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Battling the worries


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I guess I have always been a 'worrier', and I am sick of it. I have been diagnosed with GAD, and this has caused depressions (4 major episodes in 10 years). My worries (read: obsessions) have had varying topics. From boyfriends leaving me, to being convinced I had a terrible disease, etc. All these years, I WISHED my worries could be about my studies because- as I thought- then at least they would concern a useful topic. I should have been careful what I wished for. It seems that I am pretty much worrying about work (my phd project) all the time.


But I am not depressed right now. And I am not having it, I won't fall into that abyss, not again. In fact, I suspect I am even quite happy at the moment. I live together with my bf and our cat, I very much enjoy my work, and despite my worries I do believe my project is in fact going very well. I quit smoking over a year ago and replaced the ciggies by duration training (running), so I am in good shape. And still I am worrying 24/7, and it eats my energy and joy away, it affects my focus and it's simply pointless.


So I figured a journal would be useful. I have a history of short-term relationships when it comes to journals. That is why I have a public journal, which is scary as hell, but then people can call me on it if I don't write. And if the reader is a veteran worrier who can give me a few pointers on getting your mind to stop wandering in dead-end streets, please share your thoughts.

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Today it was almost too hot to really worry. I didn't expect it, but knowing that I would come home and write here, somehow made me worry less than usual. I have made a new habit of starting my day with a short plan of my research activities. Because I am also preparing my stay in Boston, my schedule is often interrupted by organizing practical matters.


In two weeks I have a deadline for a paper, so my main worries are about this. Basically, I am not satisfied with a few sections and I really want to make some more or less drastic revisions. But the worst is not this, the worst is that I am scared to have my supervisor read it. This was also the case when I was writing my MA thesis, I'd just submit a lot of work once it was according to my own standards first. But now, I have more deadlines and they are for conference papers and things like that- not just for myself. So, in a way I guess I have the following options:


1. stay in my comfortzone and not submit any work until I feel it's ok. In this case I will not be able to work with deadlines in most cases (unless I have a long time in advance)

2. climb out of my comfy cage and do the scary thing: have my supervisor read it, also draft versions that have a lot of (invisible) question marks in them.

3. try to do the in between thing and plan things better ahead so my first versions that my super sees do not contain things that I really really don't like.


At the moment I am thinking 2. or 3. I am already planning things in more detail than I was used to, because the end of the project is coming closer (1.5 years left).

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Quasi recitativo


Another thing that keeps my mind running in circles, is that I used to experience more sense of 'intellectual' freedom in my previous project. Right now, I work in a bigger project, and I notice that I am starting to look at myself and my work through the eyes of others. I hate that. It makes me feel really insecure and it's not good for the 'inspiration'. Note that this is something I do myself!


I need to feel as if I am a pioneer, with as little as possible theoretical bias (zero seems impossible). With no influences from others. Like I am the only one thinking about this particular puzzle. Alone. But the reality is that now, this is my job and cooperation is often a very very fruitful and good thing. So I guess it's time to re-set my boundaries, and have a clear idea about what is my territory and what is a common territory with my colleagues. If I don't I will become one of those awful people that are impossible to work with!


I will always have puzzles for myself alone, my head is full of them.

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On days like today I feel I have to write everything down- it must be re-read, repeated to myself, so that when a darker day arrives, I can remember what today felt like.


A re-cap of the past few days first. This week I am re-writing a paper that I was not satisfied with at all when I first wrote it. It has a deadline for publication (nothing big), and I have a very clear picture of how I can improve the thing. But my sv hasn't read it yet. And I was petrified to have him read it.


But I needed his feedback on at least the set up and the basic idea that I am developing. So today I took my chances and I talked him through the paper, so that he has an idea of what I am working on. I don't know, the whole time it felt like he was happy to hear what I was working on. All my insecurities simply melted away. In fact, what he said pretty much came down to that he has complete confidence in me and my work, and that he thought it was great how things developed in my research for this paper.


So, yay! I suppose


I feel ok now, but I really hope that I won't keep on slipping into these periods that I loose my confidence in myself. It is so counterproductive and debilitating.

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Propositional attitudes


A lot of what I am working on now concerns the relation between a proposition and the person who utters the expression that contains this proposition. For instance:


I will be able to go home early today


I doubt [i will be able to go home early today]


... says that in the beliefs of the speaker, there is little chance that the proposition 'I will be able to go home early today' is true.


What my thoughts about the theory of this kind of sentences is is not relevant, but it has made me wonder about the attitude I have myself towards certain propositions.


I seem to be convinced about a lot of things in my subconscious mind. I feel a lot in my every day experience could be different, lighter even, if I could at least change my 'attitude' about certain subconscious convictions. For instance, in bad days, I am convinced that the following is true:


Arwen does not deserve love.


Now, the semantic antidote to a conviction like this should be its opposed alternative:


Arwen deserves love.


Now, I am thinking that maybe it is easier if my first step is not to change the proposition (the conviction), but to change my attitude. A good day is then a day on which I think:


I doubt that Arwen does not deserve love.


It may seem that this is the same, but it's really not. Maybe the change of attitude will in the end cancel my conviction- that would be great. But looking back I can say that it's very very hard to change those little voices that say things like this in the back of my mind.

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