Over Thinking

Ever notice how unhealthy thinking can be? Well, over thinking. One of my favorite quotes is by Ayn Rand, “There are no evil thoughts except one; the refusal to think.” In this case I’m talking about irrational thoughts and over thinking. I love to think. I think about human nature and why people are the way they are and why they do what they do. But sometimes I’m stuck thinking about my life and certain events and I think myself into a dark twisty circle of sadness and anger.

What I want to know is how to let it go. How do you say, “oh well” and really feel that way at the same time? I can say, “oh well” all I want and I won’t feel it. I have thoughts about things and I know for a fact, I shouldn’t feel this way, this shouldn’t matter to me, I’m happy with my life. I can’t stop thinking and over thinking and making myself feel badly for something I have no control over. I want to control my thoughts and feelings. I want them to be rational.

Are feelings ever rational? My rational mind and my feelings don’t add up. I think our lives are controlled by both, but not at the same time. Its one or the other, but you can’t live without either. You need feelings and you need rational thought. Why aren’t they on the same page? I’m thinking myself into a circle again.

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Cave Men & Abortion

Lately, whenever I read or watch news about current events, all I see are things relating to women’s reproductive rights. All I see are men trying to make laws about birth control, contraceptives, and abortion. I don’t want to go into deep detail about bills and laws. My main question is, who the hell has the right to make these laws? Why are people even trying to intrude on the business of others? I don’t feel that I have the right to tell anyone what to do with their bodies, and I feel that no one has the right to tell me what to do with mine. Forming laws about reproductive rights and denying these rights to women is equally as terrible as female genital mutilation in other countries. Those women have their options taken away, they don’t get a choice about what happens to their bodies. I don’t see any difference between that and taking our rights away. Some may see these as extreme opposites but I do not. That is the degree of disgust I have with the mere idea of people trying to make laws about our bodies. I have a theory though.

I keep trying to think of why men, especially, would think that they have any right to make laws against abortion (because I just must find an explanation). Then I remind myself that almost everything we do can be tied back to evolution. Daily, men produce several hundred million sperm. Women are born with about seven million eggs and release only one per month. Because of their excess of reproductive fluids, men feel the need to spread their seed. Many people blame cheating on this fact. They want their seed spread far and wide. They want their genes to be carried on forever and ever and to never die off. Women, on the other hand, have to choose carefully who they mate with because they have a limited supply of eggs. They don’t want to waste their eggs on a man who can’t or won’t support them (or on a complete idiot, because… come on). So back to abortion and why men seem to hate it more than anybody. I am concluding that it’s because they are threatened by it. We have a way to control who we mate with, or when we mate with them, and they hate that. I’m wondering when we will evolve and be able to move past this cave man crap.

I can think of theories all day as to why people act the way they do. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make it okay for anyone to make these decisions about women. Life is hard and complicated enough without laws about our reproductive rights. Leave my uterus alone and think about something that really matters. Help starving children, make schools better, and stop wasting your money on something you have no business thinking about.

Side note: Men does not = all men (because I like to cover my ass).

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. It always has been, even when I was single, even when I was depressed. There is something magical about a day devoted to love. The one thing I hate about Valentine’s Day is the people who hate Valentine’s Day; people who call it “single’s awareness day.”  Yes, media advertises Valentine’s Day as a day for couples to celebrate their love, a day for proposals, a day to have a first date.

How I have always seen Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE in general. I give my mom a Valentine, I text people I care about, I make cards for people, I give people candy, I remind EVERYONE I love that I love them!

The way I see it is, Valentine’s Day is shitty and depressing if YOU make it shitty and depressing- just like any other day. If you think love is worth celebrating, celebrate it! Bake things for people, go out with a friend, send cards, and buy candy. Make a date for YOU! There is nothing depressing about loving yourself.

Life is about attitudes. If you have a shitty attitude, life sucks. You can change it in an instant. You can even choose to ignore Valentine’s Day. It is a regular day where people still have to work, after all. Just don’t shit all over everyone who DOES love Valentine’s Day. We get it, you’re single, you’re sad, and you want attention too. Either keep it to yourself or change your day by changing your attitude.

Fetishism & Exhibitionism

Continuing with my Valentine’s Day theme, I thought it would be fun to talk about sex. But what’s better than talking about plain old sex, is talking about weird sexual disorders! Fetishism & exhibitionism are some of my favorite sexual disorders. These disorders are under the category of paraphilias. A paraphilia is a “type of mental disorder characterized by a preference for or obsession with unusual sexual practices.”

Fetishism is a disorder where a person is highly aroused by a non-living object, or a highly specific non-genital body part. We have all heard of people with foot fetishes. It’s something funny that we joke about, but I’m not sure people realize the intensity of a fetish. It isn’t just a person who really likes feet. It’s a person who literally gets aroused by feet. These people fantasize about feet, have sexual urges towards feet, and actually achieve orgasm by interacting with feet in a sexual way.

Exhibitionism is my absolute favorite paraphilia. Exhibitionism is when a person experiences intense sexual arousal from exposing their genitals to an unsuspecting stranger. All disorders have a certain intensity about them that I feel needs to be emphasized. A person with exhibitionism can literally achieve orgasm at the sight of a stranger being shocked at seeing their genitals. They fantasize about exposing themselves to strangers, and they have urges that they act on. This can obviously be a very distressing disorder. They can be arrested for exposing themselves in public, and they can earn a terrible reputation for being a freak. This can affect all aspects of a person’s life. They can be fired from their job, be an outcast among friends and family, and literally go to jail. Unfortunately, since this a disorder, it is not a behavior that can just be stopped.

What I always wonder is how people come to have such strange sexual desires. Maybe in fetishism there is an association made with an object. Maybe a person with a foot fetish had some pleasurable experience with feet; maybe this person has highly sensitive feet and has associated all feet with sexual pleasure. With exhibitionism, maybe the person was walked in on while achieving orgasm and associated the element of surprise with sexual pleasure.

However it happens, sexual disorders are more serious than people take them in popular media. People suffering from a paraphilia have to seek help to stop their behaviors. I am not saying there is anything wrong or disgusting about these people. They are people with an unusual problem. They might need or want help or they might not. It doesn’t bother me if you get off on feet. If you have a foot fetish, I hope you get a pedicure for Valentine’s Day and enjoy yourself.

Theory of Love

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought my blogs could have a more focused topic for a while, love! We can all relate to the topic of love, we all feel love. We love our pets, families, partners, blankets, coffee, food… I’m not talking about our love of inanimate objects…this time. I’m talking about gooey love between two people. First of all, I want to share my favorite quote by Harry Harlow:

“Our assigned mission as psychologists is to analyze all facets of human and animal behavior into their component variables. So far as love or affection is concerned, psychologists have failed in their mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple observation and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists.”

No one can pinpoint what love is, why we love who we love, what makes love work, etc. Psychologists have developed theories about types of love. My favorite is Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. I made a cool diagram just for you:

Made by me in Excel

The corners of the triangle are different facets of love. Many people consider intimacy to be sexual. Intimacy is actually talking, sharing things about yourself, and being close with another person. Intimacy by itself is friendship. Passion is where sex comes in. Passion involves physical attraction and sex. Passion by itself is infatuation (or a one night stand). Commitment involves a decision to be together, either for the time being (a short term relationship), or for an extended period of time (til death do us part).

The sides of the triangle make up the types of love you get when you combine the corners of the triangle. We can make it into a math-like equation:

  • Intimacy + Passion = Romantic Love (Ohhhh you’re so sexy, ohhh you’re so smart, ohhh I’m so in love with you after a day and a half…)
  • Passion + Commitment = Fatuous Love (A decision to be together, based solely on attraction… this doesn’t end well, in my experience.)
  • Intimacy + Commitment = Companionate Love (I honestly see this type of love as a best-friend love rather than a relationship type of love.)
  • Passion + Commitment + Intimacy = Consummate Love… the whole package. This is the picture perfect relationship; a decision to be together and stay together, attraction/sex, and talking/knowing one another.

In marriage, commitment is a facet of the relationship that can buy time while rough patches with intimacy and passion are worked out.

Obviously making love into a math-like equation isn’t romantic. It’s a way of studying love and relationships. We can see what works and what doesn’t work so well in a long term relationship; we can know what we are looking for. When it comes to who we love and why we love them, I guess it’s up to us.

Avoidance

As humans, we automatically try to avoid pain and maximize pleasure. It isn’t necessarily conscious. We have automatic reflexes to help us avoid physical pain. When we come in contact with anything sharp or hot we automatically jerk away from it. There is no thought involved, it’s evolutionary.

What about emotional pain? We have defense mechanisms to help us avoid this too; some conscious, some unconscious. We use repression, which is unconscious. We literally forget things that cause us distress or emotional pain, and then we forget the act of forgetting. “The essence of repression lies simply in turning something away, and keeping it at a distance, from the conscious.” –Sigmund Freud. We also use suppression, which is a conscious act. We deliberately stop thinking about things that cause us emotional distress or pain.

The entire purpose of defense mechanisms is to protect ourselves. But to what extent do defense mechanisms actually help? For example, when I think about death, I begin to feel anxiety, so I suppress the thoughts and stop thinking about it. Well, how am I ever going to deal with something that will, inevitably, happen to me? Not thinking about feelings and emotions, and not dealing with the anxiety will make the time of death that much scarier.

Defense mechanisms are mostly automatic responses to pain and distress. I think avoiding defense mechanisms and actually being aware of our feelings and what causes us pain is hugely important. Talking with a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor is exactly how to deal with painful and distressing thoughts.

Avoiding feelings is perfectly natural and almost everyone does it. I, for one, am great at it.

(Funny side note: notice how I used “the” time of death, instead of “my” time of death… see how great at avoidance I am?)

Assumptions

I hate grocery shopping. When I lived in Chico for school I tried to save money by going to Winco for groceries. It was cheap but always crowded on weekends, which were the only days I had time to shop. I can’t stand crowds either. One day the parking lot was extremely full. I thought I found a good parking space and was amazed. When I went to pull into the space I saw that there was a shopping cart in it. I was annoyed but tried to fit my car in anyways. As I was pulling forward a man walked in front of my car and I freaked out. I was waving my hands around angrily and cursing and was just pissed off. Then I realized that the man walked in front of my car to move the shopping cart for me… I felt terrible. Once I parked I thanked him.

The rest of the grocery trip I felt so bad. I couldn’t believe I assumed the worst of someone when they were trying to be kind. I realized that this is something people do every day. Assume the worst. Why do we do this? Maybe we assume the worst because we see negative things happening every day all around us. We see terrible things on the news and terrible things happen to us. Why do the terrible things stand out? Maybe is because terrible things evoke stronger emotions than good things.

This story is something I have always remembered vividly and I retell it often. I see this story as one that restores my faith in humanity. People still perform random acts of kindness. It’s just sad that we find it shocking when the random acts of kindness happen to us.