My problem is less internal confusion about pain equaling effort and more of a need to credibly perform painful effort to others. I fear that if I’m happy and relaxed and don’t perform well, it will seem as though I didn’t care about my collaborators or that I cavalierly stole my employer’s money. On the flip side, I seem to think that I can purchase the right to be lazy/not expose myself to criticism by making myself suffer— conspicuously, so those to whom I am responsible see it.
I don’t think my fears of not suffering when I’m “supposed to” are entirely baseless. When your boss thinks pain is the unit of effort, it’s at the very least your unit of evaluation. But I think most of that is in my head, and that I superstitiously believe the pain of effort and self-flagellation can protect me from the pain of judgment.
My only question is, why privilege your “natural state” so much? Seems like naturalistic fallacy. For example, why would I think my anger at my partner is more authentic than how I would feel if we had sex? When that happens, I usually remember how much I love them and let go of my anger, which feels a lot more true to me. And what’s the true amount of funny for a movie?
I think saying “everything in moderation” is a really unsatisfying answer, but it’s true here. Sex can warp your judgment but it’s also a need for most people. Overeating can make you complacent with a bad situation, but that doesn’t mean your judgment is better when you’re hungry. Unfortunately there’s no one true base state and we need to keep applying inputs as well as abstaining to stay in the right zone.
I'm concerned that rationalist values can promote excessive sliding, just because that seems like the virtuous thing to do, when really much of the new evidence we receive is weak or inconclusive (at least at the time we recieve it). Looking to adjust your slider after every conversation seems to be setting yourself up for error, to me, because I don't think it's realistic to think we can discriminate that well based on evidence that would otherwise be so easy to dismiss as it trickles in. Although, for many beliefs, I suppose there isn't much reason to privilege your previous level of credence over what you feel after getting slightly more ambiguous evidence...
As someone who fatefully discovered dissociation/depersonalization/derealization (https://mhollyelmoreblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/dissociation/) around 10 only to have shit hit the fan in my 20s, I think I can articulate what’s lost when you lose touch with emotions. At first it feels great to ride above the pain, for me social pain in particular, and only come back down when it’s safe, like at home with my family. But eventually you can’t come back down to experience even essential things like interest, excitement, most of all love and connection. I feel that I was slowly bleeding out the entire time I was away from my body, never fully replenishing what was lost, and after years I was just empty and shriveled. I had my first real depression at the end of college and I felt mostly numb but also miserable and heavy. There was a deep sense of loss for I didn’t know what. Now I know what I was craving was a sense of being embodied, of feeling real and being connected to the world.
Healing sucks immensely because years of dissociating from emotion makes them very intense and when you come back and your coping skills extremely weak. But coming back to your body and your feelings is really the only way to come back to life. Being estranged from them is actively rejecting the reality of your experience and dividing yourself. It’s the autoimmune disease of the soul. Someone who’s checked out of a major part of their experience is not only missing the experience, but engaged in a civil war to keep it that way. You may be safe from barbed emotions when you’re dissociated, but eventually you’re not able to rest even in your own experience. It’s a torture that’s difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it to understand but I hope I’ve given some insight.
I feel you so much on depersonalization seeming super awesome until you realize you’re cut off from life itself in many ways. I’m still mad how much the outside world seems to appreciate when you’re half-dead inside...
Strongest upvote. My life story is very similar— what I thought was just discipline totally handling my emotional and personality issues was actually an internally (and sometimes outwardly) abusive system that imploded after enough major life stressors.
I’ve written about the self-righteousness and judgment that came ultimately from not respecting my own vulnerabilities and needs here:
My model there is that I had a strong internal critic that I thought was protecting me from sucking and being unlovable. I liked to turn that critic on others (self-righteousness) because it gave me a break and made me feel safe, like at least I was better than them. But the real problem was how overpowered the critic was and that it had access to my feelings of self-love and self-acceptance at all.
Do you also take medication?
Spaciousness is such an important concept for all people but especially those with mood disorders. But it’s so hard to explain to new and skeptical people. I’m most fond of Tara Brach’s way of describing spaciousness, “you are not the waves— you are the ocean.” Another helpful image from her is that having space is “the difference between putting dye into a bathtub and putting the same amount of dye into the ocean.”
My model: I think quality attention is a finite resource, and that many people have a ravenous appetite for attention. The people around them are not under any obligation to do the emotional labor to give them their fill. Expressing a desire for attention (or anything your interlocutor could give you), overtly or covertly, easily comes off as a manipulative indirect request/demand. This is why people find attention-seeking so gross. Because attention-seeking is agreed upon as a contemptible behavior, people use this as a weapon against each other and accuse others to throw everyone else off the scent of their own vulnerability.
I really relate to wanting attention but feeling degraded, or like it's not acceptable, when I ask for it. I had a different reaction to it, which was to become a thought leader among my friends who always knew what was morally and factually right. This made me shiny to a lot of people but also let me fall back to a righteous stance if someone didn't like me.
I wish wanting attention weren't treated as if it were so disgusting. I grew up hearing "Don't listen to him. He just wants *attention*" with contempt in the speakers' voices. My parents weren't like that, but I got the message all the same. A deisrable person, the person who would get the attention, didn't give a shit what people thought of them.
I've never heard of IFS in particular but I really like the sound of it! I have sort of naturally started experiencing my mind as consisting of multiple parts and agents as a result of therapy and introspection (also studying neuroscience and evolutionary psychology). It really helps me to understand and accept my mind as it is when I don't believe it's actually one consistent thing, but multiple modules with potentially conflicting goals.