Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mental toughness

September 29, 2017

We generally see mental toughness as the ability to get yourself to do things you don’t want to do. And if those decisions improve you, even better. Decisions fall into four types of categories. 

Type 1. If you don’t want to do something and it improves you, good.  You are both improving and getting mentally tougher.

Type 2. If you don’t want to do something and it is worsening you, good.  You are least getting mentally tougher, and it will be motivation to find type 1 and 3. opportunities.  

Type 3. If you do want to do it and you are improving, good.  You are improving and can also relax and enjoy yourself. 

Type 4. If want to do it and it improves yoy, good. At least your enjoying yourself and can relax enough somewhat to seek type 1 and 3 decisions. 


I’m sorry…but it’s you

September 28, 2017

It is no secret  that we have to be on guard against manipulation when we negotiate. The best  manipulators execute strategies that feel comfortable enough to the  manipulated to go unnoticed.   Victims may actually feel stronger than ever,  just in ways that are useless.  The hardest thing to accept is that it is in very large part the manipulator in victims that makes them susceptible to manipulation… the greedy love of short-cuts. The antidote is  to insist on  assuming ones’s due share of risk and hard work,  no matter what.  Stay true. Be sincere. It will keep you safe, ironically enough.

Surrender, Responsibility and Intimacy

September 14, 2017

 Surrender means not controlling what we can’t control anyway.  Responsibility means listening to feelings — however inconvenient or unbecoming — and allowing them a voice when we make choices.  And intimacy means taking the (often terrifying) risk of being ourselves with another person and allowing that person to do the same.


from Steve Hauptman

Noted with pleasure: The long bag

September 14, 2017

Nicely explained.

Source: Noted with pleasure: The long bag

Seneca quotes

September 13, 2017

“we cease to be so angry once we cease to be so hopeful”

“No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity”
“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”
it is better to be scorned by reason of simplicity than tortured by perpetual pretense”
All cruelty springs from weakness

Nassim Nicholas Taleb excerpts from Antifragility

April 1, 2017

The avoidance of small errors makes the large ones more sever.

No true stability without volatility.

Focus on actions and avoid words which can lead to a health eroding dependence on external recognition. People are cruel and unfair in the way they confer recognition, so it is best to stay out of the game. Stay robust to how others treat you.

A man is honorable in proportion to the amount of downside he is exposed to for acting on his opinions.

Possession makes us worry about downside, this acting as a punishment as we depend on them. Success brings asymmetry: you now have a lot more to lose than gain. You are hence fragile.

When you have nothing to lose, you are anti-fragile at best, robust at worst.

Nothing can be done hastily and safely – almost nothing.

Anti-fragility is the combination of paranoia and aggressiveness.

Prepare for the worst, the best can take care of itself. Yiddish proverb

Being reviewed or assessed by others matters if and only if one is subjected to judgement by future – not just present – others.

A free person does not to win arguments – just win.

Anything that smacks of a competition is a destruction of knowledge.

The most convincing statements are those in which someone stands, ones in which one has maximal skin in the game; the most unconvincing ones are those in which one patently ( but unknowingly) tries to enhance one’s status without a tangible contribution. Show off if fine, it is human, as long as the substance exceeds the showoff content.

Stay human, take as much as you can, under the condition that you give more than you take.

It is easy to scam people by getting them to complication.

Some things can be, simply, to large for you heart.

Skepticism has traditionally been of expert knowledge rather than abstract entities like God.  Skeptic fideists like the Sufi El Ghazali were part of this tradition.

Avoidance of boredom is the only worthy mode of action.

When it comes to sustaining healthy and ethical activity, the trick is to be bored with a specific task rather than give up the whole project.

‘What is the payoff?’  – negative or positive – is often a better question than ‘what is true ?’ The answer to the former depends on the fragility continuum. Modify your exposure according – adjust your targets. Learn to get out of trouble. Vastly more effective.

Precautionary principle: if we don’t understand something and it has a systemic effect, just avoid.

Ask yourself how many things you need to disregard in order to act.

Just worry about Black Swan exposures, and life is easy. Exploit the positive one and protect against the negative ones.

Robust to error decisions require no more than a single reason.

One small observation can disprove a statement, while millions can hardly confirm it.

What we know to be right today may turn out to be wrong but what we know to be wrong cannot turn out to be right, at least not easily.

It’s not about what to do, but having a way to remove the bad.

Innovation is saying no to 1000 things. Steve Jobs.

It doesn’t matter how often you are wrong, just that you are right when it counts. Suckers try to win arguments, non-suckers try to win. We know we will be wrong most of the time when we check people for weapons at an airport. One side has larger consequences than the other. It is rather a good thing to lose arguments.

Never put your enemy’s back to the wall. Hope your enemies, your circumstances, put your back against the wall. Back against the wall folks tap all their resources, ones they didn’t know they had.









Soothe it or suck it

March 30, 2017

Helping someone seems harmless enough in the beginning. But past a certain point helping them can keep them from learning.  A person who isn’t learning becomes more and more vulnerable to harm over time.   And you become vulnerable over time as you surround yourself with people you have inadvertently worked hard to keep stupid. Most of us understand this.

But understanding is often not prevention. If reading this you recognize some resentment and exasperation about a current situation, it is probably a sign that you are the cause of the problem, not them.  Maybe you are becoming kind of an asshole to boot. People don’t like you even though you do a lot for them. To make matters worse, in this weakened state you have to find a way to do the thing you fear most, letting things go badly for awhile – stop fixing.  Instead, what I am proposing in this post,  is that to replace fixing with being soothing to folks as they go through the pain that accompanies most learning. You actually need to be nicer, a more beautiful person, because to break the cycle you are going to have to let things around you get ugly. You have to offset that ugliness with kindness and compassion.

It is a hard trap to escape though. We are actually addicted to repetitively using  ‘the fix’ to soothe pain and stress, theirs and ours.  We kill two birds with one stone, preventing their pain and our own with our fixes. It is pretty satisfying, we get to see ourselves as benevolent,  but ultimately, it is not too wise, and not really so benevolent

There is a time for everything:  a time to learn, a  time to fix, and a time to soothe. Of these three we are most likely to dismiss the importance of soothing others and ourselves. It does not feel productive, and seems like a waste of time to soothe.  Our deficits in understanding about how to soothe actually results in us becoming weaker and more fragile because we reflexively go to for the quicker fixes and block learning.  We develop asymmetries of knowledge and skill in families and organizations, making them more fragile.

It turns out being able to recognize your own pain and being able to soothe yourself is not really an optional skill. We have been duped by the promise that we are in a rat race that we can win and all this stress will be worth it in the end.   Our society shits on the skill of soothing ourselves and others, but since it is not optional to human functioning to be soothed, we instead spend billions on it:  alcohol, drugs, quackery, social media, infidelity, pornography, etc. We also self-soothe when we procrastinate, call in sick to work a lot, and avoid tough but important decisions and activities.






Overcoming your opponent

March 28, 2017

When Hatim al-Asamm of Afghanistan went to Baghdad, people surrounding him saying, ‘You are a non-Arab of halting speech, yet you silence everyone.” He answered, ‘Three things allow me to overcome my opponent. I am happy when he is right, and I am sad when he is wrong, and I try not to behave foolishly towards him.’

from Learning How to Learn

Idries Shah

What things will save humanity from the world?

March 26, 2017

There are 4 things. Accept the ignorance of others and spare them yours; spare for them from your substance, and do not expect any of theirs.

Hatim al-Asamm

from Learning How to Learn

Idries Shah



Commonsense thinking, artificial intelligence, and the future of the human mind

January 26, 2016

Marvin Minsky died this week. This is a blog post from 2011 that discuss his ideas.

Wim Chase

I am reading a book by Marvin Minsky called The Emotion Machine.

I feel it applies to my work as a therapist and recommend it to anyone interested in the mind and its workings.

Machine is a bit of a misnomer as it tends to imply power and efficiency rather than flexibility and flow. I like this quote from the introduction:

If you “understand” something in only one way, then you scarcely understand it at all- because when you get stuck, you’ll have nowhere to go. But if you represent something in several ways, then when you get frustrated enough, you can switch among different points of view, until you find one that works for you!

He goes on about human dignity:

I see our dignity as stemming from what we have made of ourselves: a colossal collection of different ways to deal with different situations and predicaments. It is that diversity…

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