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flamingsword: Geek pride with glasses (geek pride)
Now bear with me because you're going to need to watch that video or already have a grasp of the basics of game theory for this post to make sense.

In heterosexual spaces, men come at approaching women and flirting as though the act is a cooperative game. They see the dynamic as establishing a consortium of two people dedicated to sharing a good time and they try to be entertaining to the woman in the dyad in order to promote fairness, but due to cultural biases are not generally very good at distributing attention fairly between themselves and women. Men believe that they are competing with other men for access to women, and treat other men as potential threats to themselves but not to women.

Women come at being approached by men and the subsequent flirting as a competitive, zero sum game. They generally see men as seeking their attention and competing for attention within the conversation. Women believe that they are competing with other women for highly selected for men, but also as cooperating with other women to maintain safety and help out of awkward and unwanted situations. Women tend to be defensive players of this game since men represent a threat to them.

This represents a fundamental and hard to communicate power imbalance.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

When talking to conservatives or anyone who does not believe as you do, it is necessary to reframe you arguments in terms of what is morally important to your audience. To further this goal, here are some of the arguments that will have a chance of swaying opinion toward meeting in the middle.

Russia interfered in our election. - Russia interfered with our freedom to choose (freedom) and violated the sanctity of the vote (sanctity). By allowing this to go unchallenged, Trump is betraying the freedom of the American people.

Trump's conflicts of interest - There are rules laid down by the founding fathers (respect for authority) about conflicts of interest to stave off tyranny. Trump is violating those rules for his own greed (moral corruption).

Universal Healthcare & Obamacare- "Conservatives were more likely to support universal health care when they read an argument said more uninsured people led to “more unclean, infected, and diseased Americans.”" (purity)

Immigration - Immigrants love America enough to leave their country and become Americans (patriotism). They break fewer laws and are model citizens. [If proof is needed, bring up the Wall Street Journal article that explains the lower crime rate. Immigrants are 40% as likely to commit a crime as a birthright citizen.]

Reproductive rights - Women are the authorities on their own bodies. We can either respect their authority or violate their trust. (respect for authority, sanctity)

Muslim database - Our country was founded (respect for authority) on religious freedom (freedom). Muslim Americans are no less patriotic than any other citizens (patriotism).

Criminal Justice Reform - Officers with clean records are in favor of reform. (Respect for authority, purity)

Climate Change - Pollution corrupts (purity) our environment. Pollution is a disease of our own making.
flamingsword: Geek pride with glasses (geek pride)
Some friends of ours are having relationship troubles. I'm not trying to grab the blame for that, I swear, but I do think that some part of it could have been avoided if I were still regularly hosting social events and expending spoons paying close attention to people and asking about their lives. Most of the people who stopped attending Thursday Movie Night did not replace it with a social interaction of equal value, and so my networks are less well meshed and less taken care of without someone putting deliberate effort into making sure that everyone is doing well. It was easier to herd the nerds and make sure that everyone was doing okay when I was seeing several people on a weekly basis. My skills at observation and conversation are also getting noticeably rustier. I need to start making more phone calls instead of text message dates with people where I never actually keep them, get those skills back in proper working order.

There are a lot of my people (nerds) who claim to hate small talk, and as a former member of that camp I think it's time for me to explain to the internet the value of small talk. "How are you? What have you been up to?" These are not meaningless cultural signifiers or opportunities to brag. They're ways to let your social network know if something is going on that they should know about. Are you having trouble with your health or in one of your relationships? Are you looking at changing jobs soon and want to ask your network for help with that? Does your spouse have a drinking problem? Are you being stalked? Your friends want to help you, and they need to know this stuff to do that.

I miss being closer to people sometimes, but I also value the fact that I would never have gotten my first fanfiction written (INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG HERE) if I were still trying to host Thursday Movie Night. And then there's the part where I just don't have the energy most of the time, and that is probably not going to get better if it has not already. C'est la vie.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
So you have this interaction spectrum that starts with people you don't get along with. You slowly move up the scale to people you see more of and have in your life more.

Some people are "sometimes friend"s. You get along best when you see each other a few times a month, but maybe one of you has a lot more energy than the other, or your interaction styles are different enough that you annoy each other if you try to integrate for longer than six hours a week. With me so far?

Some people are "everyday friend"s. You can get along with them for eight+ hours a day every day. Your energy levels, anticipation of each others needs, and interaction styles are largely compatible. You would make decent roommates.

Then you have a different spectrum, an intimacy spectrum, and people from anywhere on the previous spectrum can fall anywhere on here. I love my dad, but we do not get along. We see each other face to face roughly every five years. But he changed my diapers and has held my hair while vomitting. That's pretty intimate. It's non-sexual, but speaks to being comfortable with having an important role in my life.

A lot of what women envy about bromance is that men's relationships with each other have sacrificed touching for other forms of these nonsexual intimacies, and then basically declared those intimacies bro-only. You'll clean up your friend's vomit, but cringe at buying your girlfriend tampons? Welcome to an unfair double standard that allows the intimacy of body acceptance for one set but not the other. Men are allowed to know what "embarrassing" things their friends like, but they have to be "cool" in front of a girl - denies even the opportunity for intimacy. There are a lot of little ways that there are his and hers sets of what is okay for intimacy by gender, and there's only two sets of norms. And it's sad, and I hope it dies a rapid death.
flamingsword: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. (Seuss Activism)
It occurs to me that I'm never going to keep up with posting on my hopeful twice-per-week schedule if I hold myself to a minimum level of inspiration. Sometimes I need to just externalize the brain noise, and see what falls out. Going back over it later is the meditative part in that: it allows you both presence and distance to catch patterns of thoughts that you're having.

I wondered this morning why Afrofuturism was a thing that I had seen, but that Latin American futurism was not something that I had really seen much of. So I decided to go looking for it. How can we really understand and respect a people if we don't know what they want, what their dreams are? So I have decided to start with the proud nerds of Latin America.

I was taught to model people based on a sort of four color metric: what they wanted, what they were afraid of, how they went about getting what they wanted, and how they avoided what they are afraid of/didn't want. It's pretty basic, yeah, but it is fairly accurate and WAY better than the ??? and constant confusion of having no real system previous to that metric. As a nation, I don't think we have even that nuanced an understanding of our subcultures and ethnicities, and it's really sad and shitty of us to not be curious about how we can all benefit each other.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Life is not a simple thing full of objectively true answers, though we speak of it as though it is. We live in a vast, nebulous uncertainty, which we paw our way through looking for solid certainties to cling to. We try to keep our heads above this metaphorical water of uncertainty so that we can know things and make good decisions, even though there are some problems with this approach. We know that we don't know everything, but we don't like to look too hard at how much we're not sure of in case it causes us to start questioning the solidity of our decisions. How do we know that we righteously punched that guy in the face if we can't be sure he deserved it? Uncertainty makes our motives and actions suspect. It can drive us to ask hard questions of ourselves and not give up until we have working hypotheses we can live with.

When someone questions what we think we have a grip on then we begin to have control issues with what we think are solid facts. We try to make other people stop telling us that this raft we are clinging to is not an island, try to force them to pretend that we are still on dry land. We try to convince ourselves that these rafts made of floating trash are islands, and we punish people for telling us that it looks like trash. The problem is that our expectations are invisible from the inside. We don't realize that our beliefs are beliefs, because from the inside they look like facts. We don't hold ourselves responsible for our beliefs, even though they are our responsibility. The people challenging our beliefs are the only target we can see. They become the enemy.

So what are our choices in these situations?

  • A. We can boss people around with our expectations like they are NPCs, but that's not going to be sustainable now that we aren't living in the Protagonist Delusion and other people matter to us. If we keep trying to do things we know are wrong it will erode our self-respect and eventually we will hate ourselves.

  • B. Find an idol to follow, so that we can subsume our identity in theirs. We will not have to make choices about what to believe, because that choice has been handed off. We can insulate ourselves from the sea of doubt by lashing our rafts together. But now that we know about the biases in our thinking, we're going to start spotting the biases in our idols, and whether we say anything about it or not, we can no longer write off their fallibility. We can feel the waves of uncertainty lapping at our toes.

  • C. We can choose to focus on the damage being done by how wrong other people are. The world will provide an endless parade of other people to be wrong in front of us, and it can be a huge distraction from the need to acknowledge our own uncertainty. Even in a culture that ridicules being wrong, we are more afraid of having no definite answers than of being wrong. The siren call of looking the other way when distraction presents itself is strong. It can lead us into just as much interpersonal trouble as the first two methods, but because this one acknowledges the possibility of our broader cultural wrongness, it can lead activists to some rewarding places in the meantime. Some people never realize that there is a method that encompasses the application of this method and makes it more emotionally sustainable.

  • Z. We can hold ourselves responsible for our expectations.

    How do we begin to figure out what our assumptions and expectations and beliefs are, if they're invisible? Well it's as simple as making a list of everything you've ever disagreed with someone on. (Did I say it was easy? Simple =/= Easy.) Maybe your belief about something was justified ... but it is still a belief, and it still needs to be tested as a belief. We'll do a whole separate post on reality testing since that's the best link I can find.

    You have been taught, all of your life, that you are your thoughts. And if I can prove that your thoughts on something are wrong then I will have killed a part of you. You mourn and seek revenge for this thought because you experience the pain of losing what you have been taught is your self, your identity. But what if there's another way? What if you aren't your thoughts and actions, just the thing behind them that handles how you think your thoughts? What if you are your personality, and not the beliefs and thoughts that fill in the blanks? Then, if I prove wrong something you believe, you can simply update the old belief to the new one, and still experience continuity of self. It will be embarrassing to not have spotted the misinformation, but no longer a devastating attack on your ego. If established as a cultural norm, the roots of our culture of disrespect could be slowly unraveled by challenging our ability to feel insulted or threatened by disagreement. Mental health would be more sustainable for everyone and I urge you to put this on your to-do list.
  • flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dr. Reid)
    I am polyamorous, and some of the poly community spaces that haven't shaken out all the bugs yet have this terrible habit of declaring "NO DRAMA" ... like that's a thing that works. But it doesn't work because humans don't work like that. We're a species that thrives on emotions and complexity - and the poly community is supposed to be a place that encourages the expression of such.

    What "No Drama" does:
  • it encourages emotional dishonesty in an environment where fostering honest communication is supposed to be the norm. It causes as much turbulence as it stops due to making people feel as though bringing their problems before the group will cause them to be shunned socially. That vulnerability takes a great deal of bravery, and instead of rewarding it "no drama" seeks to criminalize it;
  • it fosters a policing outlook based not on member safety but on a subjective metric which if it has to be appealed will cause the thing it's trying to prevent. How is drama defined? How do we argue about what it is without creating it? How will it be discouraged without creating more drama than we are stopping?;
  • it is unevenly enforced across genders. Because expressing emotion is constructed as a feminine behavior, masculine people are less likely to be accused of starting drama due to their practice at emotional regulation. It becomes a way to discriminate against people who express problems or feelings others find uncomfortable, or who are still learning emotional regulation. In a space that encourages the open expression of feelings, it becomes a way to tell femme and genderqueer people to be silent about emotions others don't want to deal with.
  • it is enforced unevenly across power divides, like any silencing tactic. If a secondary partner has a problem and seeks advice from the community, they can be accused of starting drama by a primary partner who does not have to be held accountable, since their share of causing the trouble happened in private. If someone in the community has previous abuse triggered during a community meeting, it puts the onus of the emotional work on the victim to calm themselves lest they be "starting drama". It adds an element of injustice to our community, and to all communities that use it as a cultural standard.

    "No Drama" as a framing issue:
    Ask yourself these questions: for whose benefit do we avoid engaging in complex emotional reasoning, i.e. "drama"? Is the group meeting for some other purpose than to discuss problems and provide support to its members? If the person who has brought their problem to a group because their partners were not sufficiently able to achieve understanding without help, are their emotional needs being left without redress if the group declares their problems too problematic? Is the job of fixing these problems being left on the weakest and most isolated members?

    Our communities are fragile, and our members have no recourse for advice beyond our borders much of the time. Telling someone not to have drama is basically telling them to stop having problems which ... we can't do. Often our intentions for saying so are even more suspect: we feel that the groups time and concern are better taken up with discussing our problems, which are not drama because we can conveniently define drama any way we like. In this way "no drama" is a silencing tactic that warns people to play happy families for public consumption on pain of nebulous punishment. It has no place in the polyamory community, and the world would be better off it it were replaced with a more nuanced understanding of complexity and concern for vulnerability.

    With special thanks to my friends Terri Hudson and Cassie Withey Rila, to whom some of these points belong.
  • flamingsword: An octopus wraps around the words FREE HUGS. (Tentacular free hugs)
    Since sensitive and sometimes privileged information could be referenced in these entries, make use of the privacy functions, and even if you have to keep a post privacy locked for your eyes only, it still counts as journalling. If you feel the need to state such delicate situations vaguely for privacy reasons, any friend will understand, and any non-friend can be encouraged to mind their business.

    -- for your relationship --

    1. Name ALL of the feelings you have for each other. The good and the bad: you can't start dealing with your feelings until you admit that you have them, and naming them will start that process. If you have to use a list of feelings to get the ball rolling, then so be it. Do you only feel certain feelings in certain situations? Write it out or make a note to write more about it later.

    2. Set some short term and long term goals for your relationship. List achievable steps to those goals.

    3. List problems that your relationship has had. How did you solve those problems? What concessions were made by each side? Is this an equitable balance? How would you like to solve problems in the future?

    4. What do you trust about your partner? What are their reliable traits? List their strengths and dependable qualities.

    5. Think about your parents relationship. Compare and contrast your relationship with theirs. Are there positive traits that you are trying to replicate? Are there negative traits that you are reproducing without intending to?

    6. Write two love letters. The first is to yourself.

    7. How does your relationship make you a better person? What aspects of yourself has your relationship inspired you to change? How has your relationship grown with you and your partner as people?

    8. Anger shows us what is important to us. What do your arguments reveal about what you and your partner prioritize? Evaluate your priorities to make sure that you are not still working with an outdated understanding of yourself. What has changed in your priorities, that you need to talk over with your partner?

    -- General Skill Building --

    A. What is a conversation that you have been putting off having? Plan the conversation using respect, honesty, and gentleness.

    B. Listen to your self-talk. What do you tell yourself when you experience negative emotions? Name your coping skills, both positive and negative, and list your methods of self-avoidance.

    C. Recall times you have achieved a flow state. Are there some commonalities in the circumstances? How can flow be encouraged in your life?

    D. Name your fears. Name the things you believe about yourself and the world that make you feel vulnerable.

    E. What are things that make you feel trapped? What relieves that feeling? When do you feel free?

    F. How does your body respond to your emotions? Describe the physical sensations of your emotional reactions.

    G. How are you betrayed by your expectations? When you do not get what you expect out of an interaction, what about that difference is upsetting to you?

    H. List your methods of self-care. What soothes you in times of difficulty?

    I. Refer to the list of your fears. Pick one. List the efforts you have undertaken to guard against that fear. List the hopes you have given up on in order to avoid this fear coming to pass. Evaluate the usefulness of this fear based on this cost-benefit analysis.
    flamingsword: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. (Seuss Activism)
    Let's have a discussion!

    I think the combative tone of our culture's political rhetoric has colored our expectations of what protest is supposed to look like; we are skewed towards interpersonal violence that diminishes the humanity of both parties. I would like to offer a new vision: we use human cognitive biases against them. Our brains are strange places with lots of firmware programming that we don't like to think about. Reciprocation, empathy, the enticement of inclusion, the pain of shunning: these things are hard-wired in for most of us. Getting a statistical majority on our side will be easier if we change a few tactics.

    We should be nice to the people we're protesting. If we make it clear that we are suffering where they have to see it because their participating in the reform will make them better, happier people, they will be touched by the courtesy, and then they will be confused. Confused is great! Confused is not polarized against change, it's not combative: it gives us grey area to dialog inside of. Part of the confusion is that when we are nice to them, their instincts will tell them to be nice to us. Humans reciprocate, especially in person. We don't like eating in front of others who are not eating, and we don't like feeling indebted. Extending our empathy to include them will make it hard to not reciprocate. And once they empathize with us, even a little, we become part of their peer group.

    Not that the V masks are not awesome, but the principle of anonymity would be working against us if we were all wearing masks. The fact that some of us have jobs that would be threatened by our identities becoming known is understandable. But it is also true that it is easier to dehumanize someone without a face, and to then commit violence on the Othered individual. Refusing to treat police and the opposition like enemies will erode their combative paradigm. Their actions will look and feel out-of-context, and we will use their awkwardness as a tool to restructure our civic dialog. We need Anonymous for the support of the faceless and those who must work in secret, but we need more human faces whose body language isn't defensive or aggressive, whose message is that there are no enemies, only a bunch of people in different parts of the same mess.

    We need to be *for* things, not just *against* things. Complaining and being angry a lot gets old. Accentuating the positive is like a Jazz riff - some people can go all night. People like being positive about mutual goals, they like joining things and feeling like they have a common purpose. People will do a lot for peer-group inclusion, and if we start divesting the rich of their social currency, stop treating them with such deference, wean ourselves off of the cult of celebrity, perhaps they will feel pressure to align their goals with ours.

    Think tactically about these emotions for a bit. What's missing? What have I proposed that won't hold water? I would like to workshop this a bit before bringing it before the Occupy Dallas General Assembly.
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Sunshower)
    “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” --Anais Nin

    “If you don't love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not capable of developing compassion for others.” -- Dalai Lama

    If I look at you and only see the parts of you that reflect myself back at me then I am not seeing you, I am seeing a distorted, incomplete version of myself. If the first things I notice about you are differences I don't understand then I may be tempted to Other you and deny any connection. So even if I'm paying attention to you, the attention that I'm paying is still self-centered, warped by that filter on my perception. )
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Aeon sad)
    I have weather veins.
    They are especially sensitive
    to dust storms and hurricanes.
    When I am nervous my teeth chatter
    like a wheelbarrow collecting rain.
    I am rusty when I talk.
    It’s the storm in me.

    - - Andrea Gibson - -

    * I used to be so afraid to talk, so afraid that I would say the wrong thing, and try to fix it by saying another wrong thing, say all of the wrong things inside me, dams against the words I meant never to say all bursting across the silences that I cultivated between me and everyone who absolutely was not allowed to know how broken and horrible I was. Words breaking in and giving meaning to the silences I walled in around my ability to care about my inability to see myself. Eventually the humidity would get too high, and there was a slow condensation that dripped bits of my truth out to me safely, but I knew that disaster was never far from the first word. I feared the power of words, because its hard for me to lie, and because the act of speaking calls up the truth in me. Erica Jong says, "How can I know what I think until I see what I say?" I feel truthsome tonight; I'd better start talking and let my words out before they backlog. )
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dr. Reid)
    Once you have learned to edit out behaviors that are actively threatening, controlling, or distancing, you can work toward building a sense of shared purpose. This union is the basis of therapeutic rapport. To better illustrate things to say and do, I'm going to translate common things therapists say into their component pieces.

    "Hello, _____; my name is _____, and I'll be your therapist today. Our restrooms and water cooler are this way. Is there anything else you need before our session?" = "I have identified you, myself, and our relationship for this interaction and intend to respect the implied boundaries. I am anticipating your needs to ensure your comfort." Speak at a moderate pace. Respecting that new clients need time to orient and adjust themselves in the new environment is crucial in earning reciprocal respect. Rushing through the beginning is not relaxing, and is a disservice to both parties.

    "I'm sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Let's see what we can do to fix that." = "I care about your pain. Let us work together to bring you to your normally healthy state."

    The phrasing is important here. Saying that you're sorry to hear that someone has pain implies that you are not connected to the cause of it. You care; you do not feel obligation. WE are working on it because while they have come in for your help, your help is something you are accomplishing only with their permission and engagement, thus establishing the common goal. Never say "let me fix you." You are not fixing the person, only the pain. Implying that something is wrong with someone is diminishing and keeps them cut off from their sense of agency. Also it's insulting. Putting the pain in context of it being transitory establishes the premise for leaving it behind.

    Orient the relationship.
    Anticipate needs.
    Respond warmly.
    Express concern.
    Share agency.
    Denormalize pain.

    If you master those, you have the fondness of your clients. That's really all you need to garner repeat business in our touch-starved, care-hungry culture. But if you want to reach beyond those into the realm of rehabilitation and improving the lives of clients while they are out of arm's reach, there are a few more skills that I have discovered so far.

    Start with gentle pressure to relieve soreness, gradually increase to firm pressure to release muscle fibers. Working deeply into sore muscles before they're ready is painful and may cause clients to tense back up later. Work at the pace dictated by the body's responsiveness. Pick the arm up from a supine position until it is in the same pose that the client uses to type/use mouse/draft. "When you use your arms held out in front of you so much of the day, the muscles of the shoulder stiffen from overuse." Using words with motions provides a link between the posture and the idea that will keep coming back into their consciousness when they use that posture.

    Hold the arm in one hand while pushing into the deltoids with the other. "Small muscle groups like this are not designed for continuous use. If you don't stretch the muscles back out at the end of the day it will just stay tense." Slowly stretch the arm over the head and through its full range of motion. "If you have a desk with an ergonomic keyboard tray, then you can sit with posture that doesn't hold the arms so far forward, so you don't hurt at the end of the day." Point out logical consequences of muscle tension. Don't assume that intuition will inform people who are used to ignoring their physical selves of their tension or the causes of it. Mention things like less pain, ease of movement, better appearance, and decreased chances of injury and dysfunction in association with health. Health is a general concept that people don't relate to as an aspiration, but vanity and pain relief are great motivators.

    Anesthetize first, re-sensitize later.
    Verbally integrate somatosensory habits.
    Normalize consequences.
    Strategize and inform.
    Advocate ergonomics.
    Motivate health.

    I'm always looking for new ways to respect people and increase our enjoyment. It's why I find my job so fulfilling. Eventually this list will be added to, but it may be a while before I have enough new material to make a decent post.
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
    One of the most important lessons I have learned is that 'just being myself' sets people on edge. Left to my own devices, I stare, make eye contact too long, and use body postures that have more to do with what's going on in my head than what I am trying to communicate. Just being yourself sounds simple, and if your actions were occurring in a context vacuum where they were not open for misinterpretation that might even work. And with other people who have no social context, it does: Aspies feel comfortable with other Aspies. The muggles are not so enlightened.

    So, things that I've learned are creepifying:
  • making direct eye contact for longer than two seconds.
  • Watching the person doing something interesting instead of just watching their hands.
  • Using the muscles of the nose to snarl when expressing disgust, or for almost any reason. To most people that implies violence.
  • Standing bodily between someone and the only exit from a room. Its a dominance/control behavior that implies that you get to decide whether to let them leave and people who feel trapped are not comfortable people.
  • Speaking at a volume to be heard over noise without softening your tone is pretty much the definition of yelling. Only appropriate to be used in very noisy places.
  • Standing at a direct angle to someone who is angling themselves away from you. Mirroring posture is an advanced trick but it starts in the 'don't be creepy' sector.
  • Have a default expression. Your face being completely blank makes people truly uncomfortable, probably because they only wear no expression when they're hiding something. Also, there's a Hollywood trick of using expressionlessness to characterize madness. Thanks ever so, Hollywood. :/

    The specifics of how to be comforting will be the next post, but tell me if I missed something obvious, yeah?

  • Acknowledge the conversations that you are a part of. Use active listening and make noises of assent and interest where appropriate. Do not remain silent when a response is expected. Do not appear to not be listening only to chime in at the end with something that sets the conversation in a different context; people get really upset when what they thought was a private conversation turns out not to have been.
  • Fierce debate out of proportion to the person you talking with comes across as interrogation and intimidation. Respond to debate with the same level of emphasis as your opponent.
  • Stand in your own space and not too close to others whose personal space you have not been invited into.
  • Talking out of turn and interrupting consistently annoys people, and while it's not creepy, it quickly becomes a respect issue and is still socially inept.
  • flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
    I've been thinking lately of pathology- how we define illness, how we regard the illness as a character defect and so regard the ill as though they are less worthy. Our attitudes to disability and anything to which the words "not trying hard enough" are applied carry over from that definition of pathology and are very suspect.

    No, this doesn't have anything to do with the relationships thing (I think?), but it's been on my mind lately and it comes from analyzing relationships. Ever since I realized that Ghost's childlike openness has to have a really early cause, I realized what it is about how he reacts to his parents that is so radically different from everyone else I know: they don't think anything is wrong with each other. They don't treat each other like approval is something that is won or withheld until something is changed for not being good enough, they just deal honestly with talents and handicaps and there is no blame or the internalizing of blame which becomes shame.

    I've never seen anything like it before, and that is unutterably sad.
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
    You all must hate charity, the way you're always talking about not wanting people's charity or to be a charity case. You hate asking for things, hate feeling like you owe gratitude to anybody.

    But you must love charity the way you donate to causes, enjoy making things and giving them away, enjoy donating blog time and personal anecdotes and effort to spreading the word when something is going on and people need help.

    That is a big old love-hate relationship y'all seem to have going on there. How's that working out for you?

    Now, I have a different relationship with the notion myself, and being me I maybe don't have a lot of feelings about it, but let's see how many thoughts I've got:

  • I enjoy making things, but I've got nowhere to keep them, so I might as well give them away.
  • We all tend toward accumulating stuff that we don't need and it's pragmatic to swap said stuff around sometimes.
  • There are a lot of spare moments I have with nothing better to do than signal-boost something, while simultaneously letting you know that I am still alive and that while I'm here I'm not doing anything interesting of my own.
  • I like asking people for the occasional thing (like candy deliveries) when their effort to accomplish it would be a fraction of my own. I'm proud, but not that proud.
  • I like validating people with the knowledge that they've given me something that has helped me, that they are useful and appreciated.
  • I like keeping you guys used to helping me, used to being given things: it keeps our philanthropy muscles toned and svelte and sexy. Like [livejournal.com profile] copperbadge says, " Charity is the new black."
  • I'm getting used to being more vulnerable where people can see it, and so far there's a noticeable lack of douchebags. Part of me keeps waiting for someone to try to get me to accept something I don't want in order to coerce me to give something I don't want, but since I'm giving things away with the expectation that the favor will be paid back into the system and may round-robin it's way to me only eventually, I think that's made it a lot less likely that someone will try to force direct reciprocity.

    Those seem to be pretty sensible.
  • flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
    Step 1: pay attention. Paying attention is step one, because it's always step one. If you want to reinforce positive behaviors then you have to know what behaviors there are and what constitutes a reward for the target person/s.
    So: step 2a: recognize positive behaviors and reward individuals quickly.
    Step 2b: clarify your signals to increase your signal-to-noise ratio. Do not send mixed messages. Be consistent enough to avoid confusion. Messages of criticism spoken during a positive review should be phrased carefully to state belief in that person's creative process. If you do something that irritates that person, desist until the next time you meet them.
    Step 3 is repeating steps one and two until the positive behavior has been reinforced and then intermittently rewarding the person for it or alternating the reward with different, less-desired modalities to teach that person a wider range of positive associations.

    Common and uncommon social rewards and their uses: )
    Please leave feedback if I've missed anything!
    Disclaimer: this is not the 5 love languages or any kind of self-help. This is not a recommendation that you take other people on as "projects". This is a helpful guide to motivating people to doing more of the good things that they do some of anyway. If you "push", you can go too far; it can cause personality changes and that may or may not be a good thing. While other people are ultimately responsible for their actions, you will still feel like a shit for having a role in turning your friend into a different person.

    I'm back.

    May. 2nd, 2010 02:20 pm
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (computer friends)
    So my flist is at skip80? Wow. We all seem to chat a lot, huh? We must be good friends. :)

    The wedding was cool, Houston was muggy, and I have plans to see the Space Center next time I'm down there, since I've never been. IknowIknowIknow, I've been to Houston how many times in my life and have never been to the one place from which my childhood dreams sprang forth? I miss being little and thinking of space and science and cosmology with wonder.

    I miss wonder. How do I get that back?

    Also, the seeing-myself-from-outside and personal narrative tricks firmware patches have been installed in my brainspace, and I had forgotten how socially awkward it makes me to try to figure out whether anyone is going to care about what I have to say. I just wind up taking so long trying to figure out each person's perspective that my opportunity to say anything relevant passes with me neither participating nor actively listening to whomever is talking since all computing power is busy trying to figure it out. It leaves me strangely abstracted, and actually interferes with my mojo. :(

    Got any tips or tricks, flist?
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Rosa Parks smile)
    1. If you have not yet heard about the county of Sonoma CA separating an elderly gay couple and auctioning off their possessions, then allow me to state that it is legit and documented as well as being blood-boiling.

    2. Further people volunteering to be justiced upon: Steven Seagal keeps sex slaves and assaults women. And is a douchebag, but we knew that already.

    3. In better news, I am reading Quirky, Yes - Hopeless, No, a book on Asperger's kids and the very VERY most basic social skills, and I rather like the memories that it is bringing up, not because they were particularly nice memories, but because they show me how far I've come since I had no social skills. And some things have occurred to me: up until the six months before my brother died, nobody could have possibly known that I wasn't making eye contact, because they didn't know that I couldn't see people's faces. The glasses happened the summer before he died, and six months isn't all that long to draw a conclusion from. And my family probably assumed that since my dad doesn't look people in the eye much either, then maybe it was a mannerism I picked up from him. And after Larry died nobody held my behavior to any sort of standard other than knowing where I was at all times, which was pretty easy: I was wherever I could hide behind a book the longest.

    4. I am putting off THE LIST until I have reinforcements. The fuzzy emotional cavalry are coming in the form of [livejournal.com profile] jslorentz and maybe [livejournal.com profile] kadairk if she's free that day.
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dr. Reid)
    Who wants to be on the Asperger's/PDD-NOS/crazy person filter? If you are not already on it and wish to be, comment to be added. Also, check out my delicious page for an arseload of links on the subject.

    Most of my success in relating to people is in knowing where to start. Normal people give you clues about acceptable topics to talk to them about by how they dress, how they represent themselves culturally. Nerds, people wearing band or movie paraphernalia, and fans of sports teams are particularly easy to distinguish visually. The rest I just ask. And that was hard to learn to do, but is now pretty easy - just wander up to someone and introduce myself and ask them what they're finding interesting and how they like whatever is going on. I make conversation. Conversational topics to share are most of why I read regular news and watch what little television I do watch. It requires a time investment to have something to share that's worth talking and thinking about, but it opens doors small talk can't, and it lets people get a feel for how you think from which they can gauge the best way to relate to you.

    My confidence in approaching and asking for someone's attention signifies that I believe I have the right to do so and the capacity to be more fun than what they are currently doing. People are sensitive to that kind of prompting. I have acceptable losses on missed connections (usually about one in four conversations goes nowhere), but there are generally enough people around who aren't otherwise engaged that I can find someone to talk to. And then I just give us turns being entertaining to each other. We get to know each other through a process of each seeing how the other person connects with the previous thought and from the direction they take the conversation in, we get a sense of the shape of their mind. If the directions that you take the conversation in are acceptable, and if you yield turns in a timely and generous manner, conversations can go on for hours without becoming tedious or uncomfortable. In the course of one afternoon and evening, I once got a woman to tell me her entire life story. But if you are paying close attention and skilled at reading people, you can get to know about half of what is publicly available about that person in half an hour. It's quite fascinating.

    Turn taking is very necessary, as are active listening, sending clear signals, and social rewarding. I'll hit those up next post.
    flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
    This post is about fighting fair, the uses of trust, how to act in good faith, how your shame hurts others' feelings, apologies and forgiveness, asking for what you want, the subtle insult of manipulation, and the balance of power between two people. It's got a lot to say, and it goes on a bit. And since some of you are pulling stupid human tricks in your relationships, I'm not cut-tagging it, and I have disabled comments.

    When the relationship is more important than what you get out of it, you agree on rules and then abide by them because that is the foundation of the relationship. Anything less implies that you do not respect your partner's ability to act in good faith or a lack of empathy for their betrayed feelings. Fighting fair implies that while you disagree on something, the disagreement is less important than the relationship that it arises from, and prioritizes your connection over your moments of disconnect.

    When you ask for what you need it implies that you trust in your partner's willingness to fulfill your needs as best they can. When you don't trust your partner then you don't ask, and you use indirect tactics to get your needs met through trickery. Eventually that message of distrust is received, and hurts the feelings of the distrusted party. This person is forced to constantly chase after you, trying to read your mind to fulfill your unspoken needs to avoid feeling manipulated, distrusted, and misunderstood. That is not fighting fair, and it does not work very well. Eventually most people will also retaliate, matching your aloofness so that you are forced to pay the same attention to them so that the balance of power is restored. Then you both alternately ignore and pursue one another, and the underlying weakness from the lack of mutual support means that when external stresses are applied then your relationship falters and breaks up when it would have lasted in a more trusting environment.

    When you catch yourself doing something hurtful, even if you did not intend such, apologize. To do otherwise implies that it is acceptable to you to risk your partner's feelings. Seek to make amends until the hurt feelings are soothed. Find ways to avoid problems that have recurred. Negotiate boundaries and context differences with caution and respect. Carelessness and lack of consideration imply that you are not planning for your relationship to last. When your lover is sorry and makes the effort to heal the divide between you, let go of your bad feelings and express your forgiveness. To do otherwise implies that you are interested in what you can gain from your lover's guilt and bad feelings. That is establishing trust.

    If you love someone, take care of them. Speak their needs to them aloud, as best you understand, so that they can get used to engaging in dialog, giving voice the unspoken parts of themselves. Do not make it unsafe for them to want things by using what you know in order to hold an advantage over them. Do not test how much you can get away with to see how far such privilege goes; life will give you many tests of the bounds and strength of your relationship with no help from you. Do not judge yourself a failure at the first sign that you cannot meet all of someone's current needs. Trust that if you are loved your partner will give you back the care you have given. That is acting in good faith.

    We learn hatred by hating ourselves. Eventually, that shame and negativity is externalized and projected onto those around us, even the people we love. Pushing people away comes in many forms, and two of them are reciprocal: hurting someone's feelings and withholding forgiveness when your feelings are hurt. Both keep your partner at an emotional distance that feels safer than the thought of letting go of your self-hatred and the fear that surrounds all shame. It's a coping strategy to buy time, but when time runs out you have to pick which has primacy: your relationship or your desire to not challenge your insecurities. When we prioritize hatred above love it is a tragedy, each time and always.

    Love is NOT all you need, no matter what songs or storybooks tell you. Please invest yourself in trusting others, in forgiving yourself and them for the weaknesses that we all have, and build your relationships to last.

    I love and trust you all. Please stop hurting each other.


    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

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