Focus focus focus

Well I had a really interesting weekend at a Toastmasters district conference here in Sydney. I was particularly inspired by two world champions of public speaking who attended, and it reignited my enthusiasm for the whole public speaking thing. One of the places I feel in my element is in front of people, making them laugh and inspiring them with some sort of message, and I’d love to turn this into a career.

I feel frustrated that I’ve hit a road-block when it comes to feeling ill all the time. I don’t really feel like I can just sit here and wait for it to pass, because I have no idea how long that’s going to take. On the other hand, I get overwhelmed when I think about what I need to do in order to get where I want to go, especially when I can only head there at 50% speed. Sometimes I think a lack of focus and direction are just adding to my sense of fatigue, since it’s easier to feel depressed and hopeless when I’m not “heading somewhere”. Yeah, I know our sense of self-worth is supposed to be innate rather than based on our achievements and contributions to others; but I do feel a whole lot better when I’m making a difference in the world than when I’m not. Problem is when I push myself too hard into overwhelm, I end up resentful of the whole goddam situation and of other people – even though it’s not their fault.

I went to acting practise last night, which wasn’t a brilliant idea given that I was tired after the conference, which only ended that afternoon. But I do really enjoy it, and it did give me a lift. The weird thing about this fatigue is that it makes life very un-enjoyable on the one hand, yet imposes a limitation that reminds me just how much I do enjoy many aspects of life which are currently closed off to me. I wanna hang around so I can enjoy them again in the future, and I have to focus and prioritise which ones I can do right now since I can’t do them all.

I woke up feeling a bit wrecked this morning; maybe a 4/10. I took some Sudafed and that should get me up to about 6/10, which ought to be enough for me to head to this afternoon’s class. Anything about about a 5 is relatively functional.

I want to pursue a career as a communicator/comedian/writer, but it’s going to take time. Of course I want it now now now. Since starting the Gupta programme I’d been thinking “I’ll put that off until I’m better”; but I’m not so sure that’s a good idea since it leaves me feeling even more stuck and I have no idea when that’s going to be. It’s a matter of balancing the stress I feel from “not going anywhere” against the stress I feel from pushing myself too hard when I’m ill.

I’m going to drop one of the acting classes I’m doing next term, and take up a camera class instead, so I can get comfortable in front of a lens. It should also allow me to restructure my week so that I have time to prepare some speeches for Toastmasters too, which will get me back on track with the public speaking. Meanwhile, I think I’ll be living on Sudafed for the time being…

Self Acceptance, Emotional Truth, & How to Argue

While reading the introduction to Social Intelligence last night, it occurred to me that if the way I handle emotions is just a function of the way my brain is wired, plus my social conditioning, then what possible reason should I have for beating myself up about that? So I hold my feelings in… big deal! I decided it was finally time to try some radical self-acceptance.

However, this is a problem in the context of my acting practice exercises (rep), where people are always hassling me to “open up” more. I’m slowing getting there, but on the other hand, what if I just didn’t worry about that, and just enjoyed doing the exercise instead. Frankly, I have more fun when we laugh and joke around. They tell me I’m “avoiding”, but I actually enjoy laughing and joking around! I don’t enjoy getting upset, or angry.

So tonight I rocked up with my new I’m-just-going-to-have-fun attitude, and had a great time. Then I started rep’ing with one of the intermediate students, who I basically said “let me have it” to. She kept provoking me and provoking me until I really was angry, and we had a full-on screaming match. I was totally pissed off, and so was she. Then an amazing thing happened… we got to a point where her hostility gave way to upset. I recognised that she was hurt and called her on it, at which point she broke down and I became apologetic and compassionate. I comforted her with a hug, which she accepted, and we actually ended up really feeling connected. Aha! So that’s how a real-world argument is supposed to go! Assuming both partners are actually committed to sorting things out, rather than to just getting-each-other-back, eventually someone admits a vulnerability which moves the other person to compassion. Even though we were both really, genuinely pissed off with each other, I didn’t feel at all angry with her after the argument because we actually reached closure.

This is something I never saw in real world arguments while growing up, which made me fearful of conflict altogether. It turns out that you can have really heated arguments with tremendous emotional intensity, and yet end up with positive feelings towards each other; you’ve just got to be prepared to work to the point where you have closure and compassion for each other.

Another big weekend!

Just had another big weekend…

Saturday morning I got up bright and early (well, 8:30am-ish) to pick my parents up from the city after their 10 day cruise. They were in a good mood, so everything was pretty sweet… although I almost had a car accident driving them home. I’ve never actually had an accident, and I’m a really careful driver, but something about having my parents around just stresses me out. I immediately feel judged, and it’s not in a positive sense.

I came back home and had a nap before heading out to Men’s group in the afternoon. It seems to be a group of fellow recovering (and perhaps not-so-recovering) “nice guys”. Not a whole heap of assertiveness, too polite & worried about offending other people. At first the meeting seemed to be moving at a glacial pace; lots of talking-around things and too many words for too little communication. But it got more interesting when we started sharing what was going on in the group. My observation that I’d had a number of instances recently of girls I liked falling for jerks (instead of me!) and the whole “nice guy” thing led to an exercise based of some of David Deida’s work about sticking to your mission without being side-tracked by women. This was particularly relevant to me after last weekend’s psychodrama vs spa party debacle, where I ended up glad that I didn’t change my plans when Vanessa invited me around for a girly spa party which didn’t turn out the way it does in my fantasies.

After men’s group we went out for dinner and bonded a bit more, largely talking about the topic on every single guy’s mind: women.

Saturday night I hit a couple of nightclubs in the city to do some approach exercises that my dating coach had set me. I was excited about it as I headed into town, and my excitement turned to dread as I approached the actual door of the nightclub. I wandered around for a while thinking “No way, I’m chickening out”, before deciding that wasn’t the sort of guy I wanted to be. I used to have a full-blown panic attack just walking into a nightclub, but this time it wasn’t so bad. I made my way in, and approached numerous groups of girls with the intention of saying hi, and having a fun 90 second conversation. My heart raced and I felt anxious before every approach, but I think the only way to get over that is to actually learn to do it by practising. About half of the women I approached were friendly and/or receptive, and half hostile. I really appreciated the friendly ones! Special mention goes to the lovely girl on the dance floor who was clearly nervous talking to me, but engaged me anyway instead of just walking away like some did, and the two girls having an argument in which one had just told the other to kill herself. I suggested that wasn’t such a great idea. Awkward!

Later in the evening I met up with Danny, a guy I met at a dating workshop recently, who was keen to try some approaches. We acted as wing men for each other, taking turns approaching. He seems a bit dodgy to me, and was really drunk; but having the support of another guy to go back to if it bombs was really helpful. I don’t think many girls get just how nerve-wracking it is for decent guys to go and approach them, and they’re tired of getting the jerks all the time who don’t really give a fuck. I went home about 1:30am feeling really proud of myself for going through with it.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling pretty good, considering the late night. In fact, I felt the best I had in quite a while. I slept in till mid-day, and then went to a chronic fatigue support group which I had been meaning to go to for about 6 months, but always seemed to have something on at the time. I felt a bit apprehensive about meeting them, but they all turned out to be really lovely. And one of the girls in particular was really sweet. Bonus! It was cool being able to talk to other people who understood what it was like being ill for so long, and who weren’t judgemental. Some were obviously handling it emotionally better than others, but we could all relate on a lot of things from reactions of family members to the devastating effect of the afternoon snooze! I’ve got this plan of recovering before the meeting comes around next month, but I’ll go along anyway.

Sunday night I headed back into the city for more rep (acting practise), which went pretty well. No big breakthroughs or disappointments. Some of the students were expressing scepticism about whether the school we’re at and what we’re being taught is the best method. I find I’m more easily swayed by other people’s opinions on some things than I’d like; maybe they’re right, but hey, I’m having fun and getting heaps of practise at being more assertive so it’s got to be a good thing. I just have this tendency to think “but what if that thing over there is better, and I’m missing out?”.

All in all, it was a really good weekend. I woke up this morning feeling a bit more zoned out than I’d like, and felt disappointed. I have a busy week this week; kinda pushing it to my limit I fear. That seems to make me feel more zoned out and anxious about things generally. But it’s all fun stuff that I want to do. Might have to reschedule some stuff till next week; we’ll see.