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Wellness Wednesday for May 22, 2024

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

I got banned off of Hinge and I have no idea why. I had barely had any engagement for weeks, Im not in the habit of sending angry or creepy messages. I think I said "Nice shoulders" once. Appeal rejected with no further details.

I suspect the culprit was "My Most Controversial Opinion Is: political slogans are not a personality" which I suppose qualifies as [Bullying] if you have ACAB BLM Free Palestine Something Something Capitalism in your profile, as so many do. Men who fish for a hobby are also being bullied on Hinge, apparently. It was the last change I made, after getting tired of seeing all the empty acronyms.

Now I can stop torturing myself at least.

Men who fish for a hobby are also being bullied on Hinge, apparently.

Where do you hear this?

Making fun of men for holding fish in their online dating profile is a common joke in women's online dating profiles.

From an old Reddit post: When you use the words “I should”, you’re silently finishing the sentence with “…in order to be worthy of love and respect.”

Spot on! Also, “I should [verb]” is a comparison of my choices with a standard I got from someone else if I can’t truthfully say “I want to…” or “I need to…” in its place. If that replacement doesn’t help, I can try replacing it with “I could…” or “I can…” to replace obligation with opportunity and maybe even place it in my Next Actions queue, pre-choosing it in a way.

There’s also “I should be able to…” which is a similar dynamic relating ability to worth.

Reminds me of Jubal Harshaw

Now let me get something straight: you are not in my debt. You can't be. Impossible - because I never do anything I don't want to do. Nor does anyone, but in my case I am always aware of it. So please don't invent a debt that does not exist, or before you know it you will be trying to feel gratitude - and that is the treacherous first step downward to complete moral degradation.

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

There are different shoulds with different meanings, so we can’t know what is behind the should without more information.

  • “I should pick up the new video game” may involve simply “I want to play the video game as it is pleasing”

  • “I should work out” may involve “I know intellectually that working out will ultimately lead to more enjoyment, yet it’s hard to appreciate this as it is so displeasing”

  • “I should work out” may alternatively involve “I am going to criticize myself for not doing something which will bring me more value”; or is may involve many other things

Even “worthy of love and respect” is hopelessly vague:

  • A parental or divine love means “I am treating myself reasonably and with the greater good in mind, knowing I don’t have to sweat and stress myself

  • By love we may mean “highest self-valuation”, and this in turn can be reinforced through either positive reward or fear of hating oneself depending frame of mind

  • Respect may mean dignity, as in basic respect, or it may mean an aspired-to respect

For a lot of these, there’s a juggling of pain and reward. A person looking out the window saying “I should go on a run” may have has feelings about this utterance change in real time as he watches the weather and thermometer change. We can never know whether our future pleasure is actually secured when we invest some displeasure. “I should try to get that girl’s number” can quickly lead to “I should never have tried to get that girl’s number”.

I’m not exactly convinced. For some things, things that are in some way visible to other people, that people see as good things, I could buy it as a good mental model. But I should (study more, eat better, reduce screen time, etc.) I just don’t see where the “worthy of love and respect” comes in. Often, I don’t even bring up what I’m doing to other people simply because it’s not about other people.

In wellness support groups among people with existing persistent unhealthy self-talk, talking about “should” statements usually involves examining whose expectations, standards, or priorities are bundled into that “should”. There’s nothing wrong with the self-owned or logical should as long as one recognizes the unspoken imperative which by its very nature involves an emotion, however dispassionate:

  • “I should study more” so I can learn the subject better / so I won’t get bad grades / so the teacher likes me more / so my peers have a better opinion of me / so I can show good grades to my parents / so I can keep my scholarship / so I’m not wasting time / so I’m not a useless lump etc.

I get that, and I’ve seen people do it in toxic ways. I just don’t see it as something that always and universally applies to everyone in all situations. Sometimes I think self-improvement ideas can overfit just because the techniques are developed for those settings are developed to rehabilitate the sick and don’t necessarily carry that baggage for those who are not sick. I want to learn formal logic and statistics because I think they’re useful tools for understanding the world. I want to write stories because it’s an interesting and fun hobby. Saying I should study in the context of self study to better myself, or I should work out so I don’t have a heart attack at 50, or I should finish my short story— these don’t necessarily have anything to do with other people.

What’s somewhat worse to me is that in some cases, that kind of assumption can end up being just as much of a guilt trip as the original “should” thought. If everything you tell yourself you should do is really about meeting other people’s expectations, then why do anything to improve yourself? Why exercise if you are only doing it to impress others? Okay, but then you will probably end up obese and are in poor heath. Why finish that story if you’re only trying to impress people? The alternative is another failed project that you started and didn’t finish and then you feel like a loser because you don’t actually do anything. Why learn? The alternative is that you live in Sagan’s demon haunted world where you can’t make good decisions because you have no idea how anything works and don’t have the tools to figure in out.

I think a lot of mental health advice ends up that way: designed to help people with severe problems, and works pretty well there, then gets applied to the general population and not only doesn’t help, but can create the problems that it was intended to prevent. Asking whether you’re doing something to people please is reasonable if you have a severe problem people pleasing. But for most people, shoulds are what gets them off the couch and into motion and doing things that they really should be doing. You should accomplish things. You should study and build a career. You should keep up your house or apartment. And on things like ruminating on your feelings, for normal healthy people, this can make them feel depressed because they focus on the negative feelings produced by events in their lives and over time talk themselves into anxiety and depression.

I just don’t see it as something that always and universally applies to everyone in all situations.

And that's why I posted it in the Wellness Wednesday thread as mental wellness advice instead of the Friday Fun thread as lexical insight porn.

As far as agonizing or guilt-tripping over whether a given "should" is a problematic should inspired by bad boundaries or anxiety or low self-worth etc., sounds like an anxiety problem I don't have and thus don't need to worry about.

In other words, I shouldn't worry about shoulds, and nobody should worry about my shoulds either. And I don't, except when someone makes a particularly poignant or potent point.

I suppose, to the extent that love and respect of our fellow humans is one of the core human motivations. You could go one step further and say “in order to secure my lineage”, or just “to be happy”. But I don’t think that’s really a conscious thought.

Do people really process language in this way? It doesn't feel like that internally to me. All these phrasings are basically equivalent and I certainly am not consciously making a distinction between them.

I, also, always got mad when my friend's mom wouldn't give me a cookie if I asked, "Can I have a cookie." No I'm not still mad, why should you ask, or is it would you ask?

Do people really process language in this way?

Sort of yes, but not in the way I think you’re asking about. This post is about a few of the wellness-related emotion-based implications used by an unhealthy subconscious which uses “should” to smuggle a personal negative judgment in with a prioritization statement. As a person with autism, I have found that stating the exact implications of my innocuous statements can cleanly uncover my subconscious/unconscious expressing someone else’s emotions as if I’d originally generated them.

My “should” analysis hit me hard since I’ve been working on the unconscious portion of my weight problem lately with some success. I’d returned to “should” emotion-statements without noticing: “I shouldn’t eat, I’m full” instead of the decisive “I won’t eat” or the confessional “I want to eat”, “I should be able to turn down food” instead of the opportunistic framing “I can”, and so on. My own big realization struck whilst reading about someone with ADHD recounting making the statement “I should be able to focus” who was then told by their therapist ‘When you use the words “I should”, you’re silently finishing the sentence with “…in order to be worthy of love and respect.”

Neither the human seeking of self-esteem, nor the akrasiatic self-negation of unworthiness emotions, care about the logic of inability/disability. They are of a different nature than logic.

Yeah, yeah, but it does take a while to work out which estimations of one’s worth and abilities are just delusions and which ones model reality.

The mind can be as hallucinatory as an LLM on the small details, especially since, as an autistic person, my learned understanding of emotions is basically prosthetic for my missing emotional instincts.

I don't. Suppose I say "I should trim back the plants in my yard," this is silently followed up by "in order to better enjoy spending time in my yard."

Perhaps when my mother was younger there was some hope left for "may" vs "can" when making requests, but that ship has sailed, and I think she may have given up on it.

I'm about to give up on "cut" in the past tense, the kids seem to be losing some irregular past verb forms.

I'm about to give up on "cut" in the past tense,

What do you mean by this? I am genuinely confused, but I don't interact much with younger children.

"He cutted!!!" for skipping ahead in a line. I can't remember if they say they cutted the paper or not, I think it might go both ways.

Oh! I think I heard that even as a child for cutting in line. But, not often. It might get corrected later in life and die out. Kids often misuse language and correct later, but sometimes the mistakes get adopted as the correct usage.

In the spirit of trying more things re: my problem with wandering attention and all that, I got my hands on something labelled "Concerta 18 mg".

Doesn't seem to do much for the problem with attention, however it does make me feel slightly more energetic as I've just drunk a liter of energy drink, but way 'smoother'. Also somewhat nervous and as If I had a constant weight pressing on my chest from outside. The nervousness ramps up, reaches a peak cca 6 hours after taking it and then passes.

Still not sure what to do with my tendency to delay doing things I don't like doing -bills that aren't on auto pay, cleaning that's not agreed upon, home improvement I need to do.

I keep putting it off and only do it right before the deadline, or even slightly after it.

The primary treatment for ADHD is stimulants (and Concerta is one). Most people get some form of benefit from stimulants, if this wasn't the case Coffee wouldn't be as popular (or uhhh Meth, which is what Adderall basically is).

It is however, very common for people to think they have ADHD (and even get diagnosed with it) when that is not the case. Other things can cause problems with attention, focus, and so on - depression, anxiety, medical illness, personality disorders. Most notably perhaps is simple modernity. Sitting in an office focusing on boring shit all day is not what our bodies and brains are designed to do.

If you don't have ADHD, taking a stimulant will likely give some form of performance boost but how helpful it is, is going to be deeply variable and may pass diminishing returns very quickly.

People with "real" ADHD are going to have a very different experience with stimulants most of the time.

That's not to say the above is 100% guaranteed, but it's good short hand. Plenty of people will pop a Vyvanse while studying for a tough exam and get some benefit out of it, but the way the medication is meant to address ADHD symptoms does not apply to people with "normal" brains, which may not be intuitive.

Yep. I got prescribed vyvanse (the slow release stuff) and that too a small-ish? dose (20mg)..... and the difference was life changing.

The first day, I cried simply because I could stop speaking, an elementary school level skill that I'd never developed.

My working memory didnt get flooded with surrounding distractions. Instead I could listen, and maintain a response in my head for the right moment.

I can do work now !! Thats instead of sitting at the table hoping 'attention comes', which inevitably didnt happen till 11pm at night.

Every person close to me has noticed a difference.

1 year in, I havent noticed any side effects. I am careful enough not to take it on meeting days or holidays. So vacation serves as a good refresh.

To be fair, i lived most my life without the meds, and have managed to be moderately successful by abusing sleep and and being in a cycle of constant exploit-burnout-vacation. So maybe my lack of dependence is a result of knowing how to be normal when not on it.

I just got prescribed Adderall for the first time-- my wife and I long suspected I had some form of mild inattentive ADHD, but I'm a successful software engineer so it wasn't incredibly apparent.

I was always able to focus on things interesting to me, and often get into extreme tunnel vision hyperfocused states where I can quite literally not hear anything around me except what I'm focused on. My impression after 2 weeks of ~10mg Adderall in the mornings is something like:

  1. I don't feel like I'm using stress or willpower to get things done or get them started. I would often end work with terrible neck-and-shoulder pain and a lot of exhaustion, stress, and frustration, but I haven't felt that once since starting.
  2. I'm able to focus on bigger picture more effectively -- like I'm considering and doing tasks that are most important but not necessarily most interesting to me at the time. This is subtle, but it's an incredible improvement.

I've also cut down my coffee consumption from around 4-6 cups per day to 1, which is significant. Ultimately, I think Adderall has been effective in ways I didn't expect, I anticipated that it would just increase hyperfocus and ultimately not really help, but it has had some surprising effects. I think the only negative side effect is that I have noticed more headaches at night, but I figure that'll slowly go away as I develop some tolerance to the acute effects.

Could the headaches be caffeine withdrawal?

I'm pretty sure the coffee was a factor too. JBP has said he cured several of his patients from anxiety purely by convincing them to stop drinking that much coffee.

Perfect description of ADHD medication. I havent had the headaches, but the positives effects are very similar.

My experience with Adderall was that it didn't help me get started on doing things, but it did help me continue doing things I started. If you can tell yourself "I'll just spend a minimum of 5 minutes working on [whatever]", then maybe the Concerta can take you the rest of the way?

I notice something of a negative correlation between the quality of links I post and the reception they get. I posted the recent article about sex positivity vs purity culture, and while I had a higher opinion of it than most mottizens it seems, I still wouldn't consider it among the best essays ever written. Yet it's spawned over 200 comments. I feel similarly about my other links that got the most discussion, like The Media Very Rarely Lies and Is Wine Fake?

Meanwhile, links I have posted that I thought were amazing pieces of writing that were accurate deep dives into a topic that were some best in class writing, like Biological Determinants and Homosexuality that surveyed a wide body of well done research on a controversial topic, or Njall's Saga which was a hilarious and insightful look at medieval Icelandic literature and law, got barely any interaction.

Just Toxiplasma of Rage in action I suppose.

I have my own theory for why your post took off: to the side of it, unlike most posts, is an image. And that image isn't something abstract or ineffable, but the image of an attractive young woman.

I think your post took off for the same reason TikToks with young women take off, and YouTubers put cringey faces in their thumbnails: human faces attract attention, and women's faces especially so. I don't think it's anything more complicated than that. My eyes are still automatically drawn to this image and I'm desperate for your post to drop off the front page (sorry) so I can stop looking at her mug.

So what we've learned is, if you're going to make an effortpost, make sure you're actually linking to something that contains an image of a hot woman.

Very likely that's a portion of it.

Was it the same Njall's Saga essay as Scott posted during last year's ACX book review contest? If not, you should read that one, it's hilarious, but I don't think the comments were exactly a discussion either, mostly just a lot of people saying that they enjoyed it over and over again. Which is discouraged here.

This is the first I've heard of the homosexuality paper, and won't based off of this.

Everyone has an opinion on sex.

I mean no offense, but to be honest, I thought that femcel post was pure toxoplasma-bait for a place like the Motte.

Although I did like the meta-discussion of whether the author was intentionally using it to get attention, and about her lack of self-reflection, and whether she was preparing for a try at being a right-wing grifter.

I probably should've predicted it would've been total toxoplasma bait, but I definitely didn't forsee it being that extreme of toxoplasma bait or receiving that universal of condemnation by motteizans.

Not even the Motte is invulnerable to the neuron activation that accompanies anything about sex

The Homosexuality article notably you did not post with a submission statement, which might affect engagement. Your characterization of the camgirl/femcel post as "sex positivity vs. purity" is interesting to me, as although I see why you use those terms, that is not the classification I'd have used (I'd have been less charitable.) I just didn't/don't like her writing style. I don't like the writing style of many who nevertheless gain quite a bit of readers.

Also you've posted about 7 or so articles--I was going to say "only 7 or so" to make my point that that's not a large number to start making assumptions about people, but I don't want to discourage you from continuing to post these because I enjoy them and I think we need more people posting standalone threads in this way. Basically I wouldn't make much of this. The Motte does not seem to me to be made up of homogeneous minds, despite occasional comments about a hivemind or whatever.

Also you've posted about 7 or so articles--I was going to say "only 7 or so" to make my point that that's not a large number to start making assumptions about people,

Yeah it's hardly a large sample size, but I think it's a pattern that's common on pretty much all the internet. And I'm not discouraged by it, more just that I think it's a bit of a shame that lower quality but controversial posts get way more engagement than higher quality ones. I wouldn't be surprised if it's not just comments and that there are more unique readers of the controversial links than the high quality ones too. But of course I do the same, it can be very hard to tell from a link and maybe a short blurb if it'll actually lead somewhere high quality, versus when there's 100 comments on a link you know there's at least something there.

For what it’s worth, the Njal’s Saga post got me to actually read the Saga. By the time I had done so, the post was gone, though.

I didn’t catch Njall’s saga but I’m going to read it now. I think titles are key for eye-scanning and that probably made me think it was a fantasy book. Also I remember the dumbest thing I ever posted got lots of upvotes (how the MrBeast community responded to the transgender member coming out), although perhaps I’ve posted dumber, whereas one of my favorite thoughtposts sat at like -5.

I just read the post about Biological Determinants and Homosexuality and while it is very informative article, it is just this - a dry summary of the knowledge about homosexuality. Nothing new or controversial there, even for someone who is only mildly interested in the topics of gender identity and sexual preference there is not much new knowledge to be gained. I think I was aware at least 80% of the facts covered in the article. However it is convenient to have such a summary in one place.

I have many other questions regarding sexuality e.g. "What's the difference between transsexuals and homosexuals on the biological level?" and "Which advantages precisely homosexual and transsexuals tendencies give?" which would be probably more novel and interesting, but considerably more difficult to answer.

I think I was aware at least 80% of the facts covered in the article.

I don't think the degree to which gender and sexuality are largely, but not entirely, biological is common knowledge. Maybe most of themotte have already familiarized themselves with the science though, if any group's likely to have it's motteizens.

I think it's less about the absolute quality of the link and more about the specific topic at hand:

  • Medieval Icelandic literature - although this is something that I would personally be interested in, it's not a general interest topic, and you can't necessarily expect the forum at large to want to discuss this, no matter how good the writing itself actually is.

  • Biological determinants of homosexuality - closer to being a general interest topic, most people here probably at least have an opinion on it, but it's unlikely to be a particularly strongly held opinion, and the topic is unlikely to generate strong disagreements on this particular forum.

  • "Are women having too much casual sex?" - topic with very broad appeal for multiple reasons, everyone has a strongly held opinion on it, and there's also a lot of strong disagreement among the commentariat here on this particular issue. Controversy is the best way to generate discussion.

I also get disappointed when the forum doesn't want to discuss more specialty issues that I have a strong interest in. But, that's how it goes. The topics with the broadest general appeal will always generate the most discussion.

The Icelandic essay was also about historical legal practices and historical libterarianism. I think that's quite relevant to this forum.

But yeah I get the reasons why what I consider excellent pieces didn't generate much discussion. I'd just hope the motte would be a bit of a higher standard than twitter in what generates discussion

Not to be a dick, but surely you can see why Is Wine Fake is a more relatable topic for even the typical Mottizen than a hilarious and insightful look at medieval Icelandic literature and law!

Yeah, controversy creates engagement, much more so than raw quality. There's only so many ways I can say, "This is great and I really agree with everything it says."

Yeah, that's a limiting factor. I'm still really proud of this, and people did say variants of 'this is great', but the only real possible responses were to either get on a soap box or prove me wrong, and that limits engagement. This worked better in the sense that giving several different perspectives on a social problem means that there's something for everybody to disagree with, but it did so at the cost of wordswordswordsing.

I don't think engagement is the end-all be-all, but it does put a thumb of any measurement of the system here.

I posted a 500 page book about Medieval Italian poetry and no one commented! I'm starting to doubt whether they even read it.

Personally, I come here for discussion with other smart, clued-in people. Long form content, whether text or video, demands too much from other users. If the minimum price of engagement is spending an hour reading an essay, then that's just too high for me. Distill the points that matter into something that's interesting and accessible. Then we can have a discussion.

The world is full of amazing long-form content which I can read in book form without needing to visit this website.

Discussion offers a different sort of experience that has a different value.

You're not wrong, but it's kind if irrelevant. People are reading and commenting on the weaker essays I post because they're controversial, while ignoring the better essays I post. It'd be one thing if they aren't reading the controversial essays, just discussing, but they are reading.

If I read an essay, and there's no controversy, what am I supposed to say?

"Good job, I enjoyed reading it," is nice, but doesn't drive further engagement.

Also sex is an interesting topic.