Readers, Psychologist, Philosophers or Writers Please, How not to get confused and feel unsetteled after reading different books and Theories?
April 13, 2009 4:16 AM   Subscribe

Readers, Psychologist, Philosophers or Writers Please, How not to get confused and feel unsetteled after reading different books and Theories?

I love reading and specially books related with self improvement, mainly as my last experiences shattered my self esteem and fostered a hunger to gain attention, ( see my former treads)

After the last storm ,I made a plan to follow in order to move on with my life, which also provided me a place within the society where I live (London) and never again feel inadequate or be treated poorly or inferior.

My plan included to get as much knowledge about several Subjects , follow my career plans to get a salary which would provide my parents the comfort they much need.

However, after reading books of co-dependency, biographies, inner self improvement, getting psychology treatment and counselling to resolve issues of my last relationship and childhood traumas, recently reading books of Philosophy about the art of living, I feel somehow that my former plans doesn't appeal to me anymore..

I felt identified a lot with the book ( Status Anxiety)from Alain de Bottom ( Philosophy ) which I am reading and now I feel that I should start a new career path related with Art instead of health care which generate co-dependence ( as for the book co-dependence ) Art which would suit more my vision of life without getting attached to people as much, but what about my career plans related with health care which I am about to conclude ? I won't be able to help my parents now when they more need if I decide to pursuit a new career, and I am not too sure if I am thinking like this just because the reading of the diff books have influenced my deeper traumas!

This morning I woke up feeling quite anxious about what to do with my life now, when before reading all these books, I was content and confident following my plans of getting up very early to study so to be able to register my career, taking diff courses to improve my knowledge, so to be able to feel kind of average within the society I live with, and thinking that having my new salary would change the circumstances of my parents were my drive, but now, with all this reading and books and theories I feel that getting money is not as important as not what others think about me, but withouth my plans which were supporting me trough this diff stage in my life I feel again lost and without direction.

Is not easy to leave my job and leave everything I've started and invested so far to get to the peak, and also it is not exaclty clear for me what I would do instead taking a path in Art as I am not quite Art talented, but what it is clear is that all the philosophy I read in the book of Status Anxiety appeals completely to me..

Seems to be that everything I read influence in a great scale my decisions, thinking and behaviour. Is that normal?

People sometime based their toughts from what they read, I know I should get my own conclusions, but what to do when one feels identified completely with the insight of a book ?

When I was at school and Uni I used to read about different subjects without feeling confused, why this is happening now?

Thank you for your suggestions.
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You have already answered your own question. :-) You recently went through an experience that shattered your self-esteem. Now you are looking for something or some way to build your esteem back up. Before, when you had a stable sense of SE, you weren't really searching for anything other than knowledge. That is the difference between now and when you were in school.

I think it is normal to a certain extent to be influenced when you are searching for something, as you seem to be. If you are trying to decide between different theories, I would suggest outlining the major points of each to make it easy to do a comparison between them.

I hope that helps a little.
posted by Silvertree at 5:57 AM on April 13, 2009

You're creating a false dichotomy: practical career vs. art. It's all in your head. You don't need to choose. You don't need to BE a health-care professional or BE an artist. If you have a practical (money) need to pursue a health-care job, then do that. Meanwhile, pursue art in your spare time.

You are not making a decision now that you'll be stuck in for the rest of your life. Maybe you'll work in health care for the next five years and then become a full-time artist. Who knows.

You sound like you're in your 20s. Here are the jobs I've held, starting at about 22 (I'm 42 now):

- child-care worker
- chef
- waiter
- office temp
- teacher
- writer
- computer programmer

I also make art. I think people do themselves needless harm by worrying about whether or not they're artists. I'm not an artist. I'm a person that makes art. I'm also a person who programs computers for money. There's no reason why I have to only do one thing or decide what I AM.

It's normal for young people to try to "find themselves." But few find themselves by defining themselves as a profession. You are not a health-care worker or an artist. When -- if -- you find yourself, it will more likely be as a spouse, parent, loner, theist, atheist, care-giver, enthusiast, extrovert, introvert or some combination of these. Even more likely, you'll care less and less about finding yourself and more and more about doing stuff.
posted by grumblebee at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

It is good that you are open to new ideas and perspectives. There's no shame in that.

I think it's pretty normal for a person to feel torn in all different directions when they've just had something traumatic happen to them and they want to figure out what to do with their life. Lots of people will do what you're doing, which is to read and reflect a lot, and lots of people have even more trouble deciding after doing those things. I think when a person wants to become a better person, the sorts of questions you're confronting seem even more important than usual, and that can make them feel conflicted. You worry that if you pick one thing, you can't do the others.

Well, there is a sense in which that's true: you can only make time for so many things. The world is full of amazing things, and if you're curious and have more than one thing you love to do, it can be agonizing to start sacrificing some of those things. It can be agonizing to even postpone some of those things. And even once you pick the things that you're going to focus on, you're probably still going to have daydreams of doing some other stuff that you haven't given a real shot yet. Sometimes I think about composing music or acting or painting, when I already write and sing. I have to remind myself that I would be happier finishing my book first. One thing that's helpful, though, is I don't tell myself that I'll "never" do something. As long as I'm doing something now, there's always tomorrow for everything else. Maybe you will find that a comforting way to look at things?

However, you might be making false boundaries in your mind. For example, you don't have to have any sort of career in art to be an artist. I have friends that are visual artists and for the most part, it's a side job at best. I have made a little money singing demos, and I am writing a book, but I have held other "real" jobs during that time. My friend is a civil engineer who composes music at night, and he's gotten quite good at it for not doing it full-time. You could have a career in health care and do art as a hobby. You say that right now you don't have a lot of skill in art, so that seems like a great thing to work on in your spare time. You can practice for years and get better. You can take night classes or read books and web pages or watch videos. Hell, you could slowly pursue a degree in it if you really wanted to.

There are a number of things you could do that would make you proud of yourself. If you do any of them, it's hard to go wrong. Pick a few things you'll enjoy, make a career out of one and hobbies out of the rest, and you can always switch later if it's what you need to do.
posted by Nattie at 6:15 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

If these books make you feel that way, it means they're working. Persuasive, well-presented ideas are challenging to consider. Being a philosopher isn't about having everything figured out and having a concrete worldview, it's about picking yourself and the world apart and kicking the solid ground out from under your own feet. The older we get, the more resistant we are to change, and radical shifts in direction or ideology are harder to adjust to. It's fine to feel insecure, as long as you recognize your insecurity as a symptom and don't let it make all the decisions for you.

Keep a notepad handy while you read, and jot down any specific concepts that you'd like to dwell on later, or any gut reactions that you have to certain statements that you read. Later on you can ruminate or dissect these specific morsels, rather than just feel vaguely ill at ease or turn the entire thing back on yourself. And by all means keep looking and fretting and discussing this until you arrive at the conclusion that informs the next phase in your life.
posted by hermitosis at 7:28 AM on April 13, 2009 [4 favorites]
posted by ageispolis at 11:37 PM on April 26, 2009

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