New to forum, managing a change in life direction

hello. i am new to the forum. my name is adam

questions i want to answer: why am I here? how did I find this place? why join the forum now? what is my current situation/who am I? what are my current goals? what are my long-term goals?

why am I here?

i am here because i want to apply CF philosophy and thinking to help solve my problems and make my life better. i am here because Elliot makes sense and is right about stuff. i am here because this community cares about his ideas and standards.

how did I find this place?

i read David Deutsch’s books. i liked them and i was interested in David’s views about stuff. i searched “Deutsch Ayn Rand” (or something like that) on YT (IIRC, i saw people attack Rand in non-rational ways and wanted to see what David thought) and found this video. i liked Elliot’s content and found his blog and the critical fallibilism site. i found the forum and have been a witness for a few months

why join the forum now?

while being a witness of the forum, i have been scared to join. i have been anticipating ways that i’d be pressured into doing things, and anticipating seeming irrational if i didn’t do them. i didn’t want to seem irrational.

my issues about not wanting to seem irrational remain. but the reason that i have joined now is that i am ready to change my life a bit (more on that later).

what’s my current situation/who am I?

  • i’ve been doing a maths undergrad degree in the UK. i finished my second year
  • i am 21
  • i’ve had a hobbied interest in philosophy for a few years
  • i taught myself (some) programming last summer so that i can get a job after leaving my degree
  • i’ve been living off money from my dad
  • i do not have any significant achievements and I’m not very impressive. I want to learn to be better
  • i do not really have any friends
  • i am about 60% of the way through Atlas Shrugged and Eli Goldratt’s The Goal but i stopped reading them
  • i am on book 4 of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series but i stopped reading them
  • i am reading the Harry Potter series on book 4 (HP is more appropriate to my skill level/helps me automate reading comprehension)
  • i like breaking bad and better call saul. i think they are good shows
  • i started a blog recently. there aren’t many posts on it. i wanted to hide it, but i’m not going to. i wanted to hide it because i was scared of my blogs looking stupid, and also my code for the blog is trash. i can post a link to the blog if requested (it would not be promotional, i don’t run ads or get financial gain or something), but i’m not sure if it’s appropriate

what are my current goals?

i am trying to figure that out. i picked a big row with my family today. like i said, i’ve been living off my dad’s money. that means that i’ve been letting him control me in certain ways. e.g. i have to go to things he wants me to, have to pretend to like/get along with things/people he wants me to. but today i have advanced some of my disapproval/disagreements about stuff, and implied that i’m gonna figure out how to go my own way (not depending on dad’s money).

my basic idea is to get away from the house; then find an easy, low-pay job; then
live honestly, work on my own projects, spend my money how I want, etc.

but, the details are pending. right now, there are important questions like:

  • what should i do about my degree? is it in my interest to persist with it? if i did persist with it, i would have to work part time as well, could i manage that? (i don’t know, i suspect it would be overreaching due to fatigue issues, and my own lack of skill.)
  • related is what should i do about my summer internship? it starts in July. it’s a software thing for a big cooperation. but they are late sending out my contract so i still have a decision to make (i am not legally committed to it). (it’s related because they want me to continue my degree if i intern with them (i imagine the contract will include this somehow? i could be wrong).)
  • also related is what should i do about the accomodation i’ve signed for in the next academic year? i am liable for the rent unless i find a replacement tenant. i am confident that i can do this if i start making decisions now, but delaying increases risk.
  • where would i go? i am thinking in the uk. i can’t go through the rigmarole of changing citizenship – or could i? and if i could, how would that serve me?
  • when i find where i want to go, how can i be confident that i will get a job there?
  • what are the exact logistics of moving and settling in? i have about £900 in my bank account? how can i be sure that i won’t spend it all? should i ask my dad for some money to land on my feet? should i request a loan?

so, my top-priority current goals are to answer the above questions.

what are my long-term goals?

for completeness, the global frame is that i want

  • to be powerful like a superhero
  • to be independent and have no one to answer to
  • to understand everything i do
  • to live forever

edit: “I have about £900 in my bank account?” is not supposed to be a question
edit 2: that was a misquote. it’s “i have about £900 in my bank account?”. can someone tell me how to use the ‘select, then click quote’ option in an edit to my post?

my current goals – following today’s incident – sound a bit revolutionary. i was more angry when i wrote the post earlier (i have problems regulating my emotions). there are a lot of comforts i would have to give up if i was to suddenly move out and work on the breadline. and on my previous plan i expect i’d ~never to have to give them up. examples of comforts i’m thinking of

  • a good deal of spare time
  • a dishwasher
  • a clean, safe living area
  • relative casualness about buying stuff

(my privilege is showing a bit here.)

it’s possible for me only to stay home until mid-september, and actually never come back. so in theory, i just need to bide my time a little longer.

and there are smaller changes i can make to resolve specific issues like

  • waking up super early to avoid people (when preparing food and stuff). so there’s less need to be fake/not myself when talking to them
  • asserting my values more, accepting living with more frequent tensions and conflicts about that. so there’s less compromising on my values
  • doing more communication to catch things before they escalate (related to previous point). so there’s less big arguments that require a lot of ‘clean-up’
  • spending more time outside the house so that people don’t get sick of me and lash out (apparently everything i do is irritating because it’s strange). so there’s less unnecessary conflict

although i’m not sure how to do the last point.

my next steps would be to do clean-up on today’s argument. typically, everyone else would just wait, not talk to each other until they’ve forgotten enough about it; and then eventually let things resurface later. that won’t work in this case. i need to explain myself in a less hostile way, and suggest practical steps for going forward. tough but doable

Hi, welcome to the forum :wave:

I think you should look for more incremental ways to make changes where you’re changing fewer things at once. E.g. new job and new living situation are two big changes, so it’d be preferable to figure them out separately not simultaneously; quitting school is third big potential change and some sort of break with your family would be a fourth. Getting involved with and using CF ideas is another change. Your second post seemed to have a less revolutionary attitude than the first.

Making changes uses up a lot of resources. It takes time, energy, and sometimes other stuff like money, favors or burning bridges.

For changes that are big, costly, hard to undo, or hard to measure success for, it’s really important to figure out the right changes before you make a change. You don’t want to make a change, then change your mind after a month and make another change, then change your mind again two months later.

It’s also important to figure out which changes are the most important and prioritize. Basically, focus and pick your battles. Optimize limiting factors not everything.

It’s also important to figure out the right method of making a change. Some ways to implement a change won’t work and others are inefficient. People often try to make some change but fail to change.

With your family conflicts, I’d suggest trying to do some problem solving and gathering more information to understand your situation more instead of rushing into anything. That doesn’t mean having a rational, analytical, critical conversation with them. On your own, you could write or diagram about what you want, what they want, what the conflicts are, etc., and try to come up with some solutions which are within your control to change, or which only require small changes by your parents which are already desirable according to their current ideas.

Linking your stuff is fine. I’m not hostile to self-promotion like Reddit is.

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Thanks for your response.

Re:

I made a diagram. I am not comfortable revealing private details about the conflicts or wants, but abstractly it looks like this:

The variables represent wants. The lines represents conflicts.

This helps me see some connections. This helps my thinking be less chaotic.

Based on:

I should prefer small, reversible, measurable steps to solve the conflicts one at a time (unless I do a lot of serious thinking).

Re:

Sometimes I give (what I think is) rational analysis which other members of the family are not ready for/is disturbing to them (that I would think like that). This is not me being clever. I am being too gung-ho. I am not thinking about how to make effective changes. I am drilling on a kind of local optimum.

Re:

I have a couple of instances in my past where I have made big decisions only to go back on them a relatively short time later. This is a pattern. I should be especially wary of my tendency to do this. I will do some journaling about it tonight. I will think about it when I meditate today. I will post an update.

In the case of big decisions considered in my original post, I think the cause was: I said some irreversible things in the argument, and then I reacted like “OK, the cat’s out of the bag; now it’s time for everything to change." But I didn’t think about this explicitly, it was more of a mood. My framing goal was determined by my mood, and then my conscious, explicit thoughts were servicing that goal without challenging it. My framing should have been more in terms of damage control, not being radical and I should’ve known:

This makes me wonder about how I make decisions in a way that is more robust to my mood. I think that whenever I notice instances where my mood is in control, I should do some introspection/journaling, and become more calm and rational. If I do that for a long time then I should be able to automate it. This is what CF talks about, and similar to a technique which is used in meditation.

Re:

OK. My blog is at https://unfoolable.co.uk/. You can see that there are only 5 posts starting in March.

(Anyone can use the comments section for criticism. However there are a lot of desirable features missing (e.g. ability to see preview, ability to do edits (and with saved history) – I haven’t even added timestamps due to an annoying css problem). There are features missing from the blog in general due to lack of commitment and skill. You might find the comment section a bit bad. If there is a criticism of my stuff with CF relevance, I suppose that someone could reply as a linked topic, or start a new topic, on this forum.)

I did a little bit of journaling about an example of where I made a committal decision and went back on it:

Context
When I was in sixth form, I initially took four subjects. But after several months I gave up one, and subsequently took only three, which worked better.

Analysis
It was not a very big decision for me to take four subjects, and the cost wasn’t enormously high to give one up. But I did end up wasting a fair amount time and energy on the subject I abandoned. I did stick with it for a while, and accumulated opportunity cost.

I didn’t really consider that cost beforehand. I didn’t think about plausible scenarios, and planning for more than one outcome. My sense of what I could and would do felt complete. I thought that I had more access to my mind than I did. Or, I was assuming that I could always control those parts that I didn’t have access to.

I think that I was overreaching. I think it was mainly an issue about pride. I wanted to show off. I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I was smart and disciplined. I was forging a new, proud identity, where I was someone who studied a lot and I thought that taking four subjects was needed for that.

I was also rushing into this identity because it made me more legible to people around me. I was being too blunt about two problems at once: How many A-Levels should I take? vs How to avoid fights because I confuse people?

I wasn’t doing realistic planning about my subjects. I wasn’t analysing what my actual skill level was, or acknowledging parts of myself with goals like: to relax more, to deepen my knowledge on specific subjects instead of being spread thin, or to work on non-school-related projects. I got carried away with ego, despite managing a non-trivial life decision.

I think that ego is less of a problem now, but I shouldn’t assume that it’s not a problem until I have a track record where I can be reasonably confident that ego has not obstructed specific decisions. When I am making decisions going forward, I should think: Is my ego tricking me here? Am I doing something out of pride which is not realisitc, which does not serve me?

That means that I have now mentioned a few things to check in my decision-making:

  • check that my ego is not in the way
  • check that I am not being too blunt about solving multiple problems at once
  • check that my mood is not in the way

Hi Adam. All the best. I hope you are able to solve your problems and everything gets better.

Related topics have been discussed on the forum. Here are the two I remember (First Second). However each situation is unique and correct answer for you will depend on your details. I’m also going through some similar problems like yours and am posting about it mostly on the thread titled Self-Help Books

Edit: One of the sentences is a bit confusing. I think adding these few words makes it less confusing so I’m rewriting that sentence with those few words added here in this edit. New sentence - However each situation is unique and correct answer for you will depend on your details of your situation.

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You should try to plan those ahead of time, and only say them to accomplish a specific goal, and after considering downsides and expected reactions.

Also, logically irreversible is different than socially or actually irreversible. You can actually take stuff back, change your mind, say you just said it b/c you were angry, etc., even if your updated story has a few holes in it.


General thoughts:

When arguing on Twitter or with family members, people often want to control what the other guy thinks and change him. It helps to focus attention on what your goals are and what the limiting factors for those goals are. Most people on the internet and their opinions aren’t very relevant to your goals. For family members, you can generally succeed at your goals while they keep their opinions.

Parents often do things they shouldn’t like make annoying remarks. But in a context where problem solving is pretty ineffective and risky, those remarks are often best ignored. Confronting parents can be saved for some key issues like insisting on your preferred career path or spouse if they try to meddle in those decisions.

Your parents are not your friends. You don’t choose them as people you can get along with well. They’re similar to you in some ways but not others. There’re big age and power gaps. You don’t need to get along with them like friends.

Sometimes you can express disagreement without trying to teach, change or lecture your parents. You can just say what you think, what your opinions are, what you want, what you’re going to do, etc., without trying to argue with them that any of it applies to other people (like them) as how they should live. You can give a few simple reasons that make sense from a conventional perspective. You don’t need to convince them you’re right or be understood in detail; if they can accept that it’s your choice and be tolerant, that can work.

It also depends on whether your parents are trying to control you and violating major boundaries (or if they’re actually abusive), or if you just want their approval and agreement. Or if you’re trying to get some help, favor or value from them like financial support, that’s very different than if they are trying to get any significant stuff from you (if they just want you to be polite, be quiet at night, and dress modestly at home, that’s reasonably insignificant).

It helps to remember that lots of landlords and bosses are annoying too. Even co-workers or roommates, who don’t have power over you, often violate some boundaries. Parents sometimes don’t seem that bad in retrospect after people get experience with alternatives.

Some parents are really awful but you can read a lot of stories on Reddit about parents who aren’t that bad but a bunch of rationalists in upvoted comments are like “omg go no contact with them”. (“Rational” Reddit is also way too eager to suggest breaking up with romantic partners, divorcing spouses and quitting jobs. Internet comments have a bias towards being outraged about stuff and young people who spend a lot of time on the internet can be influenced by those attitudes.).

Most people say dumb things in the heat of the moment. So regular people are pretty forgiving of that.

It’s “rational” people who want to take it all literally and make a big deal out of it and analyze it and deny that they were emotional/defensive. “Rational” people tend to be less tolerant about some things people say. This causes conflict.

As a rationality-and-logic-oriented-person, you can usually get forgiveness for heated statements reasonably easily, even if that’s unintuitive to you, because other people are actually more tolerant about that stuff than you are.

To get along with parents better, interpret some of what they say as them being emotional, speaking on autopilot without thinking about it, or addressing some local optima. Don’t hear everything they say as their serious, logical opinion that they will consistently act on (or even remember) in the future. Don’t assume that they mean the logical implications of what they said for the big picture (they probably didn’t think it through and just said it in pursuit of an immediate short term goal).

If you analyze some stuff parents (or any less logically oriented people) say, and think about logical implications, it can seem threatening and scary. You may fear they’ll do and say stuff you don’t like in many other scenarios. But they’re probably not looking at it that way. Instead, you can analyze by thinking about what their goal is, which will be more effective for predicting future actions.

update
there was a clean-up discussion with the family and it was pretty relaxed. people are often ready to reconnect after conflict and a lot of hostility after only a little while has passed, and without carefully examining and closing off every wound. the rest of the family do this with each other fairly often and their relationships stay about the same. i think that they have a better intuitive understanding of ‘the heat of the moment’ than me. it’s like you say here:

there is actually some notion of strategy in: having a damaging conversation where you go too far, but then later pulling back to a place which implies only a little bit of change. you present your ideas and allow them to affect you emotionally – allow them to take you a bit off course, make you say dumb things – but you come back later to refine things more rationally. i think that people like to see emotional reactions, because this shows (is imagined to be necessary to show) that you care and you’re not a robot.

addressing some of what you said
your feedback is very valuable.

re:

yeah. i can often be drawn into reacting to these remarks unnecessarily. they are part of ‘the game’. the game is about niggling, provoking, deniable slights: you imply something unflattering, do some subtle status-based positioning, etc. i have this urge like i have to retaliate because…why? i don’t want to be trampled on. maybe i think that i can win the local argument and i want to.

but i should be thinking about my big goals and what reacting accomplishes globally. i am not being trampled on if i am aware of and acting out my big goals.

true. i don’t have to and shouldn’t expect to agree with parents about a lot of things. i would choose a friend based on values that i shouldn’t expect to agree on with parents. for instance i would want a friend (to want) to hear all of my ideas and to hash out a load of intellectual stuff with me.

re:

this is good advice because i think that a lot of the time the family is frustrated because they don’t understand me. so expressing my disagreement is sufficient to satisfy me (‘i am real, i have goals and preferences and values’), and also them (‘ah, now I understand how he thinks’).

i know these are “General thoughts”, but just to be clear: in my case there is no abuse. my situation is very privileged. (ofc that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reasoning about.)

sometimes there are disagreements about where boundaries are. i should treat those individual disagreements in small, manageable ways, one at a time.

re:

i thought of this, but not about it critically (e.g. i haven’t done research to find stories that are similar to what i had planned – about people who moved out early/suddenly for freedom/independence – and checked to see what people said about where they ended up). like, it’s true: generally, there will be people in your environment who impose themselves on you. e.g., where explicit terms about stuff have not been negotiated, or where refusing consent would lead to a conflict you’d rather avoid.

re:

ok. i like this forum because people are more deliberate; less vulnerable to a flurry of outrage. that helps for me to be exposed to because i still have emotional problems.

re:

when i introspect, i notice that i still have grudges about things that people have said to me years ago. this is a rationalist streak which thinks that everything said in a conversation is either absolute or later explicitly resolved. you’re right: it involves forgetting about emotions/defensiveness; not attributing statements to transient stuff; forgetting about the forgivable personal context of a statement.

re:

yeah. people say stuff to win an argument, but don’t act on it after leaving a context of combat. i can notice instances where i have done this to other people in the past (e.g. seeming to burn bridges with friends).

Besides quoting from another post with the popup menu when you select text, there are two main ways to add blockquotes. Select text within the post you’re currently writing, then click the quote button at the top of the editing window (it comes next after the bold, italic then link buttons). Or type a “>” at the start of a line (that’s the blockquote indicator from Markdown, which got it from email).

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i’ve come back to this thread multiple times. i like this quote a lot:

how i think about it:

suppose you’re right, and you can demonstrate reasonably to Alice (say) that you’re right. then, should you? will that further your goals?

well…it’s possible that Alice doesn’t concede to your ‘reasonable’ demonstration. you’ve seen it before, no? she might respond with something irrelevant, be suddenly ‘too busy to care’, tell you “you’re thinking too deeply”, focus on how silly you look right now, how ‘you always think you’re right’, how sad it is that you pick now to argue, and so on. she might be defensive, emotional, status-focused, or a bit mentally disorganised, for instance.

in that case, have you been slighted? has there been some cosmic mistake? no. you have misconceived Alice’s goals. you thought that Alice must accept your demonstration, right? and then that she must change? but you weren’t thinking about what Alice wants; what will cause her to deny you; and then finally — given that showing your right was servicing some goal(s) — you weren’t thinking about how to achieve your goals by another means, or how you should re-conceptualise those goals in the first place

What are some things Alice’s goals might be?

PS Please set a profile picture so you don’t look like an anonymous user.

some plausible examples

  • she might want certain of her vulnerabilities to stay concealed
  • she might want to be higher status than you
  • she might only want conflict if she is in control and it goes like how she imagined in fantasy
  • she might want certain ideas about her identity to go unchallenged
  • she might want to be your friend and she thinks that disagreements make this less possible
  • she might want to think a really small amount about logical implications because otherwise it makes her head hurt
  • she might want to stop thinking about arguing because she heard somewhere that that is the source of her relationship problems
  • she might be ready to face that she’s made an error, but she wants to do that later when she’s calmed down and in private
  • she might want you to be more affected by your emotions and be less rational because she wants you to be more relatable because this affirms her own way of being
  • she might want you to stop saying anything because your voice is really annoying to her
  • she might want to journal about the argument in her own words before deciding whether she was wrong

i think i have encountered ~all of these

Edit: i changed the profile picture. it is now a colour like yours

Another common one is she cares about some other topic, not the one you’re trying to correct her about.

Often, the reason someone made an error in the first place is they don’t care about the goal that it’s an error for.

For example, someone’s goal might be to flame the out-group and signal in-group allegiance. A logical error in their sentence doesn’t prevent it from being a flame directed at the out-group. It can still accomplish that purpose despite the error relative to other goals like being logical. Actually, in some ways, a logical error is an improvement over no logical error: it suggests that they prioritize group allegiance over logic, which makes their statement stronger re allegiance.

this is a big one with several special cases. it comes up a lot in political debates.

a similar case to

(perhaps a sub-case) is signalling deference to a leader. you do what (s)he says basically no matter what. something like this

could apply in that case too.

thoughts about in-group out-group:

i think that people can construct their own in-group out-group (IGOG) rules during an argument. they can improvise it. i think that they can try to say what’s normal — term for the biggest of the in-groups — for instance (and what’s abnormal), without really knowing much about it.

what IGOG typically looks like, though, is that there is fixed set of arguments that the out-group is supposed to make — that the in-group knows about — and then there are prescribed counter-arguments that the in-group is supposed to make in turn.

if you make a new argument, Alice might falsely translate it into one she already recognises as out-group. or if the argument is unexpected enough, she might not quite see it at all. she might be dumbfounded. “what are you talking about?”

why is IGOG important to Alice? what goals does it accomplish?

possibly:

  • a sense of belonging
  • protection/camaraderie afforded by the in-group
  • avoiding attacks directed at the out-group

if belonging is the goal then arguably Alice sticking to IGOG is about