Father’s Day

My father is a mercurial man. Those who know him understand that he’s thoughtful, deliberate with his words and actions, and prefers not to be social for extended periods. Those who know him well also observe that he’s a perfectionist to the point of procrastination, his words and actions can be harsh with their lack of sugar-coating, and that he’s far harder on himself than anyone else.

My father was the engineer who designed my foundation in life. I have long since followed my own path, but the moral code, integrity, and work ethic he exemplified influence everything I do to this day. I owe him my life, and I am doing all that I can to live up to his expectations: to be happy.

Today, while everyone else is forcing their ideals of what Father’s Day should entail onto the fathers in their lives, I’m going to give my father a gift he truly deserves: the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants. It’s only right that I return the favor.

I love you, dad!

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An Impromptu Trip to San Francisco

10th June 2017

Just a few days after Gregory posted out podcast conversation online, he messaged me to say that he would be in staying in San Francisco with a guy named Jason from the LLI group within the next few days. I asked him to let me know if he would be around when I had a couple of days off, which was this last Friday. That morning, I had a look at my transportation and hotel options, and decided to just go for it and try staying in a hostel for the first time!

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By the time I arrived at 200 Folsom Street on the Greyhound, it had been decided that we would meet up somewhere near my hostel. I decided to walk the several blocks instead of waiting for transit. While I was walking, Gregory messaged asking if I could meet them at the Pause Wine Bar. I said sure, I’ll look it up.

I arrived at the hostel, provided my bank card for the $32 stay, and gave the little Philipino guy $10 in cash for the room key. It read “307.” He handed me bundled red sheets, and I headed up the winding back stairs. The place was dank, but kept well enough for one night. I found my room at the very end of the hall on the third floor and walked in to find a rotund woman in her mid 50s sitting on the bottom bunk nearest the door. I returned her greeting, and asked if she’s ever stayed in a hostel before. She said she’s stayed in one in Ireland as well, thanks to her three daughters, who had been there with her this time for the previous three days.

I took the valuables out of my backpack, left it and my sheets atop the mattress, and found an available bathroom before looking at the map Gregory sent to set a course for the wine bar. It was just a few blocks away. I passed a reeking tent city on the way there, tucked back into a quiet alleyway. The roads all stank like piss and beer, and the pedestrians were all fiercely avoiding eye contact with the homeless, but nothing could spoil my positive mood at being out on my own again!

I arrived at the wine bar about 12 minutes later and immediately spotted them sitting at a corner table. They had already ordered a flatbread pizza. I greeted them, sat down beside Gregory, and formally introduced myself to Jason. I asked what led him to the LLI group, why he never spoke, and about his work.

I ordered a glass of bold Zinfandel and munched on a slice of the flatbread pizza.

Jason said that he and Gregory had only encountered one source of conflict. He feels emotions very deeply but can’t explain all of them, while Gregory doesn’t feel as much, but he can explain them in great detail. But Jason was frustrated because Gregory was only able to describe the most basic emotions without what he felt was depth. He asked me about my thoughts on the matter.

I told him that he’s describing the difference between affective and cognitive empathy. I told him it was obvious to me that he feels emotions around him easily, and I pointed out his nervousness and general anxiety. I then suggested that Gregory has likely developed cognitive empathy to understand emotions he doesn’t feel, or feel strongly, so that he can interact with other people more easily.

I explained the difference between me and a few people I know well: they feel everything intensely and deeply, while I feel everything except most forms of fear, but it dissipates quickly. I told them it was basically the same issue because I could objectively analyze an emotion they were feeling, which is exceedingly difficult to do while they’re feeling it. I described how I’ve been developing my understanding of emotions via cognitive empathy throughout my life because I’ve always felt very alien, and I wanted to be able to get along with any and every sort of person.

Jason said he’s a software engineer working for a small startup, and before that, he worked for Twitter for a few years. I asked him why he left and he said Twitter was going downhill, the stock tanked as a result, and everyone he knew when he worked there has now left.

The bar was getting unbearably loud, so we all agreed to find greener pastures, preferably which provided tequila. We walked a block, stood around awkwardly for about ten minutes, and finally decided to catch an Uber to the Cigar Bar.

There was a $10 cover because they had a live band playing salsa music. When we pulled out our IDs, Gregory showed me that he’s a citizen now of three countries, and is working on the fourth. Neither of them was interested in dancing, so we hung out, had drinks, people watched, and talked.

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We found a relatively quiet table in the back corner of a room open to the courtyard, where everyone was sampling cigars. I offered them a mini cigar each and we lit up, then realized that we were under an emergency sprinkler head. We decided against temptation and stepped out of the ceiling to floor open window into the courtyard.

We went and checked out the dancing in the next room, which was painfully graceless, then went to the bar. Gregory had mentioned Pisco at the wine bar, which I’ve never had, so I ordered it in a cocktail. He settled on the same, and Jason bought a neat scotch. We went back to our little corner table.

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There was a couple on a date at the next table. I had been watching them since they arrived maybe twenty minutes earlier. The girl was showing increasing disinterest, and the guy was desperately trying to force an intimate feeling. I pointed out the details to the guys and asked how these things wouldn’t be obvious to anyone. She was leaning away from him, kept looking at her phone, and when he scooted in next to her instead of staying sat across, she started flicking her eyes around toward the exits.

This led to a discussion on attraction and sexual orientation. Gregory basically described his relationship style like mine: A decision beyond basic instinct to be with someone for more than sex. Jason described a few facets of his relationship journey, and intimated that he wants to find someone with whom he has a deeper connection.

Gregory talked about meeting his current girlfriend in a club in Spain. They’ve been staying together in Ecuador for a while now, but she’s going back to her home for an unspecified amount of time. I asked him how he felt about being thousands of miles away from her. He said it’s difficult not to have the physical intimacy, but it’s good to have time away to grow individually before coming back together again.

They were both showing signs of being tired at this point, which was just after midnight. Jason decided to leave us to it, and wandered off for a night cap. We landed in an Uber.

We had a rideshare with a talkative Philipino couple. Gregory allowed me to have the front seat and squeezed into the back with them. He told them about his travels there, where he apparently stayed to explore several months. They got off at the Holiday Inn on Market Street, which was near my hostel, so I got out there as well. Gregory and I shook hands through his window, and he invited me to visit him in Ecuador.

I walked back to the hostel, tried to make my bed quietly and failed massively because it was so unstable, and finally fell asleep in my day outfit. I woke up just after six in the morning, waited for seven to check out, and went exploring the city alone for the first time in my life.

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Most of my exploration occurred at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. If you haven’t ever been, it is definitely worth $25. I spent nearly five hours exploring six floors and dining at their café. I recommend the curry soup.

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After I finished drinking in all of the art and culture my mind could process, I walked to Pier 14, where a newlywed couple was becoming more and more agitated at their failed effort to have photos taken professionally without interruption. Passersby didn’t seem to care about being in the way, and neither the couple nor the photographer and his assistant were attempting to communicate their intentions. I watched them and a drone a boy was flying about for a little while, enjoying the sea breeze, then headed off to peruse the nearby market. There was a woman there selling mini cheesecakes, so I tried a butterscotch one.

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As I walked over to the Greyhound station, I realized that most of the frustration I’ve been feeling lately had vanished. Apparently, I needed to travel again more than I realized! It may not have been a long journey, but now I can say that I’ve truly seen San Francisco, and had the hostel experience.

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My First Podcast

A shift in perspective changes the way that we view every detail in our own little world. After a recent paradigm shift, I became aware of a like-minded individual named Gregory Diehl, who has been engaged in efforts I appreciate on many levels, including doing podcast interviews with individuals who have a unique message for the world. He invited me to be a guest, and for the first time in my life, I thought doing an interview might be useful.

I messaged him beforehand, asking if we should have any particular topics in mind, or if it would be better to just freeflow. We never did settle on one topic, so the interview was very impromptu. The only significant difference between this conversation and the ones I’ve been having throughout my life with my inner circle is that it was recorded! Speaking with someone who is on the same wavelength is a profound, and yet lighthearted experience which leaves an impression, at least for me, that there has been a connection between us for years.

More than anything, this was yet another experiment I needed to conduct on and for myself. I’ve been playing with ideas on how to branch out and express my interpretation of the information I’ve been collecting and collating for the last 28 years, so why not give it a try? And, thanks to this interview, I felt confident in my decision to finally come out of the shadows and let the world get a good look at the whole me. On June 2nd, we put Skype to good use:

https://gregorydiehl.net/ucwg-029-natalie-marsh-neuroatypicals-society-low-latent-inhibition-lli-divergent-thinking-social-integration/

Do you want to hear more from me on any of these topics? Would you prefer to hear about other topics? Do you think I come across as an arrogant twat who shouldn’t ever be recorded again? Tell me how you feel! Please at least include constructive feedback.

On the Air Mic

The Grass is Always Greener…

I’ve had conversations about this recently with a few friends, and it has caused me to realize that people are far too focused on some fantasy about what they could be missing instead of valuing the extraordinary, and often irreplaceable, things unique people in their lives are giving. Always striving to be better, and to improve your life, doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to prepare yourself to throw away what you’ve earned when you see greener grass somewhere else.
 
“We should all replace constantly looking for better with striving to be in better relationships. Become a more effective communicator and encourage your partner to continue growing. Be present when it comes to dealing with the painful emotions that undoubtedly come up in a new relationships.”
 
How can anyone attract something or someone better when they’re half-assing their efforts in current relationships? If someone isn’t right for you, fair enough, but you can’t logically make that judgment if you’re not all in. That’s like trying to play poker without cards: sure, you’re limiting your risk, but you’ll never know if you could have won the jackpot.
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This applies to life in general, not just relationships! I know a few people who give in to the “grass is greener” mentality in relation to jobs, where they live, and where they socialize. We should all be striving to improve every day, but trying to improve your life by seeking out greener grass is avoiding the real issue. What you’re looking for isn’t external, it’s in your own mind.
 
I found some great insight on the matter on Reddit on how to get over that feeling that you’re missing out by being in a long-term relationship, of all places!
“I just don’t. I know there are other hot, fun, amazing women out there… but I already found a hot, fun, intelligent, caring, witty, amazing woman who I’ve shared 9 years so far with, with so many shared experiences and growth together. Honestly having something like that is rare, especially as early in life as we found it. I wouldn’t want to give that up for all the variety in the world.” ~Dajbman22
“If you leave a stable and happy relationship because you think there’s something better out there, you’ll probably never be happy.” ~RightCross4
“My wife and I began dating a few weeks after I turned 20. I’m almost 33 now and we’ve been together ever since.
For what it’s worth, I totally get that feeling. I struggled with it a lot early on in our marriage, especially after we had kids. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had somehow missed out by not being part of the partying, meeting girls, having random sex, etc part of being a young adult.
What I eventually came to realize is that I was just looking at it wrong. You’ve got to assess one simple thing: what do you want?
If you want a loving, fun relationship with someone who can make you laugh, share your life, etc, then no, you aren’t missing out. What you’re missing out on is the stupid shit many people have to go through to get there.
If, on the other hand what you really want is a life of partying and sleeping with random women, then yes, you’re holding yourself back.
Deep down, I don’t think that’s what most people want, and ultimately, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted. My desire for something “else” wasn’t about what I was actually “missing” but rather my imagined version of it which was full of sex and glamourous parties and traveling the world and basically all kinds of things I probably wouldn’t really have been doing that much even if my wife and I hadn’t met until I was 30.
Basically, the grass is always greener, and your imagination is likely filling in the blanks in the lives of your friends with a lot more endless fun than they’re really having. 
If you enjoy the life you have with this girl, the relationship is fulfilling, and she meets your needs, then really, you aren’t missing out on anything at all. You just need to realize it.

“The grass is greener” phenomenon. Usually a symptom of a scarcity mindset vs. abundance mindset.

The basic formula for getting rid of grass-is-greener is:

  • Accept that what’s going on right here is largely in your own head. For example, can you visualize a guy in his 20s constantly getting laid, yet feeling empty because he has no real companion in his life? Could you imagine any scenario where your situation might look better from the other side of the fence? If so, you realize just how relative all of this nonsense is.
  • Shift from scarcity to abundance mentality. This is huge, because grass-is-greener is basically another symptom of scarcity mentality. Why? Because you believe that you’re “losing” your 20’s by being in an LTR. Well, why couldn’t you have fun in your 30’s? And 40’s? What’s stopping all that? Only you, and your scarcity mentality. (Further decisions on whether to commit to your LTR in the future are a separate issue.) You have to believe that success is around always around the corner, and that there’s enough fun and partytimes out there to be had no matter what your age.

 

That’s about all I can think of right now. Basically, it’s all in your head unless you really don’t like being in an LTR–in which case, feel free to not be in an LTR anymore. But I think it’s mostly in your head.” ~Anonymous

 

Building an Abundance mindset doesn’t just help with your relationships. It sets you up for every possible avenue of success. Is it coincidence that so many cultures and religions centered on making things better teach mindfulness techniques? People who appreciate what they have while always striving to improve are happier, more productive, and an inspiration to everyone around them.

http://www.success.com/article/john-c-maxwell-6-tips-to-develop-and-model-an-abundance-mindset

“Leaders who allow a scarcity mindset to work its way into their culture pay a high price. When resources (money, opportunity, recognition) are perceived to be limited, paranoia, fear and politics thrive. In this environment, people become nervous and afraid to make a mistake. As a result,teamwork and innovation suffer.”

I think the best piece of advice in that article is this: “Give more of what you want.” There’s an old saying that you attract what you put out into the world. If you expect something from the people around you that you’re not truly giving, why would they feel obliged to cooperate? Hypocrisy is abundant enough in the world. We need more leaders, in relationships and in business, to show everyone how things should be done. And the best leaders are people who consistently apply those morals in their business and personal lives.

Deception

We all deceive ourselves and those around us. Our illusions are, by and large, the reasons why society is able to function. Without the lies to cushion our reality, wouldn’t everything we’ve built begin to crumble?

That bit of truth doesn’t make coping with deception any easier, though. For those of us who always know when someone is lying directly to our faces, it can be a battle to keep an open mind. The things people choose to hide, sugar coat, or completely fabricate are so ridiculous at times that one can’t help but wonder why they’re wasting the energy!

A set of questions which always arise during my discussions about deception are these:

Where do you draw the line?

When is lying wrong?

When is lying immoral?

When is lying intolerable?

Is that line the same for everyone in your life?

If not, why?

I’ve come to accept that everyone lies, and it’s not about me. The only time when I refuse to tolerate that behavior now is in romantic relationships. For me, being intimately involved means forming a partnership. How can a partner in life, someone you trust implicitly, be counted on when they aren’t being completely honest?

Friends and family members alike have pointed out that lying is normal in a committed relationship. I realize that, for the majority, that is true. However, my relationships aren’t typical. Why should lying be acceptable to me simply because it is expected by the rest of society? Being entirely open with that single person, for someone as truthful as me, is about being safe with one another. Isn’t that ultimate level of vulnerability, and the trust which follows, the epitome of love and romance?

Tomorrow We Begin Again the Bitter Dance of Self Deception

Victory!

Victory at last!

I finally tipped the scales.

Moving forward now.

After one entire week of deep depression, I decided that I am ready to move forward. It was necessary for me to experience that sadness. I needed to accept that something changed dramatically in my life, and that everything in my future will be impacted by that change. Now, though, I see the grand potential in what lies ahead, once again.

The pain is still there, centered in my chest, reminding me that the trauma of this year has left a mark. Who wouldn’t still be in that place, or worse, after so much loss? A breakup, devastating as it has been, isn’t even the beginning. It hasn’t even been a month since my Uncle Bill left us. Before him was my grandfather, William Marsh. Just four months before that, his wife, my grandmother, Mildred Marsh. Two days after Christmas last year, it was my Aunt Debbie. One year, and four deaths of family members who meant the world to me.

Some might struggle to find the silver lining in such a terrible set of circumstances. There are many positives, from my point of view, but the greatest one is this: I was able to endure the suffering with such strength that I allowed myself to open up to deep, passionate love. Brief though it was, having my shields shattered, and the level of intimacy which arose as a consequence, has created a lasting, positive change. The experience brings a favorite poem to mind, in fact:

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Infatuation

 

Tell me that I’m special;

that you’ll always cherish me.

Tell me that we’re destined;

that I should let love be.

Tell me that you adore me

more than anyone in your past.

Tell me that I’m the one

with whom you’ll always last.

Show me that those lovely words

were more than empty vows.

Show me how to feel that passion;

how to melt into the now.

If your promises were empty,

  just a way to pull me in,

I’ll hold onto those memories.

Keep your pretty words within.

When that genuine one comes to call,

and unbridled resonance abounds,

I’ll open up the floodgates.

Let go, float on, spellbound.

Burning Passion

The Dark Side of Awakening

The Emotional Quotient is something that I have to explain to most people, and even then, they still don’t seem to fully grasp how incredibly important it is to be emotionally strong and healthy. Most people are so preoccupied with maintaining the material status of their lives that they never stop to think about what might be motivating them, or why they just can’t stand that one co-worker. They live on the surface of human existence.

For the last ten months, I have gone through the motions of life at 50-70% of my normal capacity. Pain, grief, and a particularly brutal round of existential depression had me living day to day, without the ability to concern myself with the future. It was all I could do to just take care of necessities, stay in touch with friends and family, and laugh whenever possible.

My vacation to Washington, D.C. brought my mind back out of the abyss to the extent that I began to look forward to normalcy. What turned everything around, though, was recovering from my surgery. Once the pain and dizziness subsided, I felt as though my core had been re-awakened from a long sleep. It’s amazing what we can grow accustomed to out of necessity!

An acquaintance said something yesterday that really inspired some deep thought about this reality and its implications:

I think there’s even more going on, on a subconscious level. Descriptively, I often think most people are floating down the river of life in a boat and they experience nothing of the water! I on the other hand, have my hands over the side and can feel the undercurrents that are moving me along and in some part unnervingly understand the relation of the current to the movement of boat on a very basic level.” ~Lee Thompson

What, then, is life like for those who jump into that water, and spend their lives discovering its mysteries? The short answer: it is an enhancement of everything which currently exists in our mortal world. Every aspect of what makes us human is ever-present; what marks the difference is degree, not some well-defined line.

The deeper I explore, the more I relate to everything and everyone around me. I gain experience, understanding, and insight, and I am forever compelled to continue on to new discoveries. When a profound moment arises, my addiction to exploration is sent into hyperdrive, and I fervently seek out anything which will perpetuate the feeling, or provide it once again.

110 Light Year Nebula

After twenty-seven years of this cycle, I have come to question my Self, my perspective, and my current path. A crossroads has appeared, and the choices are undefined. My personal growth has led me to a point where my expectations of others may never again be reasonable. Is it possible to change this one aspect of my mind, or can I only move forward? Should I attempt to boil myself down, once again, for the world – even with the awareness that my efforts are doomed before they begin?

An Empath with LLI: The Cacophony of Life

We’ve all dealt with it at one time or another: the noisy neighbors, the douchebags in rush hour who believe that we all want to listen to their low-quality speakers spewing a rap song the artist wrote in three seconds, or that one annoying family member who has such a problem with silence that, any time it does pop up, they behave as though their behind has caught to flame. Noise is everywhere in the world.

This phenomenon is called misophonia in the medical community, although this definition doesn’t always apply to every aspect of the issue for our minority. What is it? In short, misophonia is oversensitivity to noise. The word translates to “hatred of sound,” and for good reason!

For the Empath, and especially those with LLI, noise can be a serious cause of stress. Having LLI means that you can’t drown things out the way most people would, and being an Empath means that you’re hypersensitive in a way that impacts you emotionally. Most people can just turn to ear plugs, or turn on some music, or read a newspaper, and everything around them goes quiet. For people like us, however, there aren’t any instantaneous solutions.

What can you do when the noise of the world is too much, and you need to put an end to it? Well, that’s going to depend on where you are and what works for you. Some people can effectively cover up background noise that keeps them awake at night with white noise, such as a noise machine or a box fan. Many of us use music as a way to escape in most everyday situations – such as when you’re walking around in Wal-Mart and don’t care to engage the weirdo who likes to wear pink panties over the top of his camo pants. I’ve even known people who pretended to be deaf so that random strangers would leave them alone!

When headphones or ear plugs aren’t an option, the world can become a quite hostile place. We’re left with two choices: either find a better way to cope, or suck it up and try not to blow a gasket on anyone nearby. If you’re like me, you’ve probably done the latter throughout your life. What other choice do you have when nothing else seems to work? Stuffing it down and trying to heal after you get home is probably one of the worst ways to cope, though. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a situation that doesn’t allow for you to recharge, and you’ll either blow up or start to have health problems.

The first thing you need to do is to figure out which noises are triggers for you. No one is truly sensitive to every type of noise 100% of the time. Usually, there is a situation, person, or specific noise that triggers your hypersensitivity. For example, if I am sleep deprived, I will be annoyed by everything from the clacking of the keyboard keys to the sound of a car door shutting outside. Normally, I notice these things, but they don’t cause an emotional response.

A majority of people who are sensitive to noise find that their sensitivity increases exponentially when they’re stressed for one reason or another. It can be helpful to recognize this in yourself, but that isn’t necessary in the beginning. What you can do is try to prepare yourself for the extra sensitivity when you’re in any sort of stressful position. Simply remaining conscious of the issue is often enough to hold it at bay – even if it’s just until you get home, where you can don your boxing gloves and blow off some steam. Or just do some yoga.

Here is a list of the coping strategies fellow Empaths have tried:

*Telling those you interact with the most about your sensitivity, and offering suggestions, such as not trying to have a serious conversation in a location that has a lot of background noise.

*Using a charm or totem to remind yourself to remain grounded when the world is too much. It can be anything, even a button or a piece of ribbon.

*Try to turn the noise into a song, if only in your head. This is especially helpful when the sounds are rhythmic, such as a ticking clock or a beeping noise.

*Sing a playlist of your favorite songs to yourself.

*Do something creative, or turn what you’re doing into something creative. Our sensitivities can disappear if we’re having fun, if only temporarily!

*Do something physical with your body, such as dancing or repetitive exercise.

*Tell those around you that the noise is getting to you, and they might try to help you drown it out.

*Mimic the noise. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it can help you to take away the power the noise is holding over your mind!

*If it’s another person annoying you, try to synchronize your actions with theirs. That way, you’re mostly hearing your own noises, and you can begin to mentally downplay theirs.

*Try to associate your most problematic noise triggers with a positive memory, and use that as a starting point for changing your emotional ties to that noise.

Take a look at these classifications and see where you fall on the misophonia spectrum:

Misophonia Test

If you have any other suggestions for coping strategies, please suggest them in the comments, or on the LLI page on Facebook

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Originally written and published by Natalie Marsh on wordpress.com

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