Emotions, Personal Growth

Pondering Comfort Eating

I never understood the concept of comfort eating — even when I was doing it. I never understood it because I don’t particularly like food that much … so why does eating bring me comfort? Why use eating as a means to distract me from loneliness or heartache? Other than the search for food, but hunting down ice cream is hardly that challenging.

Then I heard Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin on Hilary Hendershott’s Profit Boss podcast talking about it. She described it thusly (paraphrasing): our first experiences in life as a baby are of being held as we were fed. On a primal, visceral level, eating brings with it this initial sense of connection to those who cared for us. Eating brings back, even temporarily, that feeling of being connected to others, of being loved, of feeling cared for, of being important.

Well shiiiii. Now I understand it! Absolutely. Plus, I can now see exactly why I was doing it myself. Holy moly! Interestingly, the very next day I’m standing in 7-11 with my Big Gulp refill mug, looking at the Dr. Pepper button and think “Ew, I don’t want that today.” This is my go-to drink for the morning jolt of caffeine and sugar. Even just the day before, this same trip was almost like an addict taking their first drag of the day. Now I’m suddenly emotionally like “nah, don’t want it”. *boggles* Did just being aware of why I am reaching for this comfort drink make that big a difference?? Well, heck, next time I’m thinking about stopping by DQ for a cone, I’m gonna call a friend instead. My wallet and my waist will thank me!

 

About the Featured Image: swiped from a Cooking on the Weekends blog post. Looks nummy, doesn’t it?

 

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Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

All (gender) are Stupid.

“Of course I can have deep, meaningful conversations with impact. Let’s talk about … my hair!”

I stumbled across a post written by a fellow with … well … hatred, distain and contempt for women in general. He espoused the same concepts that I see throughout history from the ancient Greeks on up to today. He had nothing new to add, just more vitriol and “proof” for his position. That position being that the female gender is entirely a vapid, unreasoning, narcissistic, short-sighted, small-minded creature who is incapable of bringing anything of value to the adult table.

*sigh*

In my journey through life, I have noticed that people, men AND women, tend to live up to what is expected of them. Culturally, women are indeed expected to be this shallow, self-centered, unreasonable, intellectually unchallenging creature just as described. I have been told repeatedly not to speak of anything with meaning or impact because men find it “unattractive” or “intimidating” or “threatening.” Indeed, the joke is “most women would rather have beauty than brains, because most men can see better than they can think.” I personally prefer brains – beauty fades, and because hair and shoes are perhaps the most eye-crossingly stupid conversation I can IMAGINE, and yet I know women who will discuss these things literally all night long. And yes, I’ve known plenty of women who are beyond unreasonable to the point of inanity and those women, I want to choke. They exist sure, but so do unreasonable men!! Holy mother, do they exist too. So I ask a better question in response:

Do women (people) merely live up to the “ideal” they are permitted/expected to adhere to or is this behavior truly native and therefore uninfluenced by culture? The flip side of this question would be: are men as they are because this is what was expected of them?

To further explore a bit, Are the male and female brain literally so radically different that it is only the exceptional female who is capable of thinking, as Stoker put it, “with a man’s mind?” I would posit that the answer is “no, they are not that different” and what one gender is capable of, so too is the other. I do recognize that the focus is often inherently different, so it’s easy to use a yard stick instead of a meter and not realize they are different systems of measure entirely. That requires perspective and curiosity to discover this one.

Suffice to say, I’ve known waaaaaay more stupid, vapid men who want to discuss nothing more impactful then their cars or sports than I’ve known men who ask any form of philosophically probing question. I married the guy who asked and continues to ask those questions! I would analogize cars and sports with fashion and makeup. Each gender stereotypically has their own niche for banal, mind-numbing, insignificant conversations. Neither gender has cornered the market on that particular aspect of what is means to be an average human being. Of course, I don’t generally hang out with unthinking, unreasoning people – male OR female – and so I have relatively few friends, mainly because MOST people simply don’t like to think. It’s sad to be told “You make my brain hurt”.

Back to the concept of “people living up to your expectations”. I have seen the exact same person have completely different responses to a situation based solely on who is present and what is expected of them in that situation. So if the people you come into contact with keep REAFFIRMING an idea you already have, perhaps this is not actually a reflection of them… but rather you looking into the Hall of Mirrors and failing to recognize the true reflection being seen.

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Emotions, Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

Evaluating The Source

My BA is in History. While there is a great deal that this degree taught me, one of the biggest ones was the ability to evaulate the source of the information. The first round of evaulation breaks the sources down into tiers of evidence, from most to least reliable. Notice, it’s “reliable” … not “accurate”.

Primary evidence is the most trustworthy because it means the information came from someone who truly knows first hand what the information is. They participated in the events described. A first-person account of a battle or even the genealogy written into the family Bible are considered primary sources. This doesn’t mean the evidence is fool proof or free from bias; that has to be assessed next but first-person accounts always have the most weight. Government records are typically considered primary because usually the information was supplied by the individual being recorded. Secondary sources are those written after the event but not by those who actually participated in the event. Memoirs written decades after a battle are still first-person and so primary, but “grandpa told me this is what happened” sorts of reports are secondary. Reported by a second person from first person accounts. Often, well done scholary books are secondary sources because they reference and interpret mostly primary sources. Tertiary sources are the least reliable. The “my friend’s friend told my sister’s cousin that her grandpa said this is what happened” type of situation. Tertiary sources should never be used for anything of merit, though sometimes they are quite colorful.

The second round of evaluation means assessing the information contained within the source. Do we know who wrote it? If so, does that person have an agenda they are pushing or are they educated enough to actually understand the tactics behind the events they lived through? If it’s a translation of a first-person account, how accurate is the translation? How far removed from the events was this recorded? Etc.

Understanding the logical fallacies is a helpful addition to this evaluation process, but it wasn’t part of my training and was an idea I came across years later. I still include them though.

Why am I bringing this up? I’m listening to a bunch of different podcasts by financial educators and I’m hearing some things which are pinging my “secondary source” or “agenda/bias” warnings. Then I started thinking of news events and commercials and personal interactions with people.

Is being able to evaluate the sources of information provided an important skill to cultivate? HELL YES.

Why? It’s so much easier to see through the manipulation of commercials if you can say “Red Herring fallacy” when you hear the ad. It’s easier to unveil the lies of politicians if you recognize “Strawman Argument”. It’s much harder for a manipulative person or news article to get their hooks into you if you can see the biases or agenda which drive them. If I’m listening to a Congressional hearing and their evidence is all tertiary, there’s some bullshittery going on. Etc.

Unfortunately, this type of thing falls into the Critical Thinking category. It seems Critical Thinking has tragically become anathema, right along side education and intellectual pursuits. I also think that common sense and critical thought go together – so it’s little wonder common sense is not particularly common.

In truth, it doesn’t matter where the information is coming from – there’s always personal bias and perspective at play. The job of the evaluator is to determine the level of reliability any information has. See if you can evaluate the next few commercials you hear, or new articles you read. Most ESPECIALLY, put on your evaluator hat when you hear one person bitching about another behind their back.

 

About the Featured Image: It’s the Simpsons, in the episode where Lisa is objecting to the meat being served in the cafeteria. The lunch lady pushes this button to alert authorities that a child is thinking critically and needs to be stopped.

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Personal Growth, Rant

An ignorant population is an enslaved population

An ignorant population is an enslaved population. Attacks on education are a demand for enslavement, for disempowerment, for abdication of personal responsibility … for sheeple who go where they are told, when they are told, how they are told. It’s the perfect way to control a populace – because a free mind is the most dangerous mind to those who seek to control others. Without the ability to think something, the ability to do something is limited.

Every boom in prosperity and growth is accompanied by the rise and proliferation of quality education, and every decline and “dark age” is accompanied by the rise of ignorance.  Most rulers who were ever called The Great (ie Alexander the Great) or had the biggest impact on succeeding generations (ie Charlemagne) included a focus on education.

<tangent>I hear the specious argument that women don’t need to be educated and my first thought is “only slaves are deliberately not educated because educating them means they might not think you are worth serving. Clearly, you want slaves but aren’t big enough to actually say this out loud.”</tangent>

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Personal Growth, Spirituality

Sometimes the obvious is hardest to see

Last spring I joined a magickal order. The lodge was 3 hours away. I had misgivings about joining because of a particular member. Despite that, I joined but I only made it to 1 other meeting since then. While this one person was a big influence on my not going, they were not the only reason.

I was debating recently about whether or not to demit membership or suck it up and go. Typical for me, I posed this question in the car on my way to work and then talked out loud the answer. As I rambled on about this or that, finally I blurted out “Why am I even considering going? I already found what I was looking for.”

That brought me up short. What did I mean that I already found it? The answer immediately unveiled itself. I found the answers that I sought in my spiritual explorations in my Junior year in college, with the help of a couple of amazing friends. We explored all KINDS of things, pretty much living and breathing spiritual work in various forms for almost a year. In that time, I experienced some truly stellar things and opened inner doorways to even more. Since then, I had thought those doors were closed and I have spent years attempting to re-open them … with no success.

In looking back on my many and sundry attempts, I can tell now that they were all purely intellectual attempts. Nothing was heart-driven. As Castenada said, the path without a heart is a dead path. So while I’m intellectually curious and hoping to unveil more ‘secrets of the universe’, my heart is actually pretty dang content with what it found way back when I was 20 – and I was just refusing to even see it.

To say this revelation was stunning is an understatement. It put me on my butt for a few days as I absorbed the truth of it and was finally able to see just how much energy I’ve wasted in these superficial intellectual pursuits. My heart is still very interested in spirituality, just not in the way my conscious brain has been ingrained to think. I’m discovering that I’m turning more and more toward personal development as an expression of spirituality. After all, isn’t exploring myself and how I experience this world and my relationships within it why I’m here? I already remember where I came from and know what happens after this life. That’s not my concern. My concern is being the best me that I can be … and letting go of insecurities, superficial fears, and other people’s judgments while learning to accept who I genuinely am then finding the strength to actually express that is the next set of major challenges.

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Money, Personal Growth

My Early Retirement Failure

I retired from the paycheck world in 2011 for a variety of reasons — unfortunately, every single one of them was wrong for me. I had thought that all the bases were covered and that I knew what I was doing and why … but none of them were truly honest with my core self. This situation was a recipe for disaster, and disaster is exactly what happened.

From my own experience, now when I think of retiring early a number of questions leap to mind because I REALLY do not want to repeat that mistake.

(1) WHY? This is a simple sounding question, but if the answer isn’t fully investigated and really understood, there could be all kinds of hidden subconscious reasons which are waiting in the wings to spring out and blind side you. In my case, insecurity and the need to end the burn-out were the subconscious motivators I never even saw coming. Combined, these threw me into a depressive spiral that took me a few years to dig out of. So really, consider all the myriad and sundry whys because there’s never just one. Specifically look for the clues as to where the subconscious pitfalls may be hiding.

(2) PURPOSE/VALUE. Looking into where your sense of purpose and value comes from is related to the why but a bit deeper. I had no idea just how much of my sense of value as a person was derived from my paycheck. What a nasty eye opener that one was! Combine a sense of giving no value to the household with a sense of having no purpose to get me up in the mornings and this absolutely gave me the knock-out punch to the depression I mentioned above and why it lasted so long. Once I formally re-entered the work-world and got my first real paycheck, I was shocked at how quickly I was able to not only recover but suddenly my interest in pursuing my own business went from drudgery to an exciting challenge. The irony! I even had energy left-over to tackle some of the many hobby projects which sat idle while I was “retired”. Again, this is a very serious set of questions to consider. Retiring to discover that self-esteem and sense of purpose vanish is another potentially devastating surprise I wouldn’t want anyone to face.

(3) SUPPORT. There is nothing worse than leaving the work-force only to face a partner who has changed their mind about the situation. The questions of Why and Purpose/Value need to be explored through the partner’s perspective as well. In my case, my partner was all for it before hand. Totally supportive. Until the paychecks actually stopped and his value of “financial security” felt threatened for the first time. Not the case, but he felt it was true and so it may as well have been. Combine that with my depression and he really was unsupportive. Again, not a fun situation. If you have a partner who won’t be retiring at the same time you do, discuss the plans until every facet has been covered as best as possible – and keep talking even after. Consider also the possibility there may be a discrepancy between “theory” and “actuality”!

(4) EXIT STRATEGY. What if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason? I listen to the early retirees and there are a number who go back to work. I am one of them. Fortunately, my stint being “retired” gave me a whole new perspective on the meaning of work. Now I work where I want to and because I find the work exciting or challenging. If that changes or doesn’t allow me to keep growing, I’m going somewhere else. No qualms about that! What did come as a surprise is that most employers aren’t really interested in hiring entrepreneurs. It’s been challenging digging my way back into an environment that I want to be in. I’m still not there, but I’m much closer.

And that’s a bit about what I learned from retiring early. I also learned that I can never do that again. I’ll be working until I die – though being freed from the feeling of being trapped by any job has been amazing. I could retire if I wanted to, but I choose not to. A very different place to be!

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Emotions, Personal Growth

When People Tell You…

I was speaking with someone once long ago about the shit line that some guys will pull up-front – the whole “I’m just going to hurt you” type of comment. The gal I was speaking to had definitely heard this before — from her then-husband when they first started dating. I did not know this when I heard the song which inspired the conversation.

Essentially, if someone right off the bat flat out TELLS me that they will just end up hurting me, guess what? This train stops right now and I am getting the freak OFF. Why? Because essentially I was just told that I had fair warning that I will be abused in the future and that if I proceed with this relationship in any capacity, it WILL happen. I have been warned, after all. What I told my friend was that basically if someone tells me right out of the gate “I’m a dick and don’t respect you enough to treat you with … well, respect” then I’ve got enough self-esteem to say “Ok, nice meeting you. Have a good life.”

What boggled my mind is that my friend never actually thought about this before. Hell, she MARRIED the jerk and then was all butt-hurt when he turned out to be … a jerk! As advertised. So as I see it, this statement is a power play which immediately puts the on-notice person into the “you will really have to work for my approval” category and for some reason, many people actually fall for it. Make excuses, as my friend did.

  • He didn’t really mean that.
  • I bet my love will redeem him.
  • I love a strong man like that.
  • Ooooo, a challenge.

*headdesk* All of these are rationalizations. Be prepared for the future abuse in whatever form! It’s a power game aimed at control and safety for the abuser.

But there’s a female equivalent which has never really been called out and I’m going to call it out now.

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

*blink*blink* So you are giving me notice that you are a raging bitch some days and candy sweet other days? That you are abusive, and then expect to be forgiven once the storm has passed — and it happens regularly enough you have to laughingly warn me about it. I call bullshit. Let me rephrase that to more accurately reflect every person that I am personally aware of who actively uses this mantra: “I’m abusive, and if you want the good parts then you’ll take the bad as part of the package without questioning it or holding me accountable for it.”

Sure everyone has bad days, and everyone deals with bad days differently. That’s not what this line refers to though. It’s a much bigger statement than “I sometimes have bad days and might be cranky then.” But if someone uses this line to justify and excuse their abusive, shitty, self-centered rage fests, then I’m outta there. That person’s “best” is definitely not sufficient payment to endure their “worst”.

Think of this physical example: bad day results in a fist to the cheekbone. MF ouch. Next day? “oh I’m sorry baby” plus excuses/blaming/promises. Guess what? Cheekbone still fractured!! The apology did NOT excuse or make up for the abuse. In any way. No “best” will make up for this “worst”.

Now here’s a literal, real world example from a former friend who loves this shit line (she) and a current good friend (he): they leave apartment and he thought he had keys for door. Get back at 10ish pm and turns out he grabbed the wrong key ring. She EXPLODES with blaming, name calling and other verbal abuse which lasts for HOURS. Next day, apologize and expect forgiveness. My response to this story when I heard it from him? Shock, sadness then anger on behalf of my abused friend. She was WAY out of line and flat abusive when it was a simple honest mistake relatively easily fixed with no real harm done. Except to his self-esteem, his personal power, his energy body, his confidence, his faith in himself. Now I’m going to start working in “emotionally abusive” language into our conversations when I hear this shit. Maybe it will jar him enough to re-evaluate some things. Some days, she’s super nice – but many days, she’s just a controlling, fearful girl who uses abusing others to feel safe. Not cool. SOOOO not cool. But it’s never her fault, of course.

So yeah. There’s the occasional “bad day” which I deal with and move on and it is NEVER okay to take it out anyone around me — EVER; and then there’s the person who has so many “bad days” that they become part of the character which has to be taken into consideration.

Listen to what people say, and take them at their word. If someone tells you, however veiled, that they are abusive in any form … walk away, and don’t look back.

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