Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 5)

Stolen by the FAE

To say “well, this has been a hell of a year” when looking back would be a massive understatement. Considering my last published post was in April of 2020, it’s fair to say that things have changed. Some of those changes have been large, others have been small. Losing my job was a large change. Making adjustments to my personal hygiene routine is a small one. Beginning pursuit of a degree in counseling psychology? Large. Learning a few new chords on a guitar and getting my fingers on a Casio keyboard again? Not so much.

I think one of the largest changes has been in how I approach matters of personal accountability and growth. I had already acknowledged the need for me to do so, as I discussed the last time I wrote in this space. A lot of work has gone into investigating and exploring the neural pathways that were established in my past, how they impact my present, and the ways to rewire them so my future can see fewer (if any) repeats of those instances that caused concern or consternation, damaged or destroyed a relationship, or even threatened my life. It’s taken medication, therapy, group meditation, and more books than I’ve likely needed to purchase. It was in one of those books, however, that I stumbled across something that’s been a huge obstacle for me, personally and interpersonally all my life.

It’s called the fundamental attribution error.

The fundamental attribution error — let’s call it the FAE going forward — occurs when something negative happens and responsibility for it is either attributed to the situation or a person involved being fundamentally flawed. This attribution is treated as the conclusion of any discussion of the event, internally or externally. Facts are only glossed over, and typically regarded with summary judgement after a cursory review. This approach to conflict resolution or error correction leads to unhealthy anger, short-sighted decision-making, and angry-mob group-think.

All of this is a fancy way of saying the FAE is when you say or think “so this is a shitty thing that’s happened, and it happened because this situation/this person is shitty, so fuck it/fuck them, am I right, who’s with me?”

To reiterate, this error in response has little to nothing to do with facts. It goes straight for judgement. Do not pass GO, do not collect goals or solutions.

Also? There’s zero personal accountability in any of those FAE-based statements. You, dear reader, are letting yourself off the hook. Congratulations, you don’t have anything at all to do with the shitty thing that happened. You don’t even need to talk further about it, have any discussions, work anything out, nada, zilch, null set. Get yourself gone, go grab a drink, watch another episode of Great British Bake-Off and try to forget all about it. Those are choices you get to make.

Are they choices you want to make? How do those choices make you feel, now and in the long run?

The impulse to make choices like this doesn’t come out of nowhere. When we’re young, we go through traumas large and small. We seek relief from those traumas as soon as we can get it. You can’t get relief yourself when you’re a child; you don’t have the tools, or the knowledge. Add to that the fact that often, children are judged for mistakes they make, rather than being held accountable. Add to that a culture that emphasizes immediate gratification while constantly demonstrating how individuals willfully avoid accountability or responsibility — and that this is a lifestyle that is aspirational rather than unhealthy — and it’s no wonder that we, more often than not, look for scapegoats and ways to avoid facing facts before we seek ways to educate ourselves and develop awareness of how our choices can put us in positions where we’re shitty to other people while letting ourselves off the hook.

Again, I ask — is this the sort of choice you want to make?

Even making the choice to say “this is all my fault, I’m the shitty person here” is a choice that’s rooted in denying personal accountability. Seems paradoxical, right? The fact is, saying “I’m a shitty person” and leaving it at that is a fallacious statement. It’s saying you had no choice but to make whatever error created the situation in question. As I have stated many times, there are always different choices we can make in any given situation, and our choices are what create our behaviors. Without stating the facts of the behavior and accepting the consequences, nothing is going to change.

All too often, people will say “this person is an asshole/makes me uncomfortable/always does this shit” and leave it at that. How does that actually change the situation long-term? Sure, you might feel better when you look at someone who’s engaged in disagreeable or even toxic behavior, point fingers and shout about how degenerates like that belong on a cross, but does that solve the problem? “What you did made me feel shitty so I’m going to make you feel shitty about it” gets us precisely nowhere. Side note: making yourself feel shitty about what you did on top of that only makes things worse – that’s personal experience talking. That’s just as unhelpful and unhealthy as pointing fingers at another person, or throwing up your hands in response to a situation that’s going or has gone south.

Sticking to the facts without judgement or attribution makes it a conversation, not a crucifixion. You don’t have to nail someone to a cross to resolve a conflict, disagreement, or problematic behavior. You don’t have to nail yourself to one either. The good news, here, is that we get to make different choices than ones we’ve made before.

Here’s a fact: we have all been stolen by the FAE. We’ve all made snap judgements. We’ve all attributed our circumstances entirely to the situation at hand. We’ve all considered others fundamentally terrible for something they’ve messed up. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. And we will keep doing it unless and until we start making different choices.

While it’s impossible for us to change the past, it is always possible for us to learn from it. Face uncomfortable facts. Look for opportunities to grow. Change our behaviors. Work towards solutions. It’s on us to do it. Without judgement, without attribution. With love & care.

It starts with being willing to admit we were wrong, that we made ineffective or unhealthy choices, and accepting the consequences. Gather the information, put together a solution, and move on.

In dealing with others, being solution-oriented and free of the FAE means sticking to the facts. “On these occasions, you were witnessed engaging in this behavior. You said X, and you did Y. This behavior cannot be tolerated for this reason, and we can have a discussion as to how these behaviors can be addressed and if you can still be involved within this space. Until then, you are being asked to take a step away from this space until said discussion can happen.”

I can tell you it is not, nor will it ever be, easy. I can also tell you that it is the only way we can ever truly live with ourselves.

I will admit that a lot of this stems from my working with the How To Be Accountable Workbook, which I highly recommend. It’s a great place to get started on this sort of work. It’s straightforward, funny, full of memes, and most of all, it approaches the work of educating yourself and growing into healthier behaviors that doesn’t involve long lectures, completely dry text, or judging you for mistakes you’ve made. Yes, things that come out of working on yourself in this way can lead to feelings of guilt, remorse, or even a bit of horror when you realize you were shitty person towards someone you love.

Take responsibility for the times you were stolen by the FAE. That’s where the judgement and shitty feelings come from, and taking responsibility is how you stop those. It’s how you start to heal. It’s how you start to grow.

That’s how we start to really live on own terms, and for our own joy.

Site Updates
One of the changes resulting from the first quarter of this year is a desire to update my focus and branding. I’m still very much in the brainstorming period. Part of the transition will be taking this site from its current hosting and state to another. I’ll post more updates as events warrant. The goal in providing these updates is to inform and record, and placing this information within this shortcode keeps it from interfering from the flow of the following post.

500 Words on Corners

“It seems you’ve really turned a corner!”

It’s a supportive idiom that people use when they bear witness to someone they care about getting into an improved situation in their life. And it can be very heartening to hear, especially if you’ve been going through a long hospital stay, an extended period of unemployment, or any number of other personal crises.

However, since brains are strange and often contradictory things, a turn of phrase meant to be supportive or encouraging can create feelings or thoughts that are neither of those things. When it’s suggested that you’re turning a corner, you may find yourself wondering what’s lurking beyond that corner — and how it will end up being even worse than whatever crisis you just left behind.

In terms of the physical world, corners cut off our line of sight. This creates dangerous circumstances for soldiers in combat, police officers in pursuit of a suspect, and a variety of other situations. Hence the comment made by the character of Miller in The Expanse when discussing combat tactics with an inexperienced youngster: “Doors and corners, kid. That’s how they get ya.” A blind corner or an ajar door can have any sort of dangers lurking behind it, and if you aren’t careful, those dangers can harm or even kill you.

If you’ve been hurt before, you will anticipate being hurt again. Our brains, like our bodies, are living things that fight to survive. And when you’re fighting to survive, you’re on the lookout for sources of harm that might lead to losing that fight. It’s why our bodies flinch under certain circumstances. It’s why we can focus on how we were treated previously by individuals or groups, rather than the facts of the current situation, the evidence and circumstances. And it’s why we feel a sense of fear when it comes to potential success or metaphorical corners, often taking the form of speculative questions about the future.

What happens if this works? What pressures will be put on me to repeat my success? How will my life change? Do I even deserve to succeed?

These questions, that fear, can completely paralyze us. We distract ourselves, divert attention elsewhere, procrastinate. We try to maintain a status quo, keep things as they are, rather than risk a big change. It takes time, and practice, to overcome those fears and move ourselves in the direction of that next corner. Even as we check said corner, we won’t know what’s there until we make the turn.

We are responsible for taking the steps forward that lead us around that corner, and how we go about doing so. The other things — pressures put on us, rewards from success, the presence or absence of others — are beyond our control. So if I were to offer a solution in dealing with our fears, it would be to focus on what you can control. Which is who you are, how you show up, and what choices you make to move forward.

Return Of The Code

For years, I made a decent living in a dayjob writing code for an ad agency back east.

Well, I say “writing code”, but that was only part of my job. I also had to do some fine-tuning of visual design elements and animations, which unfortunately is not one of my strengths. It’s a skill I’m interested in developing, to be sure, but at the moment, my focus is swatting up on programming skills. Between practicing meditation and mindfulness to combat bipolar symptoms, and investigating the neuroscience of plasticity to increase focus on and pleasure in writing, I’m teaching myself new languages and getting familiar with IDEs.

It’s been a busy time, despite any evidence to the contrary.

The thing is, many of the fundamentals of programming extend beyond the constraints of a single language. This is especially evident when it comes to object-oriented languages. My work experience back east was dominated by my skills in ActionScript, a “kissing cousin” of JavaScript. In working on an example of use and understanding of such a language (based on this book), it’s becoming more and more apparent that a good portion of my strengths in this area of productivity is in the fundamentals of good programming, with specifics able to be ironed out with practice and research.

It can be easy to focus on getting a job done as quickly as possible, as completely as possible, and move quickly onto the next assignment, project, or client. That, however, is not long-term thinking. One of the strengths of object-oriented programming is the ability to build your code in such a way that it is easy to maintain, extend, and revise the resulting functionality. It’s caused me no small amount of consternation to open a project and find a tangle of old code, clearly written in haste or before a new version of the language was available, and take precious time to sift through the lines to find where maintenance needs to take place. Often when bringing up these problems, the response has been “just fix it”, instead of giving the code an overhaul to make future revisions and maintenance easier and faster, and thus more profitable. I still believe that it’s possible to get a positive, long-term return on investment from taking time to make and keep code structures current, rather than ignoring obsolete and inefficient programming in the name of short-term expediency.

I’m talking mostly about higher-level stuff, rather than the nitty-gritty of the languages I’m studying. I’m working on taking more time to learn the Unity IDE and the inherent C# language within, as well as preparing to teach myself Python. It’s a lot to take in, but if I am to be an asset to a future employer, I want to ensure I have a good arsenal of tools to bring to the table. It’s one of the many ways I’m rebuilding myself from the ground up.

More on this as it develops, and as I develop.

It works on multiple levels.

Thursdays are for talking tech.

A Shameless Sale Post

Preview!

So before I put all of this stuff up on Craigslist, since I need the help with affording a move and things like food and child support, behold! My old White Wolf book collection, going on sale right now!

Prices in USD.

VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE SOLD!

KINDRED OF THE EAST SOLD!

WEREWOLF:THE APOCALYPSE


Werewolf: the Apocalypse
Player’s Guide
Book of the Weaver
Mokole
Hengeyoki: Shapeshifters of the East

Total: 60

WRAITH: THE OBLIVION


Wraith: the Oblivion
Player’s Guide

Total: 75

MAGE: THE ASCENSION


~Core Books~
Mage: the Ascension
Storyteller’s Screen
Total: 50

~Supplemental Books~


Akashic Brotherhood
Celestial Chorus
The Book of Shadows
New World Order
Hidden Lore
Void Engineers
The Book of Mirrors


Technomancer’s Toybox
Masters of the Art
Technocrocy Assembled vol. 1
Guide to the Technocracy
Total: 60

Discounted Total for all Mage books: 100

Books are between Good and Near Mint condition. Seattle area buyers preferred but I am willing to ship after payment is received.

Thanks in advance for your attention and help!

Into The Stream

I don’t do a lot of stream-of-consciousness things on this blog. Most of the time, if I have to vent about a mental or emotional boondoggle, I use Tumblr or Pastebin. But today finds me posting later than I’d like, with no subjects I’m comfortable or confident in providing to you, so here’s me doing a stream-of-consciousness brain-dump in the hopes that it will inform, inspire, or at least entertain someone who reads this.

I don’t like filler content very much. Filler arcs in anime rarely do anything for me. They can be fun, for certain – I think the Android portion of DragonBall Z before Cell shows up is technically filler, but the three cyborgs on a road trip is still a fun time. It’s actually one of the problems I had with the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones – a couple of story points felt more like filler than anything, And then there’s all of the other issues that have emerged there.

While writing this I got a call from a source of work that is also a source of stress. Such things tend to disrupt my stream of consciousness in a very arresting and frustrating way. This is an internal process that doesn’t work as smoothly or easily as I’d like. I try very hard to not let my mental and emotional difficulties spill out into my professional interactions, or even my capacity to listen to and assist people I care about. But that’s getting into some of that Tumblr/Pastebin territory I discussed.

I’m hopeful for the future, but trepidatious for it as well.

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