Emotional Work

Day 1105 and Other Writing

For as much fluidity as my daily writing habit has achieved, I can still get caught up in a synopsis. I have relieved any pressure to make a daily dispatch (which took some effort) but a quarterly or yearly one can get me to glitch. I like to add more information to my modeling like any self respecting nerd. As much as information integration looks effortless it is actually a laborious process. I read tens of thousands of words every single day.

Now I do work from a strategy. Which means I only adjust my tactics on a weekly or quarterly basis. And I will not be sped up on assessing the character of individuals or the caliber of their ideas if I can help it. When I need to move fast I have to do it within the guardrails of what I believe to be right.

And it’s important to remember that heuristics some heuristics don’t need regular updating. Moral codes shouldn’t need much updating. Maybe you believed the wrong layer of abstraction and have to change your priors to align with your moral code. That’s totally fine.

But you shouldn’t be changing around your code of ethics. That’s how you get criminals. Arbitrage is never permanent. Criminals can have a stronger moral compass than business people or religious institutions. This fucks with everyone. I cannot account for all sinners nor most demands for purity. I can however hold myself to my own standards and so should you.

I do what I can to telegraph my own belief systems and where I derived them. There are lots of signifiers I leave in my wake. I am a Christian. I am a capitalist. I am a Protestant. I believe in markets and judicial review. I believe some things are beyond market but all things are subject to forces beyond our control. That’s how I ended up picking Calvinism as a sect but it’s pretty niche.

I’ve believe luck is just opportunity meeting preparation and you can do a lot to increase opportunities and even more to increase preparation. I don’t like rentiers but I do like the bourgeoisie. Property rights are good and regulations are only as good as the people that make them. That’s why we I’d prefer we have fewer laws. We must act deference to our own failings as human but never so much that it harms our capacity to organize.

Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 1097 and Wait Not Yet

I don’t think folks were ready to go back to work today. I know I wasn’t. Everything felt a little bit “and they are off” starter gun pandemonium. Too many issues and too many people were smacking into each other on all forms of social media. It felt a bit Welcome to Thunderdome on every distinct algorithm I watch.

The first workday of the year seemed to catch me off guard personally because I don’t really recall how the last two weeks disappeared so quickly. I blame it on general exhaustion and poor health but also that I didn’t intend to take any time off. That was probably a mistake and I should have done a feel decouple from the world for at least a few days.

I am quite sure I am worse for wear and need to find a way to get offline and recover a bit more before I’ve got to earnestly launch into the year. I have too much to accomplish.

Emotional Work

Day 1096 and Year Four

The persistence of my daily writing habit has helped anchor a sense of self that I have enjoyed cultivating. I am the sort of person who sticks with things.

I’ve been in the process of excavating and rebuilding my sense of self over the last few years. Many others have gone through similar journeys during the pandemic years. I feel lucky to have captured some of mine in writing. I like who I have become as a result of it.

I like seeing that I have reinforced positive and optimistic aspirations for myself year over year. I hope it shows who I am to other people through my revealed preferences. My actions speak louder than my words even if some of my actions are shown through words.

I do not have any New Year’s resolutions for 2024 that I didn’t already have for myself in 2023. I’d like to keep the good things in my life, pray for willingness to improve upon the bad things, and remain steadfast in the commitments I have.

Emotional Work

Day 1083 and Uncertainty

I feel as if I spend a lot of time reassuring people that nobody has a clue about what happens next and that’s fine.

Even the brightest humans are still basically dim witted simians barely managing our fragile wetware as our environment provides constant destabilization. That we even survive that set of circumstances seems a pleasant surprise. Humans are adaptable.

I have typical fears about muddling through life but my existential angst remains in check. If I’m in a simulated environment running a set of programs given to me by God or a random super intelligence what does it matter to me?

I’m here and I like it enough to continue being alive. Sure I’d love to find out the mystery of consciousness and the nature of reality but if don’t I am happy with my lot in life. Whoever programmed me did a fine job. Thanks Mom and the wider memetic cultural movements that made me.

Emotional Work

Day 1081 and Sleep It Off

Trying to balance everything coming at you at the end of the year isn’t easy. Joy at accomplishments and time together are the goal for family time.

But the experience is overlaid with wrapping the year and planning for what is sure to be an intense year to come. It can feel somewhat paralyzing when I consider it.

I felt like I had to sleep off a lot this weekend . I crashed most of Saturday. I seriously slept 11 and a half hours. And I did feel better.

I’m looking at an intense year and I am afraid. We can’t lose some of the battles. They are winnable ones but it’s going to take a coordinated effort from many of us. In the spirit of the Christmas season, I pray for miracles.

Emotional Work

Day 1080 and Hard Feedback

Ego protection is innate. Humans have quite the capacity for engaging in defense mechanisms. As I do my end of year reviews to see what I have accomplished and where I have failed I see my ego everywhere.

The types of ego protection that plague me tend to be with those all too human relationships that are closest to me.

I had to admit to myself that I’d been engaging in entirely unproductive approaches in a close partnership. I wanted more from my partner and I’d express it again and again, but I didn’t seem capable of demanding the outcomes I needed. This was unproductive obviously.

Hard feedback was given to my partner. I had to look into my own motivations for enabling a cycle of letting outcomes that didn’t match our goals occur. My own part in it mattered. We had enforced errors, self doubt, fear and all the other typical buggaboos you might expect in a hard situation.

It can be hard to simply address the hard things head on.

Emotional reactivity is part of our autonomic nervous system. It’s not always right. It’s only sometimes right. And learning to tune it is part of the fun. You want to improve your heuristics over time. You will get more clarity on the world and your place in it. If you wish to persist in feeling anxious and uncertain being passive will have that effect. It literally hurts you. You have agency in deciding to address how you feel head on.

Day 1072 Head-on

Emotional Work

Day 1079 and Flowing

I try to direct my attention to where I have natural advantages. I’m sure you’ve seen variations on the theory that if you are gifted with a talent then honing those talents with hard work is the rational path.

If you are a 5/10 perhaps you can’t reach beyond 7 of 10 with effort, but if you are a 7 you can probably put in the effort to be an 8 or 9 and achieve great things.

I don’t mean this as an argument for not putting in the hard work to improve where you lack talent, but rather that hard work can compound for even greater rewards when applied to your talents.

No one ever enjoys being bad at anything, but it’s worth remembering that aptitude can and ought to be honed. I don’t always love seeing the areas of my life where I suck. I was in the past very inclined to beat myself up over it. That is the path to not improving anywhere in your life.

Emotional Work

Day 1074 and Go Go Go

I feel as if I had a lot more trepidation about the future before the pandemic. I wasn’t so sure if I had a clear view of how my own personal philosophies were meant to engage with the scramble of building, and then surviving, my own life. That seemed like a luxury for people higher up the hierarchy of needs than I was.

I feel like I got a lot wrong even as I see how I was equipped with so many tools that I used clumsily. I wish, in some ways, that I’d been surer of my own knowledge earlier. I didn’t trust myself. I felt like a Cassandra doomed to see dire outcomes.

And yet I retained some sense of optimism. You can see my doomer arcs clearly across the written records as systems failed me and then failed others. Natural disasters and chronic illness in very real ways forced me to overcome any inclination towards a culture of nihilism. I found that I couldn’t give up.

There was no comfort to be found in saving myself but I did. And now I find myself simply done with trying to muddle along. I am getting much louder about my own alliances and beliefs. I am updating my priors and throwing myself into fights. I am choosing sides even when I don’t care for all my compatriots. Neutrality is easier to maintain at the edge of an empire surely but I hard limits on what I find to be acceptable compromises in a free society.

Emotional Work

Day 1072 and Say How You Feel

A twitter mutual (update: who I have now blocked for the time being) asked what I think is a reasonable question about social graces and your own instincts.

What is the socially appropriate way to deal with having a strong irrational distrust of someone in your community with mutual friends?

It is my belief that it is best to tell the person how you feel. Feelings are not facts. Everyone has emotional reactivity based on their family system dynamics, expressing how you feel is not a hostile act. Strong people appreciate, knowing how they their perceived. If they don’t, you now, have a valuable data point on how to interact with them in the future and how they may be reacting to you.

Many have the instinct to be concerned about how someone will react and let that color their intuition. You win either way by addressing something head on.

That’s the beauty of the approach. You will find out. They will respond and you can assess by their response and your own reaction to it if you want to continue with your instinct or update your priors.

Emotional reactivity is part of our autonomic nervous system. It’s not always right. It’s only sometimes right. And learning to tune it is part of the fun. You want to improve your heuristics over time. You will get more clarity on the world and your place in it. If you wish to persist in feeling anxious and uncertain being passive will have that effect. It literally hurts you. You have agency in deciding to address how you feel head on.

Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 1068 and Routine Versus Speed

I always find myself disappointed by how much time I put into health. Perhaps it’s a sign of how high expectations are for performance in the tools we use daily that it seems preposterous that it should require a third of your time in maintenance.

Perhaps this is an unfair intuition on my part. For every hour of flight the F-16 needs around 17 man-hours of maintenance. I’d prefer to not be quite so resource intensive as a fight jet but maybe fighting entropy does require 8-10 of my day.

As I try to do more with my days and push myself to do more in less time I still have to put in the effort to stay at my old baseline. I put my faith in the miracles of compounding. What was once a huge effort is now a habit.

I try to fight my tendency to optimize even as tracking my own data has its benefits. Most of my inputs are just a refinement on existing heuristics. Occasionally I’ll find someone who has a fix so might better than what I’ve been doing it fundamentally resets my understanding of my works model. It happens more than you’d think.

In accelerating I must apply more energy to my existing systems. Or course the old systems seem to call out depending more. As I push for performance my body demands its sleep, its fuel and any other number of needs. Sometimes it’s a want. It’s not always clear so I test.