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Fail with pride.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Grief Respite

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 30, 2017

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As C.S. Lewis once observed, grief feels a lot like fear—it’s just as unsettling, consuming, and uncontrollable—but it does also cause some fear, namely that the grief will never end. You can’t make it end, of course, no more than you can change the way it hurts or prevent loss from happening in the first place, but you can remember that the loss would not exist without love, and that there is meaning in loving relationships that is never lost, no matter if the person you loved is no longer there. And that meaning can sustain you through hard times, no matter how long they last, no matter how scared you feel.

-Dr. Lastname

I lost my beautiful, 23-year-old son this year in a horrific accident. I keep replaying this accident over and over again in my mind. I have two other biological children and a stepchild, but I still feel the loss of this son to an excruciating degree. I am continuing to grieve very heavily to the point that I feel disconnected. My goal is to find a way to ease my horrific grief and emotional pain.
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No Way, Computer

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 26, 2017

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Very rational, even tempered guys can be attractive in their own way, particularly after you’ve been put through the ringer by emotional, indecisive man-boys who make impulsive, irrational decisions (like picking fights/cheating or breaking up with you). A rational style, however, does not necessarily guarantee that they’re better at managing their emotions or acting more decently than their less moody brethren. That’s why you need to learn to evaluate a rational guy’s ability to be a good guy before you decide whether he’s truly good for you.

-Dr. Lastname

My kid’s dad used to say that he wanted to be Data from Star Trek as a kid because Data didn’t have feelings, so he changed his personality to one that wasn’t “ruled by emotions.” Instead of becoming wise and patient, however, he’s morphed into a complete narcissist. He might not show emotion, but he seems fueled by anger and selfish impulses; he doesn’t get angry, just calmly denies he’s done anything wrong, which is less like Star Trek and more like Gaslight. He’s become a totally unempathetic, perpetual victim. My goal is to figure out if there’s a way to un-Data him or if he’s just beyond hope.
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5 Steps To Figure Out What To Do With ADHD

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 12, 2017

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If you’re dealing with ADHD, as the son of our earlier reader is, sitting down and poring over what having ADHD means and your options for dealing with it—or really, sitting down and poring over anything for more than five minutes—can seem totally daunting if not downright impossible. Here are five steps you can take to figure out how and what to do with an ADHD diagnosis, and while they do include some research and consultation with experts, the main expert they direct you to consult about your symptoms and needs isn’t found through lots of painstaking research, but in the mirror.

1) Assess Whether Your Improved Attention Is Worth It

While there may be a loud chorus of voices—including your parents, teachers, doctors, friends, fellow drivers screaming at you to pay attention before calling you an asshole—telling you that your ability to focus needs work, you need to ignore the urge to do something to shut those voices up and do your own needs assessment instead. Based on your experience so far, ask whether you need to be more focused or attentive in order to survive, i.e., to make a living or accomplish a task that’s important to you. Of course, you should look for ways of learning and making a living that exploit your natural spontaneity and don’t require too much reading or sitting, and certainly not in large doses. In the end, however, if what you want in life requires a kind of attention that doesn’t come naturally to you, prepare to work harder than others to achieve the same results and to draw on motivation that must come from your own sense of priorities, not from the urging of those around you.

2) Take Stock of Tricks To Use As Tools

Don’t let your shame of current classroom performance or intimidation of learning in general prevent you from looking for and studying other ways of absorbing information. Researching such techniques may be daunting, but some teachers are gifted at helping you find your own style and the learning techniques that would be work for you. Neuropsychologists, who measure the methods your brain uses to acquire and process information, can also steer you in the right direction (and are often even partially covered by health insurance).Yes, learning and applying tricks to help you focus will take some effort and push your abilities to focus, but they’ll save you a lot of work and misery in the long run.

3) Consider Meds if You Must

If and only if you can’t find any successful learning tricks, focusing exercises, witchcraft, or any other non-medical methods to help with the kind and amount of learning you’ve decided is necessary, then it’s time to look at the risks of trying stimulant medication like methylphenidate and amphetamines. It turns out that the risk of trying a stimulant is very, very low (although there are a few people who find it enticingly addictive) and, because it can take less than an hour to see results, the entire trial period, like your own attention span, is unusually short. Yes, there may be additional risks if you take the medication regularly for years, but there’s no point in examining those risks until you know what the medication has to offer, and you won’t know unless you take the low-risk chance.

4) Evaluate End

In order to run an effective trial, take a stimulant 30 minutes or so before trying an intellectual task that you believe is necessary but difficult. You may need to repeat the experiment several times to evaluate the effect of three or four different doses or their impact on different kinds of learning, but you’ll know pretty quickly if there’s any potential benefit. You can measure your results, not by whether your test scores and/or the impression you make on teachers improves, but whether you feel a stimulant makes learning substantially easier. Then weigh that benefit against what you know about the trouble of obtaining the medication (e.g., cost, MD visits, the various that come with filling a prescription for a controlled substance) as well as whatever information you can gather about its possible longterm risks. Remember, you’re the ultimate judge of whether the benefits to your ability to learn outweigh the hassle and low risk of addiction, then taking these meds makes sense.

5) Shake the Stigma

Some people—Tom Cruise, for example—may always look down on you for taking ADHD meds, but doing your due diligence comes with the added bonus of not having to give a shit about what anyone else thinks. You’ve done the work, you’ve made smart assessments, and you’re confident that medication gives you an intellectual boost that you really need and can’t get in other ways. You’re the one who bears the burden and risk because you’re committed to learning something difficult. Yes, you’re different and, of course, your difference sometimes gives you advantages, but when it doesn’t, be proud of the way you manage it and confident, no matter what Xenu says, that you’re doing the right thing.

ADHD FML

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 28, 2017

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It’s hard to watch your child struggle in school, even when your child is old enough to rent a car and the school work that’s giving him trouble is for his master’s degree. Your parental reflexes tell you that you’re responsible for alleviating his pain and, when you can’t, you still can’t help but feel like a failure. Remember, however, that the pressure shouldn’t be on you to absorb his pain, but on him to absorb your values so he knows how to persevere and do tough things when he decides they’re worthwhile. You can never fix your kid’s problems, but if you teach him how to approach problems with the right ethics and expectations as his guide, he’ll have a set of tools he can use to help himself for a lifetime.

-Dr. Lastname

I have a son who has continually struggled in high school and now in college. He is very bright but has difficulty keeping organized and completing his work. The doctor prescribed him medication which he doesn’t like taking because he doesn’t like how it makes him feel, but when he does take it he does do better at getting his work completed. He’s now in his third year of college and is still struggling. He feels that there is a stigma attached to medication… that it’s a drug and he’s cheating by taking something. It also prevents him from getting a good night’s sleep. But he’s otherwise so slow at completing tasks it takes him nearly an hour to eat his dinner when I cook a meal. My goal is to get any suggestions that you might have to make his life easier.

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5 Ways To Distinguish An Android From An Asshole™

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 18, 2017

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Android-ish/Aspberger-y people, like the one described recently by a reader, can often be jerks by accident; because reading social cues or facial expressions isn’t in their programming, they can unwittingly do or say things that most humans would recognize or rude or hurtful. That’s why it’s sometimes easy to confuse an android for an Asshole™, which is dangerous for the android (who may unwittingly lose a would-be friends) and for you (who, due to getting entangled with an Asshole™, may lose your mind). So, if you meet a guy and can’t tell if he’s obnoxious or just oblivious, here are five ways to distinguish an android from an Asshole™.

1) Apologetic or Apoplectic?

A person’s response to gentle criticism often reveals a lot about his character, but it’s especially telling where androids andAsshole™s are involved. If, for example, you find a neutral way of describing this guy’s rude rough edges and ask him about their possible negative impact on others, his reaction will speak volumes. If he’s confused and even contrite, then he’s an android who’s just had trouble computing. If he’s incensed and then blames you for being too sensitive and stupid to understand him, Asshole™ ahoy.

2) Sample His Anger

Androids don’t tend to hold individual grudges—they can get frustrated when they have to make transitions or changes to a plan, but their anger is usually circumstantial. Assholes™, on the other hand, explode with personal fury and hold ironclad grudges about emotional betrayal. So if he barely reacts to or is merely baffled by a slight but has a strong, angry respond to an illogical criticism, he’s an android. If he responds to any insult by turning into a Hulked-out Alec Baldwin, that’s an Asshole™.

3) See What Giving Him Space Gets You

Withhold your attention for a bit and note how he reacts. If he’s mortally offended by your rudeness, that’s an Asshole™, because an Asshole™’s ego doesn’t just dictate that your every action is directed at him but that he’s deserving of every last ounce of your attention and anything less is an unreasonable insult. If instead he doesn’t notice your absence, or really appreciates the alone time and break from interpersonal demands, then you’re safely in android territory.

4) Evaluate His Interests

Androids tend to enjoy activities that allow them to exercising their private gifts in a solo setting, like manipulating numbers, rebuilding machines, or memorizing obscure baseball stats. Asshole™s, on the other hand, need to socialize, not just to bask in the attention and adoration that is as vital to them as food and water, but to find new relationships to replace the selfish, hurtful, disappointing ones that they’ve lost. So if he prefers less social, more skill-based activities, he’s probably android, whereas a preference for doing anything that could likely foster close, rapid contact and intense communication, he’s more likely an Asshole™.

5) Look For Lingering Relationships

Androids may not have a lot of close, intense friends, but they do frequently have longterm relationships with fellow bots, often with optional face-to-face contact, who share their interests in stuff like games/computers, obscure topics, or specialized tools. Assholes™, on the other hand, have a lot of ex-friends (and shunned family members, and pending lawsuits), so take note if he has a lot of lost friends who have turned into lingering enemies. Unless you can identify Assholes™ (and differentiate them from their more harmless android cousins), you may find yourself on that enemies list next.

5 Ways To Like Being Alone

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 24, 2017

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If, like our reader from earlier, your best efforts to find someone to be friends with, let alone date, are constantly fruitless, it can be hard to deal with both loneliness and the desperation that comes with it. So, instead of letting loneliness push you to lower your standards and reach out to the wrong people, let yourself embrace being alone a bit more. While you keep searching for connections, here are five ways to like being alone so you can’t be spooked by being lonely in the meantime.

1) Seek Out Activities You Can Enjoy Solo…
Take up hobbies that you can enjoy alone or in groups, like crafting, gardening, or running. If it makes you stronger, wiser, or richer on Etsy, so much the better, but the main goal, after getting used to your new hobby, is to actually like it and look forward to it. What you’re after is not a Fortress of Solitude but a well-stocked zone in your house, well-tilled corner of the back-yard, and well-established running path where you look forward to spending time of your own and/or with some other people who enjoy the same yarn/plants/stride lengths that you do.

2) …While Soaking In Activities You Can Enjoy Solo
As smart as it is to find solo activities that can also be done in groups, it’s also worth pushing yourself to try things alone that you’re used to doing with others; from going to the movies alone to driving cross-country by yourself, take on tasks that you might be wary of doing without a partner in crime. By doing so, you’ll gain a sense of independence that will help you overcome the fear of loneliness and teach you to enjoy your own company. Plus, you will often find that people are more eager to chat with you when you’re by yourself and the best adventures are more likely to happen when you’re not part of a couple or crowd.

3) Volunteer Your Time
You may think that being alone is pathetic, but there’s nothing less pathetic than contributing your otherwise solo time to a good cause, like teaching or caring for others. Even if you don’t meet like-minded people, you’ll feel useful, not just social, and build meaningful relationships with those you help. If they happen to be people in your community, you can stay in touch over many years, but if they’re not you can learn about other cultures and widen your view of the world. In any case, you’ll start to see your non-working, not-friend-filled time as a gift, not a burden.

4) Get A Damn Dog
Cats may be fine pets (for some people, who aren’t the authors), but they tend to encourage anti-social, house-bound behavior; even if you force your cat to go out for walks, most people are keen to avoid someone with a pissed off cat on a leash. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t just loyal in-house companions; walking them forces you to be active and, if you live near a dog park, even social, although they also allow you to talk to yourself in public without seeming crazy. Most importantly, they oblige you to think about the needs of others (particularly when it comes to their need to eat, poop, not eat something that will make them sick and poop way too much, etc.), which is really what having a family, or any loving relationship, is all about.

5) Never Stop Looking For A Better Match
Just because you’ve learned to love your own company doesn’t mean you should then give up on finding someone who appreciates it as much as you do. For many people, finding worthwhile friends doesn’t result from trying to be more friendly or sociable; in most cases, there was nothing wrong with their social approach in the first place, but, for lots of reasons beyond their control, there was something wrong with the ability of their personality to mesh well with the people who happened to be around them. If you can pursue your own path until you finally meet a person or group that is a good match for you, and then enjoy, then you won’t need to fear loneliness while finding your own kind of fulfillment.

Nixed Company

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 10, 2017

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When you’ve searched high and low for companionship with no results, it’s easy to conclude that, as you’re the only constant factor in your search, you must be the problem/cause of your own loneliness and misery. And of course, trying harder, especially when you aren’t actually doing anything wrong, will only wind up making you feel more unlikeable and hate yourself more. In reality, of course, much of friendship depends on factors you don’t control, like chemistry, the kind of personality you got at birth, and the way you mesh with your local pool of friend candidates. So if love and friendship don’t come easily to you, despite good strong efforts, never assume you’ve failed. You may have found something in life that won’t come easily, but a weakness in relationships need never stop you from finding ways to leading a full and independent life until you discover the right person or people or share it with.

-Dr. Lastname

 

I’m a (maybe over-)educated female in my late 30s who just broke up with what seemed like an emotional/verbal abuser after a very rocky three year relationship. My major issue is that the past many years (20 in total with bursts of good-ish relationships) I’ve been very lonely, mostly because I move around a lot for work and making friends is very hard in new cities. I keep bumping into deadbeats and weirdos, and at my age, most people (especially good people) are too busy with their lives to be looking for friends. So I’m busting my ass to be social, going on hikes with lots of depressing divorcees, to eco-festivals, to any group activities I’m interested in…progress is very slow and shaky. And I’m making a go at dating again (yet once again in my life), this time with more courage than my previous/difficult breakup with the same guy. I quit therapy because it was too expensive and slow, and besides, what I’ve been sorely lacking these past years are FRIENDS. Instead, despite all my efforts, I’m dealing with empty weekends, sending messages (text, FB, etc.) to people who said let’s have a coffee and never respond. I am getting a few replies but with people busy things often get cancelled, especially by the most interesting folks, and I wind up hanging out with the outsiders and deadbeats I should probably avoid. It’s hard, but I’m trying to hang in there and keep pushing. And BOY do I drop everything if I get a chance to see people that I consider worthwhile. My goal is to figure out if there’s something, *anything* I can do—from trying a new way to expand my search to moving to a whole new country—to find the kind of relationships that will make my life feel whole.

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5 Soothing Questions When You’re Consumed with Longing

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 27, 2017

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If, like our reader from earlier, you can’t get over a crush, even if you could prevent yourself from acting on it, it’s important to remind yourself why your brain told you it wasn’t worth it, even as your heart tries to convince you otherwise. As such, here are five soothing questions to consider when you’re consumed with longing you can’t get over.

1) Does your current partnership suffice when it comes to survival?
Unless you’ve got a big trust fund, invented an app of the gods, or have any in with the Russian government, financial survival isn’t something to take for granted in this world, particularly after starting a family. That’s why, as a good way to counter reveries about missed intimacy, it’s worth considering what your current partner has contributed to the important stuff, i.e., not to your emotional satisfaction, but to your shared ability to stay solvent. Think about total income, yearly savings, and having enough funds to safely support your family in terms of childcare and when someone’s out of work or sick. Knowing that your partner contributes financially may not make you feel fuzzy about him again, but it will make clear how important he is in your life, and how valuable your partnership is in your family’s life overall.

2) How does your current partnership help you reach higher goals?
As corny as it sounds, and no matter how many people tell you true meaning is found in being rich, thin, and/or YouTube famous, doing good in the world is the best way to make life meaningful, so finding a partnership that helps you to be a better person and parent is a major goal. Ask yourself then whether you have a partner who helps keep your dark side in check, encourages your better side, and gives you the freedom to realize your most significant ideals. Intimacy is nice, but feeling you’re making an important, positive difference matters a lot more overall.

3) Are you particularly vulnerable to falling for faulty partners?
Whenever you find yourself really enjoying someone’s company, it’s worthwhile doing a mental inventory and asking yourself what you really enjoy about this person and whether you tend to like spending time with/fall for people who aren’t good for you. It’s a common problem because the people who are best at connecting are often filterless; that means they can draw you in by saying everything, from the most revealing, kind things to the nastiest, empassioned words that you’re thinking but would be too embarrassed to ever say outloud. And while someone like that can be exciting to be around at first, they can also prove to be unreliable and hurtful in the long run. So go over prior relationships to see if this person reminds you of anyone you felt close to in the past, why you felt close to them, how long those relationships lasted, and whether you’d want to put yourself through something similar again.

4) How would changing partners at this stage change your life?
The most obvious way to talk yourself off the ledge of longing is to add up everything you’ve built together with your current partner, like the kids’ confidence in your ability to work as a team, your joint friendships, your shared memories, and positive connections with one another’s families. This is not an exercise in taking pride in what you’ve accomplished in your marriage, though it’s fine if you do; rather, it’s a way to prevent yourself from taking your partnership for granted by remembering the good things you’ve created and that you’d miss if you gave them up by giving into your longing for someone else.

5) Is your crush even up to snuff?
If your new prospect is still worth thinking about, then give him the full due diligence exam that you would apply to any possible partner, especially in terms of the standards your current partner has set. As such, begin by thinking through the present partnership job description, including all responsibilities that your current partner does well, as well as those that could use improvement. Then ask yourself how your possible partner meets these same standards and compare his score to your husband’s. Remember, this is not about the intensity of your feelings but  about his ability to work with you, be financially responsible, reliable, disciplined, and a good parent. Then you’re ready to make decisions that aren’t based on longing but on what’s good for you and your family in the long term.

The Slow Yearn

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 13, 2017

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Yearning is the bastard child of love and frustrated need; both emotions promise happiness if only you can spend more time with whomever or whatever it is you yearn for, but their emotional spawn is less a miracle than something that’s usually shameful, illegitimate, and not discussed in mixed company. That’s because most people you yearn for are out of reach for good reason; if a love is forbidden, then getting what you yearn for is rarely good for you, better than what you’ve got, or likely to make you a better person. So persistent yearning isn’t a sign of true love; it’s a sign that you’ve got the beginnings of an addiction and should use all your experience, wisdom, and proven techniques to evaluate whether it’s worth trying to satisfy or avoid in order to escape shame, social or otherwise.

-Dr. Lastname

I have a good life, especially from the outside. I have the most beautiful children and a husband, who, despite his incredibly high levels of anxiety and his sometimes ridiculous temper, loves me and cares for us. The problem is that after almost 20 years of marriage I met a man whom I fell into a meaningful relationship with (although nothing physical ever happened because I knew that was a slippery slope and I made sure not to go there). It’s now been a few years since I told this man that I wasn’t leaving my husband, and while we have occasional contact because of work requirements, we’ve remained professional. The issue is that I cannot truly get over it— I believe he is my soulmate and that this is all just a cruel joke that the world is playing on me. I was fine with never knowing what that kind of love felt like because it was better that way. My goal is to get over this man and to stop feeling sad and sorry for myself.

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5 Ways To Tune Out The Chaos

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 15, 2017

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When it seems like the whole world is plunging into the abyss, it can be hard not to make like our reader from earlier this week and fear getting swept up in the chaos, giving in to despair, and letting your own little world/entire life get sucked into the black hole. Of course, no matter how hard it can get to find your way in a confusing world, all hope is not lost; if you take the five steps listed below, you can learn to tune out as much chaos as possible and keep your own life from together as the world falls apart.

1) Tune Out the Negative and Unnecessary
Constantly following the news, especially if it’s all scary and bad, may seem necessary in order to stay on top of important information. In reality, it’s more like keeping your tongue on top of a canker sore; a nasty compulsion that only makes you feel worse. That’s why, no matter how frightening and constant the bad news may be, it’s important to step away from TV, periodicals, and Facebook feed, change the subject when people start to go off about world events, and generally avoid the urge to fixate on all things horrible. Yes, you’re part of a greater community and you want to make it better when you have the chance, but when you’re sure that/scaring yourself because no such chance exists, you have to protect yourself from aggravation and fears that you can do nothing about with a bubble of blessed silence.

2) Make Time for (and Merriment With) Those You Care About
When you’re feeling scared and down, being social requires a lot of effort—even more effort than being political—but it also offers much deeper rewards. It’s easy to share intense political feelings and opinions with others who feel the same way, online or in person, but then you’re left with deeper discontents and shallower personal connections. So keep the focus on getting to know people beyond politics as well as doing enjoyable things with the people you already know well and love. Sharing individual concerns, involving yourself in day-to-day realities, and generally reminding yourself there are good, caring people in the world will give you small doses of much needed hope.

3) Don’t Take the Bait From People You Hate
When the world is driving you crazy, then it’s easy for the people around you to drive you crazy and natural to seek ways of expressing and relieving your irritation. Unfortunately, trying to release your rage through picking fights with those you disagree with online is almost guaranteed to backfire. As we always say, nobody has ever died from bottling up their feelings, but plenty have died (or at least gotten threated or doxed) from unbottling them. Not only do you do more damage to yourself by stirring up fights with people you think are deserving idiots, you don’t even do anything positive for them since verbally attacking someone, online or in-person, isn’t the best way to win others over. Instead of ruminating about your anger until you crave release, remind yourself of your most important priorities, like being a decent person and focusing on the people and things that matter to you, not the morons who ultimately don’t.

4) Mind Self-medication
Aside from seeking relief from anger by getting into fights, it’s also natural to do so by getting high or drunk while giving the finger to all those who claim to reward hard working people like you in what’s supposed to be a reasonable, fair world. Unfortunately, self-medication is also a form of self-destruction that will turn you into a selfish jerk and make you accomplice to what you most despise. So bear your pain without finding chemical shortcuts to alleviating it, continue to fight hard to stay good, and you’ll find yourself refocusing on what you value in life instead of seeking the relief that comes with losing focus altogether.

5) Concentrate on What You Control
It’s not easy to make a living and be a good guy in this world, particularly given all the bad guys out there who find real success and the distractions and disappointments that come from periods of political craziness so nutty that we worry about our ability to continue living, period. It’s not easy, but it’s your responsibility to put your foot down and put a big beautiful wall around your own mind, family, and life; all the other craziness is totally out of your control, but the craziness that can be affected by your own actions and relationships is what you can realistically have a positive impact on. The state of the world matters, but your own life matters more; stay on top of the things that are actually in your control, not on the bad news, so you can make your world, and a small part of the larger world, a better place.

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