Reform is Tough, Guys...
For those who are new to my site, I’m a diagnosed psychopath/sociopath in reform. Before I go into how I manage my personality disorder, I'm gonna give you the quick abnormal psychology lesson. For those of you interested in reading about what life was like for me prior to gaining self-awareness and adopting reform, here’s a link to "Whoops... Turns Out I'm A Sociopath(Muh Bad)".
Clinically speaking, Sociopathy/Psychopathy are both diagnosed as "Antisocial Personality Disorder(ASPD)”. The term Antisocial doesn't mean what most people think it means.
When people with pop culture understandings claim they’re “antisocial” they mean one of two things:
2) Socially awkward/Suffering from social anxiety
Neither of those traits are what the “Antisocial” in ASPD is referring to. My diagnosis is called that because I'm against(anti-) social constructs like morality, etiquette, gender norms, and things of that nature. I'm literally against all of them. If it's a social construct, I reject it on principle for being an imaginary thing born from groupthink. This in turn leads to me disregarding people's rights, boundaries, and emotions. That can end up creating friction.
I also struggle holding long term work because I don't feel the pretense of "contributing to society" is valid.
(Society itself is a social construct, after all)
I've lived most of my life as a career criminal because I don't see the need to be ashamed by that lifestyle the way most people would. I genuinely enjoyed the game of outsmarting the law.
Antisocial behavior is theft, manipulation, and the general disregard people's for rights, boundaries and emotions I mentioned before. A lot of people display antisocial behaviors but don’t actually have the personality disorder, and other personality disorders can lead to antisocial behavior. From what I can tell the disorder is a spectrum of sorts but I’ve never heard it referred to as a spectrum disorder by psychologists so don’t quote me on that.
One thing I need to make clear is that I wasn’t actively aware of a lot of the toxic behavior. People often ask me, “How could you not see it?” and the answer is rooted in how I subconsciously regarded myself and others.
In my mind, I was the last person on Earth who was any good. I saw what society deemed moral as the ultimate evil. I was the most intelligent person in my class and even most adults couldn’t compare to me. I could tell by the stories people would tell me while crying about how bad their day was that they hadn’t been through much suffering in life, because they'd bitch and moan about things I saw as trivial and petty.
This led to me believing that I was wiser, more intelligent, and morally superior to the lesser beings that surrounded me. The three things added up to my subconscious painting me as infallible in my eyes. I never stopped to think about the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t really shit.
That made me view people’s actions as falling into one of three categories:
1) Too nice: This signaled naivete and required me to abuse the person’s kindness to break the dangerous “compassion”. Think about that for a second. I had to target the kind, forgiving compassionate people people the hardest with my “tough love” (re: abusive behavior) in order to protect them from all the sociopaths out there who would pick them out as targets. If you guys want a feel-good story, one of these types
(Yes I see how dumb that is now)
2) Logic defying: which meant their minds were inferior and they were incapable of valid thoughts making them automatically wrong if they disagreed with me for any reason.
3) Depraved and malicious: This held especially true when people tried to protect themselves from me, because the fervor they'd do it with and their refusal to bend showed how devoted they were to their “targeted attacks”.
(re: their self-defense)
I knew I was was wise. I saw through everyone’s bullshit. I was a supremely compassionate master of logic who was trying to redeem the soulless monsters called "humans". Don’t look at me like a narcissist though. I didn’t view all the lesser, disgusting “humans” as beyond redemption.
Some of them I granted small slivers of hope there was hope. If only they’d listen to me.
Some of the soulless demons weren’t immoral or stupid, but I saw them as naive. Now remember what happens to naivete? Exactly! Tender, loving abuse to harden ‘em up. It was for your own good; I’m sorry it’s the world we live in.
Another group of semi convenient flesh golems were smart and streetwise. It sucks that the power of knowledge corrupts the weak-hearted.. These guys were convenient because they had no feelings to disregard and could be abused into obedience easily..
The final class of garbagespawn is barely worth mentioning. I saw the trash as moral and streetwise. not intelligent which made you not worthy of personhood.
Overly positive views of myself combined with overly negative views of the world skewed my perspective. I felt I had a divine responsibility to “teach” (re:abuse) the inferior primates around me and show them a better way of life. I mean, if you think about it they’re luck I’d even spend time teaching them to serve my interests. I wish I could turn my will and body over to Walking God and could live in servitude to a higher life form.
Really, I was more of a con man/thief type, violence was just a last resort for when I got caught or had no other choice. That’s the norm from what I know. I may not respect the law but jail still sucks, and beating someone leaves evidence.
Much of what caused the behavior was rooted in my subconscious and how it would paint the world I saw. Mostly this was in respect to interactions with other people, particularly those I loved and who loved me. I'd inadvertently overstep my bounds in some way, then I’d misconstrue them stepping up in self-defense as an unprovoked assault.That perceptual distortion made me “defend myself” from their “unjustified bullying”. I didn't realize what I was doing though, it was all pathological and happening without my conscious awareness.
That's mostly in regard to manipulation. There was a lot of it that I was conscious of too, especially in regard to all my antisocial behavior. I just thought everyone did the stuff secretly and people's minds were functioning more or less like my own.
Onto the reform aspect:
To start, you need to know I can't put the extreme the guilt I felt over my father's suicide, or how it motivates my reform, into words. I loved my father more than life itself, and saw us as one person with two bodies. When Pops offed himself and I came to the realization that my emotional abuse and dirtbag lifestyle were a contributing factor, I felt meaningful guilt and remorse for the first time in my life. Before that I’d sorta know when guilt was socially acceptable. Whether or not I’d play to feel guilty depending on how I needed to manipulate the situation. Those play guilts were not the all encompassing, soulrenching self-loathing, remorse and regret that washed over me when I realized Pops was gone.
That feeling started a domino effect that eventually led to me wanting to change my ways five years later. Without that guilt motivating me, I wouldn't be able to start the reform process because I wouldn't have had any motivator. Violating society's morals is painless to me because I've built my own moral compass independent of the commonly held view of morality. I know you’d feel guilt if you stole $300 from your mother, I don't though. I need the guilt I feel from my father's death to act as a stand in.
At first, I was just blindsided by the pain and I didn't know how to process it. I'd dump everything I felt on other people expecting an answer, but the answer was something I had to figure out on my own. Sorry to everyone I ever burdened with solving that question for me.
I want you to know I've got the answer I was asking you for now:
"Maybe some of them social construct things are actually kinda dope." That means religiously holding myself to some of the main social constructs I previously rejected. I'll never fully accept all social constructs as valid though, and there's a bunch of 'em I see as downright toxic.
Yeah, it turns out that unflinching holding my ground in defiance of society isn’t tenable. As we speak, there’s an 18 year old me in my head screaming at me not to type the sentence I’m about to type, but 18 year old me is a moron.
I’m too old for this shit. Constant war with society and a steadfast removal to change have done nothing but make me hurt. You did it world. You broke me.
The very first steps of my reform were learning to see the benefit of it. This took a lot of meditation and re-imagining what reform would be like. I needed to find a picture that didn’t seem like heavy work, carried some personal incentive, and didn’t needlessly give off resources to under servings. If I saw it as actions I was taking at someone else’s behest because of some shitty excuse like “It’s good for the world,” my mind wouldn’t have excepted that back then.
I needed to see a vision of reform that paid off for #1. I imagined fucked up shit at first.
Using my sales skill to grift people on stock options. Backstabbing my way up the corporate ladder. Money and power to control beautiful women. Reform doesn’t mean fix the disorder. Reform meant fix the disrupted interpersonal interactions and trouble holding work. I was gonna double down on the manipulation and domineering.
I was so stoked when I first came up with that plan. Looking back, I had absolutely no idea how much work “Reform” actually was. Today reform looks a little different:
Regular practice of CBT to restructure beliefs, constantly working to achieve proper perspective, Buddhist Zen Daoist meditation and practice, Zen study, random drive-by Zhuangzi quotes. Pressuring Dan for wise sounding Zen soundbytes to parrot, and even more self-scrutiny via CBT. It’s the fulfillment and satisfaction I feel when I look back to see how much ground I’ve covered. It’s freedom from self-loathing I felt over Papadukes’ suicide. In a little over a year, my life has completely reversed and suddenly I’m living a dream I never thought possible, It’s constant work though, and I’m kinda shit at it.
First and foremost, I need to fight my naturally cynical worldview. My negative thinking led to my negative behavior. To understand why, you need to understand how I saw things:
Like I said in the little intro lecture, I saw myself as the Universe’s divine champion. The whole world had turned pure black, and I was the last righteous soldier. All my monstrous behavior was the only defense I had against a world full of monsters. In my head, society forced me to be the way was.
In my mind, Mom was to blame for all my evil deeds. I don’t get how Mom put up with me. I’d make all kinds of unreasonable demands for food and drug money, then treated her like she dog shit while constantly accusing her of scheming against me. Really, she was trying to help me. In my eyes, Dad was the only thing protecting me from her abusive manipulation. I told myself, “If the world were perfect, I wouldn't need to do all this bullshit to get by.”
I realize now that I’m not special, I’m not in charge, and my mother is a beautiful person who was trying her hardest to save me from myself. The world isn't anywhere near as effed up as I was. Remembering this positive view of the world is important. When I’m presented with stressful activating events, I need to have that positive worldview on deck. That constant perspective swapping takes effort and mental discipline.
Next, I found a valid to personal reasons for upholding social constructs: Protecting people from hurting themselves and others the way I did by providing them a place within the system.
“Social constructs” meaning: A mutual respect for people’s boundaries, individual rights, and compassionate empathy for other people’s emotions. This is tough for me. The hardest part is feeling my own emotions. Letting myself connect with the world without using one of my dissociated masks to eat damage for me. Things like gainful employment and having some respect when talking to others go a long way towards living a happier life.
The biggest step I take is holding myself accountable to the common moral code, even when I think it’s dumb. I force myself to obey the common moral code religiously, no matter how stupid I think it is, regardless of consequences. That can get hard sometimes. I’m afraid to adhere to the common moral code because it’s exploitable. There’s also an inherent dishonesty is like a chess match to avoid. I tell the truth as I see it, but I’m not sure where it’s all gone. I don’t coddle peeps, but I help ‘em get comfortable.
The thing is, I start to feel like I’m losing myself. I always need to remind myself where my war with society left me: Broken and alone, mourning the person I loved most in this world after I drove them to suicide.
It's in my best interest to act in accordance with what the herd deems moral. Constant combat with the general public isn’t a live-able situation. That means I keep myself beholden to the common moral code: Don't lie, don't steal, and be as compassionate as possible.
When I catch myself slipping, I call myself on it. When I see an opening for a future slip, I seal it by standing tall in my ground. I remind myself what’s waiting if fail. I'm constantly defending myself from my own toxic thinking…
For example, I was addicted to prescription amphetamines early on after committing to change. To get myself of ‘em, I had to go to the friend who sold them to me and tell them not to sell me anything, and if I tried to buy some they were to call my brother or my friend Chels. My brother also helped me get them from time to time, so I had to tell him the same thing about not getting them for me and if I tried to get him to, he was to call Chels or the other friend who supplied me.
If any of those three parties got word of me trying to buy some, they were to call my mom immediately and spill the beans. I needed all those redundancies in the system to stop me from betraying myself.
I’m caught in a constant chess match against my own toxic thinking, and outhinking myself is necessary. Even though I’ve vowed to reform, my mind’ll flip in a heartbeat if there’s a big enough reward. There’s a part of my psyche that resists change. If I see someone saying things to me that I could use to manipulate them, I’ll tell them to the con they opened up for me so they know not to fall for it. I do my best to avoid leaving options open. I figure if I close off all the easy ways for me to be shady, I’m less likely to slip into old mindsets.
That all sounds so simple. It’s extremely diffic… no not now….
<Delusional raving begins>
Transcend All Tribes. Against All Authority Reject All Rulers. The Rule of Law is an illusion.
Chaos is the Only Order and Anarchy Reigns Supreme!
<Y’all Are Gonna Get The Anarchy Essay Eventually>
Alrighty I had social constructs force-fed to me, and I adopted a moral code I hate. The problem is I still believe all the Antisocial shit, even if I’m deciding to pretend I don’t. I even shifted our perceptions. The problem is my self-constructed moral code I’m gonna present you with a few common moral conundrums.
(I can’t guarantee how most people would answer these. I’m just providing the answers I usually see people giving)
~ The Runaway Train Thing We’ve All Heard 1,000 Times ~
There’s a runaway train on a track. The train is barreling towards a small town of 200 people.
Coincidentally, you’re standing at the switch and can make the train take a different track that avoid the town. The only problem is the new track has 5 people tied to it so you’d be getting them run over.
You have two options. Do you…
A) Pull the switch, save the town, but kill 5 people?
B) Stand there and watch the train roll down the tracks until it kills a town full of people?
Here’s the Most Common Answer People Give Me: “I wouldn’t pull the switch. I don’t wanna have 5 lives on my conscience. I’m not responsible for the people who are end up dying in the town because it didn’t put the train on that course. It’s not my place to decide who lives or dies.”
The way I see it, someone making this argument is just as responsible for deciding against taking action as they are for taking action. They could’ve saved the town, but they choose not to. That means they’re responsible for all 200 people who die when the train hits the town.
By not pulling the switch they’re choosing to kill a town full of people, regardless of how people like to twist it.
~ The Most Controversial Wallet of All-Time~
Say I see a wallet with $100 sitting on a table at a bar. I pick the wallet up and shout "Hey did someone forget their wallet?" After shouting like this three times without receiving a response, I’m pretty sure the owner isn’t three.
> Normally I’d feel obligated to take that person's $100 dollars, but I’m pushing reform today so I try a different approach.
> Instead, I bring the wallet to the bar and give it to the dude serving drinks.
> The bartender takes the $100 then puts the wallet in the lost and found.
> *HOWEVER* the bartender feels awful for taking the money. He’s taking it to give to a pregnant woman who’s living rough behind the bar.
When Walletperson comes back the next day and finds out their cash is gone, who's to blame for the missing $100?
- Am I to blame since I took the easy way out and handed over the wallet instead of finding the owner myself?
- Is the homeless woman to blame for putting herself in a position where she was dependent on the bartender’s charity?
- Is the bartender to blame since he took the $100?
- Is Walletperson to blame since none of it coulda happened if Walletperson hadn’t left their wallet behind?
~ TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS, WALLETPERSON. THE BARTENDER DIDN’T MAKE YOU FORGET YOUR WALLET ~
The point here is that the common moral code works to absolve Walletperson from responsibility for their mistakes. Because the common conception of morality is being used to refute self-accountability in this case, the common moral code is toxic in my opinion.
~ The Trigun Rip-off ~
Imagine that you’ve somehow been magically transported into the extremely popular anime “Trigun” which used to air on Cartoon Network’s mature-audience oriented late-night programming block [adult swim]. You’re perpetually trapped in the scene where Knives and Vash are debating about the butterfly and the spider. Suddenly, everything becomes summarized and the dialogue gets paraphrased in my voice so everyone reading this essay who hasn’t seen one of the dopest anime series of all time knows what I’m talking about…
(Vash and Knives are twin brothers that were abandoned by parents unknown and found by space colonists. They’re hanging out in a nature conservatory on the colonist’s spaceship with Rem, the woman charged with raising them)
<There’s a butterfly caught in a spiderweb. The spider that built the web is quickly closing in on the butterfly for a meal…>
[Vash reaches in to save Butterfly]
Knives: Yo why are you killin’ that spider bro?
Vash: Umm… I’m not? I’m saving the butterfly
Knives: Well duh, but by saving the butterfly, you’re killing the spider. Just let nature run its course man. This ain’t our business.
Vash: But butterflies are pretty and spiders aren’t, so butterflies matter and spiders don’t.
Knives: Yo... that’s dumb as fuck dude. Whether or not something is “Pretty” doesn’t matter at all. They’re both living creatures. You’ve got no right to decide their fates. The butterfly got caught. This is what happens to butterflies who get caught.
Vash: Yeah well I just saved the shit outta that butterfly. Plus I’m gonna go through life as a dueling gunslinger but never actually kill anyone. Long hair don’t care.
Knives: Bet money that I use a really long, convoluted scheme to force you into killin’ my homie Legato Bluesummer.
Vash: That sounds highly unlikely but it would make a great plot for a manga/anime.
<A really long, convoluted scheme plays out over 24 or 25~ish episodes of the popular anime “Trigun”>
[Knives has a homeboy named Legato Bluesummer who needs to die or he’s gonna kill some peeps]
Legato: You’ve pretty much got no choice Vash. You gotta kill me to save dem peeps over there
[Vash kills Legato to save dem peeps I keep mentioning]
Vash: Damn son. I had to do kills. It’s truly impossible for the circle of life to move forward without death. Fug’ it. Still gonna stand by my delusional decision to save the butterfly. Forget Knives and his “logic”. Nothing can defeat the overwhelming delusion that “pretty” is meaningful!
In the show, Knives is considered the “bad guy” because he’s trying to prove to Vash that he can’t live the life he’s chosen without killing people. Knives’s whole deal is that Vash is a hypocrite who’s ignoring all the lives lost via collateral damage.
Knives believes that Vash is still responsible for mass-scale death even if Vash’s bullets aren’t the thing that killing people. The average person sides with Vash. I’m cleanly in camp Knives. Same thing with Thanos in Infinity War. Watch the movie. Thanos is trying to save all life in the universe from destroying existence via over-consumption. The Avengers are basically fighting to destroy the universe.
(How do these dudes repeatedly end up labeled as “The Bad Guy”?)
That should display the differences in how my moral compass processes things pretty cleanly. However, I’ve learned that I’ve gotta set my values aside if I wanna coexist with society.
I spend a lot of time re-writing the underlying beliefs that were used to build my distorted moral compass. The main tool I use is ASPD is CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). The core technique of CBT is called [A][[B][C](D)…
Eventually in life, we’re bound to run into an [A]ctivating Event, and we’ll have [B]eliefs about that event. Those beliefs interacting with the event produces feelings; then, those feelings will determine our reaction. Based on how we react, we receive a [C]onsequence.
That means the chain determining our consequences is…
[A]ctivating Event > [B]eliefs > [C]onsequence
**A LOT OF PEOPLE MISTAKENLY BELIEVE WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR ACTIONS AND BEHAVIORS. REALLY, TO PRODUCE LONG-TERM CHANGE WE NEED TO (D)ISPUTE OUR TOXIC BELIEFS**
I supplement that core ABC(D) technique with…
- Dao Jia & Zen philosophy,
- Personal Insight/Intuition,
- Highly Disciplined Critical-Thinking
Then using this toolkit, I attempt to restructure toxic beliefs. Here’s an example from day-to-day life just so you can see it in action:
> Say I’ve just made an observation about something my girlfriend could improve upon.
> She snaps at me for no reason, tells me to fuck off.
> I tell her not to get pissy with me for no reason, and my anger starts to rise.
> She says telling her that she stank like wet ass was out of line, and she doesn’t deserve to be talked to that way.
> Because she’s trying to manipulate me by controlling how I speak, I jump in her face screaming and refuse to back down unless she apologizes. She collapses with guilt and starts crying after I force her to admit the truth about her manipulation and apologize repeatedly.
Well, at least I got the dumb bitch to apologize, right? Wrong. If you can’t see what just happened, you might have the ‘pathy, ‘cause guess what? I just emotionally abused my girlfriend into obedience without realizing that’s what I had done. This is one of the most cognitive distortions I suffer from. When psychologists say sociopaths play the victim, this is what we see on our end. I call it “self-doffense”
When I encounter recurring problems like this, I used CBT and Zen mindfulness meditation to break down the circumstances logically. When I do this, it’s critical that I only focus on my part in things. All I need to do is change one simple belief:
Toxic [B]eliefs: “
All social interaction is a from of manipulation, especially communications about feelings,”
“People aren’t owed any respect and it’s insulting that they ask.”
“People often want something when communicating, but when they say their feelings are hurt the thing they want is to have their feelings respected,”
“If I feel I’m owed respect, then I also owe respect back to others.”
Now I just never tell my girlfriend she stinks like wet ass. If I do, I understand it was disrespectful and she has a right to stand up for herself. Now, keep in mind this in regard to a specific hypothetical where I was acting in self-doffense. Learning to tell when I’m on doffense and when I’m on defense is difficult. There’s many judgment calls like this throughout day-to-day life that I’ve had to learn about as I go along. I was always opposed to the idea of challenging my beliefs that many toxic philosophies are ingrained in my subconscious.
Let’s apply this tool to some of the toxic beliefs that form my ASPD:
> Coddling people's emotions harmful to them/Compassion has no value.
[A]ctivating Event: I see a woman coddling her kid.
[B]elief: Ugh… teaching your kids to expect compassion like that makes them weak.
[C]onsequence: The smoking hot-blonde Mom tells you that she was trying to work up the courage to ask you out until you decided to be an Aggro-Douche-Fauxalpha-Joke
OKAY, NOW HEALTH IT UP:
Healthy [B]eliefs: That kid’s gonna grow up with healthy self-esteem because of his attentive parents. A gentle hand is truly a powerful thing.
MoreDoper [C]onsequence: Instead of lashing out at the Mom, I compliment her on her gentle and compassionate demeanor. She thanks me, and says she is impressed by men who can show their soft side like that. I then imagine a scenario where I’m semi-dateable before remembering I’m most definitely not.
> People need to be told the hard truths sometimes, and sugarcoating it isn’t doing them any favors/Compassion has no value:
[A]ctivating Event: I got a friend who’s smellin’ funky.
[B]eliefs: I’d wanna be told if I stank, and I wouldn’t want it to be gentle or sugar coated
[C]onsequence: I wait until we’re in a stoner circle smoking a blunt and say “Holy fuck dude you smell like a dead skunks ass. Take a shower you nasty piece of shit!” and everyone laughs. Stink Friend looks kind of embarrassed, but I’m sure he knows I was just joking…
…Stink Friend kills himself three days later.
OKAY, NOW HEALTH IT UP:
Healthy [B]eliefs: Stink Friend deserves to know, but most people aren’t as thick-skinned as I am. I should pull him aside and tell him what’s up on the down low.
MoreDoper [C]onsequence: Stink Friend explains that he fell on a dead skunk’s ass while he was walking over, and didn’t realize that smell stuck to him. I give him some fresh clothes and a stick of deodorant, he takes a shower, and we burn the skunk-ass tainted outfit for being an unholy demon relic.
> My personal moral code won't allow me to lie in order to protect someone's feelings, because I see feelings as imaginary liabilities that hold people back:
[A]ctivating Event: My friend tells me, “I’m not even gonna bother keeping myself informed. I’m just gonna let friends do my thinking for me.”
[B]eliefs: That’s completely fucking retarded and my friend needs to be told what a fucktard they’re being.
[C]onsequence: Friend’s feelings are hurt because you didn’t consider those feelings they never read ever again.
OKAY, NOW HEALTH IT UP:
Healthy [B]eliefs: If I step down from my refusal to have some tact and I’m strategic about my wording, I can communicate the same message in a more tactful way so feelings aren’t hurt but the warning is given
MoreDoper [C]onsequence: Illiterate Friend is stunned by my eloquent wording and wants to know where I learned to be a wordsmith like that. I tell him that I read a lot. Literate Friend immediately begins reading and eventually becomes the Reading Books World Champion of the World.
My subconscious mind is filled with these toxic beliefs. Even after I’ve broken them down, disputed them, built them back up, and then altered them they still persist as a foundational components of my ASPD. I’ll be using these tools to manage my ASPD until the day I die. I constantly need to be questioning my perceptions and my beliefs. One of my most problematic toxic beliefs I have is an expectation that other people gotta change their behavior accommodate my problems.
> I get angry when people try to coddle my emotions 'cause I take it as an insult to my intelligence. This "anti-coddling" policy is a thing I don't see myself ever backing down from
Toxic [B]elief: People “sugarcoating” and “coddling me” means they think I’m emotionally weak and stupid.
Healthy [B]elief: Using tact and graceful word choices isn’t dishonest. Considering other people’s feelings isn’t weak. People addressing me with some politesse and respect isn’t an insult to my intelligence. I think it’s about time I back down from this anti-coddling thing I’ve been standing my ground on this whole time.
MoreDoper [C]onsequence: Hopefully I’ll see less confrontational interpersonal reactions, but I guess only time will tell.
A lot of similar things surrounding etiquette lead to people apologizing to me when I don't feel I'm owed one or expecting an apology when I don't feel one is owed to them. I'll ask a friend for money and they'll say, "No, Dave, I don't have it right now, sorry," and then apologize over and over for not having the cash to loan me weed money. Things like that really start to frustrate me at times. I’m starting to understand that they aren’t obligated to accommodate my quirks, especially because they often aren’t aware it’s frustrating me.
I gotta adjust myself to fit the world. I can’t expect the world to adjust for me. That's the only way to get me to change. Piece-By-Piece. I'm starting to value myself morally because living by it legitimately makes me feel good.
There’s a certain belief I have that’s inherently problematic, but I don’t think I can handle it that way and I refuse to call the belief toxic: I vehemently reject “groupthink” and that rejection forms the foundation of ASPD. I’m not so sure I’ll be able to use psychological tricks to combat this rejection, and I’ll be honest I don’t know how I’m gonna approach this problem in the long term.
Groupthink arises from a drive for conformity meeting inherent confirmation bias:
Conformity: The act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms. Norms are implicit, specific rules, shared by a group of individuals, that guide their interactions with others. This tendency to conform occurs in small groups and/or society as a whole, and may result from subtle unconscious influences, or direct and overt social pressure. Conformity can occur in the presence of others, or when an individual is alone. For example, people tend to follow social norms when eating or watching television, even when alone. (When I say I reject groupthink, this is what I’m actually rejecting)
Confirmation bias: (also called “confirmatory bias” or “myside bias”) The tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. Confirmation bias is a variation of the more general tendency of apophenia. (Everybody falls victim to this cognitive bias to some extent or another. No matter how aware of it you are, it still shifts your perception in a way that tells you what you already believe is correct by default)
Those two underlying patterns inherent in human behavior mix with each other to create this set of behaviors when applied to a group setting:
Type I: Overestimations of the group — its power and morality
- Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
- Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
Type II: Closed-mindedness
- Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
- Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
Type III: Pressures toward uniformity
- Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
- Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
- Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty"
- Mindguards— self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
That all describes what I call “Conformist Groupthink.” I’ve come up with a different conception of groupthink that I call “Diversified Groupthink”:
The gist of it is that our concept of groupthink needs to be altered to include an inherent expectation for each individual to critically analyze group ideas and behavior, then challenge the things they disagree with. That sort of thing is currently punished; it needs to be the primary act we reward instead. Exploring alternate lines of thinking and accepting conflicting perspectives needs to be viewed as something that's necessary for groups to arrive at the best possible conclusions. People expect those concepts to be included in someone’s thinking at the individual level, but for some reason I’ve never understood, those important safeguards are excluded at the group level.
Zen and the Daojia
Finally, we get to the real all-stars in my life: Zen and the Daojia. The Daojia is an ancient Chinese spiritual philosophy. I like it because it’s called “The Pathless Path” and I’m a sorta pathless ‘path. The reason philosophical Daoism is different from religious Daoism is that philosophical Daoism has no traditional interpretations other than a few basic understandings, there’s no established structure, no rituals, no traditions, and most important of all no dogma.
To start out, the Dao isn’t worshipped because everything is the Dao. “Dao” translates literally to “Way” and “The Dao” is ancient Chinese shorthand for “The Way things are naturally.” and “All things according to their nature,” is the core of the message. There’s two main books that form the foundations of all the thinking in this vein: Dao De Jing (Book of the Way) and Zhuangzi (Named after it’s author)
To truly describe the gifts I’ve been given by these magical schools of thinking would be impossible. One of the major understandings is that the fully breadth of the Eternal Dao can’t be put into words. “The Dao that can be told is not the true Eternal Dao,” is one of the most famous DDJ quotes. This is saying that the Dao (or “Natural Order”) we see in our day-to-day lives isn’t the full embodiment of the Eternal Dao.
(I have another essay that goes very in-depth with Daoism. If you’re interested, click dis shit.)
For now, I’m going to interpret a passage of Zhuangzi and talk about a core concept called wu wei, which is similar to mindfulness meditation and though many people believe better described as mindlessness.
First up, here’s that Zhuangzi:
All-pervading is the Great Tao!
It may be found on the left hand and on the right.
All things depend on it for their production, which it gives to them, not one refusing obedience to it.
When its work is accomplished, it does not claim the name of having done it. It clothes all things as with a garment and makes no assumption of being their lord;--it may be named in the smallest things.
All things return (to their root and disappear), and do not know that it is it which presides over their doing so;--it may be named in the greatest things.
Hence the sage is able (in the same way) to accomplish his great achievements. It is through his not making himself great that he can accomplish them.
Okay, here’s me fuckin’ up that lesson
The Great Dao is the one that’s like… too big to fit in our universe as far as I can tell. It pervades through all the shits.
It’s made of yin and yang, darkness and light, nothing and then everything that is a thing, plus all imaginary things because you imagined them and it’s you. It be me too. See that dude over there ►? It’s that dude too. It’s the good guys AND the bad guys. Somebody out there considers those bad guys good guys. Someone considers your good guys bad guys. The Great Dao is both on the left hand of existence, and in the palm of it’s nonexistent right hand. It’s all the things and none of the the things because none of the things is one of the things.
↑↑That concept↑↑ is called yin-yang.
What our culture calls a “yin-yang symbol” the Dao’s true image. All things have their yin and their yang, even yin and yang. We all die. Be humble.
Next up, I’ma talk about the the wu wei.
(Pronounced: “woo way”)
I don’t have to think. I only have to do it.
The results are always perfect, but that’s old news.
I can’t see the end of me. My whole expanse I cannot see.
I formulate infinity. Stored deep inside me.
Either you got it off that or you’ll get it again some day. Be in the moment. Go with the flow. Trust your actions. Be spontaneous. Let your nature shine naturally and don’t worry about whether you make a mistake because, guess what, that’s your nature! Literally, “wu wei” translates into “non-doing”, “non-striving” or something of that nature. It was originally described to me as “acting without intentions.”
I also incorporate a lot of Zen practice isn’t my daily routine. Zen is a fusion of that funky Daojia I just told you about and Buddhist practice. If you wanna learn about Buddhism before hearing about Zen, I’ll magic you up a link real quick: →Click here to learn about Muh Boy Da Budh Dude←
That link is technically one of my essays in that I conceptualized, and copypasted things sent me by my Zen buddy, Dan. though. Dan has a martial arts studio where he teaches Zen as part of the training regimen. The way the two of us met was actually when I was researching for “Muh Boy Da Buddha”. He ended up co-writing that essay for me, then we recorded some episodes of a podcast together. These days, Dan is some total loser so he helps run this website we all love. Dan is just a guy who’s spent his time learning to relax. Here’s an excerpt from our essay about Zen that’s linked ← over there:
The purpose of Zen is to liberate ourselves from suffering by awakening to our true nature.
The 4 tenets that define Zen are:
1) Not relying on words.
2) Using a special means of transmission outside the sacred texts.
3) Showing the Way instead of leading the way.
4) Seeing our true nature to become the sage.
A dude who’s got awareness is sagelike. We’re all just a dude who doesn’t know he’s the sage. Know ourselves, see our nature. When we do the next right thing, we’re sagelike. When we do the next wrong thing, we’re not.
(Wasn’t that a dope excerpt? We’re all the Dao!)
To me, Zen is essentially synonymous with Daojia, even if they’re technically the same. The main difference is that Zen has practices like meditation that go along with it. Meditation is big and complicated, but the good news is all that CBT shit I told you about earlier is a form of it. Once you’ve discovered what you want your new [B]elief to be, you visualize the [A]ctivating event and imagine yourself [D]isputing your old toxic thinking with the new thought. You picture the entirety of your new process as it leads to more favorable [C]onsequences. This form of visualization meditation when applied to an “Emotional Koan” is actually the adaptation that characterizes Hollow Bones Rinzai Zen, which is the American lineage of Zen which Dan practices.
There’s tons of different types of meditation. The form of meditation that defines Zen is concentration meditation:
Concentration meditation is a phased process that starts with mindfulness, or becoming aware of all things that are present in your conscience. The positions of your limbs, your breath moving in and out of your chest, the gentle hum of my computer right now. The blue cup on my desk and the smaller clear one next to it. My mouse. The coffee stains. The sound of me typing.
As I’m forcing all these things into my consciousness, I’m also doing my best to focus all my concentration onto a singular task, my writing. The combination of mindfulness, concentration, and focused action used to write that paragraph is the idea behind wu wei.
Concentration meditation is how you build into wu wei though. same thing minus the focused action.of writing. Instead a person would pick a singular point and focus on that. I usually use my breath. My computers hum works well for me too. Dan tells me concentration meditation is meant to be done with my eyes open and my gaze softened. You work the total mindfulness into single pointed concentration until only that point fills your consciousness. After we’ve achieved single pointed focus, we release the contraction to regain the original mindfulness while also maintaining the single pointed focus. If done properly, this should put a person into a state called “Dhyana”. Dhyana is the “thoughtlessly thinking” state of mind that meditation is supposed to induce.
By combining Zen meditation practice, the philosophies of Daojia, and the evidence based approaches contained within CBT, I’m able to manage my ASPD in a way that allowed me to function like an average person. Slowly, the need for self-serving motives is giving away. As I became more aware of the fact that all things are the Dao, an emotional well-being and contentment became my driving motivator. The feeling I get from being satisfied in the right here, right now is more important to me than any material gain could ever be.
Despite the progress I’ve made, I know that if I allow myself to set these habits aside, I can quickly revert. Remaining dedicated to my reform isn’t so much about changing myself more than I already have these days. These days I’m all about maintaining the changes that brought me to this amazing place in life.
Zen is the summary, I suppose. It’s the centerpiece of my reform; the umbrella everything in this essay falls under. Before I let you go, here’s links to Dan’s podcast which further explains the techniques discussed in this essay:
- Dan’s explanation of Zen meditation practice.
- The Underlying Principles of Zen Ego Reconstruction.
- The Practice of Zen Ego reconstruction.