Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Nicaragua 2019

I own a piece of a property in Nicaragua, as I wrote about in this earlier newsletter, and I stayed there from December 4 to December 14th.  I finished reading Jordan Peterson's first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief and it changed me.  I started reading Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist on the plane on the way there.  Coelho's book was a gift from a nearly perfect stranger I met at jury duty in November. I leaned over to peak at the cover of her book and she held it up for me.  I'd heard of it on the Tim Ferriss Show (a podcast to which I subscribe). I'm lucky that I get a lot of books either from or because of smart people I know or listen to.  I haven't gotten to read that much in a very long time, and that's probably why it changed me.

I was already on a path to see value in doubt, and my (non) experience in Nicaragua increased the value I see in it.  I call it a "(non) experience" because I got to do nothing so much.  There were lots of things I did do, including seeing two pigs mate, cutting down fast growing trees so that slower-growing (stronger, and longer lasting) trees can get the sun they need to grow, befriending some dogs who serve as alarms, eating clean and healthy, locally grown food every day that I didn't have to prepare, and sleeping from dusk till dawn, which was about eleven or twelve hours.  And there were fireflies.

Doubt is hope, and which word you use is based on whether you're being optimistic or pessimistic.  At the same time hope is not a strategy, and many people recognize the seeds of destruction in hope. If all you do is hope, failure just becomes more likely.  It's taking action, even when you doubt that you will succeed, that increases the chances of success. An open mind will learn from failure, and learning is a kind of success too. My younger sister Anitra who died of breast cancer almost five years ago, gave me a shirt from a program she worked, "Supercamp," with seven keys to success on it, and one of them was "Failure leads to success."

Today I heard part of Tim Ferriss' interview of Marcela Ot'alora.  He asked her several questions about how one "sits for" someone who takes MDMA or some other psychedelic substance for the purpose of healing. Now that I'm writing this (fulfilling a promise I've been making to everyone who asked me how my trip was), I think a good way to put it is that I went there to "sit for" myself as I allowed it (myself, which I'm objectifying as my body and the experiencing spirit that lives in it) to do whatever it wanted. There are a lot of things for which I take responsibility when I'm home, and I got to let them all go.  I came back and take on these responsibilities and more with more energy and optimism than I had before.  It worked!

I've been making the claim that "I don't get bored."  It's not really true, but I like to make it as true as I can.  Being bored is an extreme luxury if you really think about it. Most creatures usually have something that needs to be done by a certain time, and they will work on doing that thing. If there's enough time, they will lounge around instead, and eventually, the need overtakes them and they get up and do it. I went to Nicaragua because I like lounging around.  I did a lot of it, and I still like it and do a lot of it.  I didn't have enough of an Internet connection to plan my next one, so I'll go work on that now.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

My Internal Family System

One of the practices that can help a person avoid the destructive symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder ("DID") is to integrate their various personalities by having them communicate with each other and work together.  People who have not been diagnosed with any kind of disorder (and even those who have) can also benefit from recognizing and integrating various personalities that they might imagine they hold.  On my walk this morning, I worked on identifying and naming several of my own.  In the hope of inspiring you, I will introduce some of them.

I ask who wants to be introduced first, and it's "Thomas" (from "Doubting Thomas," the apostle who doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead).  I christen my ability to doubt, "Thomas," and you have probably met him if you've read other blog posts of mine.  Okay, who's next?

Theresa, probably because I'm proud of her too.  I chose that name because of the popular conception of "Mother Theresa" as an extremely compassionate person.  This part of me seeks to recognize other people's pain (as well as my own), and offer those suffering from it some understanding. Next?

Phil, who is named after Phil Collins, because of his song "In the Air Tonight," and the "bitterness and frustration" that I sometimes express. He is one of the last personalities I discovered. I figured I had gotten nearly all the "personalities" I can exhibit and asked if anyone was missing.  Phil showed up, just as a name, and then I realized that I hadn't really accounted for feelings I tend to suppress.  Sorry, Phil, I will honor you more in the future.

Greg (short for "Gregarious") seems to be a relatively new personality, perhaps because he was pretty insignificant until I went through The Forum, a training and development seminar from Landmark Worldwide.

David, the little boy who was abandoned.  He's the first personality I met (or invented).  I had been walking around the block considering a recent School Sucks podcast in which I heard about "Internal Family Systems Therapy." I introspected to see if I felt there were any personalities inside myself that might need attention, and a little abandoned boy showed up. I attach this to having to stay at school when my mom dropped me off at Preschool.  I only remember crying because I didn't want her to leave me.

Frank, who is ashamed of my sexuality.  His name comes from Francisco d'Anconia, a character in Atlas Shrugged who was known as a playboy.

Yoda, who is always saying "It's Okay," like my boss at iBus/Phoenix from many years ago, Mien Shih.  Yoda is an excellent Stoic.  He knows that our memories and our cognitive abilities are there to take the worst of situations, once they are in the past, and draw useful conclusions from them to have a better future.  That's why he's always there to alleviate my concerns and slow me down when I'm ready to jump into a situation and stop something that is about to happen. Yoda is the space between stimulus and response for me.

Chuck, or Charlie, from Charlie Brown, because he's the "peanut gallery."  He's funny.

Ed (prospective name, from my Toastmasters club) who likes to talk.  The reason Ed and Greg are two different personalities is that I like active listening.  Allowing someone to express themselves, again because of The Forum, is something I enjoy a lot, and it's Greg's function. Chuck and Ed could be the same, but I do like to have something useful to say when Ed has the floor (not "the light" because I think keeping others in the dark is foolishly dangerous).  Chuck just shows up for one-liners without much respect for anyone else, internal or external.

I made up all these personalities by questioning where a thought came from. What motivated me to do this today was that I was thinking one thing and then lost it to another thought that took over.  I can't remember either thought now, but I figured that those two competing motivations could more effectively work together if I distinguished them and created an intention.  I called a meeting in my head and started asking "people" (men, personalities, whatever) to speak up. This strategy was mentioned in a recent Tim Ferriss podcast as a way to get back to sleep when that was difficult.

There may be personalities that I've left out, as this is not an exhaustive exercise.  If you ever talk to me, and you feel that one of these personalities might be a better interlocutor, please remind me.  You have their names, and you are free to use the same names to name your own internal family members who share these traits.