place so why was I carrying on?
(P.S. - I like discussing this stuff.)

My ex just broke up with me, and it really bothered me. I'm not sure why since in the weeks prior I was trying to find a reason not to break up with her. I only really liked the fact that she was smart enough that I didn't have to explain everything i said to her and that she was warm (emotionally)... I wasn't really attracted to her physically, and we had nothing in common (my life's pleasures are music, literature, and food/wine.... she doesn't listen to music, doesn't talk about what she reads, and keeps kosher).

but now it hurts every time i see here.

i'm dealing with it by locking myself in my apartment and writing a bunch of short stories. i'm also thinking about signing up for match.com.

yeah, i usually just deal with things by writing/working at all waking hours.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #23 on: 19 Jun 2008, 17:40 »

Sometimes, when I'm in a rough spot, I get Chinese food, and then look at my fortune.  Sometimes, they are actually relevant.  During another breakup I went through, I go one that said: "Movement is the cure for grief."  It's honestly the truth.  Whenever I'm down and out I try getting out as much as possible.  It makes me happy.  I also got another one once, during the relationship I mentioned here that said: "Today is the day you let it go.  Your chance will come."  It made me feel a lot better.

Yeah.  I'm weird.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #24 on: 19 Jun 2008, 17:59 »


i'm dealing with it by locking myself in my apartment and writing a bunch of short stories. i'm also thinking about signing up for match.com.

yeah, i usually just deal with things by writing/working at all waking hours.

I don't intend to try to tell you how to run your life, but that's a pretty damned terrible way of dealing with things. Perhaps the worst, actually.   Well, no, the worst would be going on a murderous rampage. But seriously, shuttering yourself up is not going to help anything, and it only makes emotional and psychological problems fester and worm deeper into you. For your own health, get out and do something, even if you have to force yourself.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #25 on: 19 Jun 2008, 19:13 »

I disagree with you. Writing can be a form of therapy in that he can get his issues out and discuss it with himself in a way that's less threatening, and besides immediately going out and trying to forget it is just avoidance. I guess I just have a lot of problems with avoidance in general because that is my default way of dealing, which in my case is not healthy.

My avoidant tendencies have only made my life worse. There was a time in my life where a bunch of things happened in a really short amount of time, which also piggy-backed on issues (one issue, actually) I'd repressed for 11 years.  I tried to be all stoic and have "a stiff upper lip" because I also felt that my problems weren't that bad compared to what other people go through and what's the point of being sad? I ended up drinking heavily and failing that semester of University, since that was the one thing I could let go. I couldn't just drop my family, and I couldn't drop working, so I just stopped going to classes and ended up sleeping for like 16 hours a day.

I've changed my theory on that. Yes, other people do have it worse. But still, if I were another person meeting myself and found out about the shit that has happened, I would feel bad for me. Just because other people have problems you deem as "worse" doesn't mean that your problems have disappeared. They are still there and they are probably waiting to pounce on you when you are dealing with the next major stress in your life.

In order to get my financial aid back and still go to University, I agreed to go into counseling, and that's one thing I've learned. She asked me "Do you ever just let yourself be sad?" and at the time I was still all "fuck no, being sad is a useless emotion." but I was wrong. Being sad can sometimes allow you to just let it out, which I think is a very very good thing. Trying to restrain a normal human feeling is stupid. It's your body; stop punishing it for doing what is normal and right for it to do. I think of negative feelings as invaders of your body and it's your job to either get them back out of you or change them into neutral or positives.

So now, it's hard but it's like that gall-dang serenity prayer. I try to accept the things I can't control and try to change either the issue or myself, or the situation of the things that I can.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #26 on: 19 Jun 2008, 22:27 »

I didn't say writing was bad, only that shuttering onesself up will solve absolutely nothing and, while people need "alone" time after dealing with a tragedy or trauma to try to take it in a cope, just staying in and doing nothing is not only potentially dangerous, it's also kind of self-pitying. I'm sure that sounds harsh, but I've been through a fair share of traumas that go well beyond standard teenage angst, and I've learned that in the long run, if you truly want to 'beat' your problems, you have face them, confront them and eventually accept them.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #27 on: 19 Jun 2008, 23:48 »

Ah, I see then. We're basically on the same page!

if you truly want to 'beat' your problems, you have face them, confront them and eventually accept them.

I guess I was assuming that those three things happen with the alone time.
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #28 on: 20 Jun 2008, 09:19 »



"Oh man, this thread is so heavy. Why does this thread have to be bringing everything down in the whole woooorld."
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #29 on: 20 Jun 2008, 11:27 »

Here's something I'm not sure how to react to: I just checked the evaluations from a course I taught last semester, and the responses were more polarized than I've ever seen before, with a pretty even split between people who loved the class and people who hated it. Normally I come away from evaluations with a number of changes I should implement in how I run classes, but this time practically every piece of feedback from one person was contradicted by other people. Y'know, like a few people commented that there was too much unstructured work time vs. lecture, while other people commented that there wasn't enough work time. About the only thing I know for sure I should do I already knew anyway; I need to check my email account at that school regularly.

Not looking for any specific advice here I suppose, just thought that was relevant to the thread.

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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #30 on: 21 Jun 2008, 00:14 »

I also thought this thread was about cards.

Generally I deal with things via acceptance while bashing out thrash metal riffs. I honestly can't think of any other method than acceptance - if something has happened, it has happened and you are better off getting the mood slump out of the way early. The thrash metal riffs are there to turn self pity into anger and rationalisation thereof. Putting my emotions into a musical context leads me to question my innate motives for feeling them, after which I decide whether I am being rational or not.
Then, I decide whether these motives contradict with my personal philosophy or not. I guess dealing with things is my way of filtering out hypocrisy and double-standards in my values.

Sometimes, when people hurt me very, very much, I end up writing a good song! Fair trade.
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Patrick

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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #31 on: 21 Jun 2008, 03:59 »

I've learned that behavioral adaptation is the best way to deal with new and shitty situations. It's worked for thousands of years on our ancestors' problems, so why the hell shouldn't they work on mine?
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Re: Learning to deal
« Reply #32 on: 21 Jun 2008, 12:24 »

I find the best way of dealing with anything and everything is never being the same person twice. People who have met me once often go away after a second meeting feeling abused or misled because of my being completely different to how I was last time. The only real friends I have are: those who have learned to deal with the state of constant flux my personality is in, and the dissonant voices of my fractured psyche. I have developed so many "skins" that my core has dissolved from their weight and I am no longer really anybody. When you are everybody, however, things tend to slide off you more easily, given that your new you is less hurt or affected by a situation than the previous you was.

This is probably all due to something catastrophically wrong with me. Maybe I am a schizophrenic. Maybe I am just a little bit broken.

See you all after I've inverted reality.
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