Stop Hurting Yourself

Pain and suffering are not goals that should be reversed backwards into. That’s a terrible idea.

A theme I’ve seen among many different people (especially young people) as I inquired into their motivations and actions was a pattern of venerating painful experiences. Glorifying the act of overcoming adversity and achieving your goals at the cost of pain and suffering is definitely common in America and the West.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus

That’s idiotic.

Succeeding in the face of necessary pain and suffering when they are unavoidable is very admirable. Succeeding in the face of unnecessary pain and suffering when they are avoidable is idiotic.

waffles [9:53 PM]
one thing I’ve been meaning to point out to people and get through their think skulls is that unnecessary suffering is bad

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waffles [9:53 PM]
this seems like it should be abundantly obvious, but it apparently isn’t

[9:54]
people in the West live in a culture that glorifies suffering and winning against harsh odds. this sets up long lists of hero stories where the main character experiences lots of pain and hardship, learns a bunch of lessons, and then eventually triumphs. (edited)

[9:55]
cultures also get set up where signalling that you’ve been through lots of suffering in the past is a badge of honor and something worth bragging about

raydora [9:55 PM]
people in the East do this even more, though.

waffles [9:55 PM]
people glorify the experience of pain, and while many of them are in lots of pain they glorify themselves

[9:56]
then that just makes them stupider

raydora [9:56 PM]
yes

waffles [9:56 PM]
pain is bad

[9:56]
the idea of suffering after reading a story about a hero that suffered is not an appropriate thing to reverse yourself backwards in to.

raydora [9:56 PM]
when it’s beyond an indicator to stop.

waffles [9:56 PM]
“they suffered, so i should suffer!”

raydora [9:57 PM]
Yeah. I definitely went that route, as did my forebears.

waffles [9:57 PM]
exactly

[9:57]
suffering is something that can occur out of necessity in order to achieve your goals, but it should never be something that occurs without necessity. that’s just stupid.

raydora [9:57 PM]
I mean, you do learn things about people in pain (including yourself) that you won’t otherwise.

waffles [9:58 PM]
there’s pain enough in the world that you’re going to go through without putting extra on top of yourself

[9:58]
you’ll also learn a lot about getting yourself out of pain through the process of getting yourself out of pain

raydora [9:58 PM]
Yes (edited)

waffles [9:59 PM]
I want to stick in a list of people who are regarded as heroes and suffered at this point

[9:59]
Harriet Tubman comes to mind

raydora [9:59 PM]
I think that people who pursue hedonistic goals and did alright on several birth lotteries may never experience that pain until later, though.

[10:00]
Was her suffering unnecessary for her goals?

waffles [10:00 PM]
my point with her is that she wouldn’t have chosen a route where pain was necessary for her goals if she could have chosen a route where it wasn’t necessary

[10:01]
although i don’t know that for certain, so that’s a bad example

[10:02]
this post may need a while to put up since i want to convince people to actually stop hurting themselves and not just state ideas

raydora [10:02 PM]
yeah. It’s very pronounced in exercise, I think. Leads a lot of people to inefficient exercise.

[10:02]
and that lends itself to a lot of good examples, on top of that, of working efficiently versus pursuing suffering.

waffles [10:03 PM]
and if you want to learn to overcome pain specifically, then don’t choose a situation outside in the big wide world that has actual consequences

[10:03]
buy a weak torture device and start using it on yourself or something

[10:04]
give up the internet for a month, give up tv for a month, or do NoFap for several months

[10:04]
you’ll learn plenty about yourself that way

raydora [10:06 PM]
sure, but not as much as you’ll learn if you suffered more. I don’t necessarily think that’s worth it, and probably never for more than a few months at most.

[10:06]
definitely not worth doing it for years like most do.

waffles [10:07 PM]
“lessons from pain” are also still a vague idea in my mind and i’m not sure i have a good idea of how high their value actually is

raydora [10:08 PM]
it’s more like

[10:08]
learning about fundamental attribution error

[10:08]
through the person you and others you think you know become when they are in a lot of pain.

waffles [10:09 PM]
i think some smart people could figure out ways that could be distilled and learned without actually intentionally harming someone

raydora [10:09 PM]
probably a simpler way for smarter people to keep that in mind, not sure if the average person could get it another way.

waffles [10:09 PM]
like stories and shit

raydora [10:09 PM]
yes.

waffles [10:09 PM]
people try to instill that into children even at a young age

raydora [10:10 PM]
I’m not sure it works at that age. You just blame your parents.

[10:10]
or yourself.

waffles [10:10 PM]
i mean, they try to teach them that someone else’s pain is the same as their pain

[10:10]
that there’s a parrallel there

raydora [10:10 PM]
ah, yes

waffles [10:11 PM]
when they get bumped on the knee it hurts just like when you get bumped on the knee

raydora [10:11 PM]
isn’t that a developmental landmark?

waffles [10:12 PM]
sounds like one

[10:14]
this was useful. needs solidifying in a way i don’t quite have yet, which is good to know.

Be Sure Someone Cares

If you have a group where no one is caring for one another’s emotions and no one is caring for their own emotions, you’re going to end up with some bad consequences.

One of the various methods of thinking about forms that small communities can take is in how people’s needs are met. In a more communal setup, everyone takes care of everyone else’s needs. This leads to everyone’s needs being met because people can ignore large portions of self-interest while still getting their needs met due to the kindness and involvement of others. In more self-oriented societies, everyone primarily takes care of themselves. If everyone spends large amounts of time and effort on taking care of themselves and mostly ignoring the needs of other people, then most everyone involved would still get all of their needs taken care of.

The first obvious flaw in the communal setup is that it’s open to exploitation by someone who pursues self-interest as a net-taker while masquerading as a net-giver. The second flaw is that if after all is said and done there are not enough resources to go around and meet everyone’s needs, then everyone in the community will suffer badly for it. A matching flaw in the self-oriented model is that people who can’t take care of themselves and could only survive with the assistance of others will get left behind and starve/die/fail with no one taking care of them even if there are enough resources to go around.

In contrast to the two extreme systems I mentioned above, I’ve seen lots of small communities of geeky people in the US where a third option is chosen. These communities exist where no one takes care of the emotional needs of other people AND no one in them is taking care of their own emotional needs and wellbeing. Whether you prefer either of the two models I mentioned earlier, it’s obvious that this third model is the worst of all.

If no one is taking care of anyone else and no one is taking care of themselves, then everyone is going to starve out on the basic necessities to stay personally and psychologically healthy. I strongly suggest pushing any communities you are a part of away from this third model if you ever notice it occurring in practice.

The easiest transition away from the third model is most likely to move more towards the communal model than the self-oriented one. The buy in costs are lower since all you really need to do is convince one or two Hufflepuff-oriented people to start actively caring for other people. If those two people still need someone else taking care of their needs, then you can assist with that yourself or find another way to make that happen. (Two is a much easier target to fulfill than however many people are actually in your group). After that, try out other opportunities like getting people to form pairs or small groups where people start opening up more with one another and start building up emotional support. There are lots of ways to do this that are readily available online. Most popular methods include small group activities (2-4 people), alcohol, and shared misery. I’m 99% confident there are much better methods for this that could be created/discovered/teased out of reality and I have a strong interest in finding out what those actually are and spreading them around. I’ll have to write more about that later!

This seems to be similar to what I’ve seen done in practice, although perhaps I’m just pattern matching. It’s easier to get a few people to start caring for others than to spontaneously get everyone to start practicing self-care. Starting a movement towards a more healthy community yourself is also an opportunity for personal gain and advancement (if you lacked motivation already or were attempting to be too self-sacrificing). I’ll detail that part a bit later. I’d be interested in other people’s ideas on this topic.