Ask Me Anything

Below are questions that have been submitted for me to answer. Logged in members can upvote any question by clicking the up arrow next to it. Every few months I’ll pick some of the most upvoted questions (as well as some other questions I think are particularly good) and answer them in one of my Ask Me Anything videos.

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43

I am overly-sensitive. What are you thoughts about this personal feature and what, if any, reading recommendations do you have that discuss it/explain it scientifically and offer helpful advice living with it?

A good example of being overly-sensitive is knowing with great accuracy the emotional state of others. I do not know why or the cause, especially if we are not very close - but after 28 years… (Show more)

A good example of being overly-sensitive is knowing with great accuracy the emotional state of others. I do not know why or the cause, especially if we are not very close - but after 28 years - if someone I know at least as a frequent acquaintance is upset and no one else notices - I DO. If I think someone is hurt - THEY ARE. If I sense they dislike me - THEY DISLIKE SOMETHING ABOUT ME. In additional to that - if someone is expressing hurt and pain - I feel like I am feeling those things with them; I feel it in my gut and the tension in my body (same for positive emotions as well). I am a rational decision maker and feel like I have my life in order and I am not walking around crying over every sunset or anything - but when it comes to interacting with people there has always been a sense of something intangible that I cannot explain - but that also feels very real and potentially useful if I could better understand it. A good example is interacting with a person who appears "nice" and does not say anything directly hurtful or mean (may not even say much) - but makes me feel uneasy or uncomfortable; after knowing them for some time such feelings begin to make more sense usually, as I recognize some specific behavior and "proof" that explains the feelings that seemed to come from merely a presence. Sorry this is so long, but as I said I consider myself a rational and thoughtful person - so this is something I have recognized about myself and given a lot of thought and consideration that I am victim of hindsight but don't want to be - or some other weird thing. I don't think I am alone with all of this - so what is all of this? And why does it feel so draining so much of the time? And how can I use feeling things so deeply that are so specific and intangible - rationally? Avoiding another person that "I just a have a feeling I need to avoid" makes me feel guilty and irrational. I have stuck around sometimes and learned that I was correct in my initial gut feelings; but just because my gut was correct before - maybe it will fail next time, so I never fully trust it and find myself confused by it. While I have learned to trust my feelings and my guts more and more as I get older, I also worry by doing this I am going to "let emotions take over" and prefer to be thoughtful and rational instead. Kind of a mess... hopefully you have something to help, and I appreciate it if you do.

35

Should picking an ideal romantic partner be a logical decision?

I’ve dated plenty of women I’ve been infatuated with, but that have had major compatibility issues. Many of them I couldn’t keep my hands off. Now (and once before), I’m dating someone who’s beautiful, has their… (Show more)

I’ve dated plenty of women I’ve been infatuated with, but that have had major compatibility issues. Many of them I couldn’t keep my hands off. Now (and once before), I’m dating someone who’s beautiful, has their shit together, and treats me really well. She’d be the logical ideal partner, but yet I feel somewhat indifferent towards her. Is it time to move on, or is this something I need to address?

34

Can you talk about unconditional love and self love? How do we work through the fears and obstacles that test our love and faith in each other and ourselves?

I have read that in order to attract a healthy relationship filled with unconditional love, we must ultimately first learn to love ourselves. The journey of self love can be at times very difficult. The highs… (Show more)

I have read that in order to attract a healthy relationship filled with unconditional love, we must ultimately first learn to love ourselves. The journey of self love can be at times very difficult. The highs are very high and the lows are painful,almost unbearable. The temptation is there to build a wall around our heart, build conditions & protect our ego. How do we get through this pain and what can we do during this journey to help aid us in the process of learning (and attracting) unconditional love without completely falling to pieces or worse yet, caving into the temptation to let go and run from the process all together?

33

What is the best way to deal with your demons ?

personal struggles, fears, things which hold us back and don't allow us to be our best self.

28

Is your wife really interested in your work, or does she just kind of let you do your own thing and not pay much attention?

28

What self limiting belief have you found the most difficult to overcome?

28

If you could put anything on a giant billboard that thousands of people would see, what would it be?

28

Being Average

I realize that I'm going to be average, at best, at most things I do in life. On bad days, this makes me feel like my life is worthless. What's a healthy way to cope with this reality?

27

How to follow through on plans without validation

I am a scientist, 2 years out of a PhD, and therefore need to develop myself to be a more independent researcher. My problem is I am a bit needy of my boss to tell me… (Show more)

I am a scientist, 2 years out of a PhD, and therefore need to develop myself to be a more independent researcher. My problem is I am a bit needy of my boss to tell me what to do. I am capable of making my own plans, but I always seem to rebel against them and procrastinate. But when my boss asks me to do something, I just go ahead and do it. It's like I need external validation to believe that a plan of action is worth doing. Anything that I want to do out of my own interest is somehow worth less. The net effect over the long term is that I'm always doing stuff that someone else told me to do, and have done precious little of my own innovation. How do I change this mindset?

27

Do you think it's important to be able to specialize on a specific task in order to be happy?

I'm a very open and curious person and I'm interested in a ton of different stuff. My problem is that I can't seem to focus on one particular task for a very long time before I… (Show more)

I'm a very open and curious person and I'm interested in a ton of different stuff. My problem is that I can't seem to focus on one particular task for a very long time before I find something else that seems more interesting at the moment. I feel that this kind of behavior leads to me not ever becoming very good at anything and thus will never feel the joy of being an expert in something.

25

What would you do if you were starting your writing career right now?

24

Is it better to start dating someone you like before you're in love with them, or should you just wait until you're in love, then start dating them?

23

What advice could you give to someone trying to give up binge eating?

Hi Mark. I've been wanting to write to you about this for a while. Thank you for the opportunity! I've read your post about the boy who lost huge amount of weight and also your post… (Show more)

Hi Mark. I've been wanting to write to you about this for a while. Thank you for the opportunity! I've read your post about the boy who lost huge amount of weight and also your post on how you quit smoking. I find these very inspiring and relatable. I began binge eating years ago and even though I try to break the cycle, I still do it. Feeling anxious and having the urge, the overeating, the horrible effects from this including guilt and gaining weight and then realising this has to stop. Then trying to loose this weight, be healthy and not sucumbe to the urges. I guess my question is, what advice could you give me and people that seem to be in this specific cycle with food? Why can't I stop it??
Any thoughts or advice would be most welcome. There are other things I wanted to ask but I've upvoted similar ones to the ones I had in mind.
Looking forward to your video,
Best wishes
Gaby
From Oxford

22

What's the best way to overcome the anxiety you have based on previous decisions and the thought that you're too far gone to make it all right again?

22

What do you eat? What is your diet like? Do you have an exercise regiment? Im basically asking how do you stay healthy and maintain your physique?

21

Why do we pick up 'bad' habits so easily but have to work so hard to start a 'good' habit.

20

How to balance self improvement with self acceptance?

Hi Mark! I have a question on how to balance the action taking of self improvement and striving to be a "better version" of yourself, with self acceptance and knowing you are enough already.

19

Is it possible to continue to grow without fully forgiving those who have harmed or neglected you?

I guess to expand that somewhat, is forgiveness in some cases done in stages? Like grieving, a process of time and perspective.

19

What do you really think (like honestly) about Facebook and other social media?

I'm so fucking sick of everyone going on an on about how I need to join fakebook! They're all quick to remind me that it's a great way to keep in touch with family and they… (Show more)

I'm so fucking sick of everyone going on an on about how I need to join fakebook! They're all quick to remind me that it's a great way to keep in touch with family and they "only" use it to do that and you can set your privacy preferences and blah de blah blah blah (the day I need a social media platform to keep in touch with my family is the day I know that my family no longer matters enough for me to bother staying in touch with them in the first place). I know I don't HAVE to join it, I'm not that dumb, but the thing is, now that everyone in society has become an internet zombie they don't know how to interact with anyone away from social media. Even emailing seems like it's too hard these days. It's impossible to join a sporting team and get to go away on competitions without being part of fakebook because the rest of the team is only willing to communicate on line. WTF. Anyway, I don't want to join the stupid thing because I think that it's bad for society and it rubs my values up the wrong way. I know I can't stop other people from doing it, but for me, I just don't want to do it, and the more everyone keeps pressuring me to, the more I'm like, "go fuck yourselves."

18

How much space do you and your wife give each other?

My wife and I share the same space most of the time. Sometimes we get super tired of each other and feel discouraged about it. Then we get space accidentally and it almost feels like charging… (Show more)

My wife and I share the same space most of the time. Sometimes we get super tired of each other and feel discouraged about it. Then we get space accidentally and it almost feels like charging a battery. And then things are awesome between us but the pattern swings back around and we're super irritable again.

18

What is the difference between a manageable shortcoming in a friend or partner and a red flag?

Hi Mark, Whenever I meet new people I date (or new people who I might be friends with), I am constantly on the lookout for 'red flags'. I've read your articles on neediness, manipulation, and other… (Show more)

Hi Mark,
Whenever I meet new people I date (or new people who I might be friends with), I am constantly on the lookout for 'red flags'. I've read your articles on neediness, manipulation, and other forms of toxicity, but I know to screen for these traits yet it is still hard to know when I should put up with something unsavoury.

This relates to a “meta question” I have about the right people. Why is it so hard to meet the right people (colleagues, lovers, FRIENDS) in today’s world? lots of people I know are really struggling with this one and I do as well. What are your thoughts on that?

17

How often do you daydream about your future, your goals, and does that ever get in the way of actually accomplishing your wishes, goals, etc.?

17

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

I've suffering from BPD since teenage years. I was an unwanted child, given away less than one week from birth, to an unloving family. At the age of one, I was transferred to another family. I… (Show more)

I've suffering from BPD since teenage years. I was an unwanted child, given away less than one week from birth, to an unloving family. At the age of one, I was transferred to another family. I was abused by my foster mother. She physically and verbally tortured me. She made sure that I was reduced to nothing. I have attempted suicide since I was a teenager, but the fighter (or chicken?) in me wouldn't do anything irreversible. So far, I managed to get through life, with much turbulences and craziness, dosing myself with various kind of antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. I am sick and tired of living with this brain of mine. I tried all ways to get rid of its demons - pain, fear and rage. I am highly intelligent but lack the emotional stability to be successful in life. I have zero capability to make any friend. I hate people. Dear Mark, is there a way out for me?

16

Does it bother you how almost all of America (and potentially the world) is living in the matrix?

It seems that almost everyone is lost in a group think pack mentality as of late ie. conservative or democrat, for gun control or against, stand for the anthem or kneel. Doesn’t it feel as if… (Show more)

It seems that almost everyone is lost in a group think pack mentality as of late ie. conservative or democrat, for gun control or against, stand for the anthem or kneel. Doesn’t it feel as if objectivity in thought is completely lost. I know some really smart people lost in total group think and it bums me out.

15

How to secelect the right non fiction books for me to read?

There are of course several options like some ranking sites etc. But still, also crapy books may score pretty high in those. So I would like to ask how and where to look for books which… (Show more)

There are of course several options like some ranking sites etc. But still, also crapy books may score pretty high in those. So I would like to ask how and where to look for books which may give me the most value? And what is your attitude to summerize them for database? Do you take notes while reading, or do you sum them up in the end? Some tips on this topic?

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