freewriting with about an hour of edits (this seems to be the usual flow lately).
as i emotionally mature, i can zoom in on my emotions with less and less discomfort. my focus lately has been on negative emotions. as my self-awareness gets stronger, i am able to better endure the high anxiety i experience during the process of examining my emotions. i have gotten to the point where the blinding light of that anxiety is only temporary, after which i gain more clarity into the more interesting ideas associated with that emotion.
for example, i feel a pang of pain in my chest and gut when i think of a task or activity i have agreed to do even though i consider it a waste of time. there's nothing maladaptive about thinking that something is a waste of time, but the amount of anxiety i feel when approaching such a task goes beyond a level that i would expect it to, given the circumstances. it's way too personal. i feel like a fraud exposed: he thinks it's a waste of time, but he is still doing it! that's embarrassing. to be more honest and transparent about it, it feels emasculating. and that's why there's so much anxiety around it, and it seems like an inappropriate amount of emotional response.
to continue on a path of honesty: it makes me feel less worthy, since some portion of my self-esteem is determined (in my mind) by what i do. and if i am doing something that is a waste of time, my mind translates that to i am doing something that is less worthy which continues to degrade into i am less worthy because i am doing it.
my objective is not to go into a discussion of what i think is worthy or unworthy (fast-forward to my conclusion that what is worthy is what is adaptive and what is unworthy is maladaptive). my objective is to zoom in on emotions when they are associated with worthiness. and when i zoom in on them, i understand that in order to decouple the worth of the task from self-worth, i first have to learn how to experience inherent or unconditional self-worth (unconditional meaning not dependent on what i am doing). the objective is to feel a consistently high amount of self-worth regardless of how worthy i think the task that i'm doing is. it's hard to get to that side from this side of the river, so a stepping stone toward it is to learn how to find worth in the task at hand. over time, if i can apply the opposite category of worthiness ("worthy", "unworthy") on the tasks that i find unworthy, i can build up enough self-worth to get to a steady state. it's sort using my own thinking against me, but benevolently: i am skilled at associating the worthiness of the task with my worthiness, and while i am trying remove that particular instance of the association, at a high level associating something outside of myself with myself is useful. it's connecting me to the world around me, so i don't want to throw it away.
i will always face tasks that i think are a waste of time---that's never going to change (unless we fundamentally alter the rules of the civilization we are living in), so for the foreseeable future, my self-worth is in for a world of hurt (a literal and figurative world). if i can learn to see some worth in every task i perform, my self-worth will get a breather to heal. something that i've learned from seeing worth in every task at hand, is that the worthiness of the task, at least some of it, comes from the person doing it. a task is worthy because i am doing it. i am still leaning on my skill to associate myself with the outside world, but instead of a negative feedback loop, this is the foundation for a positive feedback loop. each task i perform, under this association, reinforces my worthiness. i can predict that over time, i will learn to completely remove the task at hand when it comes to self-worth and that will be at least one thing that i remove from the set of all associable things. it will be impossible in that circumstance, to associate self-worth with anything except self (okay so self-worth is not removed from the set of all associable things, it is moved to the set of things that can only be associated with that which it references). self-worth is a property of self, and thus can only be expressed in terms of self. the abstraction of this, which may be incorrect, is that non-judgmental valuation cannot depend on externalities. in our economy, we think of worth in terms of currency, which is valuation based on externalities. maybe it's impossible to adjust the value of things without using some external measure as currency, productivity, utility and so on. however, i think it's impossible because the concept of valuation is cultural and all culture i've experienced tend to lean on externalities to explain the value of something. so the act of valuing self without using externalities is counterculture, counterintuitive and thus feels uncomfortable. however, this will likely lead me toward trusting my intuition more about the worthiness of a task. is it worth my time to do this task? can have an unhealthy subtext of: "no, because i am above doing this task" which is a statement that requires self-worth to be associable to something other than self, which is not how i want self-worth to be defined. "it does not fit my vision", "i am not excited by it", or "i don't find it adaptive" are healthier ways to interpret the label "unworthy" on a task. all of those lead to more interesting questions: "what is my vision", "what am i excited by?", "what do i consider adaptive?", "what do i consider maladaptive?" instead of just "why am i doing this?" which usually results in shame or maladaptive justifications.
the association of the worthiness of a task to my self-worth prevents me from spending my full emotional energy toward answering those questions. when my self-worth is constantly deteroriating, i am trusting myself less and less, which leads to further ignoring my intuition. this will likely lead me to perform more tasks that i find unworthy, because i am not able to listen to myself long enough to understand what i find worthy so that i can go find tasks that are associated with it. as a memetic human, the deterioration of my self-worth stagnates the process of individuation, because it forces me to adopt what others find worthy as a proxy for what i find worthy. the process of finding worth and meaning is also memetic, as we read and listen to stories of how someone else found their meaning. again, this is an adaptive skill---associating something outside of me with myself. the skill is not the problem, the outcome can be.
i'll connect this back to the drivetrain approach for machine learning: we may have a model that works based on the objective learned from training data, but we may have a more nuanced objective we want to apply in production, so we need an optimizer to pursue it. as humans, our "architecture" is the skill of associating something outside of ourselves with ourselves. performance-based or task-based self-worth is one model that uses that architecture. unconditional self-worth is a completely different model, but uses the same architecture.