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If you restrict your kindness to non-verbal acts, then it is easy to be both kind and invalidating. Example: "here is some delicious soup I cooked for you, even though you're a piece of shit who doesn't deserve it :)"

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deletedApr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022
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That is why I restrict such encounters to gazpacho.

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Yes. There’s something bizarre about wanting to be completely accepted but also to be Super Special.

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Good one!

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deletedApr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022
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Ding ding ding! LoRd gIvE mE ThE cOnFiDeNcE Of a MeDiOcRe WhItE dUdE pisses me off for the same reason. I'm a straight white dude who lives with depression. I don't walk around high and mighty all day.

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I don't know any who do...

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The whole meme that white people don't suffer is toxic and meant to dehumanize. That's why I argue that woke ideology is primarily about power seeking and secondarily about revenge.

Sorry about your depression.

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If I may be permitted a moment of uncharacteristic malice? Given the social circles these people operate in, the "mediocre white dudes" they best know are probably the ilk of Jason Stanley and Noah Berlatsky, plus Heaven knows how many imitators who cannot even achieve their levels of... whatever they are. In that context, "carry yourself with the [possibly faux] confidence of a mediocre white dude" makes a lot more sense.

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The "mediocre white dude" these people are referring to are likely not at all mediocre, it's very likely that they mean the "attractive, sociable, white dude" and the only reason he's "mediocre" is because he's attractive like Chris Hemsworth but isn't a movie star.

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“I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her.”

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I would like to reach the top shelf in stores. Actually, even the second to the top shelf.

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Apr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022

But you provide opportunities for other, taller folks to help you. Makes them feel better (validated 😉?), and you get your jar of cornichons. Win-win.

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and they are always nice about it. and I offer to get them something from the bottom shelf.

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Ha! Pretty good description of my happy marriage.

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mine, too. do you hide things on a higher shelf knowing your partner will have no idea? (

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Apr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022

Only at Christmas (but she has a little stepladder, so…)

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Just played that song for my (very tall) 11 year old son the other night while driving home from his basketball practice

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Me? I just wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat and a six-four Impala.

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The biggest issue with the need to feel “valid” is it’s a sort of identity arrival point — and it fully depends on those around you. To feel “valid” is effectively the past tense of “having been validated”. Also, like so much of the other self-help, self-actualizing bullshit, it has nothing to do with your neighbors. I wish that in place of “self care”, we started introducing “caring for others” into the pop culture vernacular.

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This validity stuff is to me the recognition that adolescents control culture. Its the identity version of "the future never comes" truism that most of us learn in middle age.

I hope the phase passes and the PMC-Algorithm complex fixates on something else.

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PMC-Algorithm complex = Eye of Sauron ;-)

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I came to the comments to declare that I am currently getting a doctorate in a field I despise after being told 100k times to *only* pursue a doctorate in something that I am PASSIONATE about. Here’s the thing though - there is no doctorate in playing PS5 so I just have to compromise. I’m still valid!!!!!!

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I do art stuff periodically in my spare time and people often ask why I don't do more commissioned work or paintings for sale. The truth is that then it becomes a job and I find myself thinking about what other people would like my art to look like, and most of the joy of creation evaporates.

The reason I create is to show the world as I see it, and explore the things that I am curious about and appreciate in the world. Making art to appeal to others is meaningless - anyone can do it - and I would prefer to create the things that only my unique life experience has instilled me with.

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As my dad once said, "fifteen people in the whole world are doing what they love. They run a cupcake shop in Brooklyn or some shit. The rest of us are just paying our bills and dreaming of vacations and retirement." Maybe a little too bleak, but some wisdom in that.

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Agreed. Commercialization ruins much.

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YES. Only after I gave it up as a full-time, high-stakes job was scrapbooking finally fun again.

(Behind the joke: one day we were driving along and saw a sign for a workshop that promised to “make scrapbooking fun again.” “As opposed to the unrelenting drudgery and obligation it currently is for everyone?” my husband quipped.

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I'm so glad my passions aren't ruined by being forced to do them for 40 hours a week.

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I got a doctorate in a field everyone makes fun of --library science. it is now called information science to make it more valid and cool. My colleagues aren't happy when I say the "L" word --but getting books to people is pretty good work even if not valid in the eyes of people who validate.

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Hi, write me at klmccook@gmail.com (I'll be out today but will respond tonight.) So much on this topic.

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If my field was still simply the thing it was called (I don’t want to say exactly what it is so as to not dox myself), I would love the work. But like most fields today it must absolutely over-complicate itself in order to be seen as more prestigious and meaningful than it actually is at its core

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Same in my field but I'm that senior person pretty much seen s not valid now or ignored by the new hires that like the over complication. Students fill my classes anyway. There is an "emperor has no clothes" aspect to the over complication. Some day a little child will say...

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“…not valid in the eyes of people who validate.” You are killing it with the pithy phrasing today. :-)

This is the crux of the issue, isn't it? Who gets to confer validation (and value)? Isn't that what this whole woke fight is about?

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It’s been hyper-delegated. That is, it’s been delegated to a faceless, ever-morphing, limitless crowd. A structural flaw.

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Yes! And I find that terrifying. Because you can never be safe. It's a total catch-22.

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Apr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022

Who decides?

"Thou art God and I am God and all that groks is God, and I am all that I have ever been or seen or felt or experienced."

--Stranger in a Strange Land

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Beautiful. LOVE Heinlein. 🌻

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Well — people will never have the warm and fuzzies for “information” the way they do for libraries.

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And we are one of the oldest professions. (going back to clay tablets).

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I’ll eschew the obvious quip!

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I know, but we have clay tablets to prove it...what does that other profession have?

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I got nuttin’

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An unbroken lineage of V.D. dating back to Moses.

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This is my career struggle – I'd love to work with my hands, probably as a machinist or something – but everything I've researched on that front pays like shit compared with what I already make. But life isn't getting any cheaper so it's like, which thing I can't stand can I make myself do so I can earn more? Trouble is, I'm not good at making myself do things I dislike. There's (one of) my unfixable personality flaws...

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Not only am I not good at making myself do things I dislike, I begin to hate myself when I’m engaged in work I despise. This is magnified x10 when the other people around me are doing that work and (at least appear) to love it. I have no interest in my field but i am quite good at it (or at least appear to be good at it). I already struggle with money as is, and I can’t make close to what I make now in anything else. A lot of my friends know my predicament but refuse to concede that I’m simply stuck here for the time being. They all want me to “take a plunge” on something else (while of course bearing none of the financial risk of doing so).

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I have a strong streak of what Gretchen Rubin calls the rebel impulse, whose motto she defines as "you can't make me, and neither can I." I laugh every time I think of that.

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I have this streak with an additional dash of “if I start to like something, there must be something wrong with it or me...”

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Yes. I so relate to this. I am too stubborn for my own good sometimes.

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Apr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022

My god, that's me. It all makes sense now.

Incidentally, it reminds me of a bumpersticker someone once gave me, which also fits. "Militant Agnostic: I don't know, and you don't either."

[Edited 'cause I screwed up the damn slogan, naturally.]

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I love that book!

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Don't believe it. Good machinists can make good money. Experienced ones can make $40/hr plus overtime and benefits. Can you make $150k a year? No. But if you can set up machines, do the math, read a print, measure the results, and put two parts together without wrecking them you will be employed for as long as you want to be.

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Life is good and good enough: sensible and healthy way to view it.

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When you take care of something else--a child, a pet, a garden--you don't feel valid so much as connected to more than yourself. I never worried about my validity while changing a diaper. I never worried about my validity when caring for an old dog. I never worried about my validity when planting flowers. When these thoughts--about my validity-- arise in my brain I try to do a task for someone/something else. That said, I walk my dogs a lot.

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I sense that many of Freddie’s followers share this altruistic impulse. I think it’s a good thing.

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I was going to post something exactly along these lines. Maybe it's because I'm a new(ish) father, but I can't help feeling, looking back at my twenties and thirties, how much of my own intellectual and emotional unhappiness, my sense of despair, and drifting, has been utterly annihilated by having a child. So much unhappiness, I think, stems from too much focus on the self.

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Same here

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Depending on how much of an inwardly-focused asshole you are (I was an enormous one), having a child can actually produce quite a lot of unhappiness in the short run. As can being married, or otherwise committing yourself to the care and welfare of others.

But it’s also clarifying. It burns away a lot of your more frivolous concerns. Those things just don’t matter anymore. The burning away can be painful — but being on the other side of it is deeply relieving. Finally, you know who you are and what things are important.

And the more you do it, the more rewarding and clarifying it becomes.

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That’s what the Christians call “refiner’s fire.” A lot of the Christian teachings would be so much more helpful without the specter of damnation muddying the motives.

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That’s certainly what Buddhism says.

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I have found Buddhist thought extremely enlightening (get it????!!!!) but really.

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U MADE A FUNNY!

Seriously, I think there’s enormous value in Buddhism. I also think it’s a tradition that’s been rather misunderstood, and peddled cheaply, in the US. Which being a pragmatic, quick-fix culture is not the most fertile soil for it.

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Yeah. I’ve been in full-time bedside healthcare since 2008. Sometimes when I am at home and staring into the depths of a glass of wine I feel like my existence is meaningless, but all of that entirely vanishes the next time I step into a hospital room and lay hands on a patient.

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On behalf of all of us who have had someone in the hospital you must know that your every action, touch, kind word meant the world to us that day.

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I teared up at this. Thank you.

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When my beloved grandmother—a second mother—was in a nursing home near the end of her life, one of the carers painted her nails. She wasn’t even always lucid, she wasn’t continent, but someone paid attention to her dignity. Unforgettable.

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Absolutely.

Commentary on "The Velveteen Rabbit":

https://www.drmarjorieschuman.com/the-world-is-only-real-when-i-am/

Best take-away: “...the moral of this story is that we become Real through the process of connection.”

I think connection is the whole point of being conscious in corporeal bodies. The challenges of my early life had a great deal to do with the fact that I was rejected by my bio, foster, and adoptive parents (long story).

My life began to bloom again when I was able to establish a truly "valid" connection with another human being—my husband—a truly exceptional human being who is not threatened by me (I am strong tea for some). After that, I learned to make other connections over time and now have friends and a social group in addition to a thriving business. And, I am what I would call happy (if a bit overworked).

We are all here to connect, even if only with each other's thoughts, snark, and humor. It feels good when you feel heard. It is validating.

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I remember you sharing some of your background previously and again i just want to say how really happy I am for you that you’ve found A Person. I was a foster mom for a little while. There is nothing more difficult or painful than experiencing an uncherished childhood.

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Thank you! It was a lonely journey for a while. I learned a great deal about tribalism and people's limitations and the massive lack of compassion in the world. And how hard the world is when you have no one to vouchsafe you—even if you are gifted and bring much good will and capability to the table. People have trouble giving you the benefit of the doubt if no one they know will validate you. Validation is very important for belonging in tribes.

My bio parents just weren't capable. They were both rage-aholics (one was severely abused as a child and the other was born with serious handicaps due to rubella in utero - plus alcohol, drugs, my bio father actually pimped out my mother, massive dysfunction) who ended up in a mental institution where I may have been conceived. They were destroyed people and should not have had children. I was beaten black and blue when I was one year old and I become almost catatonic when faced with physical violence. The foster homes were indifferent or abusive (I'm sure you were different - I know many foster parents really try). And my adoptive parents were resentful because they were guilted into taking us by our grandmother. Just a mess and I was very lost and in deep pain for a long time both during and after this experience. This is the price of being unwanted.

The good news is that somehow I survived with my heart and soul intact and I still believe in love and compassion and kindness and in the possibility of a happy life. IOW, I didn't become bitter although I came close prior to meeting my spouse. I also avoided alcoholism and drug addiction—I knew those were just another mountain to climb if I went down that road. I suppose I am very ambitious and that kept me focused on trying to better myself. Work can be marvelously cathartic. I struggled with rage for a long time but ultimately, chose to evolve out of victimhood and embrace the opportunity to create my life. In the words of the Grateful Dead "What a long strange trip it's been..."

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We fostered with the intention of adopting but after six+ months of being licensed we could not get a lasting placement—which is crazy considering, but we took it as a sign that maybe it wasn’t for us as a family at least for the time being, so I got pregnant again (if I was going to go through another difficult pregnancy, which I did, time was of the essence).

The one placement we had (despite saying yes multiple times for kids of a range of ages) was a three month old baby whose parents, in addition to their own problems, refused medical care for him that resulted in permanent physical damage. An Amber alert went out for him. He was the weight of a newborn. We had him for one week before a judge essentially forced his grandparents to take him, even though they initially resisted and despite our overt willingness to keep him.

No doubt the Foster system has changed somewhat since you were a kid (even more so than when my grandmother was in foster care in the 40s) but there are so many problems. One of the main ones i think is the difficulty and complexity of the state deciding whose rights are more important: an unstable parent’s or a child’s. Childhood is so important yet fleeting and so many kids have theirs ruined by incapable or uncaring adults and I hate it.

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I hate it as well. I used to agonize over all of the abuse I knew was going on in the world and felt so helpless about it.

People are so cavalier about bringing life into this world. I don't think everything has to be perfect but there should at least be the will to parent and adequate resources, minimally. I struggle with people who are so passionately opposed to abortion. Maybe it's not the best of all worlds but sometimes it's the only rational choice. Everyone's context is different. What right does the state have to choose for people whether they should have children or not?

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I was a foster parent for awhile. Single, and it was tough. I felt like a jailer, and despite having gone through a boatload of training, continual and extra (I took teens in, some of whom had been branded difficult and extra, basically), I was not up to the challenge of it, which included all this resentment directed at me, which they couldn't help doing, I know, and was sort of misdirected rage at the parents, which, while not logical, makes total sense. But it was more than I could handle. I'm getting away from the reason I thought to comment, which is: At one foster-to-adopt meeting, I remember this foster parent, who had adopted, advise us to only take kids whose parents had had their rights terminated already, that she wished she'd knew to do that at the outset, but she'd learned the hard way. Her adopted daughter, also at the meeting, nodded agreement. We need a different system. Big hugs to all of you.

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My childhood issues were less severe, but this really resonates. I still feel extraordinary guilt over how hard it is for me to even think about all the abuse in the world. I've always felt enraged by the people who should know better but pretend it doesn't exist. Yet, it so incapacitates me to confront it, given my own relative powerlessness to ameliorate it, that I have to look away to be able to function. Reading one story about an abused child or animal can trigger hours of internal fury. Avoidance is not a great solution, but it's all I've got.

I can't even volunteer in a setting where I might become aware of abuse, because I would either do something stupid, or it would crush my soul. I know it. I know how poorly the system actually works, so I have no faith in the correct process.

My response to abusers is cold, nearly bottomless rage. Intellectually, I suspect it might be a character flaw, but it runs so deep, I honestly can't even bring myself to see it that way. It feels rational. In my head, abuse is the bright line where my empathy ends. I don't think chronic abusers are fixable. If I could press a button to erase them all, I'd do it with bells on. And if that makes me a shitty person, I'm willing to accept the judgment, because it's as authentically come by as could be -- it's the one thing for which I will never even consider apologizing.

The point is, I commend you for getting past the rage. I don't know how it's done.

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On further reflection, I guess I would add...

Knowing that most abusers were themselves abused does enter into the picture for me, but not in a way that might help. While I absolutely do feel pity and sympathy for the children they were, it doesn't extend to the adults they've become. In some ways, it's almost an aggravating, rather than mitigating, factor. I'm intimately and acutely aware that it takes choice to not become the shitty example set for you. It's been hard for me (and will, to some extent, always be hard) to go against that programming. I think, for that and other reasons, I struggle to find forgiveness for people who've experienced abuse and who choose to perpetuate it anyway. That's the barrier I can't get beyond.

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It's not a character flaw, it's a wound that you haven't been able to heal. How you heal it is through reclaiming yourself for one. Try a grounding meditation and learn to kick other people's energy out of your space: https://aconsciousmindset.com/finding-your-own-space/

It can help to learn to accept that you have no control over other people's choices or actions. I used to feel responsible for all of the horror in the world as well - I remember when I first discovered puppy mills. I cried for days. After I watched the movie "The Stoning of Soraya M.", my sleep was disrupted for a week. It is very hard to be aware that these types of brutality and even worse occur on this planet. Very hard. I had a savior complex and I wanted to fill the void that had hurt me so it could never hurt anyone else. But, this isn't realistic. Detachment is required to stay sane.

I think it also has helped me to be connected to the Divine. I believe that we are here on a soul journey to learn and evolve. One of the hardest things for me was to learn to become patient with others who are not as evolved. People are where they are at. And they do horrible things. And we can act to fix what falls within our spheres, but we are not powerful enough to do more unfortunately.

Also, you create what you focus on. So focus on your blessings. There are good things in your life. Don't overlook them because you are fixated on the bad. Give thanks for them and more will show up. Happythankyoumoreplease!

And finally, love. Love yourself. Allow yourself to be loved. And love others - to the best of your ability. It was love that made me give up my rage. Love for myself.

We scored a fixer upper house in a difficult market and I had always thought I would be happy if I could have my own home where I could be safe. And I was happy for a while but then the rage came back and I realized that it was getting in the way of not only my happiness, but achieving my goal to become an artist. You can't be creative if you are subsumed with rage. And I want to be creative more than anything else. So, made a choice. I chose to move forward in gratitude. I chose to stop focusing on my wounds so much. I chose to focus on what I could create and what I was thankful for. I chose to focus on creating light and love in the world as much as I could.

After I started making these choices, incredible abundance showed up in my life. Business opportunities, revenue, even friends. I had my best business year ever last year. I am getting along better than ever with my spouse. I actually like myself these days. My rage had been blocking all of this from becoming. It was justified rage but it was still hurting me.

Choice is powerful. You don't have the power to fix everything in the world. But you do have the power to create something beautiful. And everything beautiful that is created in the world offsets the bad and becomes an inspiration for someone else who is struggling.

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beautiful story and message, I am glad you found peace. keep on truckin'

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Tks. Someone gave this to me in the military: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6478/598/1600/frogbrd4.gif Trite but true and it was a valuable reminder during the dog days.

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Are you a nurse?! I’m studying to become one. I find the medical stuff fascinating, but I’ve never felt more purpose in my life than when caring for two dying relatives or helping friends who are new parents.* I thought, THIS is what I should be doing.

*i derive a great deal of purpose from being a parent, but the mundanities of parenting Round the clock (I’m an at home mother) can dull the edges of that a bit.

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Best of luck to you - my mom became a nurse when I was in high school, and it has given her exactly this kind of fulfillment. From being a smart, driven, compassionate person, to a smart, driven, compassionate person with an incredible sense of purpose.

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As one does, we got a puppy during the pandemic. She's the sweetest thing and has tons of energy. She's gotten us outside and exploring a close by forest and its trails and for the first time in years, I'm regularly running again (six days/week for almost half a year now). It's almost silly how much caring for a dog has made us happier. I've also found I'm a better partner, too, because of the dog. She's made us all a little less self-obsessed.

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Me too. A little Boston Terrier. she's a clown and gets me off the computer and shows me how much life is good. the tiniest treat is an explosion of doggy joy.

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“…explosion of doggy joy.” Loved this! 🌞

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That's beautifully put. I actually needed to hear that today - was stewing a lot in many of the discomforting, pointless thoughts that Freddie so aptly describes in his piece. I always knew (but had forgotten) that there was an easy way out of that mental state - simply to do something in service of someone or something else.

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Well said. Here’s hoping that in the next Digest, Freddie honors this as the comment of the week

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founding

I missed this very wise comment. Glad Freddie highlighted it.

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The alternative to outsourcing your sense of personal self-worth is to earn your own self-respect. I mostly agree with your cynical take but I also believe it’s possible to feel good about yourself by living up to your self-chosen values and by achieving the goals you set for yourself — that is, by becoming a person you respect. I think that’s true even for people who didn’t win the genetics lottery. I also doubt that the kind of self-hatred you describe is the human condition; it’s dysfunction at a personal and societal level, not ‘just the way it is.’

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The genetics lottery holds that there is a "type" of person that's a winner and I agree that out of the womb if one is taller, smarter, stronger it might feel that way--so at abt. 10 you might realize you missed these boats but replace them with other things. Always room for the crafty, funny, magical...even kind.

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Always room for the kind.

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Yeah, I struggle with low self esteem sometimes, but once I commit to working on projects and being the type of person I want to be, the problem basically immediately dissipates

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Apr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022

I wonder how much of the ability to earn self respect is genetic. To do so you need to believe that the future can be better than the present, set goals, work towards them, don't let set backs stop you, and then accurately recognize your achievement. All five of those steps require either high conscientiousness or low neuroticism. An individual with the inverse traits is going to have a much harder time.

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But you don't have to have especially good achievements or challenging goals to enjoy them. I once started a bad tennis club (our motto: you don't have to be 80 and blind in one eye, but it helps), and we enjoyed the achievement of playing really bad tennis together. I have a social singalong group, and we are perfectly happy not being good enough to perform.

The only people who were ever unhappy with these 'achievements' were the people who wanted to be assured that they were at a higher level, and they moved on. So I think the real deciding factor in earning self respect is to what extent you want to move up to a higher circle than you are currently in. And I suspect that a lot of that comes from having failures in your past that you want to be distracted from, rather than to accept as part of your personality.

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Interesting. I think you have something here. I've never cared about social mobility much. I've only cared about making enough money so I can be independent and do what I wish. If you do care about social mobility, you would definitely care about being validated by others because you can only climb if others accept and approve of you. Food for thought.

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I created my life by doing just this. And, it's very cathartic. Especially after years of seeking approval from others and never winning it (I'm a bit stubborn about relegating my authentic self to the back burner just so I can be liked). Pursuing your own goals is a healthy alternative to bending your knee if you are not so inclined.

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Out of curiosity, do you happen to know if you're an INFJ, personality-wise? It's just that I'm taken aback sometimes by how alike our base orientations seem to be.

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I took the Briggs-Meyers over 20 years ago and I couldn't remember. So, I just retook the test and I am an ENFJ (teacher). If there was a category for ham, I would be that one. ;-)

If I recall correctly, this parallels the earlier result. I am definitely an extrovert, not an introvert. But we correlate on the other three. 🌞

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Thanks! That makes sense. The strong aversion to personal inauthenticity is what really made me wonder. That's a particularly big deal to me too. 🌛

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I've previously quoted William James: self-esteem = accomplishments / pretensions

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"My mother groaned, my father wept:

Into the dangerous world I leapt,

Helpless, naked, piping loud,

Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my father's hands,

Striving against my swaddling bands,

Bound and weary, I thought best

To sulk upon my mother's breast."

(Blake's 'Infant Sorrow')

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founding

I turned 60 a few months ago. I realized two things: I could no longer pretend that I was not in some sense "old," but as compensation, I feel more comfortable and confident with my own wisdom.

As it relates to Freddie's post, I contend that there might be a better chance to "love yourself" at my age than at younger ages. I'm basing this on a data set of one:me. But I have read studies about happiness being chronologically U-shaped.

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Yeah, I too am finding this type of peace at 60.

It helps, not incidentally, that my career (in public safety) is generally regarded - by me - as meaningful, that it pays better enough than a living wage that I have some savings, includes comprehensive health care, and I have a defined benefits pension in my not-distant future.

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Yes. I am definitely more comfortable in my own skin at 57 than I was at a younger age. I don't need external validation so much because I tend to validate myself and not care if others don't or can't. I used to care about fitting in. Now, I just care about living as authentically as I can get away with. ;-)

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You’re 57?! You don’t type a year over 35.

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Ah. Young at heart I guess. 🌻 Plus, I love rock 'n roll and that keeps me young.

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I think the crappiest thing about all of this, is that people that want to feel validated aren't yelling at you, they are yelling at the voice in their heads (as you point out), and at the same time, they desperately want to BE the voice in other people's heads, telling other people why they are awful.

I do think you can love yourself enough that you aren't coping by trying to increase self-loathing in other people.

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"Black/trans/disabled/etc. lives are valid quietly accepts that validity can only come from communal decree." It has always seemed to me that the need for communal need is completely undermining and patronizing. And a touch of "dost protest too much," methinks, as well.

Also, the loud cries of "I have imposter syndrome" around every corner seem to come from the most accomplished people I know. A sort of self-worth dysmorphia.

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A good thing about the bad old days of coming out as gay was that I knew society would never value me, so I would have to value myself and my community. Which is the only way anyway.

Finding our place in the world is a perennial struggle. Fortunately now I have kids so I don’t have time for this kind of ruminating, and they give meaning and purpose to my life. I know it’s not like that for everyone but it definitely worked for me.

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