• Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

Harriet

Act VII - Harriet Scouts the Lands Beyond the Fortress

Recommended Posts

12 minutes ago, Harriet said:

Though I may just need to have better plans for introducing positive habit, and reflect on why I feel so resistant to them.

 

Spending time on the second part of that suggestion really helped me getting back into writing things. I am still phobic about letting anyone read what I write, but that's okay since I'm writing for my own pleasure and not for others. :) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been in Yosemite for a few days, without internet. And I took the opportunity to read a book called “How to break up with your phone”. The book explained that humans crave novelty and for evolutionary reasons: we hunt and gather new information like birds collect seeds. And when we get it, we’re rewarded with a little hit of dopamine. And the intermittent nature of new messages and notifications is perfectly habit forming, just like slot machines. Also, just being in the same room as your phone causes an increase in cortisol, which spikes as you pick it up, then drops as you check it. Getting away from screens is so hard because it raises our cortisol as we think about what we're missing out on, and we also start to miss the dopamine. So I was right in feeling that screens/the internet temporarily relieve anxiety but increase it in the long run. Knowing there's a biological explanation somehow makes me feel less awful about admitting that I feel a constant agitation/anxiety that makes it hard to focus on the activities I believe are worthwhile. It's nice to learn that humans are susceptible to these habits. I’m not just a terrible, lazy person who doesn’t want to do worthwhile things. I might be more susceptible than others to internet/screen temptation because of the depression (which might mean I have lower levels of dopamine generally and am more motivated to seek it) and my general anxiety, and because I have a lot of spare time (too anxious for a normal job, yay). But what if the tactics I use to alleviate the depression and anxiety are actually making them a lot worse in the long run? Not to mention wasting time I want to spend on other things? I need to slay this monster. I will require equipment, maps, potions, and a lucky charm in the shape of a rabbit's foot blessed by a cleric or some other intermediary for the gods of industry, war, and art. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. That is a lot of insight and contemplation all in one post.

 

It was also educational, since I was unaware of the dopamine side of the internet. I will have to put some thoughts of my own into this... thank you for sharing all of that. :) 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first step in fighting certain enemies is a spell of reveal/identify/true seeing. You can't target an invisible enemy. And even when you can see your enemy, you can waste all your best spells and make no dent in its HP, thinking it is invincible when it merely has immunity to lightning. So, the first step in fighting my enemy is seeing it, naming it, and knowing it well. That's why I'm going to be spending some time reading up on computer and internet addictions. It's not that I think I have a special problem. I think most people I know are probably at least slightly addicted. But it's interfering with how I want to spend my time so I'm going to take it seriously. I read "How to break up with your phone" by Catherine Price. It was a good introduction but I want more in depth knowledge. So I started reading "Irresistible" by Adam Alter and I have also downloaded Gazzaley and Rosen's "The distracted mind", and taken a look at Tristan Harris's "Center for Humane Technology" and some of his essays. I will be sharing what I learn here. Writing it down will help me consolidate my understanding.

First insights from Alter's "Irresistible": 

1. Substance and behavioural addictions are similar. Both cause a spike of dopamine in the brain that differs in magnitude rather than kind. In both cases the brain, when exposed repeatedly to these spikes, lowers baseline dopamine production to compensate, then craves more dopamine due to newly low levels.

2. Behavioural addiction has six elements: compelling goals that are just out of reach; irresistible and unpredictable positive feedback; a sense of incremental progress/improvement; tasks that become slowly more difficult over time; unresolved tensions demanding resolution; strong social connections.* Modern behavioural addictions generally have at least one of these elements.
3. Dopamine causes wanting, not liking. Rats whose ability to create dopamine was surgically destroyed still enjoyed the normal rat pleasure, sugar water, when it was given them. But they did not seek it out. The liked it but didn't want it. Likewise, addicts can want things without liking them.

4. Some researchers hypothesise that a pleasurable activity can only become an addiction when we use it to alleviate mental or emotional distress, even mild distress like boredom. I'm not sure everyone agrees on this, but it is worth pondering.

 

*Oh dear. This sounds a lot like video games. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Harriet said:

2. Behavioural addiction has six elements: compelling goals that are just out of reach; irresistible and unpredictable positive feedback; a sense of incremental progress/improvement; tasks that become slowly more difficult over time; unresolved tensions demanding resolution; strong social connections.*

 

*Oh dear. This sounds a lot like video games. 

 

It sounds a lot like NerdFitness Challenges too. ;)

 

None of those elements are unique to behavioral addictions, and I don't think they are what cause it either. After all, lots of people play video games without becoming addicted. Lots of people gamble without becoming addicted. Lots of people spend all their free time on internet forums, without becoming addicted. Lots of people work out several times per week, without becoming addicted.

 

The way I see it, the six elements are what makes a person come back - the thrill of meeting the compelling goals, of improving bit by bit, of completing a difficult task, or making strong social connections that might not be present elsewhere in our lives. When the person prioritizes coming back to whatever behavior they are becoming addicted to, over things that they should not neglect, or they stop seeking that thrill and gratification from anything else in their life, that's when I believe the person needs to reevaluate their priorities.

 

Or, to phrase it slightly differently, this:

 

2 hours ago, Harriet said:

4. Some researchers hypothesise that a pleasurable activity can only become an addiction when we use it to alleviate mental or emotional distress, even mild distress like boredom. 

 

It may even be possible that there are behavioral addictions out there that are good for us, or at the very least not harmful. Some may even go completely unnoticed, because society sees them as "normal behavior". A person who is addicted to spending face-to-face time with their immediate family members or close friends, will probably never be diagnosed as an addict. And why should they, if the behavior ultimately does not harm anyone?

 

When does something stop being an incentive and start becoming an addiction?

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, scalyfreak said:

None of those elements are unique to behavioral addictions, and I don't think they are what cause it either.

 

Indeed. The author is proposing them as necessary* conditions, not sufficient ones. They're just things that make activities rewarding for us. I listed them because it may help me, if I find myself reaching for an activity I want to do less of, what I'm actually looking for, to see if I can't satisfy that desire in another way. Don't worry, I didn't come to preach against video games and internet forums :D I love video games. But I also naturally stop enjoying them if I play too long, so I don't consider myself in danger from them.

 

*Though I wonder if he hasn't left some things out. Why do people watch excessive cat videos and check the news compulsively? 

 

2 hours ago, scalyfreak said:

When does something stop being an incentive and start becoming an addiction?

 

You're right. Addictions use the same reward pathways in the brain that motivate us to do many things that are necessary for our survival (like eating delicious food), or at least not harmful. But if the concept of addiction covered all rewarding behaviours that we're motivated to do, it would be so broad as to be useless. We want a term that covers a subset of motivated behaviours that are harmful. 

 

So that's probably why the author (and others) define addiction as a harmful behaviour that's detrimental to other goals or parts of our lives (like our health, relationships, careers, etc). By way of contrast, the author defines passion as something we find highly rewarding and pour a lot of time, energy or other resources into, BUT which is consistent with our long term goals for how we want our lives to go. I would say that another element that helps define addiction could be the subjective feeling of loss of control over how often we do the addictive activity or how much time we spend on it.

 

The reason researchers and others talk about internet addiction rather than merely internet use, is that a lot of people feel like they spend more time on the internet than they intend to; they feel they can't control their use or they use it compulsively rather than deliberately; they feel it is detrimental to their sleep, concentration, relationships, work, and other projects; and they feel anxious and agitated when they can't use it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2019 at 12:49 AM, Harriet said:

Knowing there's a biological explanation somehow makes me feel less awful about admitting that I feel a constant agitation/anxiety that makes it hard to focus on the activities I believe are worthwhile. It's nice to learn that humans are susceptible to these habits. I’m not just a terrible, lazy person who doesn’t want to do worthwhile things

 

I've found that many of the things I blame myself for for lack of will power usually has a strong societal structure.  Over eating because of our culture of convenience or food engineered to be eaten quickly and to be extra-delicious. Always checking social media because there's usually a reward of a new notification.  Leaving my email open and feeling a little excitement when I hear the little *ding* notification.  It's good business to use psychology to make your consumers want your product repeatedly, but the bottom line rarely lines up with health.

 

It kinda takes the stress away to learn that it's not all completely your fault, and it's also easier to make a strategy when you know your enemies tactics.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Leimanu said:

 

I've found that many of the things I blame myself for for lack of will power usually has a strong societal structure.  Over eating because of our culture of convenience or food engineered to be eaten quickly and to be extra-delicious. Always checking social media because there's usually a reward of a new notification.  Leaving my email open and feeling a little excitement when I hear the little *ding* notification.  It's good business to use psychology to make your consumers want your product repeatedly, but the bottom line rarely lines up with health.

 

It kinda takes the stress away to learn that it's not all completely your fault, and it's also easier to make a strategy when you know your enemies tactics.


So true. The worst thing is, I used to think that if I let up on the self blame, I wouldn't get anything done. I'd be even worse: even lazier, even more unfit, etc. But it's not true. It actually makes it easier to motivate myself and formulate a plan when I personify my problems as enemies and decide to slay them. Maybe silly, but a lot more fun than berating myself.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Harriet said:

It actually makes it easier to motivate myself and formulate a plan when I personify my problems as enemies and decide to slay them. Maybe silly, but a lot more fun than berating myself.

 

Silly? Absolutely not! There's a reason I have demons ans stress monsters - they're easier to deal with.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, scalyfreak said:

Silly? Absolutely not! There's a reason I have demons ans stress monsters - they're easier to deal with.


I was in fact thinking of your stress hydra when I was considering and naming some of my enemies recently :) So good to have my nerds for inspiration.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Challenge summary:

Well, I learned that getting away from screens and escapism and spending more time in the real world with mindfulness is going to be a harder battle than I thought. The one thing I did have a little success with is cooking more ambitiously and attentively. I've also started reading about tech addictions. I'm not giving up, I just have to be more strategic and upgrade my armour and other equipment before returning to battle. Next challenge I will be collecting data and making plans.

 

I also made some progress in my lifting--added 5 lb to my bench, 5 to deadlift, 10 to squat. And, uh, one rep to my OHP :D 

 

The intuitive eating is going fine, mostly still giving myself permission to eat what I want, and realising I want junk food sometimes but not always, and some days I'm not focused much on food while other days I'm ravenous. I am a bit heavier, but who cares? No one actually cares. I look fine. I feel okay. 


I did my taekwondo belt test (results available in a week or so, but seriously they can't fail us) and took a yongmudo (hapkido) class over the break while TKD was cancelled. I think I'm making progress on my side kicks. I realised my hip flexors are super tight and they need a lot of attention for the sake of both my kicks and my squats. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, Harriet said:

 I'm not giving up, I just have to be more strategic and upgrade my armour and other equipment before returning to battle.

 

The life of a warrior, summed up in one sentence. :)

 

Don't forget lots of regen and healing potions, and a sidekick or two for flanking your enemies while you attack.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/18/2019 at 10:11 AM, Harriet said:

3. Dopamine causes wanting, not liking. Rats whose ability to create dopamine was surgically destroyed still enjoyed the normal rat pleasure, sugar water, when it was given them. But they did not seek it out. The liked it but didn't want it. Likewise, addicts can want things without liking them.

I think this is relevant to a lot of people's overeating. Often I'll be like, "Why am I even eating this?" Or I'll go buy Doritos even though I know that I'm going to regret them and they won't be worth it. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, JessFit said:

I think this is relevant to a lot of people's overeating. Often I'll be like, "Why am I even eating this?" Or I'll go buy Doritos even though I know that I'm going to regret them and they won't be worth it. 

 

Yep. Certainly that has happened to me. Just watching my hands stuff things in my face while my disembodied higher self says weakly "Why?" and "Please stop". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now