Sunday, August 20, 2006

Having A Great Weekend (In spite of the pain)

On Friday evening, I went out with my wife to celebrate our most recent personality upgrades over dinner, and discussion of how we might want to change some of our routines now that we are both a bit more inclined to take care of ourselves.  Unfortunately, I ate a little more than was wise, and spent much of Saturday in pain from the resulting indigestion.  And the part of today that I've been awake, nearly every muscle in my body has been sore, in the aftermath of yesterday's cramps.

But amazingly, this was still one of the most enjoyable weekends I've had all year.  Even though I ended up doing virtually none of the things I'd wanted to do, and even though it has been terribly uncomfortable throughout, I was able to focus on the positive and find things that I could enjoy.  I re-read the book Game Architecture and Development, for example, which I hadn't read in a few years.  I don't really have any intention of writing any computer games any time soon, but I love reading about the artistry of game balance, story, etc. that are in that book.

I also did a lot of thinking about some programming projects I'm working on, and got some ideas for things I might want to do with this site, like add a couple more blogs (a personal one, and a kind of "daily psych URL" one), create a study guide/workbook to go along with You, Version 2.0, and so on.  I haven't actually done anything about any of these ideas yet, but that's mostly because I've been too sore to use the computer much.

A Life Without Hope...lessness

But the thing that's really lifted my spirits the most this weekend is simply this: I haven't been down on myself.  No matter how bad things have been, I haven't gotten into self-pity, nor have I beat myself up for not making progress on my goals.

And interestingly, this wasn't because I was deliberatly trying to be upbeat in any way.  Instead, it was because nothing negative was "sticking"!  One of my negative internal voices might start saying something like, "Oh boy, story of my life, set a goal and something like this happens...".  Before last week's change, a thought like that would be immediately followed by a confirming feeling of despair at the hopelessness of it all.

But not this time.

And it's not like it was replaced by any positive feelings.  No, it was just the absence of the negative feeling.  There was no feeling at all...  which of course left the inner voice sounding kind of dumb, like a comedian whose joke has just fallen flat.

The first time or two it happened, it was a little confusing.  After that, I started to laugh at myself each time it happened, both yesterday and today.  Without the confirming feeling of doom, the voice of negativity is just a voice.  And who cares what a disembodied voice says, especially if it's being negative?

And I started to feel really good about that.  Because that feeling of hopelessness was so much a part of my life before, that I could scarcely imagine what life without it would be like.  And now I know.

Crossing "State" Lines

But what are kings, when regiment is gone,
but perfect shadows in a sunshine day?


-- Christopher Marlowe, in "Edward II"

When I wrote The Opposite of Temptation, I was concerned that I had other mental structures that needed revision, besides removing the doyletic imprint.  But now I see that they're going to start collapsing on their own, like various others did after my Self, 2.0 change.  Without the doyle to provide them a feeling-state to hang off of, none of those other mental structures can maintain any permanence.  They are are merely "kings when regiment is gone, but perfect shadows in a sunshine day".

Think of it this way.  Before, whenever a negative thought occurred, it would trigger the feeling of hopelessness, which changed my brain/body chemistry to a more "depressive" state.  In that state, all kinds of other thoughts and actions were more likely to occur, and I had less access to the more-resourceful thoughts and behaviors of my "normal" state.

Now, however, with the doyle removed, the negative thoughts don't trigger a brain/body state change, so I still have access to my resourcefulness, and don't tap into "depressed mode" thoughts and behaviors.  This is more than sufficient to allow me to assess the actual situation and take appropriate action.  And over time, this should lead to me naturally finding and correcting the thought processes that no longer "fit" with the "new me".

Understanding is a Three-Edged Sword

One thing I'm curious about, though, is whether this change means there's no longer any way for me to get into the "depressed mode".  Not that I care; I don't really have any further use for it, after all!  But it's interesting because it does suggest that removing a doyletic imprint is potentially a rather dangerous business.  After all, what if I had done it with something pleasurable?  If the same principles apply, that would be a very bad thing.

Thus, if you do decide to experiment with doyletic tracing or other forms of timeline therapy, please be careful.  Not all feelings are as useless as despair is!  Also, remember that not every feeling-state cluster is a doyletic imprint.  In particular, if you can actually remember a childhood event as the source of an issue, it's not a doyle, and you should be using the techniques described in You, Version 2.0, instead.  Merely tracing back to a conscious memory won't change it; you have to bring resources back with you, as I described in the book.

Conversely, if you can't remember a specific event as the source, it may or may not be a doyle, so it certainly doesn't hurt to try the doyletic trace technique first -- as long as you're absolutely sure you can live without the feeling in question.

The End of Inhibition

Meanwhile, I'm eagerly looking forward to what happens next.  Now that I know that setbacks can't "get to me" any more, I have a whole new freedom of action, unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

That's because before, every fear I had of failure or imperfection was linked back to that one emotion of despair and hopelessness.  It was that feeling that I always feared, not the actual consequences of a wrong choice!  So, even if the real consequences are absolutely trivial (like the ones I wrote about in The Primary Inhibition), I would still fear them out of all sensible proportion.

So I can already tell that when I contemplate what choices I should make, I won't end up with as conservative approach as I've had in the past.  Before, the threat hanging over a wrong choice was the terrible feeling of failure.  Now, it just is what it is.

And I can't begin to describe how wonderful that simple thing can be.