Log in

No account? Create an account


Posted on 2012.05.30 at 15:43
Current Location: 67114
Current Music: Swashbuckler - Myth, Faith, Belief/Horner - A Beautiful Mind
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


The more I discover, the more I am in awe. The more I thought I knew how life was supposed to be, the more I've had to unlearn. Simply put, I was wrong. About everything. I now understand that even thinking that things "should" be a certain way is indicative of cognitive distortion, the hideously opaque mask of mood disorders - once we know what to look for.

When we know what to be on the lookout for, it becomes rather easy to spot the cognitive distortions in others. It may be a little more challenging to spot our own, but it is possible. Doing so usually brings lasting positive change in the way we experience stressors in our life.*

Of course given my nature I am far more interested in spotting and cutting out my own seeds of negativity. Besides, its near-impossible pointing out shortcomings in others. They become irrationally defensive (despite the fact I wasn't even accidentally attacking the poster). No thank you. I'll pull the plank from my own eye first to empower myself with jesus-authority prior to removing the speck from theirs. I do this for one reason alone - I DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE LIMITATIONS OF LOVE. I seek lasting positive change in the way I experience stressors in my life.

"Should Statements" occur when anyone thinks anything should happen a certain way. No matter what we think is normal or right is immediately wrong if we believe it should be that way - and all of a sudden we're treading the dangerous waters of expectation - where disappointment lurks. When someone doesn't behave as we think they should, we become hurt or angry or resentful. When we ourselves break our own rules of how we think we should act or behave, the emotional consequence is guilt. The problem lies with reality - which often never seamlessly matches up with what we experience. "Should" is someone else's ideas planted in our head that we didn't know were false, and which have no basis in our everyday lives except to frustrate us when nothing seems to go as planned. The problem isn't anyone else, rather entirely our own fault. Unsurprisingly, this brings us right back to personal responsibility. We alone are solely in command of our every thought, our every action, and our every consequence. Right or wrong we feel how we choose to feel 100% of the time.

Our feelings follow what we are thinking. When we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or worried, our thoughts about ourselves or the thing we’re worried about are almost always negative.* And negative thoughts like these can send us spiraling down into depression. If we think something often enough, we begin to believe it's true and our feelings match what we are thinking.*


The funny (or sad, really) thing about cognitive distortion is that it very nearly (not entirely) falls along the same lines as self-fulfilling prophesies. That being, negative beliefs predicate negative behavior. Its entirely about false definitions evoking new behaviors - nothing positive ever comes from it. But it was being led down this primrose path in which I discovered why I am an optimist - cognitive distortion! Optimists apparently can subvert cognitive distortion into positivity. And all this time I used to think pessimists were a natural balance to optimists. Nope! Pessimism is nothing more than another brutal mask of mood disorder. Goes to show how much unlearning is required when we think things should be a certain way.

Optimists explain positive events as having happened because of them (internal). They also see them as evidence that more positive things will happen in the future (stable), and in other areas of their lives (global). Conversely, they see negative events as not being their fault (external). They also see them as being flukes (isolated) that have nothing to do with other areas of their lives or future events (local). Understandably, if you’re an optimist, this bodes well for your future. Negative events are more likely to roll off of your back, but positive events affirm your belief in yourself, your ability to make good things happen now and in the future, and in the goodness of life.*


Psychology, Spirituality and Eastern religions. The more I know, the more I know I don't know. When I first read the quote in Psychology Today which stated, "Attachment reduces marriage to a quest for safety, security, and compensation for childhood disappointments." It didn't immediately dawn on me they were using the word attachment as the Buddhists do, as the origin of suffering as detailed by the Four Noble Truths on which the cessation of such is the Noble Eightfold Path. The Wheel of Dharma. Psychology. Spirituality. I've read many times over that the application of Buddhism is eerily similar to that of cognitive-behavior therapy. One might draw the correlation that psychology is our version of those Eastern religions.

Take a look at the prism of self-realization as filtered through this trifecta:

Even Plato taught that the attachments and defining illusions & behaviors that human beings conventionally rely on for security, respect, affection, social identity, and other needs must be questioned and abandoned in their original form.* In short, continual, aggressive reevaluation without provocation.*


It just so happens that I was introduced to interdependence through a Psychology Today article on marriage - but my initial, though limited understanding of it, is that it can be applied much more broadly. To all relationships, friendships, acquaintances and even to society at large for there is no society without us, without our individual thoughts and actions operating in relationship to the greater whole. Therefore attempt to search for application in that vein despite the martial context of the quotes. Unhealthy and unsustainable can transcend marriage and seep into our personal lives no matter what our station is.

Wikipedia revealed to me that the first recorded use of the word was in Karl Marx' Communist Manifesto which I then delved into to glean the original meaning - in this case the opposite of narrow-mindedness in the required adaptability of burgeoning nation-states. This jives with interdependence psychologist David Schnarch (the subject of Pamela Weintraub's article in PT) who likens dependency in relationships to the emotional security an adult would provide an infant. The opposite in relationships isn't independence, which is easy compared to pursing our own goals and standing up for our own beliefs, personal likes and dislikes in the midst of a relationship, no, the relational opposite is interdependence.

Interdependence allows partners who are each capable of handling their own emotional lives to focus on meeting their own and each other's ever-evolving goals and agendas in response to shifting circumstances. Dependent partners by contrast spend their lives compensating for each other's limitations and needs.

Therapeutically Schnarch recommends a dynamic process he calls differentiation; living within proximity to an emotional partner while not caving to pressure from them in order to maintain a sense of self. This could again be applied between not only spouses but lovers and friends and neighbors as well. Acknowledging and overcoming differences in who we are rather than making excuses for them or worse, trying to change ourselves or our partner. A process which requires discomfort and confronting conflict. A dynamic process remember; Active. Not passive. Basically, continual, aggressive reevaluation without provocation. Interesting how that keeps coming up.

There are twelve nidanas or "preconditions" for causal relations in Buddhist philosophy, of which two are agreed upon to be the most important for enlightenment/self-realization/interdependence:

  • Ignorance

    • The lack of wisdom not limited to not having learned some fact that they need to know, but rather rather that their habitual ways of perceiving the world are fundamentally flawed thus they are "blinded" by greed, desire, lust, etcetera.

  • Craving

    • A desire not to be separated from pleasurable sensations and to be free from painful sensations becoming reinforced into habitual patterns of attachment and aversion.

Believe it or not, I'm not making this up - though I admit it sounds like some shit I would say - this is actual Buddha philosophy. And it fits into our Western psychology quite seamlessly. Point is, for those of us who may eschew one over the other, it becomes increasingly difficult to pretend both sources are in error.

An argument is valid if and only if the truth of its premises entails the truth of its conclusion. It would be self-contradictory to affirm the premises and deny the conclusion.

And my point is this gives rise to self-validation (see optimist, above). Schnarch suggests rather than asking someone else for their stamp of approval, in which case rejection affects our self-worth, even if our partner were to aggressively reject or withhold that approval, by having respected our own thoughts and feelings we've maintained our sense of self-worth. He goes on to say that by having said what we think without fear of rejection, we are ironically loved and respected even more by our partner for speaking our true mind and are therefore now free to choose to be with our partner out of mutual respect instead of feelings of dependency - dependency being the state in which one person uses another person for a specific purpose. I wish to neither "use" someone nor in turn be "used" by them. Its not sustainable.

True, sustainable security can only come through self-reliance. I personally have been seeking communication without repercussion for a very long time. It would appear the search is now over, for apparently I alone am responsible to be the very thing I desire.

Be the change you want to see in the world. ~Ghandi

Schnarch has his own version of the Four Noble Truths he calls "Points of Balance" which emphasize resilience. As a gentle reminder, these are in direct opposition with cognitive distortion's inflexible all-or-nothing-no-change-under-any-circumstance viewpoint. These require adaption and quick redirection without losing track of one's overall goals, agendas, or sense of self.

  1. Operating according to deeply held personal values and goals even when pressured to abandon them.

  2. Handling one's own inner emotional life and dealing with anxiety and emotional bruises without needing to turn to a partner for help.

  3. Not overreacting - but still facing - difficult people and situations.

  4. Forbearance and perseverance in the face of failure and disappointment to accomplish one's goals.

We alone are responsible for our happiness - easily enough said, more difficult to comprehend. But these are the repeatable metrics, recipes if we must for excelling at life, no matter what it throws at us. Not life as we expect it should be, but life as it actually is. These are the tools to use to manufacture our own hopes, our own dreams, and to realize our own desires. We can use others to bolster us, help propel us toward those goals - but only ever mutually, never at our own expense. Dependency and attachment weakens us. The more we become their master, the more we take charge of our destiny. Do not settle for anything less.

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.*


codekitten at 2012-05-31 13:32 (UTC) (Link)

We alone are responsible for our happiness

you say so many things here that i feel...but never gelled together in my mind quite so succinctly. especially the part about partners/spouses and differentiation. it's hard to communicate that idea which you've done gently here.

ehowton at 2012-05-31 14:55 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

I appreciate you taking the time out to tell me so! It takes me an incredible amount of energy to just conceptualize the relationships in such seemingly disparate ideas, and even more time to assemble it into something which makes sense, or at least makes sense to me. Most of the time I think I come across as stark raving mad. Your validation reminds me this effort is worthwhile to more than just myself. Thank you.
codekitten at 2012-06-02 11:24 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

you come across as a person stretching and pushing against the boundaries of what you know/don't know. it's amazing!

the brilliance in some of these ideas that you put together are sometimes intimidating to respond to...i have to admit it makes me feel a *tiny* bit better that you said it takes you an incredible amount of time and energy. :)
ehowton at 2012-06-02 13:56 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

you come across as a person stretching and pushing against the boundaries of what you know/don't know.
Yes! Both fascinate me. Not so much the epistemology, but the practical application of the end result. Believe it or not I seek only invalidation - logical conclusions which differ from my own in which I can learn from - I don't have much to work with here. That said, I appreciate that you recognize what it is I actually do.

you said it takes you an incredible amount of time and energy. :)
And that may be a bit of an understatement. I use every method at my disposal for these purposes, up to and including my reliance upon Nocturnal Subconscious Processing both emotional and logical. I know that if I don't understand something elusive, a night of sleep will help me sort it out :)
CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2014-12-05 01:36 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

No, no one thinks you're stark raving mad at all.
michelle1963 at 2014-12-05 02:20 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

Thank you for resurrecting this post Celtmanx. It's been a long time since I've read it. Still so much food for thought.
CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2014-12-05 04:30 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

I'm glad you enjoyed reading it again, but I'm afraid I can't take credit for resurrecting it. It was all the old mans idea.
ehowton at 2014-12-05 12:46 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2014-12-05 19:39 (UTC) (Link)

Re: We alone are responsible for our happiness

Well I hope so, I'm known for my awesome sense of humor!!!
michelle1963 at 2012-05-31 15:21 (UTC) (Link)
Should and expectation can also indicate a sense of entitlement, when applied against another's behavior. For example: "My employer SHOULD give me the promotion," or "My spouse SHOULD send me red roses every Valentine's Day."

In relationships a sense of entitlement is particularly damaging, because it allows for no positive effect. While it's easy to see the negative outcome. If I am "entitled" to..., and it doesn't occur, then the end result is negative. Less obvious is the fact that if one feels entitled and the spouse meets the expectation, then the net result is neutral. I expected it and it happened. Result: I don't have to feel bad. There is no avenue for feeling good. There is only, I'm not disappointed or I am. Not that I am ecstactic at the thoughtful gesture. Absent is the positive boost one receives when there is no expectation and the spouse does something nice.

Should, expectation, and entitlement are a sure set up for feeling bad.

ehowton at 2012-05-31 15:48 (UTC) (Link)
FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT. In those same pages of PT concerning difficult people, one was identified as The Egoist, in which two of the four traits, "unable to compromise" and "takes everything personally" conspire against them in a damaging circular relationship.

They use the term "entitlement" in describing them.

A person who is convinced his perspectives, beliefs, and values are right cannot tolerate any conciliatory conversations.

What separates this person from say you or me - who can be at times quite egotistical, is this:

Something happens and we ego-involved and lose perspective, but with the truly egoic, such a response is independent of the stimulus.

Interesting! Thanks for the addition :)
michelle1963 at 2012-05-31 17:09 (UTC) (Link)
The Egoist, in which two of the four traits, "unable to compromise" and "takes everything personally" conspire against them in a damaging circular relationship.

Oh man! What a recipe for personal disaster.

michelle1963 at 2012-05-31 17:19 (UTC) (Link)
Attachment. I suspect when most people read that one should rid himself of attachments, they assume this means that you should not love others. This is an incorrect interpretation. Buddhists do not mean we should not love others. It means that we should be complete as individuals and not rely on things or others to make us feel complete.

The weird side of this is that romantic love in western society promotes the exact opposite idea ~ that we will not be complete until we find our one true love. It starts with our children's fairy tales. Cinderella is rescued by a prince. So is Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. GAG! It inadvertently promotes the idea of dependency.

So the prince stands alone and the princess is totally dependent.

This jives with interdependence psychologist David Schnarch (the subject of Pamela Weintraub's article in PT) who likens dependency in relationships to the emotional security an adult would provide an infant.

While we expect an infant to dependent, we do not expect fellow adults to rely on us for sense of security. When this occurs the relationship becomes decidedly unequal. The person who is the source of security is not allowed to waver, the expectation being that s/he must be available 24/7 to be that bastion. The source is not allowed to be too tired, too down, too preoccupied because this causes insecurity in the dependent person. Even being sick is looked at as a major inconvenience to the dependent person. Often there is no compassion, and instead the dependent person may blame the source of security for being sick. "If you just hadn't worked too hard...," or "If you just hadn't run yourself down...," or "Why did you feel it necessary to help the neighbor? You knew she was sick..."

The source never receives reassurance back, and over time may begin to feel used.

Edited at 2012-05-31 06:08 pm (UTC)
ehowton at 2012-05-31 19:06 (UTC) (Link)
The weird side of this is that romantic love in western society promotes the exact opposite idea

Indeed. Especially given our other idiosyncratic Western ideals. Post-war artificial limitations to enhance quality of life. I like to think of it as a merge between propaganda and utopia. It sure sounds nice, but its not really rooted in reality.
ehowton at 2012-05-31 19:09 (UTC) (Link)
The source never receives reassurance back, and over time may begin to feel used.

You've explained this phenomenon to me before, but from what I've recently learned both parties are responsible for adhering to the cycle. And its far easier to change oneself than to change someone else. How that would work in reality will never be known, but its worth contemplating I think.
michelle1963 at 2012-05-31 19:21 (UTC) (Link)
You've explained this phenomenon to me before, but from what I've recently learned both parties are responsible for adhering to the cycle.

Agreed. The problem is that at the outset often the security source is not completely aware of the dependency. In fact, the security source may initially feel a bit like a hero for being able to soothe his or her companion. It isn't until the patterns are in place for awhile that realization starts to dawn, and then extrication from the pattern becomes difficult.
ehowton at 2012-05-31 19:41 (UTC) (Link)
I think that can be said about a lot of things we ultimately experience - we learn from them - its when we can apply what we've learned that we grow, and that growth isn't always fun or easy, but almost always necessary.
codekitten at 2012-06-02 11:33 (UTC) (Link)
i always feel different than most other women...including my friends. they *bound* from one relationship to the next, frantic to be coupled up.

i suggest things like, say, going outside, reading a book, volunteering, etc....something *anything* for a couple of months. just pause and take a break and be quiet with yourself. but they never do...

you always speak of the biological perspective on things...i wonder how much is that vs. this idea that we are not complete unless we are coupled up.
michelle1963 at 2012-06-02 16:42 (UTC) (Link)
That's a very astute observation ~ the biological imperative. I suspect that biology does play a role and then societal expectation backs the biology for a double-whammy.

Additionally, it seems to me that many people have difficulty with personal self-confidence and security. There's nothing to give both a boost like finding a mate ~ despite the fact that if those are the reasons for finding a mate, it leaves one vulnerable when that companionship is withdrawn.
codekitten at 2012-06-02 11:35 (UTC) (Link)
don't get me started on the Snow White thing...i swore i would never cave on that. i have. she freaking loves all that princess stuff....it's got to be from day care because i sure didn't introduce it.

so i just try to balance it with other ideas/activities/strengths and think it will all *probably* be ok :)

she has recently started asking me, "mommy, will i get married?" my answer - "when you're over 30".
ehowton at 2012-06-02 12:09 (UTC) (Link)
What I didn't know about raising kids before I had them could fill volumes. I used to think that the parents were somehow responsible for molding their children's personalities. Nope. DAY ONE they were set, and individually different from each other. I was fascinated that with no information whatsoever my son gravitated toward traditionally male oriented toys and colors and my daughter traditionally female. I still marvel over it today.
codekitten at 2012-06-02 14:20 (UTC) (Link)
i have tried to be neutral-ish. i'm not fanatical about it but have tried to introduce cars/trucks/etc to A*. she's not interested AT ALL. same for w*...he just immediately veered towards boy things.

it's one of the most interesting real-life experiments to witness in person...i've come to the conclusion that it's mostly not up to us...and that's liberating!
ehowton at 2012-06-02 15:18 (UTC) (Link)
I wholeheartedly agree with that conclusion. My job entails pretty much just providing them experiences, helping them learn how to think, and supporting their ever-changing dreams.

The rest, as you mention, is out of our hands!
codekitten at 2012-06-02 14:24 (UTC) (Link)
here's a scientific study i was reading indicating that "psychological well-being" (happiness?) is largely based on genetics. environment is largely "weak and non-significant". on one hand, it makes it seem like there's very little we can do to influence our own or others happiness. on the other hand, there's not much you can do to screw up the kids! :P

michelle1963 at 2012-06-02 16:46 (UTC) (Link)
Fascinating! Twins are a perfect vehicle for studying such things. I'm almost always amazed at the degree genetics influence mood, behavior, etc.

Thanks for sharing!
michelle1963 at 2012-06-02 16:43 (UTC) (Link)
ehowton at 2014-05-28 04:00 (UTC) (Link)
Is that a John Williams Waterhouse avatar? Big fan here :D
codekitten at 2014-05-28 11:54 (UTC) (Link)
I think Drew Barrymore would be so flattered if she heard you say that!!!


When she and I were about that age (17?) we looked very similar.

So I also will take it as a compliment :D
Previous Entry  Next Entry