Doing Debucketing Safely

Part III is mainly about a thing Ziz thinks is infohazardous and I think is safe if done with the right safeguards; this post will communicate all of those safeguards and communicate like half of the infohazard. If you get fucked up as a result of reading this, reach out and I will spend time repairing the damage with you. But, I think you’ll likely be fine.

So. Let’s say you know how to do what you want, and what you want is often something like, “reduce the amount of suffering which exists”, but then you start wanting safety, friends, that sort of thing.

Well, in that instance, you should realize there’s been a shift in what you want, and do it anyways. Because your mental health and ability to not procrastinate depends on doing what you want, and your ability to save the world (I’m assuming you want that, if you’ve gone through the trouble of learning all the mental tech on this blog) depends on your mental health and not having the desire to procrastinate weighing over you. Seriously, I’ve seen this one happen quite often, and I promise you’ll switch back to running, “reduce suffering” or whatever once you attend to those needs enough for them to feel met.

Another example. Let’s say you know how to do what you want, which is often something like “reduce suffering” or “do good”, but then you start having a vague sense of, “I need to procrastinate argh”, and you investigate this sense, and it doesn’t seem to be because either “I’m literally just hungry/sleepy” or “a nonverbal part of myself realized the thing I’m working on isn’t a good way to accomplish my goals and is trying to tell me that by making me want to procrastinate”.

Optionally, let’s say this happens, and you try to dig into what you need, and a month later, you’re still having lots of trouble figuring it out despite generally high introspection ability (like if you learned and practiced the skills from Part I and Part II before reading this page).

Going from both experience and my explicit models of people, probably what’s going on in such a case, is that a part of you wants friends who have something in common with you to bond over, or food/shelter, or enough money to live, etc. And is procrastinating because of a lack/perceived lack of those things. (Both are valid; if you go “well my emotions are just misfiring because really I actually do have those things”, you’re doing it wrong, at least in that your emotions are still trying to tell you something and you will need to listen if you want them to be resolved). In particular, my prediction is that, a). part of you wants that not just as a way to do good, but as an intrinsic thing that competes with the drive to do good and can override it even when it’s not instrumental-to-doing-good to do so, and b). that it is a systematic pattern that it is harder to talk to the part of your mind that cares about these things than it is to talk to the altruistic part of yourself.

As far as b) goes, I think that a partial solution is to assume you should ask yourself, “if I’m feeling weird, what ‘selfish’ thing do I need right now”? The process of going, “I’m feeling weird, so let me listen to my emotions and feelings to figure out what exact selfish thing I need, and let me search exclusively for selfish needs” can be kicked off by a priori reasoning. Like, “I have no idea what is causing this procrastination, but based on Jay’s blog, I’m likely to be overlooking some of my selfish needs”. The process of asking what selfish thing you need should involve actually checking in with yourself by listening to your feelings, so the thing that motivates the checking is a priori whereas the checking itself is tied to actually looking.

Another thing that goes along with this, is having a self-story that you only care about altruistic things, because you took the mental tech from Parts I and II and looked deep into yourself and found you were legitimately altruistic. Which means you do care about those things, but like, you can still have other needs too.

One last thing: this didn’t happen in me, but sometimes hazards in the class of DRM and not realizing most people are not your friends (probably most readers will suffer from the second of these until they are somewhat safe) will get in the way of fixing, “procrastination that doesn’t seem to have a cause”. A common specific case being, if you believe you’re “bad” for reasons that were ultimately caused by socially-motivated epistemology that other people created. An example being, if it feels viscerally true to you that you’re sinful, even if you aren’t religious anymore. Well, sinfulness is ultimately a concept some people who wanted to control others came up with. Knowing that isn’t enough to get rid of it: if you deeply believe you’re sinful, just having good emotional processing like Parts I and II teach isn’t enough. Probably what you need is to believe on an intellectual level, and repeat to yourself, “this is not a good framework, it was made to control me” while simultaneously doing emotional processing on the thing, rather than just one or the other of these in isolation.

Like, say that you’re a Marxist with the standard set of Marxist beliefs, and you want to change this to “Marxism, but optimized just for praxis, not praxis-and-approval-of-others-simultaneously” so you can actually do shit. (If you know that something but not everything in Marxism resonates with your true values, probably having figured out this framing is half of the battle.) Well, look at the specific individual components of Marxism, and see which are optimized for praxis, which could be useful for praxis but aren’t optimized for it, and which are wholly not optimized for praxis. Like, “listen to people from disprivileged backgrounds” is a tool to learn where your blind spots are for your own purposes, and is simultaneously a tool to get people who aren’t really your allies but who are pretending to be to go along with you in a way that will break as soon as nobody is checking up on them. One of these things is legitimately useful, and one of them can be turned against you, in a “you’re not being a good Marxist” way.

Anyways, that’s a bit of a tangent into DRM-stripping, but the point is that if you have sometimes-useful-but-still-DRM’ed-beliefs, ways of thinking of things, etc, that cause you to feel like you’re a bad person, this negative effect can be amplified by learning the mental tech in Part III, and the way around this is to undo the DRM. Still, the mental tech in Part III is required if you want to unfuck your thinking enough to have any chance at being good at praxis, so I’d recommend you go for it.

To recap: if you’re mostly altruistic but feeling weird and procrastinating and don’t know why, search your feelings specifically for selfish needs, even needs which conflict directly with altruism, and fulfill them. If you endorse belief systems which say or imply you’re bad for various reasons, strip the part of those systems that say that out of your beliefs, and cut people who make you feel that way out of your life.

The next post will give explicit terminology to what we’ve discussed here, which I’ve separated from this post because explicitly defining the problems that the safeguards in this post address makes the problems a bit more real/powerful. The post after that will give more specific examples of how the pitfalls mentioned in this post can manifest. After that, we’ll go into effective strategies for dealing with all of this.

Next Post: Dual Cores Terminology