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Goals, not wishes-- I'm a doctor, not a genie.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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.

Un-American Captivity

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 18, 2017

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It’s hard not to take it personally when your country’s leaders represent values that you despise, making you feel obliged to both renounce all they represent and responsible for making things better. After all, you are expected to make sacrifices for your country, but if you can’t make sacrifices for new national goals you don’t believe in, it’s hard to decide whether to give your all to getting your country back or getting out of Dodge and leaving the leadership to self-destruct. Whether you’re describing personal problems or national ones, however, it’s never fair to hold yourself responsible for righting wrongs that are beyond your control, especially when doing so distracts you from your actual responsibilities. It’s important then to remain in touch with the responsibilities you actually control so you can keep your head up and be proud of doing your best to be a good person, even if you feel your country is headed down the toilet.

-Dr. Lastname

A year ago I knew what I wanted to do for the next 30 years, but then, after a series of challenges, including a re-valuation of my nine-year romantic partnership and Donald Trump getting elected President of the United States, I don’t know what I want to do next. I want to get as far away from my current life as possible as it’s based heavily on the American Dream (TM)—I just bought a house and I own my own business with my spouse, and it’s a decent life, at least hypothetically, even with the financial stress of a large amount of debt. But after America made a really bad choice, I don’t want to have anything to do with the country, its ideals, or its empty commercialized promises. I don’t want the American Dream, or even to live here. I’ve never fit in well and now I realize just how mismatched my entire life philosophy is with American culture. Maybe this shouldn’t be a traumatizing experience, but I’m having serious trouble shaking this off— I am a planner without a plan, I don’t know my purpose, and I’m still trying to work through anger at the people who voted for the current President, many who are my friends and family. I want to move out of the country partly just to say “fuck you all, you voted for him and now you never get to see us because we live on the other side of the Earth.” Now, I think once I get out of this hole I will be better for it, with a more complete view of myself and my place in the world, but I’ve been struggling to get out of this hole for months now and not seeing any progress. I take meds for chronic depression but this is a serious dip even for me. My goal is to find a smart sensible plan, even though I’m depressed as fuck, everything feels meaningless, and all I really want to do is get away from my life and the American nightmare. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Red Flags of A Bad Friendship

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 20, 2017

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It’s easy to tell that someone’s a bad friend when, as with our reader from earlier this week, they make you feel lonely and bad about yourself. If you’re ever unsure about whether a friend is worth keeping or is actually a friend to begin with, here are five red flags of bad friendship to look for.

1) They Only Call In Case Of Personal Calamity

Unless your friend is in crisis and needs to talk, it’s up to you to reach out to them to try to make plans, often in vain. They do you the favor of giving you their best, cheeriest small talk as a prelude to their anguished confidences and wonder what else you could possibly want. If you’re friends with someone who thinks the conversation’s over when they’ve finished talking, then your friendship should probably be over as well.

2) They Share Feelings And Not Much Else

Between the two of you, you wind up doing more than your share of cooking, listening, and paying in the friendship. That may make you feel like a good, giving person almost all the time, but there’s a fine line between being a saint and a martyr, and either way, you don’t need a flock, you need a friend who will give as much to you as you give to them. Because if you need something for yourself from this person, you’ll just find yourself angry, not just at them but at yourself for feeling needy, frustrated, and more human than holy.

3) Your Pain Is Not Their Problem

If you’re low, unhappy and irritable, they don’t want to know, because, while their pain is a big problem, yours is merely an unwelcome distraction. If you assert your right to be heard, they wonder why you’re childish and ungrateful for the attention they’ve been giving you and the time you’ve spent together (even though you spent most of that time doing their bidding). If you can give this friend your time but not a piece of your mind, you’re getting screwed.

4) Your Complaints are Your Problem

As we’ve often said, love only means never having to say you’re sorry when one party dies of cancer before they get the chance. Bad friends, however, often operate under that assumption despite not having a fatal disease. So, while you believe in giving serious attention to a friend’s criticism and apologizing if you’ve caused pain, these guys have the confidence to know that they couldn’t possibly deserve your criticism and they’re helping you by letting you know that, if you have a complaint, you’re just humiliating yourself. Friendship, like love, means always being willing to say you’re sorry, and if they can’t offer that, you should be willing to walk away.

5) They Get Close As Quickly As They Move On

Lots of bad friendships get off the fast start; their openness is so appealing and flattering, and their problems so interesting, that it’s easy to get sucked in before you even have a chance to see this person isn’t so much a potential friend as a potential headache. So you didn’t notice that they don’t have old friends, just current play-buddies and people they once knew and were disappointed by. Unfortunately for them, once you can finally recognize that they’re not worthy of your friendship, you’ll soon be one of them.

Makeshift Friendship

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 6, 2017

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It’s hard to knock the idea that being helpful to your friends is good for everyone, but when you’re always there to help and they only come to you in a crisis, that’s a good recipe for being used and becoming resentful. Even if being helpful will make you feel good about yourself in the short run and win you gratitude, it’s only worth it if you’re also mindful of your own needs and the character of the so-called friend requiring your assistance. Otherwise, your giving instincts can expose you to harm, exhaustion, and a whole bunch of other not-good stuff.

-Dr. Lastname

I’m a women in my 20s with a good tech job, but I feel like I’m always ignored by everybody, almost like I don’t exist. I do have many friends, but even they aren’t real with me— I feel that they don’t really care about me and are only good to me when they need something or need a shoulder to cry on. Then, when they feel better or have happy news to share, they find someone else to take it to, which doesn’t make any sense to me. I feel like everybody throws their problems onto me so they can go off and be happy, but I’m left here all alone to deal with the sadness on my own. My goal is to feel acknowledged and loved, not ignored and used. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Trust Protection

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 19, 2016

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Because trust between people who know one another well usually depends on how well they treat one another (and their cars, pets, and fancy coffee makers) over time, we tend to assume that mistrust would not flare up in a close relationship without good reason. Unfortunately, some apparently normal people are sometimes prone to limited bursts of paranoia, so mistrust can also arise spontaneously for reasons that we don’t understand. That’s why it’s important to develop objective methods for assessing the causes of mistrust, whether it’s your own or others’, and whether it’s broken-espresso- machine-related or not.

-Dr. Lastname

I love my partner very much— he makes me very happy, and I feel very cherished. Despite that, however, I cannot trust him because there have been a few times that he has neglected to tell me very important things that affected us. He will keep me informed for a week or so, and then neglect it again. If I cannot trust him, can this relationship work? Can someone who behaves like this change? My goal is to figure out whether I can stay with someone I love, even if I can’t take his word. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Build A New Life When Yours Goes To Shit

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 25, 2016

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After experiencing unimaginable injustice, it’s understandable if, like our reader from earlier this week, you also can’t imagine how you can go on with life. If you can accept the reality of your loss, however, you can learn to refocus on what’s important and imagine new possibilities going forward. Here are five ways to build a new life after a general disaster and avoid ruminating about reclaiming what you can’t get back.

1) Restart and Reset

Working hard to ignore the effect your loss has had on your life, remember what your priorities were when you were starting out for the first time, before everything went south. Include financial independence, meaningful work, worthwhile relationships, and everything a normal, moral, not-screwed person would aim for.

2) Edit Your Environment

Since your circumstances have probably forced you to move (or made moving a good idea, to give you a fresh start), fix up your new place the way you like it. It may not be as nice or big as where you used to live, but it’s yours, and making the effort won’t just make it homier, it will create a refuge where you can also feel comfortable hanging out with new friends.

3) Don’t Resist Relying on Relatives

Instead of isolating yourself and sharing pain when you socialize, choose your favorite relatives and re-invest in those relationships; your new friends might not be comfortable hearing you vent, but when it comes to finding an ear for your bitching and moaning, that’s what family is for. Invite yourself to family dinners where you’re welcome, and don’t focus on the family that might not invite you or want you around.

4) Harken Back to Healthy Habits

In the wake of a tragedy, it’s hard to find the time, money, or just the will to keep up your old exercise routine. You don’t need a gym, trainer, or intense training schedule to get in shape, just the determination to set aside some time everyday to stay healthy. And the benefits of working out aren’t just physical; exercise helps fight depression, and setting and sticking to a routine does wonders for one’s peace of mind.

5) Deter Depression

Don’t be surprised if depression creeps into your head, saps your strength, and convinces you that you’re a loser and to blame for everything’s that gone wrong. Do whatever’s necessary (internet research, shrink consultation, friend survey) to decide whether depression is what’s blocking your recovery. If so, there are many treatments that may help, some require no cost or professional intervention, and medication poses little risk, even if finding one that’s effective requires long periods of patient evaluation and some luck.

Legal Disintegration

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 23, 2016

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Once you’ve been struck by a natural disaster—a snow storm caves in your roof, a tornado takes off your roof, and flood sweeps away your roof and the house it’s attached to—you have no choice but to grit your teeth and start over. Legal disasters, on the other hand, often seem resolvable, thus luring you into putting the rest of your life on hold while fighting for a victory that may never come. So never assume that a legal problem will end, even if right is on your side. If a lawsuit has blown the roof clean off your life, start learning how to begin again instead of waiting for it to eventually blow back into place.

-Dr. Lastname

My ex-wife has falsely accused me of physically and sexually abusing her and our children over the course of our entire marriage (over 20 years). The accusations have resulted in a complete cutoff of any contact with my elementary school-aged children. I’m hoping it will be ultimately resolved in the family court system but after two years, I’m losing hope. The loss has been overwhelmingly devastating for me and isn’t getting any better over time. I go to bed, crying and having dreams about my children when I fall asleep. Only to wake up again, crying. I’m not sure how to cope with this anymore. It’s really taken a toll on me. My goal is to figure out how to move forward.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Worry Favor

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 16, 2016

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Despite the bad rep it always gets, we like to remind people that anxiety can be a blessing and a curse. After all, anxious people sometimes do better work because they’re afraid of failing (and were once better at survival since they were afraid of being eaten). On the other hand, sometimes their fear of failing prevents them from working or doing anything at all. So if you’re an anxious person, learn how to use your anxiety to your advantage. Then, when it flares up too much, you will know how to use it for motivation while protecting yourself from the curse of paralyzing panic.

-Dr. Lastname

I recently completed several large and important projects at work in a brief amount of time. I am satisfied with my work and proud of myself for finishing, but due to the emotionally and mentally taxing nature of this work, I am exhausted in every way that it is possible to be exhausted. I find myself getting sick a lot, and I have had two anxiety attacks in a single week. Because I have a tendency toward anxiety, introversion, and depression, my exhaustion takes the form of wanting to withdraw and shut down. My supportive spouse is willing to shoulder more work at home (which leaves me feeling guilty), but, as much as I would like to, I can’t reduce my workload at my job at the moment. But I find it very difficult to deal with people there without feeling panicky and irritable. What I really need is like a month’s vacation, but I know that I am not going to get it without destroying my career. If I hang on for one more month, I will get a week off, but I have to make it until then. My goal is to get through the next four weeks without totally collapsing or burning bridges with colleagues and friends. 

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Not Kill Your Kid

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 14, 2016

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If, like our reader from earlier this week, you’re having a tough time getting along with your teenaged kid, there are ways to keep things more civil, even if you can’t keep your kid from acting out. Here are five typical things a teenaged kid says to provoke a parent, and five responses that won’t feel as satisfying but will minimize conflict and make a tough situation easier to deal with.

1) “I’ll do [this chore] later. I’m not your slave.”

“I don’t want you to feel like a slave, though we both have to do lots of shit that everybody hates doing. I’ll put together your share of the shit list and make sure it’s fair and necessary, and we’ll discuss it. Meanwhile, I really appreciate what you do and think it’s making you independent.”

2) “You never listen to me and I always listen to you.”

“You’re right, [my illness/schedule/obligation to your siblings] doesn’t let me listen to you as well as I’d like, and I hate it, too, because you’re one of the most important people for me to listen to. But if we are both patient and persistent, I’m sure I’ll get the message.”

3) “You’re lucky I don’t tell anyone how abusive you are.”

“Anger can get both of us to do things we really regret, and I’m sorry I lost it. I’m the parent, and I’m supposed to have the experience and maturity to keep it together. I’m determined to learn from what went wrong and try to do better.”

4) “You’re lucky I didn’t hurt you because I’m stronger than you.”

“You’re right, which is why I’m glad you restrained yourself. For that matter, though you may not believe me, so did I. And that’s what we both need to get better at doing: keeping it together when we really want to kill one another.”

5) “You’re really psycho.”

“So, who’s perfect? But seriously, it’s not nice to be nasty about mental illness, especially because, if I do have a crazy, terrible temper, then you inherited it. So yes, it’s my fault, but here we are, so we both have to learn how to manage our inner genetic psycho.”

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