Wow that didn’t take long. I already may have to add “never try Steam or PC games again” to the list of ways to get rid of negativity, but I’ll get to that in sequence, either way this i the first of two “day 1” attempts.
So let’s start with night zero, last night when I decided to do this.
Apparently the article doesn’t work anymore (which will lead to something else), but the most important part relative to this is that the more two synapses fire together the shorter the “cleft” between them becomes, which means it becomes easier for them to link together. So the synapses your brain uses to create negative emotions more readily fire off, making it easier to reach more intense levels of those emotions and even, as often happens to me nowadays, have random flashes of those emotions even without the sort of stimuli that cause them (as in, random flashes of anger and hate even when I’m just walking around or even doing things I enjoy). However it does work with positive emotions as well, so those clefts can be closed. There are two caveats: The first is that because of how we evolved human brains react more strongly to things like fear and anger as a survival tool from when we had to worry about lions and stuff.
This appears to have spiked, or reached some kind of threshold, for me recently. Between the Super Tuesday results and my own continuing unemployment I’ve spent the last few days in an unusually violent whirlwind of fear, anger and depression and my reactions to positive things feel dulled.
So basically, I think I might have broken my brain and I may have a solution to fix it. I have a few steps and substeps, so here you go:
STEP ONE: REDUCE NEGATIVITY
Use it or lose it, am I right? I want to let the synapses that shoot off my negative emotions atrophy as best I can, and the chemical trails shortening the clefts between them to degrade so that they don’t just fire themselves off like a kid who just discovered forest porn. While there are always going to be negative stimuli in life, some of it I can choose to avoid and simply haven’t because I prioritized it over my own mental well-being. So far I have one “main” way to do this but there’s probably a few more. I’ve already shed the toxic people that I met in high school and college that some folks tend to keep around “because you knew them.” I obviously can’t just ignore my unemployment so I’ll still need to deal with that, but my main way to reduce negativity is to cut myself off from politics completely.
And I do mean completely. Until I fix myself all I am going to do is “vote whoever is against Trump.” I know there are other issues and such to be aware of, but I still just need to take a step back and ignore that just to keep my own sanity intact. So I’ve muted political pages on Facebook, whether I agree with them or not (sorry, The Other 98%) and unfollowed Edward Snowden, as well as muted retweets from some people as I see them when I respect their non-political work but they, like me, tend towards political retweets (Sorry, Scalzi and Kowal). “Stop Trump” is now my only political opinion. THE END DONE STOP TRYING TO PUT MORE WORDS HERE BRAIN.
I also have another pet peeve, this one might be avoidable in some cases but not in others, but I get inordinately mad when tech doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. The reason today is the first of two “Day Ones” is because I lost my shit this morning when I bought KotOR II on Steam in order to play the restored version. Sadly, I have only once successfully got a PC game to work and have never got Steam to work. So it’s broken. If I can fix it by tonight, then great. If not, I’ll get it refunded, delete my Steam tag and the application and not bother trying to play PC games again because so far it’s fit the stereotype of PC game’s usability 100%. SEE BRAIN YOU’RE DOING IT AGAIN JUST LEAVE IT LIE.
Those, especially the first, are some of the main avoidable stressors in my life. So I’ve cut them out. Hopefully now the only major stressor will be the job hunt, and I can focus on just fixing that problem.
STEP TWO: BECOME POSITIVE
So reducing my brain’s eagerness to jump into the negatives is one thing, and would help. But I don’t want to just do that. I also want to reduce the clefts between the synapses that fire off for positive emotions. So I need to do things in my life to remind myself that I’m a human being, not just an automaton who presses the “apply for job” button again and again.
I’ve sort of had a “Frodo on the Mountain” moment in the last few days, actually when I saw a friend’s blog post on another site asking what makes people happy. I honestly couldn’t call a word to mind that just immediately associated with being happy. So I’ve forced myself to find things after some soul-searching. Because if there’s one thing I’ve realized from this it’s that, with ENORMOUS caveats for actual conditions like clinical Depression or other mental illnesses, being positive and negative are “skills,” or at least are built the same way. And like any other skill, they’re earned.
1. Get back to creativity: I haven’t done much of anything creative in the last while. I’ve been distracted, because of the stressors I mentioned above. Since I’m cutting one out entirely, I’ll be getting back to this dick-first. (Wait, what?). I’m starting with editing my NaNoWriMo book. Editing is quicker and easier for me than raw creation, especially when I’m in a compromised emotional state. So I’ll take my book, edit through it and then start something new when I’ve done that “mental warm-up.”
2. Read more: When I was working, I had no time to read, or so I claimed. I love reading and books, but I’ve let them sit by the wayside for too long. So I’m going to grab a few old favorites, old books I can slip into like nice, well-worn socks, and get back into the groove of reading. I’ll start with one of my favorite books of all time, Frans Bengtsson’s The Long Ships. 500 pages of viking adventure bliss, where nearly every page is a source of a smile ranging from wry bemusement to hilarity to joy.
3. Play more games: Started this, but I need to continue it. Whether or not I can somehow succeed in – HMM. Whether or not I can get assistance in the PC version of KotORII, it’s my next game on the list. I have the xbox version already, and as much as I would like to play the game the way Obsidian intended I will play the reduced vanilla game if I have to, it’s still one of my favorite installments to the Star Wars mythos ever.
So far that’s my preliminary assessment of what I need to do. If you have any other thoughts for ways I can turn my brain around to a more healthy direction, feel free to comment with suggestions – even if I don’t or can’t follow through on them I’d be willing to at least listen.