Paradigm Shift

As you might know, as part of my attempt to live longer and healthier, and to stop doing myself injury with my psychoses, I am actively undergoing paradigm shifts, or trying to change my ways of looking at the world. For example, here’s a list of things I have cared about too much: deadlines, things other people want me to do for them, the stress and pressure I impose upon myself, and the goodwill of people that have little to no relationship to me. In the past, they have been things I have stressed over in the past to no good purpose. I am doing a lot better. I am pretty pleased with how type B I have been. Practice is making me better all the time.

One of the ways in which I am more healthy psychologically is letting go of deadlines, stress, and pressure, and rejecting the American goal orientation as much as I can. This is not to say that I don’t have goals and deadlines. I have them at work. Heck, I have homework and due dates right now! But what I’m trying to do is make these deadlines realistic, and to stop lathering myself into a frothing frenzy about them. This includes things like thinking I should have writing done by certain deadlines. I have goals I would like to make, but I keep it flexible and laid back. A good example of this is my creative writing, which I work on every day, and will finish when I do.

My relationships with other people are a bit harder for me to grapple with, but I’m getting there. There are two ways I’m trying to get there. I am more selfish with my time than I was, and I have to make sure that the thing I do is something that gives me joy and empowerment. As someone who has spent my life doing a lot for others, I’m down with carving out some space for myself. I’m also still down with having a service career and doing for others, but I’m balancing, rather than running dry.

Another area I’m working hard on is judging. I’m terrible at labeling people and making assumptions about them based on one or even two bad examples of behavior. It is possible to not judge people and avoid bad behaviors at the same time. The shift is subtle, but important. In one case, the behavior becomes the person. In the case of trying to look at life more zen, the behavior is out there, and there’s a certain positivity about the nature of existence. I can more readily tell someone I don’t like the behavior, and that’s more honest. If there is a point where a behavior is repetitive, I should still focus on avoiding that behavior, but not judging that person. Hey, you might say. I know you, Catherine. You judge. You are right. Yes, yes I do. We humans have a tendency to do that. And I am new at trying to be Type B and cool. I’ll keep trying.

Why am I writing about this? Well, I’ve been thinking about my interactions. I am pretty honest with those in my immediate circle, or I endeavor to be so, with an eye on the psychology of the person, and their feelings as well. I’m probably not as good with more casual acquaintance, but then again, why would someone who barely knows me be interested in my opinion of their behaviors? I think politeness toward people is generally a good rule of thumb, with the idea that behaviors one is uncomfortable with should be avoided. That seems logical.

Back to the idea of doing things I do and don’t want to do. There are some things about the way I’m viewing my writing process, the kinds of feedback I seek, and my involvement in writing groups. I blame it partly on Jeff Vandermeer, partly on my increased self-awareness in regard to writing, and partly on what I’m looking for in a critique. I’ll try to get back to this topic in the next writing session.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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