Monday, October 24, 2011

Being a Better Person

Ulearn was one of the few places where I actually genuinely wanted to stop smoking. Of course, this was rendered ineffectual by my having to do a 5 minute presentation (it kind of went okay only I missed my opportunity to talk about open source software - not the fact that it's open source but the fact that it allows us to own our software and make it work the way we want it to work).

After that was a great big dinner. I hate crowds. Never been comfortable with them. And every now and again I end up in a cold sweat that has me just freaking out. Heart thumping in throat as my desperately try to keep it together. Rocking backwards and forwards is a real possibility. Crying also. So at the dinner I found myself outside often, smoking. And while inside, I was drinking something chronic.

There, funnily enough, is some benefit to smoking. The breathing done when smoking is much the same as the techniques taught to handle anxiety for example. One of my big things has always been that it takes you away from what you're doing and allows you to solve problems. i.e. I quite often find answers to programming problems when outside, cigarette in one hand, print out in the other, pacing furiously.

After a cigarette someone had called me stinky. The evening after, the same again only much more ... effectual this time around. I found myself outside after everyone had gone to bed, smoking, pondering on it.

This, to me, is the best argument against smoking. Everyone has to die. But you don't have to live your life being embarrassed by the smell of smoke.

When I expressed this idea to someone, rather than take the win, they argued that you don't have die early. Take the win people. Given that there is very little dignity in death, what does it matter?

But it kind of does matter. To the people around you.

So I've got this obsession with being a good person. I think I'm a pretty good person. But part of me always wants to be better.

When I've offended someone I tend to agonise over what I did wrong. I've always wondered as to the dynamics in relationships. Most guys I know, when splitting with a partner, sit around trying to figure out what they did wrong and how they could have done better. This is a far cry from the woman on sitcoms who sit around with their girlfriends burning anything that reminds them of the guy and results in hot firemen turning up to their home. Think depressed guys crying into a whiskey vs. women at a club downing shots in a party like atmosphere. Same thing really.

I do tend to see the flaws more than the positives. This is for a very practical reason. If it's working well, there's no need to focus on it. It's the negatives, the things that need fixing, that need attention.

Of course, this does seem to be a result of how I was brought up. A lack of positive reinforcement. We know positive reinforcement is a good thing. It's good for things like self esteem (which I've established, I have very little if any).

So how could I be a better person? By starting to see the positives. By quitting smoking. By not blaming others when I'm feeling detached. By being more communicative.

So this afternoon I figure I'm going to go and buy myself some nicotine patches. Attempt to not be quite so stinky. Thanks those at Ulearn who made me feel... self-conscious enough to stop.

Oh - and "Go the All Blacks!"


  1. Congratulations on deciding to quit smoking. It may not be easy, but will be worth it in the end.

    [This is a far cry from the woman on sitcoms who sit around with their girlfriends burning anything that reminds them of the guy and results in hot firemen turning up to their home.]

    Wish i had known this would have happened if i burned the ex's stuff :P In actual fact, it took me weeks to even have the courage to not have his things around me still. And even longer still to get rid of the pictures of him. I missed him terribly at first. Alcohol would have made me even more miserable than ever. So i avoided it.

    [Of course, this does seem to be a result of how I was brought up. A lack of positive reinforcement]

    Do you not get positive reinforcement from other avenues now or do you just ignore the encouragement that your friends who love you give you? Is this enough for some people? To be able to please your friends but not your family?

    And.. " YAY, ALL BLACKS WINNNN !!!" Even tho the game wasnt their best ever. Its still a win.

  2. Positive reinforcement is a funny thing. You can get it but then, what do you do with it? If you're not used to it... you question it.

    "She can't possibly have meant what I think she meant can she?"

    Followed by "No... Can't possibly have meant that. I'm sure it's just me reading too much into it."

    Followed up by "Stop being an idiot. You're just reading too much into it".

    It's not that there isn't the positive reinforcement now, it's that it's hard to... contextualise it and rationalise it with your own self image. A bit like hearing someone saying "2+2 equals 5". It just doesn't quite compute.