Friendship, reality, psychological health

Psychological health depends on at least one good friendship which is itself based on shared reality.

This shared “reality” is the reality of how the two (or more) good friends actually function. How their speaking, listening, thinking, and feeling actually function and interact in real-time.

They have to know this about each other and even more importantly, they have to want to know this.

If you have or have had that, you will be or become psychologically healthy. If you have never had that, you will not be psychologically healthy.

This “shared reality” is not static and can never be static. It is always changing, adapting. It must be dealt with honestly.

“Aristotle describes three general types of friendship, that of utility, that of pleasure, and that of good or virtue.” (Aristotle on Friendship)

The perfect form of friendship is that between the good, and those who resemble each other in virtue. For these friends wish each alike the other’s good in respect of their goodness, and they are good in themselves; but it is those who wish the good of their friends for their friends’ sake who are friends in the fullest sense, since they love each other for themselves and not accidentally. (same link as above)

If during your formative years, your parents, teachers, and friends did not wish for your goodness for your sake and you have not since formed a good or virtuous friendship, you will not be psychologically healthy. This does not mean you are doomed, it just means you are not psychologically healthy.

To achieve good health, you have to have a “good or virtuous” friend and you have to be that back to them. There is no other way.

If you have an Aristotelian friend of pleasure, you can upgrade this relationship to a good or virtuous one by doing FIML practice. FIML is essential in today’s world because semiotic interactions are so complex, far more complex than in Aristotle’s day.

Good or virtuous friends need FIML to maintain their shared reality.

On rereading, the above sounds harsh to me. But when I consider the world as it is, it also sounds true, realistic. Earth can be a very bad place but it can also be very good.

Why psychometrics and general ideas about personality inhibit psychological optimization

The short answer: psychometrics invariably yield bell curves.

The medium answer: general ideas about personality are derived from psychometrics.

The long answer: probably no one has ever been in the middle of all psychometric bell curves—curves for empathy, perseverance, intelligence, musical talent, athleticism, sexual satisfaction, “extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, or neuroticism.”

If you are on either side of the bell curve for anything that is significant to you, you will be measuring yourself against a standard that is not right for you.

And even if you are in the middle for everything, no one else is.

It’s fine to have a look at what some researchers find on some test, but it would be close-minded, not conscientious. probably neurotic, and highly disagreeable (to you and others) to do more than use those data as a mildly interesting sociological marker that doesn’t tell you all that much.

Without question psychometric data will inhibit your psychological optimization if you take them too seriously.

If you are to the left of any “good” metric, knowing the center of the curve might inspire you to try harder but it might also inspire you to try too hard at something you will never be able to do well. If you are to the right of any “good” metric, the center of the curve may cause you to hold back.

And who gets to say what is a “good” metric? At best some other metric. At worst a soft consensus among experts who have been acculturated into thinking that way.

Psychometrics are helpful for general classifications of individuals who cannot care for themselves or who have no one to turn to or who cannot achieve any happiness on their own.

For individuals who are self-reliant, understanding how your mind actually functions in real-time real-life situations is the only way to optimize your psychology.

Psychology is warped by too much reliance on patterns and types rather than how people actually function

You will never figure yourself out by answering questionnaires or trying to match yourself with a psychological metric or type.

Beyond that, you will absolutely never optimize your psychology and life using those methods.

The right way to grasp and optimize your psychology is to understand how it functions in real-time real-life situations.

To do this you have to take control of your own life and use a technique like FIML that allows you to observe yourself in real-time real-life situations.

I honestly do not think there is any other way.

Anxiety and default brain states

Our brains/minds have default states (plural) that we tend toward for a variety of reasons—pleasure, boredom, habit, even a systems checkup.

Default states are generally based on instincts like hunger, sex, fear, love, anger, disgust, humor, aesthetic joy, etc.

Humans tend to dress default states up. Instead of just eating something when hungry, most of us take time to prepare something good or pay someone to do that for us.

Everybody knows what we do with sex. Love, anger, hate, humor, disgust, fear, curiosity, thoughtfulness and so on are not very different in the many ways we dress them up.

Anxiety can be usefully understood as one of the default states of the brain/mind/body.

Anxiety is based on fear. We need this state in its basic form. If we are attacked by a wild dog, we need to be able to dump adrenaline and cortisol into our system quickly.

In many cases, though, anxiety takes on a life of its own and arises even when we are not in real danger. I think this indicates a default state that we can become habituated to in much the same way that we can become habituated to overeating, drunkenness, hate, anger, or unreasonable trust, love, or desire. Additionally, some bouts of anxiety can be understood as the system simply running a checkup.

People watch horror films because we like feeling afraid. It focuses the mind. We take risks because risks make us feel alive. Like horror films or danger sports, risk-taking focuses the mind.

Anxiety also focuses the mind. I think we like this aspect of it in many cases. It stimulates the brain and body, providing a level of clarity that feels very good, especially if we are hanging from a rock 500 ft above the ground.

Sometimes when we feel anxiety we can go out and do something, go running, ride a motorcycle, go surfing. When we do something that requires high levels of mental focus, we use our anxious state for what nature “intended.”

For myself, I notice that thinking about anxiety helps me put it in its proper place. I also notice that something unexpected—a health scare or good news—can immediately change my mental priorities, greatly demoting anxieties that had seemed so real just moments before.

Poor precision in communication distorts motives

And distorted motives warp human interactions, which in turn degrade individual psychology.

There is no way around it—the ways almost all people communicate are much cruder than their brains are capable of.

And that is the cause of most of what we now call (non-biological) “mental health” problems.

Here is an example: I want to say something very complex to my primary care doctor. I can give her the gist in a minute or two but I do not want to have that go on my medical record.

So I ask her if I can start a discussion that she will promise to keep off my record.

She says, “I’ll think about it.”

A week later I get a letter from her nurse saying she is not willing to do what I asked.

No reason why was given. Do rules prevent her from doing that? I have heard of doctors allowing patients to keep some concerns off the record, but who knows what the reality is? Do you?

If I insist, will that go on my record? Did what I asked in the first place go on my record? My doctor is trapped within or is voluntarily following some guideline that is most decidedly not in my best interests.

This same sort of thing can happen interpersonally. If I raise a topic that is psychologically important to me with even a close friend, I have to wonder will they understand? Will they allow me to expand the subject over a few weeks or months or longer? Will my initial statements change our friendship?

The basic problem is how do you discuss complex psychological subjects with others?

One of my friends works in alternative health care. She knows what I want to bring up with my doctor and admits that even in her professional setting where patients have an hour to open up, there is not enough time.

Back to my primary care doctor. I saw her again a year later and she asked if I remembered her. I said, “Of course I remember you.” She said no more and neither of us raised the off-the-record topic. An intern was with her.

I wonder what she thinks of me. Did she interpret my slightly nervous behavior when I first asked as a “sign” of something? Does she think I am volatile or bipolar or just nuts? (I am not.)

I am 100% sure that she cannot possibly know what I wanted to bring up with her. In this case, I have all of the information and I want to give it to her but she cannot or will not allow that unless my initial fumblings toward a complex subject are made public.

Even a  close friend could find themselves in a similar position. And I wonder if I have done that myself to someone. Most people most of the time are not able to scale those walls that divide us.

On either side of the wall is a complex person capable of complex understanding, but one or both persons cannot scale the wall. My doctor is smart enough to have become an MD and yet I cannot tell her about a complex medical condition that is of great importance to me.

I know that I do not want to open the subject and risk a shallow public label (a common hindrance to many potential communications). I honestly do not know what my doctor is thinking. Maybe I will try again the next time I see her.

Bad communication leads to ulterior motives and pointless suffering

I believe most people in the world are all but forced to resort to ulterior motives when dealing with others or being dealt with by them.

Furthermore, I believe most people are in this position so often they don’t just resort to hidden motivations, they expect them, are habituated to them, rely on them, and even enjoy them even though they cause immense suffering.

This situation arises due to fundamentally bad communication and the mistrust and uncertainty that devolve from it.

If communication is fundamentally bad (ambiguous, misleading, can’t be cleared up), there is no one you can trust but yourself. No one else you can rely on.

You are all but forced to conceal what your really think, feel, or want because you probably won’t be understood if you try to explain yourself honestly. Worse, you  may get played.

Your interlocutor may genuinely misunderstand and cause you harm by that or they may feign interest and honesty when they are just gathering dirt to use against you.

Can anyone deny this happens very often? And that normal people have no recourse but to play that game?

An ulterior motive is one that is concealed. A motive that is different from what is being communicated. We all know what that means and how destructive it can be.

Ulterior motives arise because we do not use our communication systems (mainly speech and listening) at all well. Instead of communicating honestly, we try to “read” the other person while at the same time calculating to what extent or how they are “reading” us.

This is a disgusting situation for people to have put themselves in.

This problem can be fixed with one other person, so you can have at least one friend who does not do this to you and to whom you do not do it either. That makes two people who can escape the deadening, anti-life maze of ulterior motivation madness.

The way to do it is through FIML. I do not believe there is any other way.

If many people do FIML, eventually many of us will see the problems of bad communication clearly. Many of us will realize that virtually all people are trapped in a system that all but forces them to lie to others while suffocating themselves.

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Edit 10/07/17: Here is a pop culture analysis of how to tell if someone is lying: 9 WAYS TO SPOT A LIAR. Scroll down to the list and notice how crude and dubious these tells are, but this is what many people work with. It’s all we have. With a good partner, FIML can lead you to levels of truth far higher and deeper than this. In this world, we really have to develop FIML relationships to fully explore our own psychology and human psychology in general. Without FIML, you are permanently locked out of your own depths by being trapped in ordinary communication which is accurately characterized by the shallowness of the linked article.

No language in the world allows it

I am reasonably sure that no language in the world allows the kind of query that FIML practice is based on.

The reason for this probably lies in the origins of human language and culture, a developmental period during which languages were much simpler and were used mainly to indicate real things in the world or give commands.

At later stages of development, language became a tool of whatever hierarchy prevailed in the moment. To this day, Confucianism is still a rule book for hierarchies.

That said, languages are always potentially very supple, so there is no need for humans today to be restricted by archaic forms of speech and thought.

And that said, it is important to understand that your psychology has been deeply conditioned by the archaic and hierarchical cores of your language.

I bring this up because this side of human psychology makes it difficult for people to do FIML practice correctly.

To the speaker, the basic FIML query will instinctively feel like nagging, being petty, being whiny. To the hearer, this basic query will instinctively feel like a challenge, an insult, an affront.

These basic instincts must not be allowed to block FIML inquiries. Personally, I believe FIML has not been discovered before because no one ever went beyond these basic instinctive reactions.

So, expect to feel affronted and expect to feel like a petty nag, at least for a while. With practice, these feelings will go away. At the same time, the importance of the information gained through FIML queries will become increasingly obvious.

Once the hierarchical cultural and linguistic instincts that have developed in us, and upon which our psychologies depend, have been overcome, a new use of language will become possible.

This new language is capable of sufficient micro subtlety to allow us to objectively observe how our minds and psychologies actually function in real-time real-life situations.

No theory of psychology and no amount of introspection will take you to the actual data of how you function. Only a practice like FIML can do that.