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Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 4:37pmSanction this postReply
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Question:

"When you've lost yourself, how do you find it again?"

Answer:

"Rather than look backward for the former actual Self you allegedly lost, look forward to the future ideal Self you seek to become, and then move forward in that direction."

See my post to a recent new member for additional articles to help with this.

References:

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

Smith, Hyrum W. The Ten Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management.

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Post 1

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 7:07pmSanction this postReply
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William,

I enjoyed your personal story and it resonated with me. I not only empathize, but sympathize, with most of it. Everyone "wrestles with demons" in life, and I've wrestled with similar "demons." [Forgive the spiritual language, but I think it's the current best way to capture this stuff.] However, the train of thought that stuck out for me the most (like a sore thumb) was this:

Trust in yourself without cause, the very thing that you cannot do. But the act of not trusting in yourself is the antithesis to who you are. You are your own God, and yet you donít have the faith to believe in it.
My knee-jerk reaction to this story is to tell you: "Cut yourself some slack, man!" -- it's like you suffer from what I refer to as: John Galt Syndrome (perceived psychological need of excellence in all things). If you hadn't said this quote above, then that would be all I'd say. But I think this quote drives into the heart of your "demon" -- so I'll add one more thing:

There's good cause to trust in yourself, a cause that doesn't require faith (i.e., unjustified belief).

Ed


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Post 2

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 8:51pmSanction this postReply
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And William, a couple other things (because advice is, in a sense, free) ...

:-)

In your essay you talk about directly seeking happiness, but there is an old truism (dating at least back to Aristotle) that you should not ever try to be happy. If you try to be happy, you never will be. Instead, Aristotle says, do things you like to do, and do them with excellence. As a by-product of this more specific behavior -- along with some "natural law" guidelines I offer below -- happiness becomes like an "emergent property" of your life. I judge life as successful if it rides on 3 rails and if all 7 wheels get traction. I meant that metaphorically. Here are my 3 rails:

1) Engaging in challenging work.
2) Procuring some psychological intimacy -- either with a romantic partner, a friend, or a mentorship (as either mentor OR student).
3) Expressing yourself through art.*

*Note: With your essay, you've just accomplished this 3rd rail (and you did a good job at it). And, in a watered-down way, you are also acquiring some psychological intimacy by outwardly communicating your inner sentiments -- so that's one-and-a-half out of 3 rails already (you're half way there!).

And here are the 7 wheels that ought to remain in contact in order for a "happy" ride:

1) Boost knowledge
2) Maintain health (either mental or physical or both)
3) Seek beauty (relates to the 3rd rail above)
4) Seek friendship (2nd rail)
5) Earn self-esteem (relates to all rails)
6) Seek purpose
7) Defend freedom

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

:-)

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 8/14, 8:56pm)


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 3:25amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, William Bardel, for the open and honest self-assessment. We do not get a lot of those. You will find that as with any work of art, your viewers are reading themselves into your narrative. Who finds what is an individual experience, of course. While I agree with Luke and Ed on their own terms, for myself regarding your original post, I have felt the same way periodically myself. All I can say is that like a bout with influenza, it is just something you have to live through and get over.

It is a "new age" kind of thing, perhaps, but I keep a lot of affirmations around my office here at home. An Einstein poster says, "It is only to the individual that a soul is given." As a numismatist, I have an ashtray with coins on the window sill in front of my computer. Each one reflects something positive about myself to me. Among them is a casino token from Atlantis. I will not go into all the rest of it, but basically, I rely on a lot of positive reminders of my virtues, values, and goals.

I still get depressed. I suppose we all do. (I have no statistics there, just intuition.) I do not know if it is the Moon and Tides, the barometer, foods, the news, other people, or some other cause or set of causal factors -- and I do not much care... sooner or later, you pull out of it, or, at least, I do.

I think that in Atlas Shrugged, there is a scene where Dagny says about the same thing to Hank, but then says that the latest steel price index snaps her out of it. The financial listings of the newspaper are not my choice of uppers, but we each have our own. For Ayn Rand, it was operetta music.

You have not really lost yourself - coming home from work, I lost my best calligraphy pen; I will never find it again. You only lost track of yourself. You are around somewhere. Keep looking. That you wrote the essay - and that it was accepted and posted - indicates both your own strength of character and the fact that other strong people share your experience.

Ed - Thanks, also. I cannot argue with you about yourself on your own terms. I accept the numbered points. However, for myself, there is a chicken-and-egg, cart-and-horse problem with all of that. It is hard to seek beauty or seek friendship when the first challenge is not wanting to seek breakfast. That is why for me, personally, the physical objects serve the function of your "To Do List."

I agree also about wrestling with demons. We each have our own.

Luke - "Rather than look backward for the former actual Self you allegedly lost, look forward to the future ideal Self you seek to become, and then move forward in that direction." Good advice. I bought a new calligraphy pen and I will use it to make that quote into a card for myself.


(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 8/15, 3:39am)


Post 4

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 4:14amSanction this postReply
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Mike,
Ed - Thanks, also. I cannot argue with you about yourself on your own terms. I accept the numbered points. However, for myself, there is a chicken-and-egg, cart-and-horse problem with all of that. It is hard to seek beauty or seek friendship when the first challenge is not wanting to seek breakfast. That is why for me, personally, the physical objects serve the function of your "To Do List."
Good point. It's difficult to employ solutions when you aren't even in possession of the disposition to care (about anything). One thing on that. I notice that I'm getting older. I notice that you are, too. I notice that William talks longingly about his youth. Besides philosophical imperfections, another explanation for poor disposition is endocrinology. In other words, we could all be going through andropause. The solution to that biochemical conundrum is to find a doctor willing to keep your level of "free testosterone" in this range:

20-30 ng/dL (200-300 pg/dL)

Talk about bringing the spark and fire of your youth back in full force!

:-)

Ed


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 6:22amSanction this postReply
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you bring up guilt, faith, hope etc.  These are all words we use to trick ourselves into 'feeling' inferior to the task at hand or for that matter life itself.  Religions live for those kinds of 'dark words'.  In fact it makes them all very very rich.  Where we came from and why we are here is not nearly as important as living life to the fullest.  Reality is what matters.  stop feeling guilty for living!!!  Just live and enjoy it.  Dont need to hurt others to do that, but we can and should be open and honest with ourselves and just run with it.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 7:20amSanction this postReply
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Mike,
You have not really lost yourself - coming home from work, I lost my best calligraphy pen; I will never find it again. You only lost track of yourself. You are around somewhere. Keep looking.
I love that advice!

Ed


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Post 7

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 7:54amSanction this postReply
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William:

Outstanding writing, and thought.

No answers follow, as usual. Just opinions.

I think there are pretty much only two types of people in the world, in regards to your lament; those that recognize and acknowledge those feelings, and those that are oblivious.

Is it really better to be oblivious? I don't think so, but apparently it is a choice.

But we all just imperfectly strive. The romantic figures in Rand's novels were exactly that; romantic figures. Ideals. Risk is finite, even in imperfectly reaching for personal goals such as those.

Part of the gift of our youth is more a condition of not knowing better. It is not true, in any absolute sense, that when we are young, we are safely surfing far from the rocks; we only think so, because we've witnessed so few wipeouts. The reality is, we are from the moment we are born surfing just inches from potential wipe out in this universe. The rocks are always within reach. It is only time itself that reveals that truth to us, and by the time we understand that, we can either be saddened by that realization or amazed and grateful that we've made it this far to the beach.

Perhaps as we get older, what happens is that more of our wet bits becomes devoted to trying to see the rocks, and in so doing, distracts us from more positive application. We each only get a finite mote of heat and light and animation and wet bit bandwidth to apply; none of that is infinite in any of us. But that is fairness in this Universe. Each and every human who has ever lived has existed under that universal constraint. It is our fair slice of existence.

No, it is way beyond fair. It is a near damn miracle. All of it, even the bumpy parts.

Humor and joy are somewhat related; someday one or more of us, as a consequence of imperfectly striving, will figure out the means and whys and wherefores of our emotional well being. In the meantime, we rely on the wisdom of Marx. Not the asshole Marx, but Groucho Marx, when he observed something like "I'm going to live forever or die valiantly in the attempt." A certain dose of lout is useful in dealing with the miracle/absurdity of the human condition; that is why, from time to time in my life, I've had to rely on the following two words when dealing with failure and adversity: "Fuck it." As in, I'm still here, I'm still swinging. I think my Mom taught me that, though not in those exact words. In her simpler words, passed on from her country girl mother, "You go as long as you can."

The end of many things brings on a certain funk; the Olympics is an example. (Google "End of Olympics Blues") Fortunately, the end of the wash cycle in a washing machine, not so much. As we get older, we can wish to relive our youth, or at least, to have the same capacities for joy and life we remember having as youth. But in fairness, we had our youth, and as a pure bonus not realized by all, we have every following stage of our lives. I don't resent the young at all; I've been where they are. I hope they someday get to where I am, but in that hope, I also know that is not guaranteed. They don't know that, and when I was their age, I am glad I didn't know that, too. That is generational fairness.

I totally enjoyed your piece, and identified with it. I hope you find your way to say "fuck it" and scream "yahoooooo" all the way to the beach, because as ridiculous as that sounds, that is what makes us human, too.

regards,
Fred



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Post 8

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 8:30amSanction this postReply
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William,

I was a licensed therapist in California for about a decade. But, when I moved to Hawaii and went back into software, I let my license expire - I mention that so that you understand that what follows is NOT diagnosis or treatment. Okay?

In the DSM there is a long list of mood disorders and many of them relate to depression, to feeling down. One of the first things you notice is that they can be organic or side-effects of some other cause, or purely psychological. That is a diagnosis that's worth getting if the condition is serious enough to hold you down for weeks at a time. If it were me, I'd see a licensed psychologist rather than a psychiatrist or a master's level counselor, and you want to be explicit about getting a diagnosis before even thinking of any treatment. Let them dig out their copy of the DSM and walk you through it.

Next, even if you are told that an anti-depressant medication is the best course, I would never go that route without doing "talk" therapy at the same time - even if they were able to determine that the cause of the depression was purely organic.

There are two kinds of psychological therapy that are best for depression: Cognitive of the sort that Aaron Beck practices or the Rational-Emotive-Behavioral therapy that was practiced by Albert Ellis. I don't recommend either of these for their theorectical orientation, but both of them have excellent techniques for countering negative self-talk, dwelling on negatives in the past, and in general making it much easier to live in the present and in a more positive mind-state. Visiting a therapist who practices these for a session or two a week will give you practice in catching and shifting those thoughts and mental tendencies that hold you down.

The second kind of therapy is self-esteem enhancement. This is far and away the very best tool you could have for shifting the balance from lethargy to positive action and to get back a sense of excitement about life. If I were you, I'd pick up a copy of Nathaniel Branden's "Six Pillars of Self-Esteem" and be very rigorous about following the sentence-stem exercises as specified. Nothing else will be as powerful.

William, beware of letting yourself get lost in philosophical issues, or trapped in some great chasm between you and an ideal, or between you and the characters of Atlas Shrugged. Nothing can stop one faster than to hold up an ideal that feels like it MUST be achieved while, simultaneously feeling a certainty that one CAN'T. The consciousness is a faculty that needs to be running more smoothly before you can start steering it for the more esoteric or lofty goals.

Best Wishes,
Steve

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Post 9

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 7:31pmSanction this postReply
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I feel compelled to respond just based on the dramatic level to which I sympathize with everything that you said. I certainly don't mean to say I take joy in your suffering, but it is nice to encounter someone that is feeling the same way. The following sentence particularly resonated in me:

"My integrity is solid and unbreakable, and at the same time constantly betrayed by my actions"

In the last year or so I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading, including Ayn Rand and general objectivism material. I feel great about it and I feel that it has definitely improved my life, but every time I feel that I have it figured out in my head and that my integrity/self-respect is high, my actions go and completely betray my thoughts. Frustratingly, this has become increasingly apparent lately. Perhaps this is just a stormy period as I learn to deal with it and transform my life. I think it is largely because my actions have become somewhat automated in trying to be a "good Christian" for the first 22 years of my life.

Related to this, I think that perhaps part of my struggle (and seemingly yours) is that I am searching for the end instead of the means. What I mean is that happiness is not the goal, but instead the result of pursuing your values. As I said, my mind knows this but my actions repeatedly betray it. But when your idea of values during your whole life has been corrupted by what is practical, what is good for society, God's will, what is approved, what you are "supposed" to do, then how do you suddenly force into actions the fact that those thoughts should mean nothing to you? What can having unbreakable integrity mean if you don't absolutely know what your true values are?

I recently finished reading "The Fountainhead". Just thinking now, perhaps this is what Wynand dealt with at the end of the book; his previous values (or ignoring of them) were so automatized that he could not resolve his new knowledge with his actions. I certainly don't think I am to that unresolvable state yet, but perhaps it is going to take much more time and effort than I originally thought.

In any case, here's to you and I getting past these thoughts and onto pursuing our true values. I think that one day we can achieve that delirious happiness, now that we know we cannot fake it.

Post 10

Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 6:01amSanction this postReply
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Welcome to RofR, Dan and congratulations on a wonderful, insightful post.

Sam


Post 11

Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 10:50amSanction this postReply
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Dan,

Welcome to RoR. And, like Sam said, nice post.

Ed


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Post 12

Friday, August 17, 2012 - 7:52amSanction this postReply
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What Dan said! "What I mean is that happiness is not the goal, but instead the result of pursuing your values."

William, I think you are suffering from an excess of introspection. Maybe this will sound odd coming from an Objectivist, but I think you should think less and do more. I'm not a doctor, and even if I was, one can't diagnose from afar - but as others have stated, there might be some biochemical reason for your current state. Or, on the other hand, it might be entirely due to your current life circumstances.

For several years, I felt totally "stuck" in an unfulfilling job, frustrated that I couldn't achieve my goals, and guilty that my goals weren't even very well-defined. The best thing to do is to DO something. In my case, I had a vague interest in real estate. So I got a real estate license. I had an interest in iPhone app development. So I took a "boot camp" class in it. I had an interest in fixing up and renting and/or selling houses. So I read a lot of books on the subject.

Now, a couple of years hence, I have a terrific job developing iPhone apps, I have closed 10 real estate deals, I own a rental property, and I recently "fixed and flipped" a little house, had fun doing it and made a tidy profit.

So whatever you have a vague interest in, take some steps toward it, in reality. Take a class, read up, dip your toe in the water. If you don't like it, try something else. And, if there is something you want to do, don't be afraid to TELL someone that it is what you want. Often, it is the first step towards getting it.

Post 13

Saturday, August 18, 2012 - 5:10pmSanction this postReply
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And here's a cute music video that expresses, with art, what has been said in this thread:

Miley Cyrus - The Climb - Official Music Video (HQ)

Ed


Post 14

Sunday, December 16, 2012 - 7:16amSanction this postReply
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I have been absent from RoR for a couple of years but decided to check back in.

Lots of good advice on this thread...

Ed Thompson says:
My knee-jerk reaction to this story is to tell you: "Cut yourself some slack, man!" -- it's like you suffer from what I refer to as: John Galt Syndrome (perceived psychological need of excellence in all things).
I have and still struggle with these types of feelings at times. At some point you just need to step back, survey the good in your life and stop putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
2) Procuring some psychological intimacy -- either with a romantic partner, a friend, or a mentorship (as either mentor OR student).
One of the reasons I'm checking back into RoR.


Fred Bartlett says:
A certain dose of lout is useful in dealing with the miracle/absurdity of the human condition; that is why, from time to time in my life, I've had to rely on the following two words when dealing with failure and adversity: "Fuck it." As in, I'm still here, I'm still swinging.
Yes! About a year or two ago, I saw the following talk by Merlin Man of 43Folders fame: http://www.43folders.com/2011/03/28/scared-shitless
"They can't eat you" has been a helpful mantra for me in times of failure and adversity.


Laure Chipman says:
The best thing to do is to DO something.
Again, yes! My job, one that I really enjoy, has been a little stressful lately to the point where I've had those same feelings of being "stuck." I spent some time updating my resume, looking at available jobs and applying to a couple of places. I immediately regained a sense of relief and control, knowing that I can take action to improve my situation, even though I'm still dealing with some of the same issues at work.

Post 15

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 5:06amSanction this postReply
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Welcome back, Ryan.

I see that you updated your picture. It looks like you are actually getting younger!

:-) 

Ed


Post 16

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 8:39amSanction this postReply
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It looks like you are actually getting younger!
Ha, if only that were so.

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