You, the thing listening to this advice, is just a small part of a greater whole, much of which you (the thing listening to this advice) are not consciously aware of. This is because you were built by your genes to be good mainly at one thing: reproducing. That's all your genes care about. They don't care about your happiness or achievements or having a fulfilled life. In fact, they don't even really "care" about reproducing, except the same way that water cares about flowing downhill.
Your negative emotions are real. The pain you feel is real. But it's not you. It's something that is being done to you. In that regard it is exactly the same as physical pain, which is also not part of you, but rather something done to you. The fact that you're depressed is no more a character flaw than the fact that it hurts when you skin your knee.
I own everything, everything that happens to me, everything that goes wrong around me, I take my share of responsibility in it. Analyze what I can do to improve it, and do it.
When I think like what you mentioned I tend to lose control of my emotions, I feel angrier, I feel sadder. When I own what happens to me, I feel peace. I know almost everything can be improved. Maybe not short term, but eventually.
Coming back to the other side, I think the core of it is that thinking that stuff is happening to me makes me feel like a victim. I don't take responsibility for anything, thus it must be the fault of some external factor. I try to rationalize and assign blame. All in all, it's a much more negative experience for me.
Some kids are naturally reckless and should be told to always look both ways when crossing the street, and to stop and think and make sure. Some kids are naturally anxious and would have always looked both ways because they knew there were cars and cars are scary, so telling them how scared they should be is going to make navigating a city like a normal person will be an exercise in fear.
If you're depressed and you have no good reason to be as depressed as you are, then the way you feel is going to be something you feel bad about and it shouldn't be. You didn't cause it or bring it on yourself. You didn't make a bad choice.
On the other hand, neither are you powerless in the course of your life, and if your natural inclination is feeling helpless rather than guilty, it's not helpful to think about it as though your feelings are just this unstoppable force rolling over you.
I think general advice just doesn't work very well. Everyone is the combination of decades of context. Some of it needs to be taken into account.
Really? Everything that happens to you? What if you were mugged?
I think you can (and should) take responsibility for what you do (or don't do), but I don't think you can (or should) take responsibility for what you feel because you don't have control over that.
You take ownership of how you respond to every situation. Things happen to you beyond your control, but you can be in control of how you handle and internalize it if you practice.
Not being able to control your feelings is false for the most part.
Giving up the sense of control over self and one's circumstances is well known to have depressive and demotivational psychological side-effects. Recognize that some things are outside your control, but something in every situation is under your control: your own mind. If you're interested in more, read up on Stoicism.
Free Will doesn't really enter into this, so we don't have to enter that rabbit hole.
The true nature of free will and its connection to determinism simply isn't relevant to whether desires are causally connected to outcomes, and so whether this belief is well founded.
Edit: the only way out of this is to be a fatalist, whereby outcomes will always happen no matter how hard you struggle against them, that they are independent of our desires. Few people subscribe to such a view though, and if you happen to, then I can only say I'm sorry.
Walking down a dark alley, alone, at night and not having a sense of situational awareness. I was nearly mugged because of that, and now have a much greater sense of situational awareness.
I know, I know, blaming the victim is bad, but sometimes clearly assessing what led you to be in a certain type of situation can help you avoid those types of situations in the future.
There is an epilogue to the story: after the incident I crawled to the phone and called 911. The police arrived a few minutes later, and a few minutes after that told me that they had caught the perpetrator. The put me in the back of a police car and drove me out to where they had a hispanic kid, maybe 15 years old, sitting on the curb in handcuffs. They asked me if I could identify him and I said no, it was dark, I couldn't see anything but a muzzle flash. So they let him go. I have no idea if I let an armed robber back out on to the street, but I've never lost a minute of sleep over that decision.
You own your actions, not your feelings.
A lot about owning a situation is allowing yourself to do what feels right, not creating a plan for every contingency and situation. Muggings happen and they're very unfortunate and bad. But owning it well isn't as much about future prevention as it is trying to make sure that you still can have control over yourself afterwards. Sometimes things happen; why did some guy key my beat up old 95 Accord and not the dozens of other cars? Probably alcohol, but the point is less about the specific reason and more what you do in response and how you are able to gain control and feel comfortable.
Where is the boundary between things inside your mind and things outside of your mind? Where does control get inserted into the process of things arising and falling away?
One way of thinking about this produces a realisation that nobody is in control, but nobody has been denied or robbed of control either. Instead, the idea of control appears to be a kind of misapplied concept.
I think this is a realistic interpretation of the evidence which does not lead to a depressive fugue, but only when it's absorbed beyond a textual description (a bit like how reading a program is different to running one, in HN-friendly terms).
This idea even comes with a catchy slogan: sometimes your brain has a mind of its own :-)
> The exterior things touch the soul in no way. They have no access to it and neither can change the mood of the soul nor move it. Rather it gives itself its mood and movement, and according to its judgements that it makes about its own dignity, it also values the exterior objects higher or lower.
-- Marcus Aurelius
In the zen view, the 'trick' is that there are no exterior things because the distinction between the exterior and interior is artificial. Processes of change may reach across that boundary just as they cross any other boundary we care to draw, so there is no absolutely self-governed component.
Assuming (perhaps wrongly, let me know if I'm overreaching) that you see your self as a stoic or happy to interpret them, what do you think the Aurelius quote above means? What is the soul which it's talking about?
We can identify patterns that remain stable for a bit, so you might say that my soul is whatever essential features or patterns remain unchanged, but on the long span I find it hard to imagine such features. After all I will be eaten by worms or incinerated sooner or later.
In general, any time you point to others and say "they did this to me" you remove your own power to change the situation. You may have to be creative, but personally I never want to give others that power.
> but I don't think you can (or should) take responsibility for what you feel because you don't have control over that.
I disagree with this. I consider the mind a muscle like any other. It can be trained and taught more productive ways of thinking .
 https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~drkelly/DFWKenyonAddress2005.pdf (please ignore that the author of this speech later shot himself in the head)
Of course you don't. But sometimes the laws of physics leave you no choice, in which case accepting that fact can save you a lot of heartache and frustration.
> I consider the mind a muscle like any other. It can be trained and taught more productive ways of thinking .
Of course it can. And I submit that one of those "more productive ways of thinking" is to understand the laws of physics and the constraints they impose on your agency, because if you don't do that you will be frustrated when reality doesn't live up to your expectations.
> please ignore that the author of this speech later shot himself in the head
And why should I ignore that? It seems like a pretty salient fact in the context of this conversation.
Different views of the world, I guess. If the laws of physics "leave me no choice" I'm personally going to still consider that my responsibility and look for ways to prevent that situation in future, if possible. Sometimes there really is nothing you could have done (e.g. fired by a scumbag boss who didn't reveal their nature until it was too late to do anything about it) but there is nearly always something you can do to respond.
>And why should I ignore that? It seems like a pretty salient fact in the context of this conversation.
I was half joking with the comment, but the non-joking part was more to say that just because this guy wasn't able to take his own advice and contain his "horrible master" doesn't mean everything he said is invalid. It's still something to strive for.
I hope nothing I said gave you the impression that I would in any way disagree with that.
> It's still something to strive for.
Of course. All I'm saying is that you should not despair if you don't always achieve it.
But I also lost someone very close to me in a totally pointless accident, like a flower pot falling on their head. There is no responsibility to accept there, just sadness. That's okay, a growing opportunity even, but still no blessing. So I don't fully subscribe to it -- it helps with people, but not completely with life.
It's nice if that works for you but for me it totally doesn't. I have once also tried to teach myself to think that way, but in the end figured out I'd just be lying to myself by trying to come up with an alternate formulation of a problem which makes it sounds less of a problem but in reality doesn't help as it does not find a solution.
For example me being depressed is just me, no way around it. Physically speaking it's probably the non-depressed version but with some altered chemical levels causing the brain areas where it originates to be more actuated than the rest. But it's still the same body, still the same mind, just an altered state. I found embracing that and reflecting on it works better than the 'it's being done to me' thought because the latter, to me, implies there's a cause to be found and to be cured. I'm an engineer, after all. Finding the cause of depression I wasted years of thinking on already, let alone curing it. It doesn't work. So better deal with it. Which is basically what Stoicism teaches us, btw.
I think you're missing a subtle but important distinction. Yes, it's you, but it's not just you. There is no "just" you. You are not a unified whole, notwithstanding that that's how you perceive yourself. That perception is an illusion. You are in fact more complicated than that. At the very least there is the conscious you and the unconscious you. There is the part of you that has agency and exercises free will (or at least has the illusion of exercising free will) and the part of you over which that first part has no control. That's the part that keeps your heart beating and your lungs breathing and rolls your over in your sleep and feels pain when you break your arm or eat ghost peppers. Depression, like other forms of pain (and pleasure BTW) originates in that second part. The part of you that has agency can't decide not to feel pain. The only thing that part of you can do is to interpret the pain differently and act on it differently.
> Finding the cause of depression I wasted years of thinking on already, let alone curing it. It doesn't work. So better deal with it. Which is basically what Stoicism teaches us, btw.
I don't see how anything I said contradicts that. Just because you find the cause of a problem doesn't mean you can fix it. In this case it's the exact opposite: it's the realization that you can't fix it that helps you deal with it because you can stop beating yourself up for not fixing it. Feeling emotional pain is not a failure on your part. It's just the way part of your brain works.
I frequently find when I try to share an idea and it's this abstract, it makes perfect sense in my head but it's clear it doesn't land at all.
I think ego destruction are still at the core of both your and this idea
Instead of being annoyed, perhaps you can find joy in watching what your mind perceives as beauty, just like people look at cars or sunsets?
My grandmother always used to live up when she saw us and complimented us on our looks, although I'm sure they were nothing spectacular. After having children myself, I'm beginning to understand her - there's something satisfying watching other people. I think we should accept those joys we receive for free here in life.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche
Because it affects his concentration?
He already expressed that in his post
" or at least why can't it be nothing at all so it doesn't interrupt my thinking"
Imagine if everyone around you in your workplace would think about how you're dressed instead of what you're actually trying to talk to them about.
I can't even conclusively tell the difference any more.
A) Noticing a woman's beauty when you first encounter her.
B) Making a 'valuation' of a woman 'solely' based on her looks.
What's really deeply disturbing about the above is the mind-control aspect, driven by shame. Not only must you censor your words, but you must also hate yourself for your involuntary thoughts. This is total ideological possession, as Peterson puts it.
And it's so, so familiar. I swear, soon enough progressive men will be wearing chastity belts to help banish impure thoughts, or hair shirts to make up for their privilege. I am not even sure I'm joking.
Personally I don't think that is a particularly good way to live though. The mind is our only refuge from the rest of society, and to attempt to censor your mind so it's more acceptable to society seems like a really sick thing to me.
To me it doesn't seem that OP is arguing against self-regulation or self-improvement in general, just self-regulation against conforming to society at large. That isn't to say one's own personal values aren't influenced by the values of society.
Thinking about it more the whole issue is incredibly complicated.
EDIT: Just to add that your comment's two halves are not logically connected. Even if we do act in this way, it doesn't make it a "critical part of what we are", or if it does, there is no reason that "critical parts" cannot be altered if need be. In the early 19th century most people would have thought that a 10 hour working day was too liberal - an 8 hour working day would have been unthinkable; but that "critical part" of people's way of perceiving society was not set in stone, as it turned out.
Whether this all derives from biology is hard to say - however the alternative is to suggest that we are all somehow indoctrinated to value physical attractiveness and would otherwise be saintlike in ignoring things that suggest genetic unfitness, such as obesity, small stature, disfigurement etc. Look at the animal kingdom - I don't think animals are gauging partners on their ability to tell a funny joke, or having the correct politics. The sex drive is one of our most basic drives. To think it's not still driven by basic prerogatives does not seem reasonable to me.
This helps with all sorts of things (e.g. you can't sleep because your head is full of thoughts, but getting angry and frustrated at them makes it worse!), and also with parent's situation.
If you haven't tried a meditation/mindfulness course, I can recommend it. As a session at the gym helps keep your body fit and helps prevent injury, a little time spent meditation keeps your mind healthy, and can help you stay on top of your thoughts.
When I feel bad I generally do a quick mental checklist: Have I drunk any water lately? Have I eaten? Have I had my pills? Usually the answer to at least one of those is 'no' and I feel better after correcting them. Then since my need for a warm place to sleep is pretty well settled, it jumps up a few notches to checking when the last time I cuddled someone was, how I feel about my current project, etc.
But I went farther than that.
I also learned to accept that my ideas and behaviors are inconsistent and it helped me better understand the world and myself.
And finally, I learned to accept that I sometimes do bad things (and desire to do even more bad things) and it made me a better person.
(Disclaimer: my experiments have n=1, no control group and subjective measurements chosen in hindsight.)
The human condition is suffering. Suffering comes from desire.
Rather than desire your unhappiness to disappear, you've accepted it. Thus, you do not suffer from it.
Or so they say.
Over the years, I've managed to train myself to be amused by feeling bad. Because it's so pointless and silly. And so I smile, feel happy, and consider what needs done. Sometimes what needs done is sleeping for 15 hours. But that's very different from refusing to get out of bed.
You feel like shit, that makes you unproductive and slow and dull. End of the day, you didn't get anything done because you stare at your text editor and your brain just refuses to engage in anything but panicking over... something. You get home, Now you still fill like shit the same as before, but also feel like shit over the fact that you didn't get anything done today and and you need to make up for it tomorrow. But then you don't get any proper sleep and you still have to catch and on lost time and you're in for a pretty bad day, but you shouldn't think like that, why are you wallowing in self pity, just get over yourself and get stuff done. But that doesn't really work, oh shit oh shit oh shit thingsarespiralingoutofcontrolwhatdoIdo?
You fall into that trap and now you're proper screwed. Anxiety is causing problems, problems are causing anxiety. The alternative is to learn to cut the second order effect short, which stops the loop. Yes, you had a bad day, and yes, your project is delayed because of it. What's done is done, and you can't fix it, so just accept it. Let people know you're behind schedule, replan if necessary, and move on.
In many ways, breaking that cycle is an exercise in allowing yourself self-compassion without indulging in self-pity.
That is, whatever past Foo did is done. Maybe he was a dickhead and didn't study for the exam that future Foo is gonna have to sit. So present Foo can be a better friend and get that shit out of the way now, so future Foo can relax, pass, and gets to drink beer.
Like that concept of being your own best friend, only the friend you're forgiving is your past self and the friend you're doing favours to is future you.
Helps to get away from hang-ups about what is already in the past, and for some reason many people struggle with the idea of themselves as a person they should be kind towards.
Step 1: Feel sad, depressed, stressed, lonely.
Step 2: Beat yourself up over #1
Step 3: Misery^2.
Simple doesn't mean easy.
I used to suffer from severe clinical depression and ultimately the only thing that's helped was to learn how to control my thoughts. It still rears its head when I'm tired, hungry, or drunk enough so I don't have the energy to control my thoughts. Hell, sometimes I just relax too much and forget to and it comes rushing back.
But on the bright side, the need for constant productive output has really helped both my career and my physique. Pros and cons I guess.
Ultimately I find this much more desirable than the antidepressants that just made me numb to everything.
How does one determine that someone is really "feeling bad about feeling bad" or whether they're satisfying some expectation of the experimenter or doing something else? And moreover, cause and effect can be slippery, maybe those with more extreme problems tend to be caused to do the thing the experimenter thinks is a mistake rather what they do having an effect.
worrying about worrying about worrying
Also (good starter collection): https://www.discogs.com/Alan-Watts-Out-Of-Your-Mind/release/...
(There seems to be a small industry of YouTubers taking snippets of Watts and adding music and images to make short inspiring videos. To be fair, most of them don't do the background music thing.)
Emotions are adaptations. They trigger in particular circumstances and they cause particular behaviors. The entire point of having an emotion is to engage in emotionally appropriate behavior until the circumstance has passed. Positive emotions are attractors towards the triggering class of circumstances, while negative emotions are repellers.
"Feeling bad about feeling bad" pretty much works out to be something like "naive gradient descent on the function that maps attention onto emotional valence". This doesn't solve the underlying situations that cause you to feel bad - it's like not looking at pictures of your dead wife, rather than grieving, getting support from friends and family, and then moving on with your life.
Emotional Valence and the Free-Energy Principle (2013) http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/jou...
Getting over homesickness seems to be about being able to accept the bad thoughts as you would do at home and move on, rather than "feeling bad about feeling bad" in the form of wishing you could just go home.
I'm fortunate enough to have never experienced it, but I imagine serious grieving is like this too.
As I've said, the book does re-package some millennia old ideas and adds couple of hundreds usages of the f*ck world -- because it's of highest priority to be witty for some, apparently. Hell, CBT essentially does the same -- but it doesn't feels witty as it should be, right? Witty is of utmost importance after all.
How do you know who downvoted you?
The more I am busy (with meaningful work) the less time I have time to feel bad about feeling bad or just thinking about this.
This doesn't mean one should escape into random work but that there maight be a slight correlation.
It can help as a distraction but not to fix the long term thought patterns - Anecdotally, I was super busy with meaningful work at university, but I was the most depressed I have ever been. The work offset it for some time, but it took a lot of non-work effort to improve the thought patterns.
Imagine you get busy because of external deadlines you cannot influence and you need get things done and don't have time to think a second about anything unrelated.
Even if you are in a bad mood and don't want to work you MUST because of the deadlines. Once you are working towards the deadlines, all bad feelings are gone.
Not sure how it works the way around, I am happy, now I make myself busy with random taks?
Edit: Still thinking about your opinion and now I might agree. If you feel good you might have the willpower to start new meaningful things which make you busy again.
> those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months
Yet the comments so far are mostly about "controlling your thoughts", rather than accepting negative emotions (and maybe looking at what they're trying to tell you rather than killing the messengers).
Just a few sessions with a psychologist who suggested 'mindful' behaviour (defined as observing your own emotions and not judging yourself rather than being involved in them) helped a pretty great deal.
As most people who have dealt with this probably know, trying to surpress anxiety symptoms does not help at all and mostly makes the attacks worse.
Point is directly fighting against something can keep you trapped by it. Rolling with it and working yourself into a better position without resistance can, eventually, take you away from the problem.
How can you change something if you're still denying it?