0489 – a weekend of refactoring

It’s been a good weekend. Yesterday I woke up really early with my mind swimming with thoughts, and I wrote a full 8 vomits.

Both days I’ve had lunch with the wife without either of us bringing our phones downstairs, and we’ve had really good conversations on both counts. We should do that more, I think it’s going to be a thing.

I’ve also been cleaning and tidying up my house. In particular, I’ve been moving all books and papers out of all the rooms and moving them into the study, which is now a centralized place for all books, papers, bills, everything. It feels great. I’m cleaning out the master bedroom, which I’m going to turn into a home gym. I really look forward to being able to do squats and bench presses at home. Endorphins on demand! I’m half-tempted to do a “1,000 workouts” progression, the same way I’m doing 1,000 word vomits. Who will I be after 5,000 reps of heavy squats? I’m really excited to find out.

I’ve also made quite a bit of progress in cleaning out my Workflowy, which had burgeoned into having too many bullets with too many things splayed out. I’ve consolidated a bunch of them, and it’s now a lot easier to process.

All of these things make me much happier. My guitars are in my living room, as is my amp, and it makes playing and practicing so much more convenient, so I’ve been doing that more.

I’ve opened up a wooden table that I bought a while ago, and it functions great as a sort of mobile desk that we can have dinner at, or work from our sofa at. It’s awesome.

My house feels even more like a home now, and I feel like I rest more easily.

We then started going through the paperwork that we have. I’ve sorted out most of my old journals and diaries, and I can now go through them more easily if and when I want to. They’re categorized by year.

I feel like I’ve made progress in understanding what I need to do in order to help myself take action about the things that I want to act on. It mostly involves being more precise about the exact, specific actions that need to happen.

I was reading some of our old notes to ourselves and each other, and I did feel a lot of feelings when reading some of the rougher patches. It’s so interesting and beautiful to be able to reimagine and re-witness old conversations, old struggles and challenges, and to see how they should’ve been dealt with differently. It’s clear that I had all sorts of problems that I wasn’t adequately equipped to address or manage. I’m making up for all of that now. I’ve made significant progress. I’m a stronger, better person now. I’m more responsible. I’m more effective, I’m more functional. Some happiness is in order.

But the journey has just begun. We’re just getting started. There’s so much more to live, learn, experience, do.

As I was clearing my shelves, I picked up one of the many self-help books I’ve accumulated– this one was called Transforming Your Self or something like that, with a picture of the sculpture of a man carving himself out of a rock. It’s surprisingly good– it does a good introduction from first principles, describing self-concept, self-esteem and the relationship between the two, and acknowledging straight away that high self-esteem isn’t necessarily a good thing, and that it can be outright damaging. It also explores how people who’re constantly seeking validation from others usually have some sort of self-concept that they’re uncomfortable with, which is accurate in my own experience, and seems to accurately describe a few people I’ve witnessed.

Where it got interesting– I still haven’t read deeply enough– is when it starts talking about identifying your own self-concept, which is probably something that’s largely inherited or developed in a haphazard manner. It then talks about refining and improving your self-concept along lines that direct you towards becoming a person that you’d be happy becoming (because there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy at the heart of self-concept– we do things and think things that are aligned with our concepts of ourselves, which makes us become even more like our own projections of ourselves).

A part of that, apparently, is to pick and choose things about yourself that you like, and make those things stronger in your self-concept. And you do that by drawing to attention and memory instances in which you behaved in a way that you like, and make those memories more vivid. Recreate and revisit them.

And conversely, when you have memories of you doing things that you didn’t like, or just painful, unhappy memories one way or another, the author recommends revisiting those memories again, and facing that discomfort again with the broader perspective and experience that you now have. He even recommends this– when you have a memory of someone being hurtful towards you, reimagine it with that person treating you better, with more wisdom.

I’m not sure how he managed to frame it in a way that wasn’t literally “just pretend life was better than it actually was”. He pointed out that memories are stories we tell ourselves, and the people who hurt us in the past don’t technically exist in the present– so when we continue to be hurt by them, we’re actually being hurt by the stories we’re telling ourselves inside our own heads.

So I suppose you don’t necessarily need to pretend that bad things didn’t happen, or that good things happened instead. You just need to recognize that you don’t need to keep beating yourself up– which is precisely what we’re doing when we’re recalling nasty or unpleasant memories. We rationalize all the time, and we can’t avoid it. So rather than try to avoid it, we ought to be deliberate about it, and acknowledge BOTH the “real truth” and how things should be, should have been, how we’d like them to have been. At least, that’s my interpretation.

It’s all very interesting, I haven’t made up my mind about how exactly it should all be, and I need to read it more.

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