Decompose

I am learning what the students at school are learning about computer programming.  I believe if I learned programming this way in the first place, I wouldn’t have the anxiety I do now.  I stopped taking computer classes when I felt sick at the thought of taking another one.  Code.org is free.  The 2 minute video I watched today caught my attention in a big way.  Jumping up and down and shouting, “Eureka,” seemed reasonable.  You would need to get a user name to go to this link but here it is https://studio.code.org/s/course3/stage/1/puzzle/1 I watched it several times writing notes.  There are 4 basic steps to breaking down a problem.  First is to Decompose the problem…..what are all the little pieces to a problem.  My counselor often reminded me that PTSD is a big problem made up of a bunch of little problems snowballed together.  Many hours of counseling I spent decomposing my problems.  To illustrate this idea I will use Thanksgiving dinner planning.  I used to have melt downs at the thought of preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  However, when I started breaking down the BIG THANKSGIVING DINNER to turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes…..etc….each smaller piece could be broken down into smaller solutions.  The best part was grown children that cook better than I do each contributing to the meal.  To decompose a problem is to break it down to its smallest parts.  Decomposing PTSD would be separating emotions from flashbacks, anger about past from anger concerning present problems.  Pulling apart all the different components make the problem more manageable.  Another way of looking at decompose in old cliches is “How do you eat an elephant? Cut it up into small pieces.”  I believe counseling did the most to help me to recognize, catalogue, and teach me skills to fix smaller problems.

The next thinking process is pattern match.  Once you have smaller pieces I can compare the small pieces to other smaller pieces.  Matching up my reaction to other people reaction.  I excel at match games.  But my counselor took it one step further.  He had enough experience to show me how my reactions to situations differ from the average person.  He explained every parent is concerned about children being safe in a bathtub.  He pointed out that I only allowed one inch of water.  He pointed out that most people don’t like being grabbed, I freeze so I don’t shred the poor stupid soul.  So the conversations went, finding patterns in my behavior that needed altering but also finding strengths that far exceeded the average schmo.  I learned survival patterns.  I needed to create self care patterns, thriving patterns, and letting my guard down.  Thing about matching patterns is finding the differences and learning how those differences affect the outcome.

From pattern matching and finding similarities and differences abstraction is the name of the game:

2. the process of formulating generalized ideas or concepts by extracting common qualities from specific examples     
Interesting thing about counseling and reading blogs about people facing similar challenges is finding that the problems I thought were unique, aren’t.  A lot of people are faced with similar type problem pieces.  I discovered I can learn bits and pieces from others.  A friend with a narcissistic mother taught me that they would smile just before saying something particularly cruel.  An article written for soldiers suggested using martial arts, works great for me too.  I love Karate.  Abstracting out the similarities is assisting me to learn new ways to tackle my problems.
In the computer world, the next process is the algorithm.  The steps like a recipe that get the results you want.  This is where things fall apart with people.  List of solutions that work for me, won’t always work for someone else.  But here is the deal, I can make a list of things that work for me.  I can work out my algorithm of activities that get me out of a slump and back on my feet.  I can work out a plan that strengthens me.  I share the parts and pieces and someone else puts together their algorithm to happiness and thriving.  Parts of my solution becomes part of someone else’s solution.  Building blocks that I already use, setting boundaries, grounding, art, self-care, self-parenting, journal writing….and the lists goes on.  These building blocks can be used by someone else building their own algorithm to thriving.
Recent PTSD articles frustrate me.  I am noticing a One-size-fits-all algorithm.  My opinion, One-size-fits-none.  As long as the approach is everyone has to benefit equally for an approach to be accredited leaves no answers for anyone.  I am saddened that too many professionals are sucking into the concept that people are like computers.  That one program works exactly the same way for each person.  People aren’t computers.  We respond differently.  It is what makes people so complex and computers so annoying.  I do believe that learning pieces and trying what helps someone else, I can find my own algorithm of go-to solutions when PTSD rattles my bones.
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