This is a public issue of Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice. Feel free to share it!
Hi Friends! How’s it going? It’s resource week! I know that many of us are just trying to get through each day. We’re focused on surviving and thriving is not a thing we have the spell slots for. I get that.
But also? I don’t want every single issue of this newsletter to focus on our scraping by emotionally and mentally because of the pandemic. I recognize that many of us are and I don’t want to ignore that. But I also want to start including things in this newsletter that I had originally intended when it began 10,000 years ago in January 2020. I know that I easily hyperfocus and fixate on a single thing and then spiral downward. The pandemic definitely exacerbates that. So I want to start widening the scope of this newsletter back up and give us room to remember that there is more to… everything. To life. To existing. To being a member of society.
<image from a webcomic called Safely Endangered. The comic has 4 panels. In the first panel is a cocoon. The second panel is a caterpillar having come out of the cocoon, still a caterpillar. The third panel is a butterfly asking this caterpillar, “Why didn’t you change?” The fourth panel is the caterpillar smiling and saying, “I changed on the inside.”>
FYI for that image description I definitely Googled “What is the difference between a cocoon and a chrysalis?”
Resource #1 Implicit Association Tests by Project Implicit
I learned about these tests through Harvard when I was in grad school. They measure the strength of your “implicit bias” towards various groups of people, e.g., do you tend to have negative connotations associated with fat people or Black people or people with disabilities. There are currently 15 different tests. Here it is in their words from their overview:
People don’t always say what’s on their minds. One reason is that they are unwilling. For example, someone might report smoking a pack of cigarettes per day because they are embarrassed to admit that they smoke two. Another reason is that they are unable. A smoker might truly believe that she smokes a pack a day, or might not keep track at all. The difference between being unwilling and unable is the difference between purposely hiding something from someone and unknowingly hiding something from yourself.
The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about. For example, you may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science.
We hope you have been able to take something of value from the experience of taking one or more of these tests. The links above will provide more information about the IAT and implicit attitudes; we will periodically update the information to reflect our current understanding of the unconscious roots of thought and feeling.
They have plenty of information on the tests, a pretty robust FAQ, data privacy info, and, as such types of research goes, a section on ethical considerations. I’ll link them all at the end of this section. Note: this does not require any sort of login or giving your email address.
There’s also a clear disclaimer about the fact that you may not like what you learn about your own implicit biases. It can be hard information to receive. I recently took the Disability IAT and was a bit shocked when it told me that I had a strong implicit bias against people with disabilities. We are not immune to societal messages but I was not expecting “strong” results. This doesn’t flat out say that I’m ableist, but it does tell me that I work harder and have to be more deliberate to combat the implicit biases I have.
Which is why I share this with you. People love to say, “I don’t see color” or “I have a gay friend” and think that we are immune to having biases. We cannot do the work as friends, family, coworkers, allies, and society members if we don’t even know what we need to work on. It’s so important to know our shortcomings because then we CAN be deliberate and focus on being better.
Resource #2: Unfuck Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess
I’ve been a fan of Unfuck your Habitat since it was on Tumblr. This site is not going to tell you to throw away all your belongings or only have 10 pieces of clothing that can be combined in multiple ways. I acknowledge that those behaviors are totally for some people who are absolutely not me.
Unfuck Your Habitat (UFYH) is for those of us who have messy homes. Or at least, for those of us who live in homes where extreme cleanliness is not a priority. It’s about motivation, support, and accountability. You can read more on the about page.
I have a strained relationship with clutter. I love things. I have many things, especially books, and most of it is organized. But also, when I was younger and severely depressed (not yet treated properly), I lived in a home where there was hoarding. I remember asking for my birthday present one year that the kitchen be clean enough for me to 1) make a lasagna and 2) have the dining cleared so I could have my cousin over and we could eat. It was a rough experience. Because of that, and because of some emotional abuse from a grandparent around doing dishes when I was a child, I have A LOT of triggers around dishes being done. At one point, after the aforementioned home, I found myself on the kitchen floor, sobbing uncontrollably, because the person I lived with left dirty dishes in the sink and then left for 5 days. Add to this an old injury from when some dude punched me that flares up when I stand in a single place for too long, such as doing the dishes.
I realized I had a lot of stuff to work through that I hadn’t realized before. I also have an amazing wife who takes care of washing the dishes so I don’t have to but I acknowledge not everyone is so lucky.
I’m sharing this because there are many, many people who have triggers around cleanliness and also who have mental health issues that affect the cleanliness of their spaces. When I’m having a depressive episode, cleaning isn’t top of mind. And some people have varying physical abilities that keep them from keeping even a moderately clean home. Some people never learned how to clean! Some people, don’t give a shit about cleanliness! So, maybe this resource isn’t for that last group.
UFYH is the first site where I ever felt really seen in the “physical-habitat-connected-to-your-mental-state” sort of way. And it makes it so that I don’t have to cry while I’m cleaning! Amazing! It breaks cleaning down into sustainable chunks, not a marathon where you clean for 9 hours and then you are burned out and don’t clean for 3 months until things are out of control again.
This website, and book, have changed my life. I’m really happy to be sharing it with you
Here are links to some helpful pages on the website, as well as a link to the book.
That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, forward it to a friend, and/or give me a tip!