Thoughts on: “Demian” by Hermann Hesse

The story revolves around young Sinclair and the difficult task of finding ones self. Growing up in a protected and pious middle class home he eventually has to face the real world. Sinclair gets a new mysterious classmates, Demian, who guides him to detach and revolt from the superficial world of form and awaken to his true self.

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📝 Abraxas: A deity combining the godlike and the devilish.

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📝 “All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?”

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📝 “When we hate a person, what we hate in his image is something inside ourselves. Whatever isn’t inside us can’t excite us.”

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⭐️ Takeaway:

About the previous quote: If that’s the case – and by observing this phenomenon for a while I believe there is some truth to it – then even when someone irritates us, we can use that as an opportunity to learn more I out ourselves. I kinda like that quote for that reason.

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📊 My Amateur Jungian Analysis: Sinclair is the “Ego”, Kromer his “Shadow” and Demian the “Self”. Lady Eve is the “Anima” (the unconscious feminine side of a man). One of Jungs anima levels is even named “Eve”. By opening up to Lady Eve, Sinclair becomes complete. He and Damien become one.

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⚖️ Verdict:

This a mysterious and short (100 pages!) coming of age story for philosophically minded reader. Pauses for contemplation are needed between each chapters. The best 3$ spent this year!

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For those who read already: What do you think Demian did to get Kromer of Sinclair’s back?

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What short book blew your mind recently?

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4/5

Thoughts on: “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg

Rosenberg teaches you practical skills for getting your needs met in a peaceful way. “Nonviolent communication helps us create a more peaceful state of mind by encouraging us to focus on what we truly wanting rather than what is wrong with ourself and others.”

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Mediocre writing and terrible narration aside (for the audio version that is), this gem of a book is likely to change the way speak to yourself and others in a profound way.

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📝 “When my consciousness is forcused on another persons feelings and needs, I see the universality of our experience”.

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📝 In cultures that judge, violence is more prevalent.

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📝 It’s important that we take responsibility for our feelings, and that we in no way imply that what others say and do makes us feel the way we do.

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📝 J. Krishnamurti: “Observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence”.

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📝 It might be worth trying to pull out of people what they really mean with what they are saying to find out what needs aren’t met. Your initial interpretation might be wrong! And It’s not our fault, society has not conditioned us to express ourself properly.

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📝 When you find you inner critic getting on your case about something you did, then ask yourself – What unmet need of mine is being expressed through these statements?

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

We need to be precise in our speech.

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“Non-Violent Communication” is the perfect compliment “Crucial Conversations”. Read them both and master the principles (easier said than done!) and you will have saved yourself and the people around you from a ton of unnecessary suffering.

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If you could add one more book to create the holy trinity of communication books, which one would that be? 🤔

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4/5

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Photo credit: @monica.bitar (instagram)

Thoughts on: “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Maté

Dr. Gabors is specialized in the study and treatment of addiction. His book offers portraits of his patient lives, stories about his own addictive behaviors, it examines the causes behind addiction and it breaks down the path to recovery.

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He opposes the weight that’s been put on the genetic component of addiction and points at stresses in early childhood (even pre-natal stresses) as the main risk factor. He is a big proponent of more compassion in society’s view of addicts and explains the futility of the “war on drugs”.

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An excellent introduction to the complex problem of addiction!

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📝 “As a rule, whatever we don’t deal with in our lives we pass on to our children” -Our unfinished emotional business becomes theirs.

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📝 Addiction = Fear of emptiness.

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📝 Proximal separation: Physically there but mentally absent when parenting. Children experiencing this look to use external couping mechanisms like thumb sucking or tuning out. These kids have great chances of seeking refuge in drugs later on in life.

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📝 Gabors recommends the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and the book Rosenberg’s book “Non-violent Communication” (I just got it!)

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📝 Circumstances for brain development differs. Some have had positive experiences that others have been deprived of. Think about this before you judge.

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📝 Parents, and mothers in particular, are getting less and less of the suppport they need during their children’s early years. This is a cultural breakdown of cataclysmical scale. Therefore the raise in adhd.

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📝 “All problems are psychological, but all solutions are spiritual”

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📝 “Only healthy nurturing relationships with adults will prevent kids from getting lost in the peer world. A loss of orientation that leads rapidly to drug use.”

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: Regardless of your degree of addiction or whether your drug of choice is heroin, TV, food or shopping – reading the stories and research presented in this book will help to shine a light on your own addictive tendencies.

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My struggles have been with nicotine and refined carbohydrates. What’s your addictions? 🤔😀

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PS: The audiobook version of this book is excellent!

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5/5

Photo credit: @darcy_renea_lalimo (Instagram)

Thoughts on: “Man and his Symbols” by Carl Jung & Co

According to Jung, dreams carry an important role, and by interpreting their symbols we can get hints from our unconscious when the time has come to change attitudes and value systems in order to move to the next level of psychic maturity.

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Dreams are a bridge between the conscious and unconscious.

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This is my first encounter with Jungs work and certain parts of this book were some of the most intense and fascinating pages I’ve ever read.

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Each chapter is written by different authors, each with their own angle on Jungian psychology. Unfortunately all of them don’t live up to the high standards of the introductory chapter by Jung himself.

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📝 “It takes a lot of courage to take the unconscious seriously and to tackle the problems it raises.”

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📝 Archaic remnants: (Freud’s term) mental forms whose presence can’t be explained by anything in the individuals own life and which seem aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind.

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📝 “A sense of a wider meaning to ones existence is what raises a man beyond mere getting and spending. If he lacks this sense, he is lost and miserable”

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📝 Civilized Man: He can do what he sets out to do without chanting and drumming. Even daily prayer and divine aid is unnecessary. “His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with relentless, vague apprehension, psychological complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food -and, above all, a large array of neuroses.

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📝 “If a man devoted himself to the instructions of his own unconscious, it can bestow this gift, so that suddenly life, which has been stale and full, turns into a rich, unending inner adventure, full of creative possibilities.”

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: I especially enjoyed reading about the individuation process and civilized vs. primitive man, and the archaic symbols of the original psyche. Initiation rites and the origin of rituals also had my full attention!

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Complex, uneven but a all-in-all fantastic book!

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4/5

Thoughts on: “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger

“Tribe” started as an article for Vanity Fair and was later expanded on and turned into this book. It revolves around how at odds the structure of modern society is with our tribal instincts and how people directly, or indirectly, affected by war have problems readjusting to normal life.

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What really stuck with me with this book was how people in war torn nation look back on war with nostalgia. Many even preferring war times to what they are now experiencing.

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📝 Genetic adaptation takes about 25000 years to accumulate in humans.

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📝 Modern society perfected the art of making people feel unnecessary. “How do you become an adult in a society that doesnt ask for sacrifice?”

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📝 People need 3 basic things in order to be content:

– Feel competent in what they do.

– Feel authentic in their lives.

– Feel connected to others.

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📝 Modern societies lack opportunity for the average man to show his commitment to his community.

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📝 During war: suicides and depression rates goes down. Productivity goes up in bombarded cities.

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💭 Thoughts:

Apart from a feeling belonging and being an asset to society, I think there is one other aspect of war that is not talked about much in this book but that could be a factor in people missing war; people want to be told what to do! The endless possibilities of modern life is taxing on people. War limits opportunities.

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I myself don’t miss conflict, community or brotherhood. I feel like I belong and feel that I contribute. The book reminded me that I haven’t always felt this way and that a lot of people feel alienated in advanced societies. It’s weird how easy it is to forget how things ones where as your outlook on life evolves.

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A bit of a depressing read – but good! -Now I need something completely different!

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4/5

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Photocredit: @ashiorigami (instagram)

 

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Thoughts on: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport

Could it be that more we focus on finding and following our passions the more discontent we become with our work? Cal Newport makes an argument that you should throw passion aside and get really good first, then passion will follow!

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So what makes for an rewarding career? Room for creativity, Impact and Control are some important factors – and how do you attain that? You GIIIT GUUUUD at something rare and valuable!

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📝 on Deliberate practice: “If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level”.

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📝 on Craftsman mindset: Focuses relentlessly on what value you can offer the world.

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📝 on Passion mindset: Focus on what the world can offer you.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAYS:

Make small bets. In the wake of Tim Farris “The 4-hour work week” tons of people quit their job to become bloggers with passive income streams from internet sites. Lifestyle design is cool and all, but many became disillusioned quickly and realize how hard it is to make money online. Make many small bets when you are transitioning into a new area of work instead of only one really big one.. Ask yourself what are people really willing to pay you for? And prove it. Some things will have to remain just a hobby.

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🔸VERDICT

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This is the perfect book for someone who just starting his/her career. But for the ones of us that have 15-30 years of work experience have probably already learned these things (maybe even the hard way), and have less to gain from this book. If that’s the case, then then study these books and concepts instead:

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📖 “Bhagavad Gita” about freedom from outcome.

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📖 “Mastery” by Robert Greene about being persistent.

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📖 “Outliers“ by Gladwell about deliberate practice.

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3/5

 

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Thoughts on: “Endure” by Alex Hutchinson

We have all seen a world record being broken. The athlete crosses the finish line and a new bar has been set. But you have also seen that the athlete is alive and moving. Which means he/she had more to give!

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What sets the limit of human endurance? Is it mental or physical? What is the absolute limit given we found the perfect athlete and perfect condition? These are some of the questions this book tries to answer.

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Some notes:

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📝 Expectations matter! How many tries you know you have to do something impact how you pace yourself. Even if you’re told to do your max for each rep.

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📝 Gabrselassie (marathon champ) sweats up to 3.6 Liters/hour.

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📝 The extraction of mindfulness from it’s Buddhist context began in the 1970’s with Jon Kanbat-Zinn.

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📝 Central governor, Anticipatory regulation, Pacing instinct – it goes by many names – basically, the theory that the brain stops us from running ourselves to death.

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📝 Pain in training leads to a higher threshold for pain. High intensity training heightens your pain tolerance while medium intensity doesn’t.

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📝 Experiment shows that seeing a smiling face, even subliminally, induces a sense of ease.

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⭐️ Takeaway: Nr.1 advice (except training) is to presue motivational self talk training. Cuz it really works! Training is the cake and believing is the icing.

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🔸Verdict:🔸

My second favorite book with a title that starts with “endure”. 😉 Well, that wasn’t a helpful measuring stick. Haha. To be fair, it’s a good book, but I wouldn’t recommend it to people that don’t have a special interest in human performance and endurance. You need a bit of passion to stay focused with all the data being presented. Spoiler: all the conclusions are: “it’s unclear”, “we have to wait for the final data” or “its complicated.” But I rather have that, than oversimplification.

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What’s my favorite book that starts with “endure”? “Endurance” by Lansing! About captain Shackleton’s amazing polar expedition. High stakes endurance! 👌🏻

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3/5

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Thoughts on: ”Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull decided to create the first ever computer animated feature film, it took him 20 years, but with the premiere of “Toy Story” he reached he goal. Now he turned to another challenge; to create a sustainable creative work environment.

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This is not a “The 10 Things to Do to Be a Great Manager”-book, instead it tries to describe the enormous complexity and challenges that comes with creative work.

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With creative products, we usually only see the slick final product. In this case with Pixar; a heartwarming and excellently crafted animated movie. This book gives a peak behind the curtains and you will see that chaos and uncertainty rules even there. It’s a part of the process and it’s how you navigate these situations will determine your success.

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📝 When you become a manager you might not see it, but information that was previously available start to disappear. People think more about what they say when you are around and you might not catch those snarky comments about small problems that you used to.

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📝 Cultivate what in Zen is referred to as “Beginners Mind”; An attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would do.

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📝 During the crunch to get Toy Story 2 ready: An employee forgot to drop his kid of at daycare and went right to work. During the day he suddenly realized the child was still in the car on the broiling parking lot. The child was unconscious, but was saved.

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📝 Inspired by Japanese manufacturing: Everyone was expected to report errors and stop production no matter what position you have.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: Create mental models that sustains you and keep your doubts at bay. “so much work, so little time to do it” is a constant problem in creative productions. “One director tells himself that he has time even when he don’t. Because he knows that from that space, he is actually in a position to solve the problem at hand.”

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This book is essential for people working on larger creative teams in the movies or games.

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “How to Live: or a Life of Montaigne” by Sarah Bakewell

Ah Montaigne! I’m glad I got to know you. You are now officially added to my list of peculiar historical men that fascinate me to no end – alongside Ben Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt.


He wrote 107 essays with simple titles like “of Friendship”, “of Cannibals”, “of Names” and “of Cripples”. He was an observer of the world but most of all he observed and wrote about himself.


📝 He was send out by his parents to be nursed by peasants as an infant in a weird attempt to create a bond with “the commoners” that he would one day need to help.


📝 His parents educational experiment continued; Montaigne was brought up as a native Latin speaker! A tough plan to put in practice since the were almost no native latin speakers around. The rest of the household spoke minimal or no Latin.


📝 “A man… should touch his wife prudently and soberly, lest if he caresses her too lasciviously the pleasure should transport her outside the bound of reason” Montaigne quoted Aristotle. Saying, basically, the conventional notion in those days that being a passionate husband would turn the wife into a nymphomaniac. 😂


📝 Pay attention!

As Montaigne learned, one of the best techniques for paying attention is to write about everything. Just to describe simple things in the world opens your eyes to how marvelous they are.


📝 “Still French was his language of choice”. His essays gives a weird reason for this: French could not be expected to last in the same way as the classical languages (I.e. Latin). This was freeing. If his writing was flawed, there was less pressure on him since the where doomed anyway.


📝 He was a big fan of Hellenistic philosophy; Stoicism and Skepticism in particular. Stoicism encourages wise detachment and skeptics held themselves back on principle. His motto was “What do I know?”.


📝 In “on cripples” Montaigne writes about a rumor that lame women are more enjoyable in bed, and as Aristotle before him, he speculates that it must be that “their vaginas are more muscular because they receive the nourishment of which the legs are deprived.”


It’s a fascinating biography even for the uninitiated! Now I just need to read his actual essays!


4/5

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Thoughts on: “Drinking: A Love Story” by Caroline Knapp

When I hear the word alcoholic I usually think about the guy sitting on a park bench, too drunk to notice he peed his pants, but even if he did notice, he would be too disconneced from reality to care.

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This memoir we meet Caroline, she is another type of alcoholic; a “high functioning” one. The type that can maintain jobs and relationships while exhibiting alcoholism.

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She was raised in an upper class family and had her first drink at the age of 15. The next 20 years her relationship to drinking slowly turned from flirting into an abusive relationship. Happening so gradually that she almost didn’t notice her fall, but getting out of the addiction was quite the opposite.

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📝 Discomfort + Drink = Comfort

The equation of an alcoholic.

“It turned me into someone I liked”

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📝 “Ads says: “Drinking transforms you” and it does! It melts down the parts of us that hurts or feels distress. I makes room for another self to emerge that is new and improved and less conflicted. And after a while drinking becomes essential for the development of that version. Without the drink you are version A and with it version B and you can’t get from A to B without it.”

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📝 “The paradoxical thing about drinking alone is that it creates and illusion of emotional authenticity, which you can see is false only in retrospect. Liquor seems to be the only thing that allow access to our own feelings.”

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📝 About choices in recovery: “If it’s warm and fuzzy and comfortable and protective, it’s probably the The alcoholic choice. If it feel dangerous and scary and threatening and painful, then it’s probably the healthy choice.”

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📝 “You stop growing when you start drinking alcoholicly… prevents you from walking through the painful life experienced that take you from point A to point B on the maturity scale.”

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It’s a sad and touching story, that I really recommend. Especially if you, or someone close to you have a sketchy relationship to “ze booze”, because it might help you put a finger on what’s going on.

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4/5

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What are you drinking and reading this weekend?

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