blk: (citd)
No particularly context for this except musing on the past.

There is very little that I would say I have an actual phobia for. The one thing that I feel I've been able to definitively identify, and what gives me my mental basis for using the term "phobia" is drowning. It's very minor - it took a few decades for me to define it as such, and it doesn't really affect much of anything I do except for where I take a lot of care watching videos where drowning is a real or hyped risk involved, because I can very quickly observe panic symptoms start setting in if I don't distract myself.

I have no idea what the "source" might be, although I have emotional memories that seem to reinforce it going back pretty far. Who knows whether one of them created it, or they just all helped to bring what already existed out into the light.

- There was a swimming lesson when I was very young where we were supposed to learn how to float on our backs, and I was having a lot of trouble. But I was told not to paddle, so I repeatedly tried to float by lying straight and still, and every time, I would slowly sink, sometimes not catching myself until my face went under and water got up my nose. Over a decade later I realized that how high humans float in water is directly related to their percentage of body fat, which I've always had very little of. I'm still frustrated that several swim teachers just told me I was moving too much instead of advising I try to take in more air first.

- There was a swimming test at summer camp where I had to tread water for some period of time wearing clothing, then take off a pair of jeans and inflate them to create a makeshift floatation device. Taking off wet jeans is really hard, and I got frustrated with trying to do that and also stay above water, and eventually, panicky. I remember ending the test sobbing and hyperventilating and feeling bitter than nobody else seemed to care how upset I was, except for giving me a paper bag to breathe into.

- There were, of course, multiple instances where I'm swimming with other kids or in waves and just as I come up to take a fresh breath, I get knocked back down (accidentally or intentionally) and either strain my lungs or swallow some water and have to cough it out. I still remember how furious I got, which was always shrugged off because the other kid couldn't understand why I was so upset.

- Most recently was when I took a scuba diving lesson, in my mid-20s. Because of my small-framed face, the smallest size adult mask they had available mostly, but not completely, sealed against my face. So when we went into deeper ocean water for the last lesson, as soon as I was down underwater for a few breaths, my mask would start to leak, cutting off vision and disorienting me. I ended up spending all of my mental energy on the sheer effort of not panicking while several feet underwater, and after several attempts, gave it up. I got my certification and never once used it.


It's of interest to note that I wasn't injured during any of these, just panicked. The times in water that I've actually been injured don't stand out anywhere near as much. The time I went waterskiing as a kid and (somehow) ended up with a long bloody gash on my shin? Eh. The many summers I cut my toes on barnacles or shells on the ocean floor or a jellyfish stung me? Painful, but not horrible. The time I fell on a sharp rock while whitewater rafting and spent the next two months with a bum knee relearning how to walk? Annoying, thrilling (when we were actually afloat) but not scary at all. (Although a year later when I had a runaway kayak carry me a short ways down the river while leaving me mostly unharmed, that was yet another panic moment).

Also of interest in that I'm not scared of water in general, of getting wet, of submerging myself, of swimming, or of anything that would make this phobia into a problem instead of just a minor detail. I'm fine with situations where I feel more or less in control. I'm a pretty good swimmer. I spent my Florida summers at swim parks and beaches. I can exhale partway and sit at the bottom of the pool and totally enjoy the peace and quiet. I'm starting to be OK with kayaking on calm waters.

In thinking about this as a phobia, I'm realizing that this is just a feature of me that I can accept. OK, I have strong reactions in particular circumstances where I feel endangered and if other people don't understand that, it's their failing, not mine. I know what a panic attack feels like, I know that I can stay fairly calm and coherent through one, and that the majority of things don't do that to me. I have sympathy for past me, and am sorry she wasn't comforted the way she needed, and I promise to myself that I'll do my best to take care of me in the future.
blk: (citd)
Every so often a rash of articles come around focused on recognizing introverts and fetishizing them, because apparently nobody is as authentic, intense, thoughtful, or observant as today's pop-culture introvert. Here it comes again, I roll my eyes, tired of the enforced division of people into the caricatured polar ends of a continuum and the dozens of friends I otherwise respect, pumping up their introverted internet fists in agreement. Well of course you don't understand, they pat-pat at me. You're an extrovert. Guess what: I'm not.

I've done no harm )

Looking around at my social environment -- full of a ridiculously high percentage of INTP geeks and many people who actually are closer to the inner edge of the E-I spectrum, it's easy to see why I get tagged as an extrovert: I'm simply more extroverted than they are. Additionally, I don't have a lot of traits that are commonly associated with introversion (but are not actually the same as introversion; see above). I am not terribly shy. I don't have much social anxiety. I can make small talk or have conversations with strangers sometimes. I like people and am fairly outgoing. I can sometimes enjoy loud parties. And I make an effort to put myself in very social environments only when I'm in the mood to do so, and leave when I'm done, so that's when most people see me.

nothing wrong with my mental health )
blk: (faceinhands)
Ponderance for the week:

The rule for ambivalence (as distinct from questions/decisions/problems) is that it is never resolved by thought, only by action, and that the action chosen is irrelevant.


-- out of context quote from The Last Psychiatrist, Who's Afraid of Lil' Wayne
blk: (range)
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. " -- James Nicoll

Being in the same city as several hospitals and universities means there are frequent opportunities to volunteer as a research subject For Science,TM so occasionally I like doing so. During a screening interview for a recent study, I was given the National Adult Reading Test (link: NART [PDF]) to get a measure of my English language reading skills. The NART consists of 61 words with non-phonetic spellings, which means you, in theory, need to have learned how to pronounce them from somewhere else in order to be able to read the words. I had not seen the test before. [Warning, if you ever think you may be tested for language skills with this test, reading that PDF link carefully ahead of time may count as giving you an advantage.]

I got 7 words incorrect. Alas, I didn't ask what all of them were, so I'm unsure on exactly which ones I missed, although I have a pretty good guess. Also, over half of these words were French, which surprises me not in the slightest, since French, as far as I can tell, takes an entire sneeze of characters to make a single syllable, and I've never learned how to pronounce anything in it.

There were 6 words that I am pretty sure I had never heard of before. This set overlapped with, but was not a subset of the words I missed. At least half of them I successfully guessed at. 2 were words that, as far as I can remember, I had heard, but never before seen written, and did not recognize (I got them both wrong). On the other hand, 4 were words I had seen written, but never heard spoken out loud (to my memory), and got a couple of those wrong.

Afterwards, I discussed a few of the words with the person giving me the test. Apparently I got a couple right that nobody else she had tested had, and was able to give her the etymology of a few she didn't know.
blk: (ow)
I have a problem. Or maybe it's a quirk.

It's taken me a bit of time to straighten out what's going on, but I think I've figured it out. It goes something like this:

Read more... )

How do you change inappropriate things you do when you don't realize when you do them?
blk: (axial)
The solstice moment passes this evening, and hope for a sunny, warm world returns once again! Every stolen moment of daylight will come back, and the world continues on once more in its path around the sun.

But while the revolution of the planet remains constant, I don't have to. I want to change; I want to grow; I want to improve myself and be a better person next year than I am right now, and I want that to be my goal every year.

This year, I am asking for help.

In your opinion, what do you think I should do this year to improve myself and become a better person?

the fine print )
blk: (smirk)
In the past, I have usually approached agreements between people from a single viewpoint. It's occurred to me that other people might not see things the same way. I'm interested in how you handle this:

Imagine, if you would, a theoretical situation where Person A makes a request X of Person B . Person B responds with (something like), "Yes, I'll do X, but now's not a good time."

In your view, who now should be taking primary initiative for X to get fulfilled? Is it Person B's obligation to follow up on X when zie is not busy anymore, without waiting for a reminder? Or is your expectation more that Person A, the requester (and therefore the person for whom X is probably more important) should plan to make the request again later? Does the nature of the request matter?

[Poll #1076292]
As usual, feel free to elaborate in comments.

my thoughts )
blk: (thinking)
Is there any area in your life in which you would consider yourself an expert?

Have you ever been called an expert at something, even though you feel you didn't deserve it?

What is something that hope (and work) to someday be an expert in?
blk: (me_baby)
One of the central traits of human personality is that of Introversion and Extroversion. This trait covers a general preference for being in the external world or the internal world. A good workable definition is that an extrovert gains energy from interacting with people, while an introvert gains energy from being alone. Like most other personality traits, it runs on a sliding scale, not in binary.

There are many unfair or incorrect assumptions and generalizations made about this trait. A couple that come to my mind are:
  • extroverts have good social skills | introverts have poor social skills.
  • extroverts always enjoy being social | introverts don't enjoy socializing.
lingering on this topic )
blk: (me_baby)
One evening over Carnival weekend, after several of us had just left my house, a friend (who can identify himself if he wants) admitted that, for reasons that were not personal to me or my family, he was uncomfortable with my children playfully crawling over him. I encouraged him, for any future occurrence, to state said preferences directly to my children, insisting that the perceived rationality of his discomfort didn't particularly matter, only that that was there. We followed up with an interesting (to me, at least) discussion of ways to relate to children when it comes to expressing personal boundaries.

Learning how to relate to people and developing good boundaries has been one of the themes of my own brain in the recent while, and the specifics of applying this to children becomes more relevant as my kids make more friends and I interact with more children who are not related to me. I've also observed that many of my friends, particularly ones who don't have children of their own, aren't always sure how to relate to my kids. As I have awesome kids, and I care about their social development, I'd always like to see more of my friends interacting with and being comfortable with being around them. So here are some of my armchair psychology thoughts on the matter.

lengthy ramblings on children and boundaries blah blah IMO blah blah )
blk: (cygnus)
Do you make a distinction between "loving" and being "in love" (with another person)?

How would you define each of them, for you?
How do you know when you love someone?
How do you know when someone loves you, when their definition of love is likely different from yours?
blk: (ninja)
There's this concept from the book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" that attempts to highlight The Difference Between the Genders and points out that "men want advice; women want sympathy."

Well, the book has enough controversy I don't care to get into, but if you take away the assumed gender roles with those attitudes, there's a pretty good psychological concept to think about. Some people share problems because they want advice. Some people share problems because they want sympathy. Most people want one or the other (or some range) depending on the time, topic, manner of approach, and person who is listening. Very often (particularly in text interaction), it can be difficult to tell what kind of response is desired.

In my limited experience, based on biased, uncarefully collected, empirical data, I think that people in the geek crowd (that is, most of my friends), both male and female, tend strongly towards offering advice, without checking to see whether or not it has been solicited or is wanted. I've observed it on a regular basis. And on another level, I've also observed the reactions such advice gets met with.

Which brings me to the obvious conclusion: I need a poll.

[Poll #712123]
As usual, comment with other thoughts or opinions not covered in the limited poll responses. Comments offering unwanted advice on how to improve my polling skills will be shot.
blk: (cygnus)
I've been doing a bit of philosophical pondering lately. One of the themes that keeps coming back to haunt me is that of balance. I define my reality, my philosophy, and my spirituality by the concept of balance. And thus it exists within me, in ways I am working to understand.

Recent thoughts have helped me to identify some of my stronger needs, to help me exist in a more stable and healthy state. I define a need as a force within me that exists outside of conscious thought and intention. A natural state, perhaps, which cannot be removed. There are plenty of others, I'm sure, of varying types and intensity, but these are the ones currently in my head.

cut for brain-gazing )

I like it when my brain starts to make a little bit of sense to me.
blk: (hottie)
In lieu of actual content, a poll about what sort of value you place on physical appearance, inspired tangentially from another friend's LJ.

"Shallow" is an insult generally applied to people who place higher emotional value on what's on the surface of a person (how they look) than "who they really are," or what's underneath. I have also seen it applied (imo, incorrectly) to people who place ANY value on looks, or who do so without the pretense of a deeper involvement.

But from the other side of the spectrum, everybody -knows- that looks are what you need to get your foot in the door. Right? Right?? How true is that around here? How much value do -you- place on looks?

Here's the deal: You are in a social setting, and you spot someone who is -just- your type. He or she is absolutely eye-catchingly beautiful, but there is nothing else that particularly stands out. You are permitted one 30 second interaction to ensure there are no screechingly bad vibes, but no other getting to know them, yet. You may assume minimal SO complications, consent to any approach, an extra dose of courage in your drink, and a frictionless surface (oops, wrong problem). What would you do (check all that apply)? How far would you be inspired to go? At what point does personality or other points of interest actually matter?

cut for the depth of beauty )

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