Ask Paul: February 3 (Premium)

It’s another month, and another Friday, and here’s another installment of Ask Paul to kick off this weekend, and February.
Self help
ggolcher asks:

You left me with a lot to think about after reading your newsletter, so thank you for that!

Thanks. As a bit of background, I originally intended to write about addiction broadly in the first newsletter this year as a sort of end-run around the usual “resolutions”-type topic, and I had listed out eating, drinking, videogames, and technology (generally) as examples, but in writing about the drinking part of it, I realized that it could be its own thing, and that maybe each topic deserved its own editorial. And so January sort of became “addiction month,” or maybe self-help month. Or whatever. But I do feel there’s that moment when you realize you have a problem, hopefully, and it’s not someone else telling you. And I have a lot of problems.

With regards to the most recent editorial, which is about coming to terms with the fact that I don’t handle certain things---one might say, “life”---particularly well, there was one big difference with the previous topics: I have enough self-awareness to recognize the problem, which is good, but I don’t see the solution, which is bad. And when my mind races, as it has this past week, leading to a loss of sleep and other side effects, it just makes the problem worse. Knowing that doesn’t help if you can’t fix it.

When I was a teenager, my mother was a mess, and one day she burst into my room in tears, excited that she had discovered the problem: “I just figured it out,” she told me. “I’m the adult child of an alcoholic!” (This was a 1980’s self-help moment.) My response still amazes me today.

“That’s nice,” I said. “But what are you going to do about it?”

She had no response to that, and that’s the problem I’m facing now in a nutshell. I am the way I am.  I don’t like it. But how do I fix it?

I used to be a person that complained a lot, or got upset about things often, but I've mellowed out by working on myself. I'm by no means perfect now and still get irritated (especially dealing with customer support), but now I'm much more often in a place of gratitude and serenity. This new center has had a massive impact in my life, personally and professionally.

I have probably written on this topic in the past, but I’ve noticed that we can have two types of influences in life, some positive and some negative. And while positive influences---those people we look up to for whatever reason---get all the press, the negative ones are important too because they teach you how not to act. My parents are good examples of that, and when it came time to be a parent myself, I knew that there were certain things I’d never do to my kids based on my experiences growing up. I’m less successful in other areas, for sure.

But that most recent editorial was an interesting collection of positive in...

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