You aren’t at the mercy of your emotions — your brain creates them

Can you look at someone’s face and know what they’re feeling? Does everyone experience happiness, sadness and anxiety the same way? What are emotions anyway? For the past 25 years, psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies to understand what emotions really are. She shares the results of her exhaustive research — and explains how we may have more control over our emotions than we think.

This talk is a very good background for FIML practice, which is based on acknowledging that interpersonal emotions and interpretations are fundamentally ambiguous and must be investigated often to achieve good communication. ABN

Jordan Peterson analyzes a lot of stuff, not just Cathy Newman, and also inadvertently provides an excellent introduction to FIML practice

In this talk, FIML is logos. It uses word to bring order out of chaos. FIML brings  meaning and clarity to primary interpersonal relations and thus also to individual psychology. You need to want to do this, to be a hero for yourself and others. You have to want to bring meaning and order out of chaos. It’s not easy to do FIML but there is nothing else as interesting or worthwhile on the interpersonal level. I hope JP will take up FIML and introduce it to a wider audience. I do not agree with his statements about bringing out the Jungian shadow. I do agree we must discover our essence or authentic being, but this can be done without myths or shadows through FIML practice. As mentioned in other posts, FIML does not tell you how to be or what will happen to you when you practice it but it will show you, eventually, your authentic being, the essence that underlies your social persona. ABN

Arm’s length communication can be dangerous

By arm’s length communication I mean “our deepest levels of meaning, emotion, and intention are either implied or more often concealed from the person(s) we are speaking with.” (see: Communication at arm’s length)

When we do arm’s length communication too much, we retard both psychological and sociological growth. We harm both ourselves and others.

Arm’s length communication is often a type of “sociological communication.” That is, communication that holds cultural, sociological or historical assertions above individual psychological experience. This can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing.

It’s good when it helps us see and bad when it blinds us. Bolsheviks were blinded by sociological fantasies that led them to murder tens of millions. It is good for us to understand that today, especially as our society is being torn apart by arm’s length fallacies.

I will now present an example of this tragedy as it is playing out this morning. What happened is Trump allegedly asked an intelligence analyst of Korean extraction, “Where are you from?”

As someone who has extensive experience with East Asia and Asian-Americans, I am aware that this question drives many of them up the wall. One example:

This makes my blood boil. It must have been so awful to be standing there having her expertise invalidated and trivialized. (Source: asianamerican)

As an ordinary American, I am also aware that this question with precisely that wording was extremely normal well into the 1980s and beyond. A younger friend I discussed this with this morning said she still considers it to be a normal question.

“Where are you from?” means what is your ancestry. When most Americans ask this of each other it means what is your ethnic background, what ethnicity or mix of ethnicities do you identify with or feel close to. It does not mean I think you are a bad person or are not an American. In a nation of many immigrant groups, it is a normal thing to ask. Indeed, it is the quintessential American question. Or used to be before SJWs came along.

Information about your ancestry or ethnicity says something (arm’s length) about your psychology and some levels of your “identity.” Isn’t it ironic that a commenter on an Asian-American site would be incensed that the president asked someone about their identity and then proposed that that identity might well-serve US national interests?

Here is another comment from a South Asian that says the opposite:

Being a Chinese speaking South Asian that type of response isn’t surprising. (Source: AZNIDENTITY)

Having lived in East Asia for a long time, I am well-aware that “Where are you from?” is almost always the first question anyone asks me in that part of the world. Chinese, Japanese, Australians, Europeans, other Americans all ask it. It can become boring to answer when the query is rote arm’s length stuff coming from someone who obviously does not care, but that is nothing to be offended by.

We are in a semiotic pickle and I don’t know what to do about it either. There are many other examples of the above, most of them stemming from identity politics in one way or another.

What is happening is that arm’s length identity concepts are being idiosyncratically defined by identity groups and then the demand is made that those definitions be known and accepted by everyone else or “blood will boil.”

Can’t see the trees for the forest

Examples of not seeing the trees for the forest are flyover assessments of sociological  regions or general assessments of human psychology.

A more detailed example of this pertaining to psychology might be the following description of Borderline Personality Disorder:

People with borderline personality disorder are unstable in several areas, including interpersonal relationships, behavior, mood, and self-image. Abrupt and extreme mood changes, stormy interpersonal relationships, an unstable and fluctuating self-image, unpredictable and self-destructive actions characterize the person with borderline personality disorder. These individuals generally have great difficulty with their own sense of identity. They often experience the world in extremes, viewing others as either “all good” or “all bad.” A person with borderline personality may form an intense personal attachment with someone only to quickly dissolve it over a perceived slight. Fears of abandonment may lead to an excessive dependency on others. Self-multilation or recurrent suicidal gestures may be used to get attention or manipulate others. Impulsive actions, chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness, and bouts of intense inappropriate anger are other traits of this disorder, which is more common among females. (Source)

I have no doubt that this general description of the “forest” of BPD is somewhat useful as a flyover take on a psychic region that seems to have its own reality within American culture. The same link concludes that “there is hope” for personality disorders if we come to “understand that they are illnesses.”

Thus, a general remedy is assigned to a general “illness”; a semiotic contortion is assigned to the category “hope.”

TBH, as a Buddhist  I must say you really should “have difficulty with your own sense of identity” because there is no such thing. Sentience in all its guises is dynamic and ever-changing.

You actually do not need a “self-image” at all. So if the one(s) you keep trying for are “unstable and fluctuating,” you are probably seeing reality more clearly than people whose “self-images” are stable and not fluctuating!

The fundamental problem with BPD and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, two of the most difficult disorders to cure, is in the trees. It is good to see the forest and know where it lies within the terrain of the sufferer’s culture, but the problem of any individual suffering from either of these disorders is always going to be in their trees.

So what are the trees? They are the actual signals received by the person, sent out by the person, and used internally by the person.

Those are the units that best describe what a sentient being is and does. If you can’t fix the trees or treat the trees, the forest will never be healthy.

Psychological optimization

Biologically, human psychology in a vast network of interconnected cells  bathed in blood and chemistry.

Intellectually, we typically reduce this enormously complex system into terms that reflect types of behavior, such as narcissism, anxiety, dark triad, bipolar, OCD, self-esteem, etc.

While these reductions are helpful for understanding human psychology and showing us where to focus our attention, they cannot be expected to optimize our psychology.

To date, the human brain is the most complex thing we know of in the universe.

Once you have seen through your mom’s narcissism and its effects on you and have consequently been able to overcome much of your anxiety, are you then psychologically optimized?

Of course not. At best, you are then able to function better and feel better and, with luck, forgive your mom whose persistence in her narcissism was due to her enormously complex brain, same as yours.

So how do you optimize? Or how could your mom have optimized before you were born?

Clearly, it would have taken her years to correct her narcissism, let alone optimize her psychology. Same goes for you.

This is why all people need a system that works every day for many years. There is no other way to do it because optimizing a complex system requires tinkering at all levels over a long period of time and cannot be done quickly or be based simply on top-down category assessments.

The FIML systems works every day for many years gradually optimizing one part after another of our complex psychological systems. With current technology and understanding, I do not believe there is a quicker or more thorough way to do that.

An impediment to doing FIML is few people realize that their psychology is far from optimized. A sad aspect of doing FIML is realizing that you live in a world like that.

Fourth wave cognitive behavior therapy

The third wave of cognitive behavior therapy is a general term for a group of psychotherapies that arose in the 1980s, inspired by acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

To me, third wave therapies seem more realistic than older therapies because they accept emotions as they are and pay close attention to how they function in the moment.

The link above is well-worth reading. The frames of these therapies are also well-worth considering.

FIML, which I am calling a “fourth wave cognitive behavior therapy,” differs from third wave therapies in that FIML does not use a professional therapist. Instead, partners become their own therapists.

Moreover, how FIML partners frame their psychologies or generalize their behaviors is entirely up to them. Similarly, their psychological goals and definitions are entirely in their own hands.

At its most basic, FIML “removes wrong interpretations of interpersonal signs and symbols from the brain’s semiotic networks.”

This process of removal, in turn, shows partners how their minds function in real-time real-world situations. And this in turn provides the tools and perspectives to reorganize their psychologies in whichever ways they like.

FIML is based on semiotics because semiotics are specific and with practice can be clearly identified and understood. They give partners “solid ground” to stand on. Words, tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions are some of the major semiotics partners analyze.

Using real-world semiotics as an analytical basis frees FIML from predetermined frameworks about personality or what human psychology even is. With the FIML tool, partners are free to discover whatever they can about how their minds communicate interpersonally (and internally) and do whatever they like with that.

Next-level metacognitive control

Experienced FIML practitioners enjoy levels of metacognitive control ordinary humans cannot even dream of.

This control comes after years of diligent FIML practice. It happens because the skills acquired through FIML combined with its metacognitive results allow practitioners to practice FIML on themselves.

FIML practice gradually removes virtually all communication error between partners. This error-removal process is ongoing because all living systems must continually remove waste and error to function optimally.

Successful FIML results in two major achievements:

  • very clear, optimally functioning cognition and metacognition
  • the skill-set needed to attain the above

When these achievements have been realized, FIML practitioners will find they are able to rather easily apply them to their own introspection, their own subjective states while alone.

Ordinary people cannot do this because they have not experienced the metacognitive states brought about by FIML nor have they acquired the skills to quickly remove error from their thoughts.

The FIML skills of quickly removing error from our thoughts cannot be acquired overnight. It must be built upon diligent practice and experience. You cannot imagine it into being.

Once these skills and experiences have become established in the mind as reliable functions, they can be applied to mental states while alone.