comment by buybuydandavis ·
2014-12-01T04:49:30.799Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I was in a bad spot myself a few years ago, which I sought therapy for.
Much of my problem, and my subsequent unhappiness about it, came from not facing facts squarely. Impending losses, the anticipation of loss, often hurt much much worse than the actual loss.
We have hopes and dreams about what will make us happier. But when those hopes and dreams fail, or we fail them, that doesn't mean we can't be happy anymore. When the bad thing happened, the world kept turning. There were still movies to see, songs to hear, food to eat, people to help.
What I found helped, even prior to the bad thing happening, was just laying out what I would do if all the hopes were dashed, and all the fears realized. What's the worst case, and what would I do then? And the next worst case? And the next?
And you know, the worst case wasn't so bad, and was actually better than the unhappiness I was experiencing at the time. Some people live in miserable hell holes of violence and terror. What their world is makes them miserable. I don't live in that world. I presume you don't either. You are likely, like I was, being made miserable by what isn't, the hope and dream that won't be. Somehow the dream that was supposed to make us happier if it came true, makes us miserable when it doesn't. But that's rather wacky, isn't it? Now probably affords plenty of happiness if you'd take them, and plenty of opportunities for more happiness.
I just had a lengthier version of this talk with a friend recently. I think it really does help to talk with others to get some perspective on your issues, and your current approach to them. Looking back, my problems were largely of my own making, made worse by my own delusions and distortions. My friend's problems were largely of his own imagination about what might happen, where his perception of events were severely distorted by his fears of "the bad thing". It helps to get perspective on your issues from others. People are most deluded about their own situations, as their perceptions are altered by the sweep of emotions they have. Someone not in your shoes can likely give you a more objective picture of events.
You said your friend didn't have solutions. Sometimes, there aren't solutions. Sometimes you lose. On the other hand, sometimes we're so wound up by our fears of losing that we can't see the easy win.
Basic decision theory. Lay out the contingencies, lay out your options for dealing with them. Probably the most important thing is to start turning the contingencies into facts. Which branch is the real one? Find out. If something horrible may be, find out ASAP. Whatever unhappiness you may suffer from the truth, won't be avoided in the end, but you can shrink the misery of the anticipation of it. Find out.