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So, a funny thing happened: I've been relying more and more heavily on HabitRPG, my calendar, and other external aids to tell me what to do and when to do it. As part of that, I've ended up joining a bunch of guilds on HabitRPG and been posting most of my NVC notes to the 'chronic illness guild' there. But, I still want to post them here too, since I think it's really useful stuff that should be shared with as many people as possible.

Communication stuff )

Reminding yourself that you choose all your tasks )
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Chasing a link from NancyLebovitz on LW, I've spent a few hours this week reading Focusing, by Eugene Gendlin, which reads like a New Age-y self-help manual, providing instructions on how to focus on a 'felt sense' and attain a 'body shift', or 'felt response' including some troubleshooting for the various steps, and then cramming in a whole new manual in the last chapter or two called The Listening Manual, which provides explicit instruction on total listening, active listening, and listening in a group. Despite the weird (to me) language, I saw enough similarities between focusing and techniques that have worked for me to suspect that at least parts of it are quite useful for teaching techniques that I mostly stumbled on, and possibly the whole thing really is as good as Gendlin thinks it is.

A very quick summary, with excerpts from the notes I took.

Summary )

And a random quote from the troubleshooting section, quoted for truth: "Most people treat themselves less like a friend than like a roommate they don't like"

And now for how this relates to the 'best' known therapy out there, CBT. In short: it doesn't. Most of the techniques I was taught that are explicitly part of CBT seem to be the complete opposite of focusing.  For example, let's say I have a party to go to, and I feel scared/anxious/reluctant about going. If i was CBTing, I would list out all the things I was afraid of with regards to the party, recognise them for the exaggerated/distorted ideas they were, and come up with more realistic/balanced alternatives for those thoughts, combined with a hefty dose of "and what's so bad about that?" directed at those fears. If I was focusing, I would tell myself "ok, I think I'm afraid of specific things X,Y,Z about the party, but I'll put those aside for now and see what my fear says if I listen to it directly", and then do so. So one involves enlisting your rational side, both to come up with reasons for your emotions and then to counter those reasons, while the other is more of a Zen thing of approaching the problem holistically and not analysing any of it.  I was originally going to then draw some similarities between the steps of CBT and focusing, but the more I think about it the more it seems like there aren't any, and that a lot of the techniques that I've gotten reasonable mileage from have come from reading elsewhere or suggestions from my therapist that weren't directly related to the CBT framework.

I suspect that CBT is more popular partly because it's much easier to teach  and apply, and because it looks and feels a lot more 'sciencey'. Also because I can't find any papers or studies anywhere about whether focusing actually gets better results than regular talk therapy, let alone the CBT branch.
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So two weeks on with my whole not being Jewish thing, a couple of points have come up. The first being that I told my family and got even less response than I was expecting (I wasn't expecting Mum to be terribly bothered in the first place, since she's been known to eat ham and bacon occasionally). Turns out she's much more concerned about the identity and 'marrying in' parts than the religous bits. And since I've already told her multiple times that I don't intend to make a special effort to marry in, that's pretty much the end of that problem. The second being that I still haven't gotten around to putting a pork product in my mouth, partly because I don't eat much meat to start with, but also because it turns out that I developed an aversion to the idea of eating pork in much the same way that I'm not keen on eating anything from McDonalds or KFC, despite having eaten there with great enjoyment in the distant past. I think about eating them and get a response from my brain indicating that they're not really food and if I want food I should go eat something else. So I'll basically have to go out of my way to eat some ham occasionally until I've convinced myself that pigs are edible after all.

In non-religious news, thesis is coming along nicely, but so is the deadline. As of today I have 3 weeks left to finish writing, polish it, and then get it printed, bound, and handed in. Scary stuff. I'm enjoying it a fair bit though, when it's not tedious or anxiety-provoking. Enough to continue with this academic writing stuff in the future? Maybe. I'll see how I'm feeling in 3 weeks.

In other other news, I'm still visting a psychologist on a regular basis. Progress there is not coming along so nicely, it's more of the one step forward, two steps to the side and then do-si-do around your partner before heading back to where you started variety of progress. Actually, that's not entirely true, I do think I'm slowly making real progress, it's just frustrating not to be improving faster. And to add insult to injury somewhat my psychologist reckons that my perception that I still have so far to go is itself symptomatic of my overly-perfectionistic thinking. So, uh, I guess that when I stop feeling like I need to make progress to be normal, that's when I'll know that I've achieved normality?


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