Category Archives: Discipline

What discipline or subject is this under?

Drink to forget or drink to disbelieve?

Do people drink so as to ‘think less’ (presumably about worrisome thoughts) or to see their worrisome thoughts as ‘less real’?

My own experience is of forgetting certain details – some names of people, places, events when I have a drink or two. Things I had ‘access’ to while sober – now seem to be just out of reach. In that sense drink appears to cause forgetting (and may also be a good way of creating the ‘tip of the tongue phenomenon’).

But even when I do remember something i.e. an emotional memory like a ‘worry’ – that worry now seems to be ‘at a distance’ in some way. Is the ‘distance’ I am feeling from that worry – a type of:
i) emotional desensitization
ii) an inability to keep that worry in memory for long enough for it to feel ‘painful’
iii) a lowering of ‘belief’ in the reality of this thought?

Or something else?


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I suspect that simply ‘giving your opinion’ about things is a very easy way to get an ego or ‘self-esteem’ boost.

(Which is why I so often give my opinion about things. Apart from genuinely wanting share and ‘develop’ ideas that I think are interesting.)

And why might ‘giving your opinion’ give a quick ego-boost (boost in self-esteem)? Here are some possible reasons:

When you ‘give your opinion:

a) You get to possibly show that you know more than someone else. This demonstration of ‘superior knowledge’ could also allow you to feel superior to another person (if you think that ‘knowing more’ means ‘being a better person’). Actually ‘knowing more’ is not even necessary here. If you can convincingly express your opinion you may manage to convince others (and even yourself) that you know more than those who are listening about the area concerning the expressed opinion.

b) You get to advertise your cleverness (especially if you believe that your idea is ‘original’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘elegant’ or clever in some other way).

c) You get to emotionally ‘affirm’ what you believe and to indulge in ‘zealousness’ about what you already believe.

d) If you believe what you are saying is ‘provocative’ – you get to demonstrate that you ‘don’t care what others think’, that you are brave and courageous enough to ‘speak your mind’ etc.

e) If your opinion has a ‘target’ – you get to condemn or find fault in the process of giving your opinion (another way of feeling superior).

f) You may get to crystalise your own beliefs by putting them into ‘verbal’ form – and so increase your sense of certainty (or decrease your sense of uncertainty) in the process (which may also increase your self-esteem).

g) You get to be the centre of attention – while expressing your opinion.

h) You simply get to ‘add one more brick’ to your identity structure. By giving your opinion – you simultaneously build the idea of who ‘you’ are in your own and other peoples’ minds. Your sense of who you are may appear to become more ‘real’ by having yet one more belief ‘associated’ with you.

By this account, an ‘opinionated’ person may be a person who has chosen ‘expressing their opinion’ as a primary means for attaining and maintaining self-esteem. (e.g. where other ways of attaining and maintaining self-esteem appear less efficient at attaining these goals e.g. through ‘success’ in work, play, love).

When we consider all the above ego-boosting possibilities associated with ‘giving your opinion’ it becomes clearer why so many traditional spiritual traditions provide clear indications surrounding mindfulness of speech, which types of speech are helpful and which are not etc. Even the most ‘innocent’ of processes ‘opinion giving’ might serve as an opportunity for maintaining one’s sense of being a separate self through getting ego-boosts. Giving your opinion when you don’t really NEED to would probably come under the category of ‘idle speech’ in Buddhism.

That said – ‘giving your opinion’ may not always mean you are getting an ego-boost. You may give your opinion simply because you think it may be useful/helpful, because you are asked for it, because its your job to do so, because its a way to start an interesting conversation, because you are ‘showing what you know’ for the purposes of showing how well matched your skills are for a job, because you enjoy or feel compelled to share and develop ideas etc. These actions may or may not be undertaken with the specific purpose of boosting one’s self-esteem.


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Sita Sings the Blues

Review by Metacritic –  Metascore 94/100


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Why do we feel vulnerable? How did vulnerability evolve? Questioning beyond Brené Brown’s TED talk

Brené Browns talk on vulnerability now has over 3.5 million hits, making it one of the most frequently viewed talks on TED.

One of my passions for years has been trying to understand what it is that is actually open to being ‘hurt’ when we are emotionally ‘vulnerable’. Its clearly not our physical bodies we are talking about – so WHAT is it?

Many psychologists say its our ‘self-image’ that is hurt in these situations. But think about that a second. How can you HURT an ‘abstract’ concept like a ‘self-image’?

“People are so accustomed to reacting to threats to their self-image that they rarely stop to consider how odd it is to regard their mental image of themselves as something that can be damaged by another person’s inconsiderate behavior or disparaging remark.” (Mark Leary – The Analogue-I and the Analogue-me, 2009)

It seems that somehow during evolution or during our childhood years we learned to experience emotional ‘hurt’ to our self-image, almost as if it were physical hurt to our body. How might this have happened? (Some speculations here.)

When this realisation is made – that our ‘selves’ are NOT a solid body but rather a very much ‘unsolid’ abstract thing – then perhaps we can experience emotional ‘hurt’ in a different type of way e.g.:

“Someone says something to you that is rude or designed to hurt. Instead of going into unconscious reaction and negativity, such as attack, defense, or withdrawal, you let it pass right through you. Offer no resistance. It is as if there is nobody there to get hurt anymore. That is forgiveness. In this way you become invulnerable” (Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now, 1997).

Synopsis of TED Talk by Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

TEDxKC talk synopsis: In our anxious world, we often protect ourselves by closing off parts of our lives that leave us feeling most vulnerable. Yet invulnerability has a price. When we knowingly or unknowingly numb ourselves to what we sense threatens us, we sacrifice an essential tool for navigating uncertain times — joy. This talk will explore how and why fear and collective scarcity has profoundly dangerous consequences on how we live, love, parent, work and engage in relationships — and how simple acts can restore our sense of purpose and meaning.


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Why does a guy who looks mature and caring turn out to be immature and cold? [Or: Why are men assholes?]

[My answer to a friend’s question]

Say a guy is immature and cold to a woman he has met – perhaps after they have had sex or been ‘intimate’ in some way (I’ll use the expression ‘have sex’ – but it might be ‘less’ than that).

Why might the guy behave in this way?

Here are some possible reasons:

i) Perhaps the guy was trying to deceive the woman: He behaved in a mature and caring way SO that he could have sex with her. Perhaps he believes that if he just sleeps with her, he will be happier (for a little longer than it takes to have an orgasm). Or perhaps he believes it will boost his self-esteem. Or perhaps he likes controlling or ‘conquering’ woman in some way.

ii) Perhaps the guy actually genuinely thought he was interested in the woman he was with (or wanted to believe he was) – but actually – he mostly only had sexual desire for her. Then – after sex – he suddenly realised he was mainly only interested in her sexually. In this case the guy was “deceived by his own desire.”
This could happen e.g. if a guy allows his sexual desire to ‘magnify’ other aspects of a woman’s character/personality – such that the guy becomes convinced that he likes many more aspects of the woman than he would do if he was not ‘horny’. For example – he might find what she says ‘interesting’ when he is horny even though he may not if he were to meet her when he is not so horny. Another case might be if the guy is quite moralistic or religious – he may not be willing to admit to himself that he is ‘only’ or ‘mostly’ interested in a woman sexually and so he might want to convince himself that ‘more’ than just sexual attraction exists, by ‘pretending’ to himself that he is interested in other things about her too (apart from her body). Unfortunately – he only realises that he wasn’t so interested after all – AFTER they have had sex.

iii) Perhaps the guy genuinely liked the woman at the beginning – but later he found things out about her that he did not like – and so he then seemed to change his behaviour to being immature and cold. For example, he may have found out that she was quite racist or narrow-minded and/or that she simply had very different opinions from him about things that were important to him.

iv) Perhaps the guy IS mature and caring most of the time– but there are certain unconscious interpersonal or situational triggers that cause him to ‘react’ in quite an immature way – and he has no control over these.

v) Perhaps the woman initially idealised the guy – and THOUGHT he was mature and caring and later – when she saw things more clearly – found out that he REALLY was actually immature and cold.

vi) Perhaps the woman liked the guy a lot and was interested in a serious relationship but actually pretended to him that she was more interested in just ‘having fun/sex’ in order to ‘attract’ him to her (i.e. SHE deceived him). The guy may have thought that she genuinely was interested in just having fun/sex, but later became quite confused/shocked/annoyed when she started behaving in a more ‘serious’ way with him.

vii) Perhaps the woman tried to convince herself that she was just interested in ‘having sex/fun’ even though she was actually interested in something more ‘serious’ (perhaps because of pressure from friends/society to behave in this way). And she presented herself this way to the guy and they did have sex. Later – when she is communicating with the guy – she behaves in a ‘serious’ way with him – and forgets that she initially gave him the impression that she just wanted to have fun/sex. The guy gets confused and starts acting immature and cold.
…. And there are probably many other possibilities …

* Note – everything could be ‘reversed’ by gender above – I am just following the ‘stereotype’ that men ‘give love in exchange for sex and women give sex in exchange for love’. It does seem to be that men have a somewhat higher sex drive in general so there may be some truth to this stereotype. However, in many situations the reverse could also be true too.


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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Perception



Perhaps one of the biggest secrets of them all?

Weird is normal.



Optimal disorder?

If you had a lab or a scientific vision that was TOO well organised, would it reduce your chances of making serendipitous discoveries? If you had society what was TOO well organised would it reduce your chances of making serendipitous friendships and acquaintances? (e.g. Imagine a society in which procedures are so well worked out and explicit that you don’t even need to ask people questions about how and what to do?)

Is there an argument to be made that for the purposes of scientific discovery and promoting human connection, that there should be a certain element of disorder/chaos in labs, institutions and societies?



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Romance occurs when two* people’s shared appreciation of what they are experiencing is intensified by their appreciation of each other.

* or more




A cliché is original to someone who has not seen it before

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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Linguistics, Meaning, Observation


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