It's been a while since my last post. 1 I've definitely been in both a mental and creative funk – and not written anything as a consequence, despite a desire to do so. I know I need to write, for my own sanity if nothing else.
I've been struggling to find the right words so I've stopped searching for them and decided to just use the ones I have.
I started thinking about why I blog? Why do I put my words out there?
I have a lot of thoughts going round in my head on various topics (independent but ultimately related) yet making sense of them has proven to be a harder task than I expected.
I've had a couple of CBT sessions recently in which we've covered a lot of ground including my three biggest triggers:
(The last two are primarily with myself but can also relate to external factors.)
A way that's been suggested for me to deal with this is to have a pic'n'mix list of things I can switch to without much thought; if I start getting bored or frustrated or impatient I need to take a step back and revert to one of the items on that list.
Walk the dog, do the dishes, weed the garden, things that take me out of my head and can be meditative in their own right. Just do the action, no need to think about it.
Reset my thoughts, reset my mind, reset my mood.
With the B in CBT being behaviour I need to focus on mine. If I feel a trigger coming on then I can note it down and any NATs (Negative Automatic Thoughts) that crop up. Then I should write down alternative behaviours to the default so that I can see my defaults can be wrong/stupid/broken and I need not think like that.
A lot of my impatience and frustrations arise when I start something but either don't have the time or patience to finish or can't get things to match what's in my head. I've written before about being driven by mindset and emotion and if I don't finish what I'm doing then the moment (mindset and emotion) is lost and I can't recapture it. The therapist suggested making notes, jotting down bullet points to remind myself later but it came out in conversation that my mind doesn't work that way – I don't think in bullet points but in full sentences and paragraphs, sweeping, all-encompassing visions that I have to download in one go. That's why it's been so long and so hard to get this post out.
One suggestion has been to use the voice instead of the pen or keyboard as it is quicker to gets the ideas out by speaking them rather than typing or writing them down.
But back to why I blog...
In It's Only Words, when discussing the #write365 project, I wrote:
But by writing things down and, over time, making connections between them, I came to see that my behaviour was indicative of a much wider sequence of events.
Only by digging deeper every day, with one post leading to another and the next, did I come to realise the pattern of needing constant approval throughout my life.
When one behaviour ended I felt the need to fill my time with something else as if there was a void, an emptiness within me that required filling. With anything. Just so that I could feel whole and be praised by others for doing it.
I have speculated that this need for approval, for attention, was behind my blogging. Maybe, in part, it is; but the more I consider it the more I feel it is a deeper need to be seen — a cry for meaningful connection.
I brought this up in therapy alongside how and why I stopped using social media: toxicity, banality, stupidity, and empty gestures. I've had my issues with "minimum viable actions" (just liking or hearting something rather than actually responding) for years now.
I used to crave Likes and +1s, I used to be a real stat junkie, but that is a dangerous path to tread. I have since realised that numbers are only that, they cannot provide any true meaning or satisfaction. They may seem like approval but are hollow acts, largely meaningless due to their ease of use.
There should be more friction. The higher the friction (to a point) the more meaningful the response — someone has got to really want to reply and connect if it is harder to do so. Obviously, there will be a tipping point where friction becomes too great and even the most ardent of respondents will feel it not worth their time.
It's about finding a balance.
Kev wrote about his changing (deteriorating) relationship with social media:
I’m also thinking about unfollowing the remaining 40 people so that Mastodon becomes a mechanism for conversation around the posts I publish here, rather than a doom-scrolling shit show.
Isn’t that a little selfish, though?
I have previously used 'selfish' in describing my relationship with platforms that I primarily use just as a means of distribution – just as Kev is considering. Last year I resisted the temptation to remove my RSS feed from my micro.blog account after some mice comments but have now decided to do so (for a while at least) even though it is my main source of engagement.
I've come to terms with it. I can't consider my actions selfish if they're what I need to do. I'd rather be self-ish (an approximation of what I need to be) than self-less (not knowing who or what I am) and that takes some difficult decisions. Ones that I might not have been happy making before out of some misguided sense of obligation.
I need to work out what I'm doing with all of this, where it is going and what I expect from it. How I can fully transition from empty approval to genuine connection. I think that's a big thing missing in a lot of (my) online life.
I knew the time was right to get these thoughts down as my creativity seems to have been somewhat unblocked. Over the past few days I have managed to make some music that I was actually been pretty happy with so I knew things were changing, realigning. I'm relying on that change spreading here.
thanks to those of you who emailed asking if everything was okay because I hadn't posted for a while ↩