All posts filed under: Emotional F(x)

What Everyone Should Know About Coping Behaviors & Addictions

Let me begin by stating that we all have the so-called “addictive personality”.  This label isn’t reserved for the weak or unmotivated or broken.  The addictive personality is, in fact, the the human condition. I think it’s obvious: each one of us resorts to some kind of coping behavior when life is too stressful and we feel overwhelmed.  Some of these coping behaviors involve legal or illegal substance abuse, but not all do.  Because some are more obvious and readily cause social and financial ruin, they are labeled “addictions”; however, each one of us has a chosen coping behavior or behavior that matters dearly to us and a harmful dependence can develop to any of these behaviors. The fundamental similarity among all of them is the aim to avoid painful emotions. No one is immune to painful emotions such as fear, loneliness, sadness, guilt, jealousy, boredom, inadequacy, etc.   The coping behaviors that allow us to avoid overwhelming emotions tend to fall into three categories: Consumption – e.g., food, media, and shopping Numbing out – e.g. drugs …

A Cheerfulness Practice to Radically Improve Your Mindset and Get Rid of Ennui

Don’t let a chronic case of the Mondays bring down your entire life.   Have you ever felt that each week is more of the same?  You make it through Monday to Thursday.  Finally, it’s Friday! But suddenly it’s Monday again.  How did that happen? The weeks run like torturous deja vu. Or perhaps it feels like every day is worse than the last.  The same breakfast, the same commute, the same crabby coworker.  And even the weekends are starting to seem as bland as plain, congealed oatmeal. It’s not that things are bad.  The response to “How are you?” is  “Oh, I really can’t complain.”  How do we cope with this perpetual, mild dissatisfaction?  Nothing’s really wrong.  Or is it? This listlessness has a name: ennui (pronounced: On-We).  It’s an emotional state of overcast, the kind that threatens of rain for days on end, but fails to provide the relief of a downpour.  It just goes on being overcast.  After the overcast becomes “normal”, you occasionally find yourself nagged by memories of last summer, …

How to Live without Shame and Avoid Rationalizing

A few days ago I was discussing justification with a colleague. The previous two blog posts were about Justification (Parts 1 and 2). He suggested a third aspect of justification: excuse-making or rationalization.  This is distinct from the epistemic notions of justification.  A discussion of rationalization justification falls under the categories of pragmatism (human, goal-oriented reasoning) and psychology. What is Rationalization Justification? Rationalization is an excuse-making behavior we resort to if we commit an act that is deemed unacceptable to ourselves or others. After the conscious realization that the behavior was unacceptable, we begin to feel emotionally uncomfortable – guilty, shameful, inferior, unworthy, etc.  The response to those feelings is to “rationalize the situation”. Rationalization is a type of excuse-making that retroactively justifies the behavior that we deemed unacceptable.  It “makes the situation OK”.  By providing justifying reasons for the unacceptable behavior, we are able to re-interpret our behavior to be acceptable.  Rationalization allows us to avoid painful emotions that we would otherwise have felt when looking back at the behavior. I think there are …

Sorting out Compassion, Pity, and Love

I started reading a book called The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It’s philosophical fiction and ripe with existentialist themes.  You find it on Library Genesis.  The story is about a womanizer and, at one point, he considers his unusual compassionate feelings towards a woman he is sleeping with. He says, To take pity on a woman means that we are better off than she, that we stoop to her level, lower ourselves. That is why the word compassion generally inspires suspicion; it designates what is considered an inferior, second rate sentiment that has little to do with love.  To love someone out of compassion means not really to love…  (Chapter 9) This passage really caught me off-guard – my intuition is not the same as the author’s.  Does compassion imply a power or hierarchical relationship in which one person has pity for another?  To me, the word compassion has always meant co-feeling and suggests companionship and shared emotions, including joy. Read It and Weep Let’s see what the Oxford Dictionary has to say: Compassion: Sympathetic pity …

My Favorite Tool to Break Free from Hopelessness and Depression

Today I want to share with you one of the most powerful healing tools I used early on, and still occasionally use, to manage painful emotions such as anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, or emotional “flatness”.  Deep thinkers are often sensitive people, which is why this post is appropriate for a critical thinking blog. Make a List Start by writing a list of some things that would normally make you feel good.  They don’t have to make you feel good now.   But simply list some things that, if you were feeling alright or better, you might enjoy doing.  Don’t make the list too hard.  I suggest having at least one item from each of the following categories of human needs.  Add some that are easier to do than others. Social: Call a family member and ask how their day is. Visit a friend for an hour over coffee.  Visit a forum online. Compliment someone through social media. Physical: Exercise a few minutes.  Try a yoga class.  Take a walk listening to uplifting music. Eat a meal or …

Life Lessons At the Xerox Machine

A lesson for self-acceptance from an unlikely place Yesterday at work I walked by a co-worker who was having some difficulty with a new printing system that had recently been installed. She sighed and explained to me that I was lucky since I was new and didn’t know the old system at all. She was used to doing things the old way and, therefore, had to break old habits at the same time as learn the new ones. I, on the other hand, merely need to add a new habit. I thought to myself, “How profound this idea would be, if applied to daily life.”  How can we cease to struggle with habits? Is there a way to change our mindset to live in the freshness of each moment and thereby become excited for change?  Do we need habits? Any advantages? Habit is an essential part of human existence.  Our muscles and minds are habit-forming machines. In fact, if you didn’t have an “autopilot” for most daily tasks, you’d be overwhelmed within hours. You’d likely spend so …

Psychology of Competition: Why you don’t Value what will make you Happy

Our Inconsistent Set of Values As a society we say that “it’s what’s inside that counts.” However, the fact of our ultra-busy, career-chasing lives, and the billion-dollar beauty and med-spa industry reveals that we actually seem to think it’s the external things that give us value. Why is there this split between what we want to value, what we say we value, and what we actually seem to value? When theory is put into practice in the values we want for ourselves, why don’t we place inner beauty and a loving heart above an LV purse and a fit figure? The inconsistency in values is sadly apparent in the gender wage gap.  Traditionally, professions staffed by sincere, caring, and dedicated women such as nursing and teaching pay less than professions that focus on production of a specific good or multiply money. Now, I am in no way anti-capitalist (I’m rather a “status egalitarian”: human rights and esteem for all.  A discussion of its economic ramifications is for another day!).  But consider those things that truly …

My Post-Vacation Blues

The post-vacation blues are a real thing.  It’s not just jet-lag, which I manage to avoid by timing my meals, staying very hydrated, using masks and headsets on the plane, and exercising to get my body back in the schedule.  Post-vacation blues are more difficult to manage because it’s a perspective that takes over.  Brain overstimulation in the form of sights, sounds, delicious foods, shopping, sunshine, and immersion in a new culture. I got back from an exciting two week vacation on Tuesday, just four days ago. At first I was really busy with work for my Pragmatism class at UBC, and then writing.  But today I had to go into my workplace and it struck me again: real life is, well… it’s just not vacation! 😦 It’s easy to idealize a foreign culture and way of life when you’re in a good mood and having fun.  So, what’s the cure to my post-vacation blues? Why can’t I love my “regular” life as much as vacation? Solution: Find the beauty in regular life.  Lucky that …

Why Critical Thinking Is SO IMPORTANT

Some people tell me they don’t understand critical thinking & philosophy.  Or at least they don’t know why I love it so much and spent $$$ money on a university diploma in philosophy.  They’ll agree that it’s good and we should teach it to children.  But then, they still can’t tell me why. So let me tell all of you. Critical thinking makes you aware of your thought patterns and feelings about topics in life. Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings is self-knowledge.  Critical thinking tells you who you are right now. Even if you don’t like yourself right now, you can try to understand yourself.  But why should you bother trying to understand yourself? Because there is no use hiding from yourself. You can try to hide from yourself by distracting yourself with hobbies, travel, drugs, alcohol, friends, reading, gambling, eating, watching television, fitness, and more travel, etc.  But when the money runs out and when the fun stops… there you are.  The hide-and-seek game always ends with you being found, and then …

Fasting Benefits: Weight Loss, Mental Clarity, Anxiety, and Anti-aging

Keywords: fasting, natural remedy, health, anti-aging, mental health, anxiety, ketogenic diet, spiritual growth Yesterday I fasted and today is day two. I started on Monday night at around 9 pm and have only had tea and sparkling water. I was feeling a bit dizzy this morning so I had some salt and nutritional yeast. I broke my fast this evening with vegetable fish-broth soup and beef brisket (with no ill effects!) at Deer Garden Signatures in Vancouver on Fraser Street. Yum! Why fast? The idea of going without food for at least 24 hours, and still not yet knowing when I’ll eat again, might seem crazy to some people. Most of the times I’ve told people that I am fasting, I hear a version of one of the following: “That’s not good for you! Starving yourself is unhealthy.” “You’ll make yourself sick.” “You’ll become anorexic.” Well, now, none of those are true about fasting. First of all, consider that every major world religion and culture has some mention of fasting for health. Biblical religions prescribe …