While growing up I was frequently reminded of the importance of tests and grades. My parents and teachers would encourage me to succeed with nothing but well meaning. Unfortunately, I also learnt to value myself for what I could do as opposed to who I am. I read about a concept in the book The Chimp Paradox called the fridge door. In one case when the child comes to their mother with a drawing she tells them “well done” and pins it to the fridge. This teaches the child that they are valued based on what they do. In another case the mother expresses love to the child despite their achievement, showing them that they are valued regardless. It seems strange that it wouldn’t be obvious that most parents have nothing but unconditional love for their children, yet many people grow up placing their worth in what they can do.
Some people use this way of thinking to push themselves to succeed. Unfortunately, it can just as easily result in turning people away from trying their best. I was seen as a workaholic by many while I was a student, but it was my way of trying to locate my self-esteem. I got caught in a trap whereby I would work hard in the hopes of feeling better about myself, but I would have to keep doing more and more to reach that goal. After pushing myself to exhaustion I realized that no matter what I did I’d never feel like I was good enough. I didn’t feel like working anymore, because what’s the point when it never turns out well? I now know that neither train of thought is helpful, but I’m still struggling to know how to maintain a healthy work life balance that isn’t tied to my feelings of self worth. Working can be an emotional roller-coaster for me, if I don’t do enough I feel guilty, but when I try I’m self critical and filled with feelings of disappointment.
As well as applying this way of thinking to ourselves we can also apply it to others. Most kids just want to feel loved and will do anything they can to achieve this goal. In some cases they can come to associate a show of affection with doing something for someone. For a long time I felt like I could only get people to like me by doing things for them. It would then leave me disheartened when they didn’t reciprocate. I would see them extending their friendship more easily to others who had done far less for them than I had. In turn we can also start to value others based on what they can do for us and bad experiences can leave you feeling like people will always let you down. In truth they don’t really owe us anything and probably never asked for some of the things we’ve done for them.
Basing our self-esteem on uncontrollable factors such as our ability to achieve perfection or to receive praise from others is risky. Instead we can celebrate the things that make us who we are, recognising traits such as kindness, conscientiousness and honesty. Why base our self-esteem on a future goal that we have yet to achieve when we can feel good about ourselves for who we are now? We can even learn to embrace out vulnerabilities and imperfections, because they are what make us human. We can feel good about ourselves just for trying our best and being determined enough not to give up, even if we haven’t yet reached the results that we feel are expected of us. We can extend this thought to how we approach others as well, by showing them that our affection for them is safe no matter what they accomplish in life.
My partner’s boss’ parents are bee keepers and he’s been selling off spare pots of honey. I seem to have it stockpiled now so it’ll last me a good while. I love honey and it’s even better when its not been bought from a super market. If you get it locally it can also help you to build up resistance to hay fever.
Fit in a couple of sessions of Dungeons & Dragons this week and have another one planned for tomorrow. We can’t seem to find enough time to play as much as we’d like to at the moment, but it’s good that everybody is so enthusiastic. It’s also keeping me busy trying to learn how to play and preparing for Dungeon Master duties. Although my friend wants to try and DM the next one, which I’m happy about as I just created a new character that I’m really excited to play. For some reason I have the heart of the dice and get incredible rolls, while all of my friends seem to be incredibly unlucky. It isn’t ideal as a DM as I keep critically hitting their characters, but I rolled to get my character’s stats and they’re amazing (I got three six’s on one roll.) Although, as a DM it feels amazing to see everybody enjoying themselves on a story that you’re helping to create.
Yay, Easter’s here and that means lots of chocolate and some time off.
Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here.
Between back problems, hospital visits and breaks away I haven’t been able to get back to the gym as consistently as I would have liked so far this year. This week I’ve given myself the push to go three times, an hour each session, which is what I use to do. I’m also going to exert my willpower – we have cream slices in the house and I’m going to turn it down. The hardest thing I find about trying to live a healthier lifestyle is that people keep buying treats in or planning nights out, even after you’ve already explained that you’re trying to cut back. It’s my fault for not being very good at avoiding temptation and saying ‘no’, but after a week of keeping to the gym I’m going to stay strong this time… I hope.
This week I focussed on designing a WordPress theme. I’ve only been working on the HTML and CSS so far, but I’m really happy with it. I can be a bit rusty at first if I haven’t done any web programming in a while, and this isn’t helped by the fact that I can be quite ambitious with my ideas. I also got accepted another another user-testing website and completed a couple more tests. I’m getting better at it. I’m far more relaxed now. I’m also on a website called Slice The Pie, a website where you can give feedback on new songs and fashion. It’s a lot of fun and my rating has suddenly jumped up to 4 stars.
My friends and I have been doing a lot more together recently, and I feel like it’s helping me to feel a bit closer to them. We went to see Deadpool together in 4D, started a game of Civilization V and went back for a couple more games at the card game shop. Everybody seems enthusiastic to do the card games as a weekly thing now, which I’m really happy about. We even have plans to do Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time, but could either never find the people or the space. I was getting tired of always going to the pub and it costs too much to do it all the time.
Since discovering a space in which to play card games together we have started to gather once a week. Over the past couple of weeks the focus has been on our newest game Boss Monster (see ‘Discovering New Card Games – Boss Monster.’) We’ve since introduced this game to a couple of our friends and they enjoy it just as much as we do. Each time we play it results in lively discussions, laughter and debate. Each one feels like a story in and of itself. We have also introduced a couple of expansion packs now: Paper and Pixels and Tools of the Hero-Kind. One of these adds dungeon rooms that can accumulate damage output through counters and the other attaches items to heroes. These items give them additional abilities to help them to get through your dungeon, but if you succeed in killing them you also gain that item and an additional ability. Since adding these we’ve found that the games have become far more unpredictable and exciting. I don’t remember every detail of these games, but here’s a summary:
A lot of us are guilty for putting a negative spin on things, in particular when it comes to judgements about other people. I’ve frequently seen criticisms along the lines of ‘they’re trying too hard’ or ‘taking life too seriously.’ It’s possible to perceive almost everything in a positive or negative way. Some people will probably fit our negative view of them, others the positive, but many will be somewhere in-between. Many of us are fearful of being branded with certain criticisms like it’s the worst thing ever, but in our avoidance we also miss out on the positives of these traits. For example, there are worse things a person can be than pretentious, but I see the word being bandied about frequently as something to be absolutely avoided. I think such words are possibly being misused and have seen it being applied to anybody with an interest in art or academics (see the article ‘What’s wrong with being pretentious?‘ on The Guardian and ‘It’s good to be pretentious‘ on Salon.)
We might have things we dislike about ourselves (perhaps we were bullied about it,) but we can learn to accept it by putting a positive spin on it. Even in the worst parts of ourselves it’s possible to see something good. That’s not to suggest that we should become complacent with who we are (it’s good to work on ourselves to become better people,) but it doesn’t help to constantly beat ourselves up over something that might not even be that big of a problem; We’re all fallible human beings after all. Seeing everything in a negative light also contributes to problems like depression and anxiety.We can use this trick to answer interview questions in which we’re asked about our weaknesses too.
By taking the time to interpret something in multiple ways, we can come to the realization of just how unclear life really is and that there is always more than one way to see something. As such we can draw the conclusion that no matter what we do it’s impossible to please everybody and that misunderstandings are likely. Somebody might act in a way that we consider to be incredibly grating, but to others it’s endearing or beneficial. Trying to see another’s behaviour as something other than a threat to ourselves can also help us to deal with them more easily or perhaps allow us to get along better.
So I haven’t had the chance to write anything here over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been recovering from jet lag this week, after flying back from Montreal. It was amazing being able to go back to Canada again, as it is one of my favourite places to visit. We also got to see three of our favourite bands while we were there: Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and Delain. Got to shake the hands with all the members of Nightwish and had a photo taken with them. When I first became a fan I never even thought I’d get a chance to see them perform, nevermind actually meeting them. While we were there I also visited my first planetarium, saw some wolves and ate the tastiest pizza ever.
Once we got back home we had another gig to go to. It was Sabaton and Alestorm; An unusual combination, but a fun night out all the same. I forgot how much I enjoy Alestorm, they’re really funny and can get the crowd going. Last week we also discovered that the card game shop has moved to a new location. Before it was quite a poky little shop in an area we didn’t feel safe walking through. Now it’s much closer with a whole upstairs area that anybody is free to use as a space to play card or role playing games in. Tried it out with some friends and I reckon we’ll be making regular visits from now on. It’s nice to have some space to go and meet people that won’t cost too much, like going to the pub for instance. We discovered a new card game called Boss Monster that is a lot of fun. Tonight we’re off to see Deadpool in 4D.
Oh and I finally finished all of the Game Of Thrones books and am now watching through the series. While I really enjoyed reading about all of the characters I found it to be a bit heavy going and have felt ready to move onto something new for quite some time.
February 27th 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of Pokémon. People were sharing what Pokémon meant to them and ideas about how the franchise has stood the test of time. I didn’t get a chance to ponder over this at the time, but wanted to write about some of my own thoughts as to what makes Pokémon so special.
What first drew me to Pokémon was the idea of being able to take care of my own monsters and to share the journey with a bunch of companions. I guess it appealed to the nurturing part of myself (I always loved keeping pets anyway), but I also liked how I could express myself through my choice of what to put on the team. There are over 700 different Pokémon at the time of writing this, so there is plenty of choice. It’s interesting to compare teams with your friends and to have that joy of revealing them for the first time in battle. We’ve all ended up associating different types of Pokémon with ourselves as there are cute ones, tough one, cool ones and mean looking ones to suit all tastes (I like dragon types of course; Gible and Axew are my favourites.)
There’s nothing like your first Pokémon experience. I really enjoyed unlocking new areas to see what I could find. There’s the excitement of catching new Pokémon and finding out what type it is and what it can do; Levelling it up to see what it’ll turn into. Unfortunately, even as each generation adds new Pokémon to discover, you can eventually reach a point where the game ceases to surprise you in this way. Luckily the game has other strengths to maintain your interest. On the surface many might think Pokémon is just for kids, but there is also a complexity to the system that can appeal to adults as well. I guess the game can maintain appeal no matter what stage of mastery you’re on, and the addition of new Pokémon continues to add new strategies. The game uses a simple turn-based system with a rock/paper/scissors type match-up, but the choice we make for the move set and the way we train stats onto our Pokémon gives us a lot of control over the outcome. When played competitively Pokémon does favour those with more experience, but every so often a battle can still surprise you.
Training for battles can be time-consuming and admittedly I find it can be too reliant on luck (I lost in a tournament to a very low accuracy move, even though I had the type advantage… ouch…) If playing competitively isn’t your thing Pokémon still has a lot to be enjoyed. For example, collecting things is fun. The social aspects of the game can bring friends or even strangers together, as they share to fill their Pokédex. We’re able to download Pokémon now, but a part of me preferred having to travel to events at various game shops as this allowed fans to meet up. I’ve always found the community to be a lovely mix of people from different age groups, genders and ethnicities. On attending events – even at tournaments – the vibe can be very friendly.
Overall I think Pokémon’s success can be attributed to the fact that it can appeal to so many different types of people. The Pokémon themselves have also become visual icons (who wouldn’t recognise Pikachu?) and it’s ideal for merchandising. Pokémon is still able to attract new fans while maintaining the old. I think some of us even find the images of Pokémon to be comforting as they remind us of happier times during our childhood. On the reverse of that Pokémon has also helped many of us to get through tougher times while growing up. It can be nice to escape to a simpler world to hang out with my Pokémon companions when everything gets on top of me.