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About this blog

My collection of thoughts organized in text for the benefit of myself and others. We are all students and all teachers, and I hope my words might spark some insight in those that need it.~

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EternalWarmth

Foreword:

This letter is, I feel, less organized than I would like, with an uncomfortable lack of explanation for each idea and a strange blending of formal and informal address. I unfortunately do not have the time, motivation, or clarity of thought to enhance and refine it, so I apologize for any confusing leaps or assertions. It may be best to consider this a collection of tips or aphorisms, falling far short of being an argument or essay. Regardless, I believe many people might benefit from my words, as disorganized and imprecise as they are.

Letter:

I struggle to think as clearly or speak as easily through my voice as I do through text. I enjoy the luxury of planning my words when communicating through writing, which relieves both the stress of immediate communication and the obfuscation of thought that comes with it. For this reason I find myself able to share my thoughts and feelings through online text mediums such as Discord. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I share more personal thoughts with people online than I do with my closest local friends.

I do not know which, and to what extent, others find text an easier form of communication, however I suspect that many are quite open through it, whether to groups of people or in private messages. Particularly in online communities that support emotional expression and comfort, it is likely that one will encounter another that is willing to share their emotions and troubles with others in the community. This openness may be easier online, but it is not necessarily easy. The speaker might need to develop a certain level of trust with another, or believe that the task of opening up is beneficial to them. Opening up to a friend or trusted acquaintance when one is struggling is almost always healthy, provided the friend understands and respects that one is trusting them with something important.

Listening:

This is where listening becomes an active exercise, and is arguably a skill that can be improved through practice and discipline. For those that want to aid others by offering to be a person they can talk to, knowing how to listen is important. Such a desire is normally accompanied by the wish to offer help beyond listening, such as through comfort, advice or direction. Listening is comparably easy relative to the other forms of help, but each should not be forced under improper conditions.

Listening is a form of helping on its own. The speaker or sharer benefits from releasing their words at the listener, even if the listener offers no words in return. Outward expression of internal feelings relieves certain stresses and can crystalize the words into something easier for the sharer to understand or dissect. One should not feel like they have done nothing to help when only able to listen. One has done something to help, though it may not be as helpful as they would like.

Listening, perhaps unintuitively, generally involves the listener speaking. It is important to be careful when speaking while listening, as one’s words might prematurely end the listening and move on to other forms of support, or may even end the conversation entirely. Speaking while listening should be done with the intent of continuing the outflow of words from the sharer, ensuring what needs to be released is released. To achieve this, one might seek clarification or softly guide the discussion toward what needs to be spoken. Seeking clarification should not be done greedily; one must avoid pushing for a clarification to support an assumption. Ask for information so the listener can understand, not to indirectly push one’s own thoughts into the sharer. Similarly, when trying to guide the conversation, one should not be steering toward a particular idea. Instead, lead away from dead-ends and toward broader unexplored paths. Let the sharer determine when they have said what they need to say.

Comforting and Advising:

Before, during, and after listening, I often desire to comfort the sharer, but I do not always know how to do so. Each person and situation is unique in what is comforting to hear. Listening first can give the listener insight into what would be comforting or harmful to say. This might help one figure out what to say, and it might exclude possibilities and leave one speechless. In the latter case, do not force oneself to say things one doesn’t mean or doesn’t believe in. I have met people that prefer silence over comments like “I don’t know what to say” or “I wish I could help.” Their reasoning is that such lines indicate a lack of interest, determination, or are somehow useless. I disagree, as I believe that these are genuine expressions of the desire to help and the inability to do so. Discouraging these admissions means discouraging future sharing with the listener or encouraging the listener to try to comfort through words that they don’t really mean or hastily constructed.

In cases where the sharer would benefit from a resource or desires an event, refrain from promising them that thing when you are not certain you can provide it. In general, one should avoid making promises one might not keep. This is particularly true when trying to comfort a friend. The temporary relief of an unstable or empty promise is smaller than the eventual disappointment and distrust when the promise is broken. Similarly, do not obfuscate the promise within a conditional without clearly conveying that the conditional is not a guarantee. “If I can do this, then I will do that” can easily be interpreted by the friend to mean “I will do that.” This point can be summarized by the saying “Don’t get their hopes up.”

When the sharer is distressed about a fault of their own, or the listener determines that the sharer is at fault, it can be tempting to excuse their behavior or lie to them to relieve their guilt. Try to avoid doing so. This is another example of a temporary boost with larger long term drawbacks. They should understand that they are wrong when they are wrong, otherwise they will make the same mistakes again. However, this does not mean one should focus on blame or encourage guilt, for they are harmful as well. If comforting or advising, focus on bringing the person’s attention to the reality of their situation, taking care to not be condescending or sound as though one is ignoring the person. What is the situation? What does it mean for the future? Consider how mistakes might be corrected, or at the very least learned from. If nothing can be learned, treat that as a lesson in itself, as it means there is no value in worrying about the cause of the issue. Work with the sharer; talk with them, not at them. If they just shared a lot of sensitive information, they should not be thrown into an instruction guide.

When Not To:

I have already mentioned some cases where attempts to comfort or advise should be avoided, though I would like to address some larger or more general cases. If one is feeling emotionally unstable, is under considerable emotional stress, or is prone to impatience and intolerance, then one should seriously consider what emotional burden they are prepared to take on. In the first and second cases, one risks building up the sharer upon an unstable foundation. When one reaches their own limit and breaks, they are at risk of taking the other person down with them. I have learned this firsthand and hope others will not make the same mistake. Even if one wants to help, it is irresponsible to do so in such a situation. In the case of being impatient or intolerant, one risks not only preying on the distress or openness of the sharer, but also convincing the sharer not to share with more responsible and helpful people. Do not encourage a person to open up to you beyond what you believe you can safely handle.

I believe that a general truth about friendship is “opportunities, not obligations.” Treating a part of friendship as an obligation threatens the friendship itself or causes unnecessary unhappiness. You are not obligated to support everyone emotionally. If someone is your friend, you should want to help them, treating those times as opportunities to help. For the friend, you are offering the opportunity to share, not the obligation to open up when they do not feel like they can. Be responsible, caring, and patient, both with others and with yourself.

I hope this letter is helpful in some form or another. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

 

 

Your Friend,

Twilight Sparkle~

EternalWarmth

Letter:

Of all the villains of social cooperation and harmony, the most common and deceptively insidious is the absence of communication. More powerful and venomous curses exist to wreak pain and chaos within oneself, but a failure to earnestly convey thoughts deals damage within oneself, within others, and to the resultingly frail bridge between the two. Where acquaintances fall short of mutual understanding or the attempt of such, countless social scourges may take root and entangle all about them in ever-tightening brambles. Where one isolates oneself beyond one’s means to remain in good mental attitude, the personal villains may easily plug all air holes in a steadily flooding heart.

Inversely, good communication champions healthy relationships and positive minds. Ideas can be reliably shared and refined, and misunderstandings can be identified and remedied. Even when armed with a modest knack for dialectic, tenacity at communication will certainly foster better understanding between two parties, though with a provision that will be described shortly. When one is caught in an internal tarpit of griefs, doubts, resentments, or guilts, conveying such a state to a trusted (or even an untrusted) companion can be immensely helpful, if not necessary. Self-reliance is a valuable and healthy strength to possess, but obstinance, whether born from distrust or arrogance, can sunder any who refuse communication. Waiting for outside help to find one by chance is risky and unwise, as even if help discovers one trapped within oneself, the help may inadvertently lodge one deeper in isolation and misery if not given proper illumination by the trapped.

Communication may appear to be an unstable tool, capable of moving great weights when applied well, but equally capable of cutting the hand of the holder when improperly wielded. This is unfortunately true, but the potential damage can be mitigated or undone with good practice. The first factor in healthy and effective communication is understanding what one is trying to convey. If one does not have a grasp on one’s own message, then it is unlikely that the message will be translated as one might hope. Still, there are times when one should communicate for the purpose of clarifying one’s own ideas, and so cannot already grasp them. In such cases, that should be made known to the other and they, if they wish to know what one is trying to say, should thoughtfully and patiently assist in narrowing down the idea. Rushing to speak before one’s idea has formed jeopardizes understanding.

The second factor of good communication is a combination of intent and tact. Thoughtful respect and care for oneself and the other should be the intent behind any conversation between two persons. Honesty is almost always the best tactic for any conversation or other forms of interaction. The exceptions are hard to identify, and risking dishonesty should never be done without whole-hearted conviction that the deception is necessary to avoid deep, long-lasting damage to either persons. Honesty and care, together, form genuine communication. By diligently adhering to both, speaking one’s mind becomes clearer, the message itself is likely to be clearer, and the recipient may better absorb one’s meaning. Dishonesty rightfully leads the other to question one’s motives, which in turn leads the other to become less receptive. Antagonistic or muddied intent, whether conveyed through honesty or dishonesty, prepares the recipient for the growth of more resentment and distrust.

Communication is never a one-sided event, and the next factors relate to being on the receiving side of a message. Patience and humor are very important, but often forgotten or taken for granted. Do not assume the person speaking knows exactly what to say at all times. The other may need time to process one’s words and to formulate their own. Impatience at these moments discourages both present and future discussions, while patience may give each the courage to speak. Humor has several important uses in conversation. It can lighten a mood or break through unhealthy blocks when wielded at the right moments and with the right words, though careless use of it can do the opposite. As a listener, one should maintain humor within oneself. As with patience, do not react too hastily to the other person, particularly when their message appears confusing or hurtful. Consider whether the other may be joking, or if they perhaps misspoke. If unsure, seek clarification, careful not to be accusing or antagonistic. If their message was indeed meant to be hurtful, consider why they have chosen to be unkind. Is the attack personal, or are they channeling their unhappiness into words at the nearest target? A personal attack may be due to a misunderstanding, or a misguided reaction to something one has done wrong. Incidental insults as a result of a bad mood should not be taken as personal. Instead, offer the other space and time, or offer to listen to what has been troubling them. One’s internal humor should keep one relaxed enough to respond constructively.

It should come as no surprise to anypony that has difficulty speaking to others that effort is also a factor in good communication. When spending too long internalizing thoughts and feelings, one must make an effort to open up and share with others. If one doesn’t know how to phrase a thought, put effort into clarifying and organizing the thought. Genuinely try to reign in overly defensive or offensive reactions before one responds. Be generous with one’s time and energy when communicating. As hard as these can be, the following is perhaps the most difficult for the majority of conversers.

It is inevitable that two speakers will at some points reach an impasse, or what feels like a dead end in a conversation, that leaves both parties irritated and unhappy. This may be because of a true disagreement, or, more likely, due to a misunderstanding in the guise of a disagreement. It cannot be expressed how important it is to put the effort into ascertaining which is the case. Finding and addressing misunderstandings is always tiring, even to the most social and experienced of ponies. It is often not clear when or where a misunderstanding lies, and misunderstandings prefer to look like true disagreements. For this reason, one should treat the situation as a disagreement, meaning one should seek to both clarify one’s own view and illuminate the other’s view. As one makes one’s case, define one’s view distinctly and precisely, giving the other the most accurate and clear understanding of one’s view as possible. Break it into graspable pieces such that the other may narrow in on where the disagreement lies. It may be the case that the other realizes there is a misunderstanding, and this is where they are most likely to spot it.

In any case, in argument or casual conversation, keep the above in mind. There is no good purpose in unkind or careless discussion, and the world may be gained through kind and thoughtful discussion. One last note is to not become too caught up in formality or try to be “excessively thoughtful”. Mistakes happen, and people learn from them. Let experience hone your words, not an unchecked desire for perfection.

Afterword:

This is my first shot at writing an entry. I debated within myself how to present it, with the alternative form being a careful analysis of a very illustrative personal experience. I still believe the story is worth telling and may be more effective than a simple wall of words, so I might save it for a sort of sequel entry to this one. Until then, I hope my wall of words has been clear and helpful for any who read it.

One of my most instinctive fears in being misunderstood, and others (or myself) suffering as a result. I spent the majority of my life internalizing my feelings and words, building a dense mass of gray emotion inside me. At times it felt heavy, and most often it felt numb or null. But as little bits of the mass broke off, it would react and burn in anger or sadness. I realized the toll it took on my life and decided that I had to speak out, even if it made me uncomfortable or if I wasn’t entirely sure I believed what I was saying. It has helped dislodge a significant portion of that mass, though part of it will always remain and collect the sediment of anxiety and depression. If any of you understand that feeling, or think you may be internalizing too much, I hope you will speak to someone. Communication is a crucial part of a healthy mind.

 

 

Your Friend,

Twilight Sparkle~

 

PS: I am currently too tired too proofread this beyond simply checking for misspellings and obvious grammatical errors.

EternalWarmth

Journal Description:

My intent for the journal is to set some of my thoughts into words for helping others, clarifying my thoughts to myself, and gradually improving my ability to articulate helpful ideas. In most entries, I will focus on one or two topics or ideas, though undoubtedly along with a fair share of tangents or unintentional repetition. Topics may be broad or narrow, and I will try to organize my thoughts somewhat before posting.

 

Entry Description:

This first entry will differ in format from subsequent entries and will act as an introduction to both the journal and to me. I will begin by giving a general account of how I first entered the community of Hypnoponies, how I left it, and why I have returned. Then, I will try to describe myself, my interests, and my ideas about my self.

 

Arrival:

Five years ago, at some point in 2013, I took an interest in tulpa and self-hypnosis. I stumbled upon the Hyppnoponies site and spent some time lurking around the forums and experimenting with the files. For months, I tried to develop either a tulpa of Twilight or to have a Twilight personality able to see a pony body. I tried, and had little or no success. More specifically, I had no success in forming a tulpa, and could never “truly” see a pony body. I compared my progress to the comments and experiences of others, and saw that I was simply not having any kind of success. I kept an open mind, convinced myself it would work, but eventually I gave up. Instead, a new idea had replaced hypnosis as the center of my attention.

Having spent quite some time analyzing and familiarizing myself with the character of Twilight, I found that I often came across pre-existing parallels between my life and hers. I will not go into details, as doing so would necessarily require exposing private information about my life. The areas that had interesting overlap were actual events, interests and hobbies, general and specific personality traits, etc. I began to wonder if my lack of success with the hypnosis was in part due to being too much like the character I meant to become. I would get caught up on every little difference, every description I disagreed with.

Every now and then, I would recognize more things that just… clicked, as though finding new pieces of a puzzle. It did not take long after that for me to develop my current view of my identity. At this point I was actively participating in chats with the community. I met new people and made some friends. I did my best to be social and made efforts to help those that needed comfort or advice. I made use of my introspective habits to understand and address the situations others were going through. Sometimes, however, the intent to help was not the same as the ability to help, and I would only be able to offer a shoulder to lean on.

In 2014, the community began to gradually destabilize. Members began identifying with characters that were inherently self-destructive or vindicating of unhealthy views. Others were hit with hard times, and soon any help I offered became less and less effective. As those around me hurt more, my sense of balance diminished as well. Still, I kept trying to support my new friends, offering my shoulder while my own legs trembled. I made many mistakes, but my irresponsible efforts were the most harmful to myself and others. Any weight placed on me formed deep cracks and pains. I presented myself as stronger than I was, promising more support than I could give, which would only hurt those leaning on me when I inevitably collapsed.

I was among the last to collapse, but I fell hard. The final events that shook me to the ground were far more than I could handle at the time, having spared myself no reserves of strength. I lashed out at some, driving them farther away. I never broke off communication with anypony, though it hurt when several did so with me. It was clear that the site was going to fall apart, and so I and a few others (Amber, Brya, and I apologize for forgetting who else) tried to form a new site that I believe we called Equestrian Souls. It must have been a precursor to the current site, since my old account does not exist on this one. Another month or so with no progress on the new site and seeing those involved appear to abandon hope or become distracted by more important events in their own lives, and I finally gave up as well. I was tired and stinging, and I needed to tend to my own issues. I remained in loose contact with several ponies, but their responses became rarer and shorter, until going almost silent.

For four years, I held onto the guilt I felt from my failures and participation in the breakdown of the community. I developed a fear of online chats and relationships, and the fear overpowered my desire to repair contact with my friends. I’ve felt alone, and I made no effort to end that isolation. I tried to ignore the internal shouting to make amends, to make sure my friends were alright, to never make the same mistakes again. I had heard that some remnants of Hypnoponies had formed a group on Discord, but I wasn’t ready to investigate.

A little over two weeks ago, I stumbled upon the current Equestrian Souls site by pure coincidence. I made up my mind that this was my opportunity to reconnect, to forgive myself, to overcome my fears, and to help and be helped by others. A bit of account setup later, and here I am. I hope to be active on both the site and on Discord, though I’m taking my time.

 

About Me:

Perhaps I shouldn’t introduce myself so far into the entry!

Hello, my name is Twilight Sparkle, though Eternal Warmth, Eternal, and most nicknames are welcome.~

 

Activities and Interests:

My primary occupations are as a student and researcher in the field of Computer Science, focusing on Virtual and Augmented Environments. I spend most of my free time playing video games, watching educational videos, and reading. That, and doing nothing as I stress about what I should be doing. As far as fields of interests are concerned, I mostly focus on computer sciences, physical sciences, history, and philosophy. However, I enjoy the process of learning itself, so any information that illustrates the complexity and elegance of a topic is of interest to me. It’s why I love conversations about law and economics with my father, beyond the fact that I enjoy any conversations with my father.~

 

General Attitude:

I like to remain relaxed and composed, and socializing takes a good deal of energy. Still, I value my social interactions and friendships greatly, so the tiredness is well worth it. I manage “chronic constant daily migraines” (as several doctors non-committedly called it), which essentially causes any level of stress to be felt as a constant headache that varies in intensity, from hardly noticeable to practically paralyzing. I’ve made significant improvement in dealing with my stress, and so I rarely have the crippling headaches. I mention it to further explain my low energy, among other things. I can still be quite high energy, such as when I learn something interesting or acquire a new book. I am very open-minded, armed with both curiosity and skepticism to balance my views. My aversion to misunderstanding lends itself to helping me judge others more fairly, so don’t worry about treading lightly around me. Still, I appreciate kindness, honesty, generosity, humor, and integrity.~

 

Friendship:

If you see me as Twilight, then it is probably of little surprise to you that I value my friendships quite highly. I have learned to give myself credit for the effort and thought I have put in to helping my friends. These efforts are never wasted, as the enjoyment of time with a happy or otherwise stable friend is worth much momentary distress. I’ve learned a lot from my past failings, and I still have much to learn, but I am more confident now in my ability to be a supportive and good friend. I do not break off contact unless I am personally and consistently being harassed, and only after fair warning.

 

Propensity for Length and Example:

Those of you that have had private conversations with me are aware that I often resort to lengthy messages to communicate my thoughts. I am one that tends to reserve speech until I know I have something I wish to say, which results in loquacious sentences rife with tangents and redundancies. If such messages come across as preachy or one-sided, please call that to my attention. I’m far more concerned with having an enjoyable conversation than with boring anypony with misguided ‘lessons’. When comforting or offering advice, I refuse to be disingenuous and I avoid sounding hollow. I am rather empathic, but that does not mean I am able to easily understand or comprehend what others are going through. To remain genuine in my attempt to help and to avoid being helpless, I use honesty and illustrate my own understanding and experience through example, should I have one. This is never to “make it about me”. I do so to effectively communicate what I believe the other is feeling, as well as how they might begin to work their way out of it. Such a strategy is necessarily hit-or-miss, but I believe the benefit of the hits is worth the added confusion of the misses. I place great value on communicating my thoughts accurately and precisely to avoid misunderstandings. Any skill I have developed to that end has been due to spending too many years internalizing and rationalizing my feelings, not reaching out for help when I should have.

 

The State of My ‘Self’:

It is my understanding that my view of my ‘self’ is different from most others in the community, though I may be wrong. A key aspect of my view is that there is no difference between “me, the human” and “me, the pony”. I may have only started referring to myself as Twilight four and a half years ago, but that did not mark a change in my personality or values. It is not just a name, but it isn’t a strict definition either. The character Twilight inspired or revealed my understanding of Twilight the person, and that understanding is the same as the understanding of my own person. If you would like a more visual description to associate with me, then I guess you can imagine a matured alicorn Twilight, similar to the one I am likely using as a profile picture.

I do not place much stock in having been a pony in a past or parallel life. I draw helpful lessons and feelings from such ideas, but their validity has little impact on their benefits. For those of you that are interested in past lives, I will admit that my skepticism has not ruled anything out. I perceive what I can only describe as “feelings memories”, a vague collection of flashes and deep emotions that define specific or ambiguous events of a lifetime as a pony Twilight. The bizarre depth and power of these sensations confuses me, and they bring me both pain and comfort. I avoid this subject, as I fear both the pain it can bring as well as the possibility that others may take it lightly. I do not enjoy seeing others try to convince themselves of memories that may not be theirs, nor do I like others believing memories are necessary for self-validation. I’ll end this section on ‘self’ here, as I might choose to dedicate a future journal entry to it.~

 

Closing Thoughts:

Now that my own introductions are out of the way, I look forward to meeting and learning about many of you. I am inconsistent about responding in a timely manner, partly resulting from my warped perception of social time. Nevertheless, I try to stay in contact with my friends, and I hope many of you will be counted among them.~

 

 

Your Friend,

Twilight Sparkle~

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