No longer self-helped

How strange that the moment I got 'back in business' with a work contract at the university that allowed me to properly continue research activities, I seemed to lose the need for life-coaching/self-help materials. Having tangible goals and responsibilities works wonders. 

I'm currently feeling soooo good doing research and meeting peers regularly, this is exactly what I want to be doing even if it's such a challenging road... 

I have trouble dealing with some normal life things like cooking (I never seem to have the energy or inspiration to do it, it's like I've forgotten how to .. live), but my work and my gaming hobbies are doing great. I guess you gain some, you lose some...

I'll probably be unemployed again come January, but I think this short employment period has lit a new fire in me and I'm motivated to get as much done during the fall as possible. I'm thinking of writing two research articles and submitting an abstract for a book chapter. I'm also teaching a course and probably helping to organize some small seminars. I'm so grateful and excited about new experiences. And my friend situation IRL is doing well, too :3 (of course it's easy to say this a day after having a great meeting with great people ♥ ) 


Just a brief update

Basically every time I write a self-coaching related post in here, what I write becomes outdated really fast because I'm a constant work in progress...

I'm no longer into Heal Your Living on YouTube because I lost the feeling of authenticity while watching the videos and reading the comments. Not going to go into detail because it's not really that important.

I found another minimalist I quite like on YouTube: A Small Wardrobe. I especially liked her video on "fantasy self": in minimalism, fantasy self is usually seen as a negative concept that makes people buy stuff they don't really need. But she also pointed out that a fantasy self can give you goals, so that you can become more aligned with your 'dream self'. I always like approaches that leave you room to decide what makes sense for you. And also, love her pointing out how some of us have closets with clothes for 3-4 different people instead of just.. ourselves. You know, the me who "goes to bars", the me who "is an intellectual", the me who "is a cute Japanese pop idol" .... ... OK the last one may not apply to everyone, BUT the point is, our clothes aren't necessarily reflecting who we are but who we think we might be some day or should be... This helped it clarify even further what clothes were really the person who I am and the person I may have thought I was at some point, but aren't really.

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Self-help activities have become so much a part of my daily life (for the time being) that I find it redundant to title my posts after that anymore.

This is the kind of lifestyle/self-help material that I've been consuming recently:

  • Heal Your Living, an extreme minimalist on YouTube whose videos mostly have a very soothing effect on me and I always seem to feel like the world is a beautiful place after watching her videos even if I don't aspire to live like she does
  • The Minimalists podcast, but I think I'm done with that for now because I don't actually strive to be a minimalist, at least by their methods
  • The Life Coach School podcast, which is the one I've been listening to the longest and have been trying to do the work; just in the last episode that I listened to she called out people taking passive action (listening and learning) instead of massive action (actually doing something to change the status quo) and I may have been guilty of some passive action so... oop
  • Speaking of "the work", Byron Katie has this method that can be pretty mindblowing as it turns your thinking upside down, inside-out, opposite land. I'll share below an example of an exercise that I did
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Self-work update #3

I think the worst part about self-help materials is that whenever I find a new source I'm eager to just dive straight into it and go through everything, but the thing is, if you want to make lasting changes you need to be patient. You need to think about your own situation closely and observe your own feelings and thoughts, try to understand why you're doing what you're doing, and then eventually slowly try to change those things. I'm so impatient that I want to hear the next lesson before I've properly processed through the first step.

But at least I'm writing down some of the "homework". I actually came up with a long list of things that I want to do but am struggling with (learning C#, applying for jobs at my 'dream companies/institutions', finishing my konmari process, doing Let's Plays or other videos I've been thinking of on and off, and even spending time outdoors). For now, I've traced a lot of my struggles back to my experiences of long-term unemployment prior to my PhD studies, which is linked to a lot of painful feelings; inadequacy, feelings of not belonging, loneliness, worthlessness... It's no wonder I can be unmotivated about things or feel like there's no point in doing them if my past experience is that no matter if I try to do this or that, I'll be rejected, "I won't get a job" and that I definitely "won't get a job that I really really want". And the difficulty of spending time outdoors is that because of my past I associate it so closely with going to school/work or playing with or going to meet friends, and because I don't have a job or friends I could just walk over to visit now (well, there is one) it feels more comforting to stay at home in front of the PC because then I can reach out to my friends at any time on IRC or social media and I don't have to feel aimless and lonely. I can seek validation any time from anyone who happens to be online.

Yes, these sound like self-pitying excuses but that's kind of the point. Even if some reasonings seem absurd, it's important to try to feel compassionate towards yourself and really understand why you've started thinking the way you're thinking. Because you can't force yourself to change and think differently without doing all that work first. Or well, if you try, the change won't last because it'll be an endless battle with yourself. You gotta love yourself and trust that even your seemingly ridiculous beliefs came to be to protect you - so at some point they may have even made sense - but now, it's probably time to move on and try to replace negative thoughts with more constructive ones. Well, that's what I'm picking up, I'm basically rephrasing things I hear here and there.

Anyway, one 'homework' was to think about the top 3 feelings that I have on a regular basis, ask myself what thoughts were creating those feelings, and then choosing the 3 feelings I want to feel daily. So, skipping the negativity here, but the feelings I want to feel are excitement, gratitude, and a kind of peaceful happiness (contentment? The feeling I have when sitting in the sun with my cats, for example, and everything is just fine. That kind of feeling is sublime).

The Life Coach School podcast says we can control what we feel because our feelings are created by our thoughts, which kind of makes us badasses when you think about it, so what I really want to do now is have my different feelings and try to recognize what thoughts are producing those feelings and maybe that will give me the information that I need to move forward and become even more of a badass that I already am HAHAHAHAHA. blerp

Self-work update #2

So from reading the 4-hour Work Week I came across some advice for how to limit your tasks/activities to few important ones so that you can have time for the things that actually are important, instead of seemingly keeping yourself busy for the sake of being busy. I'm just going to make some notes of that here.

Some key suggestions in relation to work:
"Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines."

Many of the tasks that we may end up doing aren't really productive at all, but we kind of do for the sake of doing them. This is something like spending time organizing your email folders instead of sending that one really important email that is the core task of the day, after which you could relax. Which leads to it being key to ask yourself:

"Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?"

I am a habitual postponer for sure, so I could benefit from checking myself more often. I also can vouch for the 'short and clear deadlines' suggestion because it's been really useful to my non-career related activities this spring: studying Japanese and exercising. I have an exercise plan that clearly states what I do every day: there's a link to a YouTube video for every day (except rest days, of course). So I know what I do every day and it's really easy to stick to it because there's a clear plan, all I need to do is open the right video in the morning and follow the exercise instructions haha. As for Japanese, I also made a really clear plan in which I've listed for every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday what and how I study. That plan has dates and everything, so I know what I'm doing or should be doing March 30th, for example. If I fall behind, I must use time during the 'off days' to catch up so I can get back on track. I admit this has got more challenging now because the further I get in my study book, the more it has words and grammar etc. that I haven't bumped into before, which means it takes longer to go through the exercises. I've scheduled two weeks per each chapter, and at the beginning that felt luxurious, and now it feels maybe a bit tight.

But in any case, watching Ainori season 2 on Netflix, I find myself picking up words that I've learned this spring and it makes me so proud and I realize I really AM progressing - it can be really hard to tell especially when you're not talking in Japanese to others but just kind of working on your own and trying to burn new vocabulary into your brain. And studying is so much work, it's such a relief to notice that all that work isn't going to waste.

ANYWAY, another interesting thing I read in the book was "You are the average of the five people you associate with most". This was supposed to make you think about friendships and relationships obvs, because some people have really toxic people in their lives. I think I don't really have toxic influences around? But I do see cool people that I'd love to be friends with, or better friends with, and I do have a hard time thinking about who would be the five I associate with most or whom I would like those people to be, so. I'll leave it in the background because it's not as urgent a thing for me as it would be to someone who's really being dragged down by doubters in their lives, but at least I'll make sure to value the people who are lifting me up and whom I enjoy lifting up and happy rainbows, puppies everywhere etc.

Self-work update #1

It's sort of wonderful that I find myself correcting my way of thinking sometimes now, although it's admittedly harder to do when hormones are working against it. But you know, I may start to think "nobody will want to come with me to X" or "nobody will want me there" and I'll correct myself: "I am welcomed everywhere with open arms" (which is true, nobody's ever told me to fuck off and people appear generally happy to see me) and IT SOUNDS SO CORNY, the positive thinking version, but it shouldn't. It only sounds corny because I've been kicking myself mentally for so long, to the point where it's hard to even accept that people might actually like me and like to hear what I have to say. I've sorta been a person who *thinks* they love and accept themselves, but in reality, I'm constantly doubting myself and putting myself down even as I'm achieving some pretty cool things. For example, I publicly and successfully defended my dissertation last November. After that I hosted a dinner party, which I've never done before. And that's just a big thing. My life's been full of small successes, overcoming fears, especially concerning social situations. Recently I realized I'm a lot more spontaneous than I think, too (or have become that way). If someone were to suggest we should go enter a rowing contest tomorrow, I'd probably say yes, why not, it'll be funny if nothing else. I've been thinking I've become braver during my PhD studies, but I think I need to realize that I've always had it in me. I've always done things "my way", worn what I want, been friends with who I want, spent my time how I want. I think what has just happened more recently is that the world of possibilities for what I can do and achieve has become wider. For example, I can actually make new friends (whereas in the past I was stuck thinking I can't have a conversation with a stranger). I can do interesting work, if the opportunity comes around, or even better, if I create that opportunity for myself.

I am SO free-flowing right now, this is not what I came here to write haha.

What I came here to write was that I got more literature to work with by accident, I believe they call the genre life-design. But I saw a book in my brother's bookshelf and he let me borrow it: Timothy Ferriss's The 4-Hour Work Week. Like with the Badass book I have to adjust it a bit to my own situation, but there's been some quite interesting stuff already.

One interesting note is in contrast with what I said in the earlier post, from Nate Green, about starting a habit by starting from something so easy that "anyone could do it". Ferriss instead points out that dreaming big, well, the bigger dream may be more likely to become true because you are more motivated and driven to achieve it. Basically, holding yourself back and giving yourself 'mediocre/realistic' dreams may work against you being able to achieve, well, anything. Say, as a Finnish person you could dream of a weekend holiday in a local spa (zzz) or of a two-week adventure holiday in Australia. You start kinda saving for the spa and then lose all motivation because honestly it's not very exciting and zzzzzzzz. But AUSTRALIA. Exciting. How awesome would that be. Time to put some money aside, time to plan, can't wait for it to happen... and boom, one day it's actually achievable and you've done it. Just because you dared to have the dream to begin with. So, I guess it's really situational what works. To some, starting a habit (like exercise), maybe the "go once a week to gym" thing works. But to someone else it might be more efficient to think "fuck this, if I'm going to get fit, I'm going to be working towards a motherfucking sixpack and a marathon and I'm gonna be a kickboxing master and all this stuff hell yeah". And they may be more likely to get results the "crazier" the dream sounds.

So, I kind of have a list of my 6 month and 12 month dreams that are rather achievable and something I can work on immediately (like "spend more time with friends"), and then a separate list for the "crazy" likely long term dreams, like "I want to have a house with custom built cat climbing wall stuffs and a sauna" ahahaha.

Another main insightful thing was when the book gave advise for counting a budget, a monthly goal income for achieving our dream. And the amount that I came up with is actually shockingly low, although I admit I didn't include any HOUSE PURCHASES in it, or new beds or blenders or whatever... But to have the kind of lifestyle that I want, and being able to travel, man. I would not need much. Which makes me hopeful because if I can just get a job, the job will probably pay me more than what I would need to live my 'goal' lifestyle, which means I could even dream bigger and like, also get that new bed and that new blender and not go broke. Huh. (Of course, if I need to move, my living costs will rise and that will influence what I need per month, but even so... being a little bit minimalistic helps, I am not a big shopper anymore and tend to weigh whether I really need something or not)

But basically. I'm listening to these ideas and adjusting and adapting them to my situation and needs and taking steps forward in being closer to living an even better kind of life (because it hasn't been TERRIBLE, just a little too risk-free and in stagnation). It's kind of funny though, doing this, I almost feel busy even if I'm unemployed. lol

Boom! Working on the self

I'm back from my long break to record and mull on some self-help (or the like) materials, basically pieces of advice that I find useful and think might be of interest to others as well. And LJ is the best platform for this out of the ones I use, as it allows the babble.

I guess the first question, though, is how and why I ended up interested in this stuff to begin with. The foundation for it was built some months ago when I found Marie Kondo's konmari Netflix show, and discovered that her advice or guidance for discarding and/or reorganizing one's belongings was not only very practical, but made me sort of more focused on what is important to me. I haven't completed konmari-ng all my things, but I've done enough to kind of believe that by getting your material shit together, you may even feel that your inner shit is more together... That you're ready to let go of certain things and leave them in the past, where they belong. Some things that used to be super relevant and then became things you were super nostalgic about are no longer something you want to move forward with, while others still hold that value and maybe you are now even able to showcase in your home in a meaningful way and seeing it every day gives you a bit of happiness. So, Marie kind of made me begin to accept that people in this line of work might be able to give some guidance and help that isn't just nonsense that preys on lost souls.

With that being said, it's not like I rushed out to look for self-help stuff. It wasn't until a few days ago that I bumped into Matt D'Avella's podcasts (via his 30 days without sugar video that YouTube was pushing at me...) and just started listening to them while solving easy sudokus. A lot of the conversations are with the kinds of people I've had very little exposure to: life coaches, YouTubers doing self-help/advice videos, minimalists, and... entrepreneurs, people who learned to make money from what they were drawn to doing. It's actually shocking how few people I know who are essentually self-employed, I mean there are some but most work in companies of some kind, or universities.

Anyway, although there are some nice chats going on, it can take a long time to find some specific piece of advice that seems really useful. I'll share my favourite one here, but first, here's the whole video:

Nate Green talks about coaching people, but interestingly talks about guiding the client to solve their own problems, and ends up sharing up this tip about, I think, starting new habits. His example is about attending the gym. He would ask his client how realistic, on a scale of 1-10, it would be for him to go to the gym three times a week. If the client responds anything below 7, he lowers it to twice a week. If it's still unlikely, he lowers it to 1, at what point the client would usually go "just once a week? ANYONE can do that. --> *I* can do that." So what you do is that you start with something so easy and simple that YOU think that "anyone" could do it. It's contextual because what is possible is very individual. (There is no "one-size-fits-all"!) The example is about exercise, but I see no reason why it couldn't be applied to almost anything you wanted to add or increase as a habit in your life. "Anyone can meditate for 5 mins every day." "Anyone can study a new language for 10 mins a day." Or I even found myself thinking how I could clean something later, then asking myself - "can I spare three minutes to clean this NOW instead of later?" So, it seems like a reaally clever and effective way of getting yourself started with doing something. And as Nate pointed out, even if you only go to gym once a week for a year, that's still 52 more times than you would've otherwise gone...

Another podcast I really enjoyed listening to was with Aileen Xu who, for example, takes the konmari way of thinking further; to relationships, social media... From this video, I don't remember anything as specific as above that I found helpful, but she talks about going for your goals - you should take risks when you're young, and today is the youngest you'll ever be, even if you're 50 :3 She just generally seems like a sweet and supportive person, so I'll accept the fluffiness ok. On her personal YouTube channel she talks about imagining where you want to be/what your ideal life is like, and writing it down in present tense as if you're already there. I tried doing this last night and it's.. wild in the sense in that it makes you evaluate what it is that you actually want, but can also be initially really embarrassing because it's almost like you've been conditioned not to even mention what your dream is because it seems so unattainable?

This 'task' also connects to the self-help book that I started reading yesterday, Jen Sincero's You Are A Badass. Because she points out that the person you want to meet is already out there; the money you want to make already exists; etc. You just kind of have to wire yourself to think that you both deserve and can have whatever it is you want, they're out there for your taking... There's more to it that involves breaking down the subconscious beliefs that make you be stuck what you're doing now instead of taking risks to get the kind of life you want (even willing to fail, because you're still closer to the life you want then than before you started and was in your 'comfortable' but unsatisfying and even unhappy bubble).

To me this is all quite topical because I'm currently unemployed; I have applied for research funding, but they're incredibly competitive and I'm not sure the academic career is for me in the long run, anyway. That is what makes me feel stuck, and makes it difficult for me to have a goal; I'm not sure how to get to a career that I'm not sure exists! I still want to work with digital games and gaming, but I have nothing on game design, which is of course the key way of ending up working in the industry. When these companies look for analysts, they look for people who can do statistical analysis. I'm all qualitative, baby. So I'd have to convince them all somehow that I have something to give for them, something that could give them a competitive edge. I'm not sure how to do that. I have a lot to work through so I can establish goals and begin to work towards achieving them...

How does exercise

Absolutely nobody's asked for this, but I feel like sharing it anyway - the stuff I've been doing to become fitter. Disclaimer: I have zero background in sports or exercising in any way so if this stuff looks "weak" to some, that's because I'm weak. lol

I mainly use Amy's (BodyFit by Amy) YouTube exercise videos. I KNOW, I KNOW, I used to be one of those people who think it's really weird when people stare at a screen and do stuff by themselves at home all perky and excited. But there are great benefits to it:

1) I don't need to worry about heading out to a gym (in fact I would never work out if it required me to go to a gym; I don't like to leave my place, I don't like being self-conscious, plus I enjoy changing straight into pajamas after the post-workout shower)
2) Amy will just say when it's time to switch or pause and I can focus 100% on what I'm doing, it's great. I've tried just following pictorial/written instructions before, but the thing is, I get a lot more effective (and safe) workout if I'm doing it at the same time as the instructors, and somehow it feels better to do the movement in a tempo that feels good instead of thinking about how many reps I have to do.
3) I know exactly how long the workout is going to be. Sometimes it's getting to 21:11 and I'm like oh shit, is it too late to start exercising now? But then the video is 25-35 min long so even with my poor maths I know I can still start and finish before 10PM (some of the exercises involve jumping and I'm a reasonable person so I don't do jumping after 10PM in an apartment building).
4) Somehow the videos push me forward without actually holding me accountable. I mean, the people on the video don't see you so it's perfectly possible to "cheat" or keep pausing the video, but it's like... why would you do that?
5) The videos have "low impact"/beginner versions of moves as well as more advanced ones, so you can keep doing the same videos and increasingly make the exercises more challenging for yourself instead of having to constantly look for new videos.

So then, as for the exercises that I actually do...

25 Minute Weighted Cardio for Fat Burning

I've done this one the most times and it's likely my favourite; it always leaves me super sweaty, but also because I know the routine so well by now, it also feels "easier" to do it even if I'm physically still being challenged. You know?

35 Minute Total Body Strength and Conditioning

This one can feel like a step more challenging than the video above, since it involves also holding positions (e.g. lunge, squat) and 'pulsing', which can be absolute kill, but also makes you feel awesome for being able to do it.

HIIT Training - High Intensity Interval Training Workout

The bad thing about this one is that it doesn't include a proper warmup and cool down, so you gotta look after yourself. It's an older video so the sound also isn't as good as in the later ones. This workout is the toughest one for me; each circuit feels like it lasts forever, towards the end I have trouble even holding a simple plank because I get so tired, and there's one balancing move that I seem unable to do properly (though of course I keep trying)... But it's good to have one like this around. I keep thinking that if I keep getting stronger, I'll be able to do this just as well as the first video I put up.

Then because I've actually bothered to get a stability ball, I also do this 25 min workout sometimes:

The only thing is, it doesn't feel as 'intense' as the other ones, so I almost feel like I should combine it with something else to feel content at the end, we'll see.

From written/pictorial guides I've also used this Rachael's full body HIIT workout; it was recommended as one for "skinnyfat" people, and since my biggest issue wasn't being severely overweight, but everything else that comes with not looking after yourself properly, it seemed like something worth looking into. I absolutely freaking loathe Tricep Dips. Because this one isn't a video, I don't do it as often as the others - I used to have a sort of weekly schedule in which this was included, but I'm more flexible with it now.

Other vids/things have come and gone (I started with reaaally easy low impact ones initially), but these are the ones I'm sticking to currently. Good, fun times. Sometimes I can evel feel muscles in my thighs now, how odd.

WWE Live Glasgow November 2017

Here is my official fangirling post about my very first WWE live show attendance!

The pictures are courtesy of Russell and I have kind of cropped and resized them on purpose so that if he wants, he can still meaningfully share the pics in better quality elsewhere. LOL

I think the only match I'm not commenting on at all is the cruiserweight one, which is sad because cruiserweights are supposed to be ideal for me. The faster the action and the more flying about a match involves the more I enjoy it, and cruiserweights tend to do this a lot. But they kind of ruined things for me when they moved Enzo Amore over and suddenly he's like the face of the CWs? It really sucks LOL.

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The "why I enjoy WWE" post

This is my self-reflective post on why I enjoy prowrestling/sports entertainment/basically WWE. Interestingly enough, some of the reasons why people make fun of it or think it's lame are the very reasons why I like it. Mostly I am doing this for fun ♥

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