"It's four in the morning. I'm lying in bed,
A tape of my failures playing inside my head.
It's heartaches and hard-knocks and things I don't know.
I listen, and I wonder: Where will it go?"
Or: How To Screw with Your Own Head for Fun and Profit.
Hey guys. I'm back. My goodness, it's been a while. Terribly sorry for the delay - first there was finals, and then some family issues going on, and then Blogger decides to go kaput... not to mention it took quite a while to figure out how to explain today's "lesson"... But anyway.
Mother's Day was nice. The last day of finals was even nicer. We always go to a park of some sort on Mother's Day, and this year we went to Slim's Ranch again. Yes, I'm aware of the irony of the name, but seriously, it's impossible to feel paranoid there. Very relaxing day, which was just what I needed.
I'll still be in Camden regularly, btw, even though school's officially out. My job is still there, and the Rutgers campus is still the designated meeting place for anybody looking for me.
As for last Saturday... well, I came to a few realizations. The fact of the matter is, I should have done the "just one night" thing a hell of a lot sooner, it would have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble. I've been letting guilt fester for two weeks now... Actually, scratch that - I've been letting guilt fester for two years, but I'm not going into that. But I can't function when I'm like that, and damned if I'm going to let that thing stop me from doing what I set out to do.
So... I screwed with my mind a little. And I'm going to tell you how I did it, for a couple of reasons: 1) It's a useful skill to have in any situation, particularly if your emotions are getting a little crippling and there's no one there to talk you through them. 2) If you know how it's done and what a screwed-with head looks like, you can identify if external forces have been doing it to you or someone else.
Though difficult to do if you're unpracticed at maintaining your own thoughts, it's actually built on a very simple principle: any emotional status that doens't wear itself out after a few days is built on a circle - one thought leads to another, which leads to another, and however many it takes to get back to the first, and continues in a downward spiral. The trick is to break the cycle. Since thoughts/emotions/et cetera are connected the way that they are, the way to do that is to break the current connection and create a new one.
I assume you've all heard of Pavlov's dog, yes? The idea is the same - to train your mind to associate two completely unrelated ideas. Through repetition, Pavlov taught his dog to associate the sound of a bell with the arrival of food. Only in my case, it was teaching my brain to associate feelings of guilt with the thought of, "so get your ass in gear and make it better already!"
Even at a glance, you ought to know that it's not nearly as simple as it sounds... and you'd be absolutely right. In fact, it's actually damn-near impossible to perform on yourself and make it stick, for a number of reasons (some of which are mentioned below). But with enough skill, you can make it last long enough to you to maintain all your faculties long enough to get to a real therapist.
That said, when trying this on yourself, remember: there is an incredibly fine line between inception and denial. Keep that in mind at all times.
The first thing to do is to know your way around your own mind. Depending on how complex a person you are, this could be easy or hard. But you need to know exactly how you'd react to any given stimulus. Take, for example, my little tirade against Morningstar the other day. I know exactly why I reacted the way that I did - believe it or not, his blithe comment was actually a throwback to a large amount of teasing and bullying I got in middle school. Simply knowing this was not enough to stop me from blowing up at him. It was, however, enough to keep me stewing about it all night, like I would have back then.
There's a reason they say the first step to recovery is admitting it, and there's a reason why that actually works. It's the same as the difference between acting and reacting, or the difference between dreaming and lucid dreaming.
When you don't know what's going to happen, you are forced to react. This places you out of control of both the situation and your actions, which is not the place you want to be.
When you already know what's going to happen... When you've decided what's going to happen, you are acting, and in control of the situation and yourself.
Of course, there's always the possibility of something unexpected coming up, but as long as you were in control to begin with, you can usually regain control pretty quickly. Case in point: my tirade against Morningstar. It was unexpected that he would send me there, but I already knew what my reaction would be, and regained control of myself.
But back to the point. When you have this level of understanding, it's much easier to gain the level of control necessary to alter portions of your thought process. When you're being deliberate and obvious about it, repetition is the key, almost like a form of self-hypnosis: repeat it to yourself often enough, and you'll start to believe it.
Thought --> Belief --> Action
That's how it goes.
It sounds simple, but it really takes dedication, and a real belief that you are capable of taking control of your own reality. You're not convincing yourself that the problem doesn't exist, you're convincing yourself that you are capable of fixing the problem yourself.
Now, though... Enter part 2, when malevolent forces are trying to be sneaky about this.
On those surprisingly numerous occassions where it isn't out-and-out mindrape, it will always start out as something small, something that will change your perception of otherwise innocent events. Everyone here is at least partially familiar with this, I'm sure, because nearly every trick of the trade in Slender's repetoir falls under this category.
The type of paranoia that Slenderman delivers is... somehow different from your garden variety. It's not just thinking that something is after you, because you know something is after you. It's always mingled with a growing sense of despair - the thought that nothing you do can make a difference, either in your own escape or in aiding others.
This is what It does. To what end, I'm not sure, but the intent is definitely mindscrew.
Things happen. People change. As we grow and learn, emotional and spiritual evolution is perfectly normal, but the warning signs for something more insidious are clear. Keep an eye on your temperaments, dear readers, particularly where negative emotions such as anger or sadness are involved. The slippery slope is a mindscrewer's best friend. If you surprise even yourself with your behavior, don't panic. But do step back and take a look at how you got there. Oftentimes the steps from A to Z aren't quite as logical as you remember them being.
Once you realize that something is wrong, you are automatically back in control, and you can do something about it.
It's all about maintaining control of yourself.
And that concludes today's lesson. I am psychologist; hear me roar. It's good to be back, so let's get back to work. ~_^
Oh, before I forget, I want to congratulate Zach and Tron on all the progress they're making with the Reintegration Tablet. Scott, it might be a good idea to keep the PTC updated on all of this, if they're not watching it themselves. Unless Mr. Crowley is telling them? Well, either way, I'm very impressed, guys. Keep it up!
By the way... it took multiple double-takes on my part, but is Sage's Maiden-of-invisible-text-who-evidently-speaks-in-haiku claiming credit for Blogger being down on Wednesday? Dayum... O_o
Now, since something terrible always happens mere hours after I write something vaguely cheerful, let's see what the universe has for me today...