Correcting yourself

Do you have an inner critic that persecutes you, or does it help you improve? When I think of the inner critic I think of it calling me Worthless, so the idea that it might correct me, or give valuable criticism, surprised me. And yet I notice when I do something not as well as I might, and how I might do it better; and the realisation is not always kicking myself. It could be rueful, and it could even be hopeful, seeing a chance for improvement.

I thought of the “inner critic” merely as a persecutor, so that I thought of this process of assessing my actions and ways of improving as a different thing. I still do. Though that could be a way of hiving off anger at myself, the most negative self criticism, and conceiving it as separate from me. I think it is introjected, so in a way it is.

A self-criticism scale has seven heads which are classified as self-persecuting, fourteen as self-correcting. Some are clearly persecuting- “to punish myself”. Some are clearly correcting- “to remind me of my responsibilities”. Yet I think that inner critic persecutor, which feels like a small child, if it articulated its purpose would claim to be correcting me. I experience it as always enraged and terrified, but it wants to improve my relations with others, just has no idea how.

Who can define “overconfident”? I feel Mr Johnson and Mr Trump have too great confidence, and it makes them act badly, but some risk taking is necessary. So “to stop me getting overconfident” could be self-restricting rather than self-correcting, holding me down. Who defines what is overconfident? Luck and hindsight can affect that.

I feel I have a fairly adult way of recognising that I could do better, see better, know better next time, with a proportionate regret, and separately an inner critic which berates me, turning my hurt into anger against myself.

That persecutor also brings strong feelings to consciousness. When I berated myself as an idiot for a comparatively minor mistake I became conscious of anguish I felt.

It is interesting to read the list. “To stop myself being happy”. I get happy occasionally. I tend to realise that it will pass, but I don’t think it makes me particularly self-critical.

“To stop me being lazy.” I notice that I ought to do cleaning and tidying, but do not do it. I don’t know I would call myself lazy. Lacking self-care, perhaps. I kick myself a bit about it, but it does not generally have the effect of making me do the task. Too rarely I feel desire to do it or an anticipated pleasure at doing it. These things can become habits, I understand, strengthening pathways in the brain through repetition. I have never done that, though.

“To stop me being angry with others.” That fits. I hold myself in.

“Because if I punish myself I feel better.” That sounds like self-harm. Cutting, one lets the feelings out. I feel pain I can only acknowledge as physical. Releasing and acknowledging the feelings brings relief. Again distress is turned inwards.

One, “to make me concentrate” seems to consider current action rather than past mistakes. Concentrate! I tell myself. That would be better as encouragement than criticism or correction. You can do it!

I can’t suppress the inner critic. I don’t think it a good idea to fight it. I feel a rueful acknowledgment is the best way: notice the anger, fear, hurt, desperation, consider that this is the negative inner critic speaking, and that I do not believe what it says. No, I am not a worthless halfwit.

Then notice and practise productive self-criticism. I could improve.

I went to the library to ask for The Testaments. I was in a poor quality t shirt and found myself patronised. The woman said they had not acquired it yet, and could not say if they would get it, nor take reservations for a book they had not bought. She asked if I had read The Power and suggested that I read Vox, a feminist adventure novel. Women are silenced-one woman fights to speak out. No, I don’t want a feminist novel, I want the latest Margaret Atwood. I am not reading occasionally, or hat trying reading as an entertainment, I know my own taste. Instead I got the latest Sebastian Faulks.

The self-criticism which might ameliorate that situation is too abstruse and wide-ranging to attempt.

Bullying myself- or inspiring myself

No one bullies me. I bully myself.

I get early to the office, and there is no one there. I can do scanning. However there is no scanner on M’s computer. I try S’s scanner, but M’s computer does not recognise it. As I move it, the paper feed mechanism falls off. I put it back, finding that tricky. I use S’s scanner on S’s computer but it chews up the paper. I swear at it.

D’s computer does not recognise my smart card. I use K’s computer: it works, but then she comes back and needs it herself.

I look at the paper feed and see how I did not put it back properly, so I fix it. After fifty minutes, I scan my first document.

I am upset because I am bullying myself. No-one else is expecting anything of me. The Wrong Thing I did was to swear, but apart from that I have behaved creatively and determinedly, dealing with each problem in turn. Yet I have internally berated myself, telling myself I should be able to deal with this with no problem, far more quickly than I do. J said if all that had happened to her she would just of gone home.

This is perfect, I decide. My purpose in being here is finding my blocks to work, and my bullying is such a block. How do I feel now? Hurt by my own bullying, and sad, and frustrated by the difficulty. Others complain of friction at work, problems with the processes that take much longer than they ideally would. I suppose that would be more stressful if I had more to do and only an ideal time to do it.

So I reassess my response to the morning’s challenges, decide that I responded well, and get on with the scanning.

I don’t know how I managed any work at all, bearing this taskmaster within. Especially as I was not fully conscious of it, just feeling bad because of it and feeling always inadequate. Finding it and seeing it has been a long journey, and I still have to think about it, take time to observe what I am feeling and consciously decide that I am working well enough.


Tina sees it differently. If I make an introject, part of me agrees with its view. It comes from the culture as well as my parents: it feels Scottish to her.

I did not ignore my emotional response, being sad at being bullied, but saw it as work and difficulty. My emotional being is something to cajole and manage, rather than to value as useful feedback. I am practised in exercising my intellect, but my emo side is hurting, lonely and distrusted.

The “bully” criticises, showing its terror. I think of it, too,  as a problem to be managed. When it orders me to “Get on with it” that is pain and loss. It makes my emotional side crumple. In fact it does not inspire or energise, but it tries. It wants to express my values of diligence and taking responsibility. It wants me strong and successful but the more it says the more crushing it gets.

If someone who takes no responsibility is 1 and sane responsibility is 8, I am 15: overwrought. I need dialogue with it so that it inspires rather than crushing.

Mmm.

Balance and dialogue.

I would hear and value and support the slave-driver (or inspiration, or sense of responsibility) and the emotional part.

She thinks the problem might be that I have been unable to show my intensity, there is no space for it. When we feel we cannot express some things we restrict ourselves. She asks,

What thrilled you as a child?
What made you giggle?
What did/do you do for fun?

I don’t know. However my task now is to perceive and value these lost, damaged parts.

Later, I wonder if the “bully” could ever be brought to inspire me. It seems to take no account of any difficulties I have.

How emotion works

For Eckhart Tolle, there is a natural flow of emotion fitting the immediate situation. You are in a pub, and someone starts abusing you because you are trans. You feel fear and anger, and as Steven Moffatt via The Doctor said, fear is your superpower. Adrenaline flows, and you are ready to fight or flee. And, there is a pathological emotion causing suffering arising from your thoughts about a situation. You resent your boss. You think they should not treat you as they do. You lie awake at night thinking of what they did, and you feel the anger surging, but it is not about what is happening in the moment, because you are safe in a warm bed. So all the energy the anger and adrenaline give you have nowhere to go, but keep you awake.

Tolle says the pathological anger is not about reality but about the stories your ego tells, and you should stop listening to the stories and notice where you are. This immediate presence fits your emotions to the situation. The cognitive behavioural technique “Situation-Thought-Emotion-Behaviour” tells you to change the story, and you will change the feelings, and that works.

There is an NLP technique to give yourself a boost of joy by thinking of a particularly happy memory. As I was taught it, you associate a particular hand gesture with that memory, then make the gesture and feel the joy. I thought of my sister’s children joyfully calling out “It’s Uncle John!” as I approached their front door. I never picked on a new one.

What if you are told your office will close and you will be redundant in six months’ time? If you find a new job within the six months, you will lose your redundancy payment. This is unfair, you think. You are angry at the unfairness, but you still have the choice, to run out the six months and get the redundancy payment but then be looking for a job after losing yours, which is a black mark against you. If your feelings arise from what you imagine your entitlement is (They should not play this mean trick) that is from ego rather than reality, but this is a current situation which will produce “natural” emotion, which could be complex- hope, determination, resolve, as well as anger.

There is not one choice here, but many. It’s not whether you will get a job before the deadline, but what will you do today? Will you look at job adverts again? Whether to risk running out the time depends on how much the payment would be, but also on likelihoods. You don’t know what will happen. It is an emotional rather than rational decision- do you “hold your nerve”? It is fruitful for what Tolle most condemns, the ego telling repeated stories to itself, including that “It’s not fair!” story at 4am.

To Tolle’s two alternatives, of emotions as an immediate response to a stimulus, and as a response to stories the ego tells itself further trapping the unconscious person in those stories, I would add a third, emotions as a response to an ongoing situation. (I have not yet finished reading “A New Earth”.) They could just be part of a story; or they could be a true, immediate perception.

I am also reading Jonice Webb on childhood emotional neglect, which seems to fit me: I did not know what my feelings were. Still, much of my feeling is static and unconscious, such as the fear of taking risks or venturing out. There is anger here, and conflicting desires to hide away but also to be seen, to have your attention. I am sensitive, and also sensitised: the association of, say, job applications with a sense of failure is so great that I cannot bear to make them.

There’s a slogan that can answer that:

Every day is a new day!

I am not that child. I am this adult, in this situation, and- I don’t really believe this but will say it anyway- if I live in the moment and react to things as they are rather than from the stories I tell about past experiences- I can stop sabotaging myself.

I avoid meditation too. I associate it with pain. Yesterday, kneeling, I thought, it really hurts to have critical voices this strong, and got upset. A problem is that there are so many ways to describe it! The critical voices would call it self-indulgent play-acting. I call it feeling pain I have denied. My working theory is that I remain unconscious of much of it, and it is a burden: as I become conscious of specific pain, I lay that part of my burden down. And the intense pain of yesterday- the critical voices hurt so much!- might lead to a shift in me, where I listen to them less, or even begin to convert them. They are the voice of my mother at her angriest and most confused, taken into myself to stop myself doing things which she did not like, as self-protection. They are from the past- could I make them fit the present? Is it that the pain makes me change how I am?

For my pictures, I am back to Bosch.

Birth of the inner critic

You have that inner voice which tells you how useless you are. Most people have. I know mine comes from my mother, and possibly this is how.

In counselling, the inner critic said “How can you be so fucking useless?” and I knew that was my mother. My mother would not have said “fucking” but it came from her- probably pre-lingual, that is my adult vocalisation of the interaction. I know it comes from my mother like I know my own name-

yes, that’s me protesting, I know it and I don’t think anyone will believe me-

and at the same time it does not feel right. I have felt my own rage, as a baby, in a pram under a tree watching the light through the leaves, a recovered memory, a reconstructed clarity of how I felt at the time-

it does not feel right because my mother was so completely dutiful and controlled, as well as controlling. She would never have expressed rage like that. Rather,

she felt that rage.

Her rage, like mine, was always directed internally against herself. She could not get me to stop crying, or I did not like what she fed me, or there was some inability to communicate, and she was angry- with herself, not me, but I sensed it, and felt it was with me. I feared it. So comes my raging sense of inadequacy, whipping myself until I can go no further.

Research shows that the sins of the parents are visited on the children. We know how patterns are created, maintained and passed on, says my friend who should know. This fits, for me: how the pattern could be passed on. Two human beings want to be happy, together, and fail- and each rages against herself.

I told her that I do not trust my “Inner light”. I am not sure I have one. I can discern different voices or characters within myself, but not an inner light. Of course, that may just mean that I do not understand it: I have a false view that it should be particularly moral, or it should seek my flourishing in a particular way, or even that it should fit me into wider society in a particular way. One barrier to spiritual growth is a false conception of what that growth might look like.

She found this hard to understand, and asked, “What sustains you?” I don’t know how to answer that question. “Test the spirits,” said St Paul, and Licia Kuenning’s local Quaker meeting easily discerned that the voice she thought was that of Jesus leading her to prophesy was a damaging fantasy.

I have been crushed. I did not know my feelings, and when I found them I felt them as anger, frustration, resentment and fear, later refined to rage and terror. Does this mean that my inner light is crushed, feeling rage and terror? It would be easier if I were a theist, believing the Light is from God, but the Light is part of my humanity.

How weak, that I would want to hide away as I do, would not use my talents but just bury them? I despise myself. I have wanted to die, wanted to kill myself. I have found how I want to survive. These are two strong voices inside me. My mother was very controlling, and that came from fear. Everything has to be accounted for. I have taken on that controlling pattern. Possibly, the idea of a “Light” is getting in the way of perceiving how I am.

And yet- I like the idea of an inner light. Many people testify to its existence. I want to know it.

There is that one thing that I feel I could do, that would be worthwhile. And my Friend wanted to warn me of the dangers of it, especially for a trans woman. I cannot be sure it is a leading. I might test that leading, even if my Friend thinks it unwise.

Distress

The amount of distress you carry is enormous. That is what is exhausting you- not low energy or motivation.

“How can I mitigate it?” I asked.

The question is, what is at the root of it. Stop trying to prove to yourself that you are loveable.

I see you appreciate some of your strengths. I know you appreciate your brain and your aesthetic appreciation of life but I’m not at all sure that you know you are loveable. You seek people’s happiness. I think you have enormous capacity that is utterly disabled by distress. You said something about vulnerability, you described one of your friends as “A fairly chaotic individual, generally means well, quite easily hurt,” and you laughed and you said “Who does that remind you of?” And the laughter went straight into utter distress.

It’s that fragility, that vulnerability- You have tremendous energy, but it’s distress that saps you. To be in such distress for so long, it’s like living with pain. It is living with pain. And with the strength of your intellect and with the depth of your emotions and with the power of your aesthetic appreciation and with your generosity you should be able to get the pain out, but how I have no idea. Part of you is screaming, and it’s been screaming for a ruddy long time. Possibly life long.

And I know that you can get on in spite of it, I know that you can distract yourself from it, I know that you can focus on lots of different things, but it hasn’t stopped screaming, and you need to tend to it.

Part of you is always in panic. You have such an appreciation of beauty and of love and awe and such an intellect, but the letter from the benefits office must have knocked the knees out from under you, again. I think if all of you believed that you were loveable the part of you that is screaming would stop. It might be worthwhile then letting it speak and giving it a cuddle.

Well, there’s feedback, from someone who knows me well. And even naming it “distress” is difficult: I call it “self-pity”, or inadequacy, or a sense of entitlement, or weakness. That I might be worthy of my own care surprises me sometimes. Does the feedback fit? I don’t know. I might call it “discomfort”, but then label it mild, and the superego which rides me so hard, or the transactional analysis “Parent”, would say “Everyone suffers discomfort, what are you complaining about?” It would make “enormous capacity” into an accusation: What are you doing with it?

I lay in my grave, and my mother said to me, “I didn’t want you”. No, really. The exercise was to imagine myself in an open grave, looking up at people passing by, and my unconscious rewarded me with that vision. Of course I believe it. The subconscious knows.

What does distress achieve? It might make the sufferer uncomfortable, so that they realise there is something wrong, which needs fixed. It might make them stop what they are doing. I did not immediately think of, but added later- it could prompt care from another- though I do not believe I could deserve it. If I am right about my mother it is childhood distress, or even inherited distress. She was frightened of the world, and yet still managed to keep a job, but she had me not because she wanted me but because that was the conventional thing to do. I can see my anger, frustration, resentment and fear in her, and if she had accepted my distress as a child I would know I was loveable and would not feel this way.

And now those inner voices are saying, don’t be stupid and self-indulgent, of course it could not be life-long, stop complaining. And they are projecting onto you, my reader(s)- you will think me a self-indulgent, inadequate, ridiculous, self-pitying etc etc fool. Yet I am a human being, and am at least worthy of my own love.

Ceasing to pretend

Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between these two banks the river of my life flows.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

Helen wants me to fix goals, ideally to get a job. My goal is to stay on benefits, because it is a lifestyle I can cope with, I am in control, and there is only just enough money. I tried to make a difference once, and it was too hard.

I tell Tina of Mark, the playwright. Helen’s powerpoint slide said she got divorced, but actually she only split up from someone she was cohabiting with. She changed it to “divorced” in case a religious person judged her. “Hallelujah,” said Mark, bitterly, imagining himself humorous. I challenged it, saying that I am very religious, and do not judge others. Mark says all religions are like a cult, brainwashing people. Harlan tells of his cousin, who was “a bit slow”

-do you mean he had learning difficulties? challenges Helen-

who converted to Islam and ended up in a mental asylum. We do not stick to the subject. Today Harlan, instead of referring coyly to “relaxants”, named his crime as if daring anyone to make something of it. He smokes weed. He used to smoke £100 a week, now since having his kids it’s £30, and as far as he is concerned that’s money in his pocket.

We go off the subject easily. It is diverting enough.

Do you want to change yourself? asks Tina. You said Mark, just like you, is “walled up behind a mask or persona, disappointed and resentful”. That’s heavy shit.

I want to stay on benefits because the uncertain generosity of whoever is filling Ian Duncan-Smith’s tiny shoes- David Gauke, Google tells me- is pleasanter and more reliable than any chance of earning money. Helen challenged us on Monday to think of what we would like to do, at the end of her course, and I wrote to be myself without the mask. And now I think I am lots of different acts, but always acts.

On Sunday, with her, what happened? Possibilities:
-she used me as waste disposal, and I liked it.
-It was nothing under the surface beyond what happened.
-we were playing a game together which both enjoyed. I hope that. It would be intimate. She holds me at arms length.

-What parts of you are there, meeting her?

It might be easier to say what parts are not. My resentment is under the surface, always balanced with fascination. My care, appreciation and playfulness are there. I am articulate, except when she asks why I thought we might be embarrassed to meet, and I could not answer her. Because she could always withhold her acceptance of my answer, and question each answer in recursion.

-What’s that feel like?
-Sad and powerless.

For which part are you sad? The lawyer or the romantic? The older or younger self?
-Possibly all of me.
And at that my inner critic explodes in triumph and derision. But I am just a set of different acts, I said. I am proved inconsistent and incomprehending.

There is sadness in me, and there are other feelings. I am sad about her, wanting union, partnership. Fascinated, resentful, I love to see her. What I get is wonderful, and I am held at arms’ length.

-What do you get? Unrequited love?
-Her presence, charisma, sparkle. I will keep coming back for that.

-Have you ever been loved?

Yes. A woman loves me, and I did not know, and now we cannot be together. My father let me down. My mother was too scared. H called me “Cariad”, and now I think of her with pity, despair, irritation. She always responded the wrong way to everything, I burst out. We betrayed each other repeatedly is an old line I am not sure is true.

-And what about yourself?
I like myself and I wish myself well. I despise myself. I am very beautiful.

Those voices, you despise yourself; you are beautiful. How opposite are they?
-I am opposites.
-We all are. I see them both, but they don’t talk to each other. The different parts of you pull you apart sometimes. We’ve got to get those parts talking to one another.

So we arrange to skype again.

The inner critic speaks

I am worthless.

I am stupid. I never see the most obvious things, do not make the most obvious connections, until far later than I should. I can be completely blind to things.

I am lazy. I do not do things which should take no effort at all. I should show some self respect, and clean my house, it is a tip. Being tired or unmotivated is not an excuse.

I am weak. Yet I am confrontational. All happiness is misery, because it will pass, yet misery and depression is seeing the world as it really is, so permanent.

I am ashamed of everything: action and inaction, desire and indifference, masculinity or femininity in myself.

I have disgusting belly fat.

The inner critic speaks and I find hacks. What I want is “disgusting” and “shameful”. Very well, I look at it, smile, and say “Disgusting and shameful” appreciatively, anticipating my disgusting delight. Or I see that these unconscious responses are not serving me, and set myself to tell the truth about them- yes, I want that. It is not wrong to want it. Persuading myself against my instinct or snap judgment is difficult, time consuming, and takes energy, but is worthwhile and I improve at it. Those instincts are changing.

Yet, there is so much energy in the inner critic! The exercise was to say all that is bad about you, and I spoke continuously for two minutes, vehemently and articulately, voicing thoughts which I do not think are true yet which are in me, which control me and prevent my actions. If only I could use that energy! It has felt that I am pulling against myself, for the longest time, like an isometric exercise pushing my fists together in front of my chest and getting nowhere, like horses pulling away from a central ring to which all are tethered- sweating and straining and not moving. That vehemence- could I channel it?

Being controlled

As we wander through the town centre to the café-pub, she notices a bright-yellow, “Spring-like” coat in a charity-shop window. She says it would look good on me. I go to investigate, and take it from the window display, undoing all its buttons, unwrapping the very long belt. A worker dashes over and pulls the mannequin from the display, then feels the need to explain and apologise- “We’re not allowed to have them in the window without something on them”. I apologise in turn- I am sorry for dismantling the display. “I like it, but it is up to you,” she says. Are the arms a little short- I was descended from gorillas- maybe a little, she thinks. She will not exert herself to persuade me at all.

I buy the coat, and wear it to the pub. I enjoy lunch with her, then cycle home, still wearing the coat.

I am not certain she would think of this, but I analyse obsessively, and decided- she told me what to wear, and I wore it. She took control, and I assented. I really really like that. I could give pathological explanations. My mother was extremely controlling, and it is because of that. I am not behaving like a fully mature adult. I don’t know if any cis woman would feel this way about a man.

I really really like that. And it is shaming, humiliating, NOT HOW A MAN SHOULD BE!!!! RIDICULOUS DISGUSTING SHAMEFUL VILE

The inner critic does not like it. I have such strong internal barriers against this, it is more an internal policeman, with a taser to paralyse me if I stray from the Right Path. It comes from my controlling mother and soft father, who were terrified of anyone finding out.

I called the Samaritans. “I want to talk about sex”, I said. “This is not the phone line for that,” she said, and rang off. With the second, I was more circumspect. I do not want to perv on her, but to sort out my feelings. I have been frightened of my feelings and suppressed them, and want to accept them and feel them fully, for then I feel I pass through them. I need her presence as I do this. Shame, humiliation, resentment, complex unnamed feelings well up within me and I can bear them if I sit in silence, eyes closed, and allow their conflagration, their cacophony. Then such regret!

I told her of leaving the office to kill myself. It was the only thing I could do. I could not bear it, and had to get out immediately without thought for the consequences. The internal policeman does not accept such an excuse, for any human being with the slightest resource or resilience would have had no problem at all. I feel the pain of being in that situation, and then the pain at lost opportunities from never being able to accept that pain, so wanting to hide away, and wonder if some sort of forward movement is possible.

My lunch companion is a friend, not a potential partner. However, after years of trying to make a man of myself and so being unable to let a potential partner in, and loathing my attempts at sex because I did what I thought I should do rather than what I might like, these experiences might help me seek out something which could satisfy me at last. An oddity- as I spoke to the Samaritan woman I was using my female voice. Often, I speak below the break, but not then.

-What will you do next? she asks.

I will watch Call the Midwife on tv. Apart from one token character the men are all stupid, sometimes bumblingly well-intentioned but usually selfish, even violent. And the women take control and sort things out. Just my sort of programme!

berthe-morisot-in-the-dining-room

I am here

With my life as it is, all I have to do is ensure that I have enough food in. I could even wait until I had not, and go to buy it then. If I don’t have milk, I can’t have tea or cereal with milk until I buy some. I don’t have to tidy my living room, or clean the filthy basin in my bathroom.

If I don’t clean my teeth, I feel uncomfortable, and if I don’t have enough fruit I feel out of sorts. I love fruit. Peaches in the summer, though I could get expensive ready-to-eat peaches now, but sweet conference pears are almost as good for intensity of flavour and juiciness; grapes, plums, and citrus- tangerines, satsumas, clementines, whatever.

I love pictures. I love the mannered strangeness of Giulio Aristide Sartorio, my latest happen-upon. I keep telling myself I could get the train to London to the Tate, which always has wonderful exhibitions. Getting to Swanston, getting the train, getting across London takes trouble and expense, but it is manageable. I have not got round to it. I am unsure why not.

I have managed to strip my life down to minimal challenge. I blog a lot (I like blogging.) I watch a lot of television.

How I respond to challenge may be the issue.

I am in trouble. Various people are going to meet to address the problem of Clare, and may come up with a solution I do not like. I have a knack for focusing tensions in a group around me, and while I feel those tensions are the problem rather than my wickedness, I am unsure I could convince them of that. Hollyoaks has nothing on the way I manage my personal relations. There is little I can do, I just have to wait until they have met.

I would like someone to give me a hug and say there, there, it’s going to be alright.

I have had the thought,

I am here.

Now, I am finding what that might mean. This morning, I cycled into Swanston for the fruit stall. It was not there last Tuesday, but was today, perhaps because the weather was better. I could always ask them why they don’t come. I got apples, plums, grapes, and satsumas, much cheaper than the supermarket. I am pleased.

If I cycle, I save the bus fare, but there are costs to this. That hill is hard work. It’s cold. I will get sweaty and possibly smelly. I don’t like the jacket (I could replace it). Most of the road is between hedges which are ugly, and much of the landscape beyond is featureless. The sun, and the brightness, are beautiful. An overtaking driver gave me far too little room, so that when I swerved to the right to avoid a pot-hole just as he passed me, he was frighteningly close.

Three miles from home, I address the thought, I am here. There is beauty where I am. I have an effort to make. It seems to me my ways of dealing with the efforts I have to make are denial and resentment. I deny the effort. Anyone with the slightest resilience, anyone with any value as a human being, would find them minuscule and unworthy of notice. (Therefore I have no value.) Then I resent. I should not have these difficulties.

There is some pleasure in facing where I am. Three miles to cycle, with some climbing. These delights, and these difficulties which matter to me. These blessings and the forebearance of my situation keep me safe enough.

I look out the window at the sunset. The sky is so beautiful!

giulio-aristide-sartorio-wee-boys-smile

Scissors and glue

I spent a pleasant hour or so this afternoon with scissors and glue- craft activities based on positive psychology. I am tempted to be dismissive, but I enjoyed it, and will share with you what I made. I went to the local Mind for a taster session on their Building Self Confidence course, and may take it. I forgot to take my lunch: possibly I was nervous about going. There was Christmas cake to fill me up, and another service user gave me a satsuma. She seemed a kind, gentle soul. I thought her eyes were lovely. She talks herself down, and was gently challenged.

Everyone’s normal, until you get to know them.

They quoted Oscar Wilde- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Well, yes; and you cannot be anyone else anyway. Anthony Burgess told of a boy at his school who affected a French accent to appear sophisticated, but spoke French with an English accent. I have huge privilege, being educated and having a fund of stories like that; it came to mind at just the right time.

We discussed the inner critic. “You would never be as cruel to others as you are to yourself,” I said. I am trying to show you I know this stuff. Nothing they said seemed new and useful to me. Yet I want to get out of the house, into a non-threatening environment with other people, and this might do. I have thought of voluntary work, but not enough actually to volunteer. And something did seem worthwhile, a thought I had, prompted by being there:

I have been thinking of a facebook interaction. I commented on a Remainer group, and a troll responded “Lolwut”, and another the eu was trying to take our freedoms away. Thankfully within a few years the corrupt dictatorship will collapse. Not people who were seeking to understand my point of view, people who were trolling, possibly to spread gloom and despondency on my side, so I responded, [names] not very bright, are you? Find out about the issues before showing your ignorance here. Now I am second-guessing. Was mine a constructive pacifist response?

It is very controlling, wanting your every response to be right.

I don’t like their ending visualisation. Imagine yourself happy and successful, as you would want to be. I hear that if you imagine having something you are less hungry for it, less likely to go out to get it; or, I do not want to imagine something I do not trust I can create. But- why not enjoy fantasy? Am I too puritan? Second-guessing again.

There are some good paintings here, but our exercise is less technically stretching: cut words out of magazines, which apply to me, and glue them to a silhouette. So, here it is. Some of the words were offered by others. “Does anyone want Bohemian?” Yes, I wanted Bohemian.

I enjoyed it. This is a place I might go. I need to go somewhere.

scissors-and-glue