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s/o Being Shaped Positively vs. Being Shaped Negatively


fairfarmhand
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Several people mentioned how the events of their lives have changed them positively.

 

Some care little for outward appearance preferring to focus on people who are "real" vs. those who are pretenders.

 

Others became better parents, kinder and more compassionate toward others.

 

So what about the other half?

 

Those who experience poverty and spend their lives trying to make up for a poor childhood by shopping and making sure that they look good?

 

Those who are horrendous parents because they were brought up horrendously.

 

I could go on, but you get the idea.

 

What I'd like to discuss is what makes the difference? What makes some people turn their adversity into becoming a better person while others use it as an excuse to make poor life choices?

 

And those who make the poorer choices, are they really happy like that?

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I will be watching this thread with interest. I would say that until my forties, challenges changed me for the better. However, the events over the last year have not. Instead of being the bubbly, happy woman I used to be I am becoming a person I do not recognize. I know all of thevthins I've used in the past, but they feel empty and hollow. Somehow these people kept a positive view like I used to do.

 

I fear this is happening to me as well.  I used to be so stinkin' happy all the time.  It was very genuine.  I truly felt happy.  

 

I don't have that anymore.  Some things happened over the past couple of years and I've hardened and things that used to help in the past don't help as much anymore.  And the thing is, I just don't care that nothing helps.  

 

Now, this isn't in every part of my life, but in just a few parts, so there are times when I can feel that happiness again, but it's not the same as it used to be.

 

To answer the OP, I don't know why some people get better and some get worse.  I'm not sure I'm better or worse.  Just different.  And I suppose, for me, it's just been too much.  I hit a wall where too much happened and the happiness left.  

 

Actually, this is too complicated to type out, because I'm sounding like I'm utterly miserable.  I'm not.  It's just that there have been events that 15 years ago I'd have recovered from (in fact, DID recover from) but the same thing happened again and this time around I'm not recovering.   

 

But I'm not abusing anyone or not getting what needs to be done, done.  I guess I'm saying I can see how it can go both ways and that perhaps there are levels of abuse/sadness/whatever that each person can handle and when the abuse/sadness/whatever gets higher than the level you can handle, that's when people start to drown.  ?  Maybe?  

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My grandmother was not happy. She was bitter and resentful because some of her sisters had higher incomes and more pretty things. Even though she eventually got a house in a good area. She was resentful when their hogs died from cholera in the 30s their parents didn't give them money. Never mind they probably didn't have it to give.

It bugged her if others were happy.

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No clue.  It could be that a person has the sort of personality where they will likely overcome things in a positive way.  And then some don't.  And then I wonder how extreme the positivity or negativity really is.  How many people are radically transformed?  I suspect it's not usually radical. 

 

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When I asked about challenges, I wanted to keep it positive, probably because I am a negative person who is prone to depression. :001_smile:

(That is an ironic smilie.)

 

So you see, I think suffering (if I may call it that) is rather a mixed bag, when it comes to results of.

 

I think people are rather complex. And you have to factor in things like depression, which some of us deal with--it is not a choice (it is a choice whether or not to get treatment, however).

 

And I have to say, I don't think there are many who will admit that they are lousy parents who abuse their kids, so we probably will only hear second/third/whatever-hand information about the bad results, y'know?

 

Good question, though.

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This isn’t directly on topic, but there has been research that shows that most people have a “set pointâ€, and that life events (good or bad) will temporarily push them in  one direction but eventually they will return to their normal level of happiness.  One such study looked at lottery winners, but there have been other studies.

 

It’s interesting to hear that some people say they are changing in terms of their resiliency.  I’m not sure that these studies claim it applies to everyone, and also, maybe there is only so many knocks someone can take.  Also, I speculate that age plays a role as well.

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My 23andMe results mentioned that I have a tendency to be an optimist.  Perhaps the way you react to something is partly nature (genetics) and partly nurture (the theory that our inner voice is the same one that our parents used to speak to us as toddlers).

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It's such a huge question and one I've wondered about many times. You can see features of this in adult sibling sometimes. So, one adult might say, "when we were kids, my parents were fanatical about healthy food. We never had soda, candy, or Wonder bread. So I didn't develop a taste for those things and also care about healthy food." Yet, the sibling might interpret it the opposite way. This person says "...so now that I make my own food choices, I eat everything I was denied. I know my diet is not that healthy, but I want to eat all the things I didn't get due to my Draconian parents." I have wondered many times - why do they respond to their view of their past in completely opposite ways?

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What I'd like to discuss is what makes the difference? What makes some people turn their adversity into becoming a better person while others use it as an excuse to make poor life choices?

 

And those who make the poorer choices, are they really happy like that?

 

Up front, I don't know. Exdh's father died when ex was 9. It shaped his perception and behavior for years, it still does. He was a better more aware father because of it, but there is part of it he hold onto and blames for many of his downfalls. Some of them are true, but would they have been true if he hadn't focused on it so much over the years? It's almost the chicken and egg issue. 

 

I am way more guarded than I was ten years ago. I'm a step off bitter and while good things are happening (I am becoming...) I can't feel happy because part of me is waiting for more crap to hit the fan. It hard work to move passed letting an event define you when parts of you will never be whole again.

 

Can I make good choices in spite of my past? I hope so. There is, however, a melancholy aura to even the victories. I'm not looking back and thinking what if, it's almost like, I don't even know how to describe - like trying to color over a scar - it's just not going to look the same no matter what. 

 

As mentioned several times on the other thread, there is a balance. I think we all need at least one person who can be totally real to us and we can to them and they help keep us balanced. It's like a dance without a leader, you have to be able to move honestly with that person.

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It's such a huge question and one I've wondered about many times. You can see features of this in adult sibling sometimes. So, one adult might say, "when we were kids, my parents were fanatical about healthy food. We never had soda, candy, or Wonder bread. So I didn't develop a taste for those things and also care about healthy food." Yet, the sibling might interpret it the opposite way. This person says "...so now that I make my own food choices, I eat everything I was denied. I know my diet is not that healthy, but I want to eat all the things I didn't get due to my Draconian parents." I have wondered many times - why do they respond to their view of their past in completely opposite ways?

 

That's it exactly. There are siblings that I know who have experienced the same upbringing but branched out in completely opposite directions.

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It's such a huge question and one I've wondered about many times. You can see features of this in adult sibling sometimes. So, one adult might say, "when we were kids, my parents were fanatical about healthy food. We never had soda, candy, or Wonder bread. So I didn't develop a taste for those things and also care about healthy food." Yet, the sibling might interpret it the opposite way. This person says "...so now that I make my own food choices, I eat everything I was denied. I know my diet is not that healthy, but I want to eat all the things I didn't get due to my Draconian parents." I have wondered many times - why do they respond to their view of their past in completely opposite ways?

 

Maybe the first viewed the experience as restrictive but positive, and the second, as restrictive and negative. Maybe it has to do with independence/rebelliousness? IDK.

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But see that is just it. My middle son has always teased me about seeing the good in everyone and always seeing everything in a positive light.... Not anymore....though I don't say things out loud, I find myself saying Eeyore the things and really wanting to withdraw.

 

Gently, I think this is a product of your depression. It twists our "natural" tendencies because it depletes the brain chemicals that kept us positive in the past. :grouphug:

 

(Forgive me if I am speaking out of turn--you did say you had depression, didn't you?)

 

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Maybe the first viewed the experience as restrictive but positive, and the second, as restrictive and negative. Maybe it has to do with independence/rebelliousness? IDK.

It may. It may have something to do with how "teachable" one is, whether they tend towards optimism or pessimism, how well they apply things they observe, how pragmatic they are, and so on. If a person has a cautious nature, they are more likely to observe what others do and modify their own behaviour so they don't have bad outcomes. But if a person has a "daredevil" personality, they seem more likely to assume they will not reap a bad outcome, even if they have observed that in others.

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Yes, but why now? Why don't some people succumb despite going through worse? Why am I being weak or letting my thoughts bring me down as people on various boards have told me? Why now do I feel like, why bother something else will happen.

 

:grouphug:  You are not being weak. You are in the midst of the battle, be kind to yourself.  :grouphug:

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Yes, but why now? Why don't some people succumb despite going through worse? Why am I being weak or letting my thoughts bring me down as people on various boards have told me? Why now do I feel like, why bother something else will happen.

Anyone who tells you that your depression is a function of weakness is simply not anyone who has any business telling you anything.

 

Seriously, life is too short for that sort of collssally bad, wrong and flat-out unkind advice.

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I'm the one who has lived through a lot of trauma and poverty and "made good". My brother has done just the opposite and made worse. I credit it less to my choices and more to a series of very fortuitous turning points. Being willing to ask for help when I needed it has also been important. I've been called resilient and strong and loyal all my life. I don't know what made me resilient and able to get a college education and live a better life while my brother descended into addiction. It really could have just as easily been me. I am as lucky and privileged as I am "strong".

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Nurture (or lack thereof) vs. Nature.....hmmmm.....

 

I think ultimately that is like asking why some people (even within the same family) are optimists and some are pessimists and yet others are realists.

 

Personality plays a huge roll in the way we see the world.  Sure, circumstances play a part, but it is only half of the picture.

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But see that is just it. My middle son has always teased me about seeing the good in everyone and always seeing everything in a positive light.... Not anymore....though I don't say things out loud, I find myself saying Eeyore the things and really wanting to withdraw.

 

Why wouldn't you?  :grouphug:

 

 

It seems to me that one reason is people's view of the human condition makes a difference. If one believes transcending the human condition is not just good but damned well mandatory, they are going to be struggling not just against their external problems (for want of better phrasing) but also against the impossible internal problem of having to and not being able to change *species.* If one believes one is supposed to be human, one won't suffer from the latter issue and that makes it easier. Already the overwhelming problems have been halved.

 

 

I think "making poor choices" is a bit harsh in many cases. Society tells us we are entirely responsible for our choices and also that we can only change ourselves. Those two ideas don't work well together.

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Yes, but why now? Why don't some people succumb despite going through worse? Why am I being weak or letting my thoughts bring me down as people on various boards have told me? Why now do I feel like, why bother something else will happen.

they. kept. going.   It does NOT mean they had a sunny outlook while in the midst of it all.  It wasn't easy (if it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be a trial.  I have lots of sarcastic and cynical one-liners), and there were times I wondered if it would ever end, or I could ever know what happiness was . .and there were many many tears spilled.  but somehow I kept going and came out the other side.

 

 

if they need help to keep going - they get it.

 

there is much truth in the old saying of "the only way out is through".   you're still in "it", and just need to keep going. if you need help to keep going, get it, but just keep going.

 

I found humor very helpful.   so were some very warped and twisted sayings.

 

hang in there - by the neck until dead.

I'm going to find the silver lining in this cloud if I have to wring it out myself.

there's so much manure in this room - there has to be a pony in there somewhere!

hanging on by my bloody fingernails

 

 

I grew up in a very negative environment.  my grandmother could find a black storm system in a cloudless sunny summer sky.  I taught myself how to be more positive. expressing gratitude for things that actually meant something to me - and not the normal platitudes of gratitude either!  some days I was pushing it to find one thing. but I retrained my mind to find things to be grateful for and see more positive things - and more positive IN things.

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Anyone who tells you that your depression is a function of weakness is simply not anyone who has any business telling you anything.

 

Seriously, life is too short for that sort of collssally bad, wrong and flat-out unkind advice.

 

 

I'll go farther.  anyone who tells you your depression is a function of weakness should be kicked out of your life.

 

I have no tolerance for that type of *potentially damaging* nonsense.

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Gently, I think this is a product of your depression. It twists our "natural" tendencies because it depletes the brain chemicals that kept us positive in the past. :grouphug:

 

(Forgive me if I am speaking out of turn--you did say you had depression, didn't you?)

 

 

 

one thing I would like to emphasize.  stress and depression affect the brain in similar ways.  I fought against help because, well, I wasn't suicidal.  I didn't feel like I was "depressed".  I was horrendously "stressed!"  and my brain chemistry was seriously out-of-whack - but because it was "stress", not "depression", I was resistant to getting the help I needed.

 

so, whether it is stress or depression  - it affects the brain similarly.  if you need help - get it.  and be grateful we live in a time when it's available. 

 

 

eta: my family has a genetic predisposition to depression. so, btdt. on too many levels.

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It's such a huge question and one I've wondered about many times. You can see features of this in adult sibling sometimes. So, one adult might say, "when we were kids, my parents were fanatical about healthy food. We never had soda, candy, or Wonder bread. So I didn't develop a taste for those things and also care about healthy food." Yet, the sibling might interpret it the opposite way. This person says "...so now that I make my own food choices, I eat everything I was denied. I know my diet is not that healthy, but I want to eat all the things I didn't get due to my Draconian parents." I have wondered many times - why do they respond to their view of their past in completely opposite ways?

Not only that, but studies have shown siblings, even those very close in age, can often remember their past wrong and very differently.

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I also don't think it's an either/or thing. From my biggest difficulty in the short term I was able to focus on the positive outcomes but looking back now I can see alongside some of the positive outcomes some negative things as well. It is possible that if I'd acknowledged the negatives more I may have been able to prevent some. Or I may have just developed a negative thought process and got stuck in it.

 

Also I think it can depend on whether it is a clean hurt or a complicated one. Like a death is going to affect you in one way if it was unpreventable than if you feel that someone was partly to blame. And a childhood where you didn't have enough food because your parents were poor will affect you differently to a childhood when you went hungry while your parents ate because they were neglectful.

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I know she's like, the hot topic right now, but seriously, Carol Dweck's work on Mindset is really amazing on this, just truly fascinating.

 

Please note that she does not say anything remotely suggesting that mental illnesses such as depression are anything but. Her work is about how people respond to challenges, given their ability levels and beliefs. So while she does suggest that clinical depression may cause certain pervasive beliefs that affect one's mindset, she does NOT suggest that these are not due to a physical, medical cause. Rather the suggestion is that part of the treatment, while the chemistry issues are being addressed, would be re-setting the self-talk through therapy. Hardly revolutionary, of course! But the overall work she's done in this field is really great and has changed the way I look at things.

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then I need to stay off the internet. I've been told that if I would not cling to my archaic Christian beliefs or if I wasn't so black and white or if I wasn't such a perfectionist or whatever then I wouldn't be depressed. Yet I was happy for 45 years

..

Do not underestimate the role of changing hormones in this stage of your life.

Your body chemistry is not the same as for the person you were 45 years ago.

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I am posting before reading the thread, so forgive me if it has gone a different direction and I am way off topic now. Anyway, what I have found with myself and the people I know is that a majority of our attitude is all about expectations. We expect a spouse or parent or child to act or be a certain way, and they aren't. We expect them to live up to our expectations. When they don't, we are angry, disappointed, whatever. We expect our lives to be a certain way. When they aren't, we are depressed, angry, etc. It also tends to have a lot to do with whether you think you "deserve" certain things, or that they are owed to you. Those who don't think they deserve anything or are owed anything tend to come out of bad situations happier than the others. (All of this excluding physical causes, such as hormones, mental illness, etc.) Just my opinion based on my experiences. 

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Exactly if I can just force myself to think a certain way then I would be ok... I'm trying but it is REALLY hard to be positive.

Well, if you find a way to force yourself to think something you don't really believe, then let me know all about it! Life comes in stages and seasons as well. You may be going through a rough season right now, but that doesn't mean that in 2 years (random amount), you will still feel the same. When I was going through the (so far) worst year of my life, I was miserable. Looking back, however, I can see the good that came out of it. Humans are such complicated creatures. Sometimes, all we can do is bob along the rapids until we come to a place where we can paddle to shore. 

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I think if we knew the answer to this question we could change the world.

 

I see oodles of siblings who choose different paths and see things in different lights (working at school allows me this benefit, but it's also true with my own sister).

 

I've been asked several times how/why I made it out of my childhood (being the super rebellious youngster and enduring a nasty divorce with my parents).

 

Why?  I don't know.  Perhaps it was because I had a really good escape - the outdoors and horses.  Perhaps it's genetics.  Perhaps it's luck.

 

I know I usually roll with the punches fairly well at my age now (often using escapes like travel to do so), but there's a wave I'm surfing now that does give me significant pause at times.  I'm thinking all of us have those waves at some point in our lives.  Others just might not see us on them.

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then I need to stay off the internet. I've been told that if I would not cling to my archaic Christian beliefs or if I wasn't so black and white or if I wasn't such a perfectionist or whatever then I wouldn't be depressed. Yet I was happy for 45 years

..

we encounter negative and judgmental people everywhere we go.   if we shut ourselves off by not going where they are - we'd be hermits.

 

no thanks.

 

some people just don't deserve to have any power over us.  cogitating on the negative opinions of others is giving them power over us, and isn't helpful.

 

perfectionism is about control in our lives. (or was it feeling out of control?)

 

and as someone else said - don't rule out mid-life hormones . . . . . remember how "fun" puberty was?  well, the other end is not much different.  :toetap05: (I started thyroxin, and 5-htp, and quality b-vitamins, and vitamin d3, and doing yoga . . . made a difference.)

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Kicked dog syndrome. (My terminology.) Why do some dog just keep getting back up and some don't? I don't know. How many times is it reasonable to kick a dog and expect it to get back up, much less fully recover? Once? Ten times? Daily? Why do some dogs get back up every time until they are dead and some dogs won't ever try again after one kick? Idk. People are not dogs, but the same question applies to many people.

 

Pendulum reversal. Some people over compensate in the opposing unhealthy direction. Such as people who felt very materially deprived associating emotion to objects and hoarding. Or food insecurity causing the same inability to deny themselves food. It's not just denying a craving, it feels like a punishment and flashback to the emotions of those other times. Or people who were abused feeling an extreme need to manipulate others to feel in control, making up for the lack of feeling in control previously.

 

For me, I had to mostly cut ties. Which is NOT easy. Who wants to feel alone in the world? No one. And I'm lucky bc I didn't. I had a wonderful supportive husband from a young age. Many don't. In fact, none of my siblings ever did. (I KNOW they would say differently.) And of course, to my family, I went to a pendulum reversal in doing that. But I honestly can't think of any other response to toxic people that protects not just me, but my children from toxic influence. And it was/is extremely important to me that I have a different life and give my kids a different life. I have no delusions that it means none of them will ever go astray in some manner, but I do think foundation has made a tremendous difference. But it has been 24/7 22 years of daily sweat and tears to make that foundation from scratch as I go along.

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In thinking about IRL people I've known who habitually make very bad choices in their lives ...

 

Maybe it's because they make decisions based solely on emotions, they are ruled by their emotions? Some of the worst decisions in my life, I've made based mostly on emotion, ignoring the facts. And, I suppose, there are people who are in the habit of ignoring the facts and living their lives like ping pong balls, just reacting to one thing after another, based on emotions and past history, never stopping to think that they can do something different - and they might get better results - that they have a choice.

 

Another thing I notice when I make bad decisions is that I have overridden that faint, tiny voice (conscious?) in the back of my mind that was quietly telling me to 'wait ... stop and think a little bit ... it doesn't have to be NOW ... you have time.' But, fueled by emotion, and feeling like I had to act immediately (for whatever reason), I ignored it. I suppose, for people who habitually make bad choices, that voice (conscious) has been seared to the point that it's useless. Or, worse yet, it's somehow warped to the point that right is wrong, and wrong is right, such that even if they see the facts they are unable to use them effectively.

 

I think that's why I made it a point to teach our 5 hs'ed dc about emotions, specifically, as they were growing up. I've just seen so many people in my life (IRL) who were ruled by their emotions with disastrous results. Or, conversely, use emotions to try to rule everyone around them. Either way, I wanted my dc to be able to separate the emotion from the fact to avoid being manipulated and to avoid making lousy decisions. BOTH emotion and fact are useful, as long as they are recognized for what they are and understood in the context in which they appear.

 

But, no, I don't think we can truly know why one person goes one way and another person goes the other way. To know that we'd need to be able to see what goes on in their souls and minds. ;)

For me, if I stop and think too much I actually stall and do nothing at all but research deeper and deeper into the options and procrastinate.

 

Also there are studies now on limited amount of willpower or whatever which means when we have to make too many decisions we can only make some well and then we go back to default mode. So the key is being able to make good big decisions that eliminate the need to repeatedly make good choices.

 

For a food example making the decision to shop at a whole foods type place stops you having to make an individual decision about every tempting bit of junk food.

 

I know that's a bit of a side track from the main issue but I think understanding how people make decisions play into this.

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Maybe it's because they make decisions based solely on emotions, they are ruled by their emotions?

This is such a problem. They have a huge disproportionate reaction to having to do anything hard or that they just don't want to do. It's not just "bummer, oh well". It's "OMG this is awful and horrible and I hate it and should not have to do this!"

 

I suppose, for people who habitually make bad choices, that voice (conscious) has been seared to the point that it's useless. Or, worse yet, it's somehow warped to the point that right is wrong, and wrong is right, such that even if they see the facts they are unable to use them effectively.

This. They literally cannot comprehend the wrongness or the error. I think a good chunk of it is self justification and denial, but yeah, sometimes they just don't have that voice sometimes too.
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For me, if I stop and think too much I actually stall and do nothing at all but research deeper and deeper into the options and procrastinate.

 

Also there are studies now on limited amount of willpower

I do think a drowning person being asked to calculate best rescue routes or whatever is just asking too much. They are in panic mode. I think some people lived in panic mode so long, that it is no longer the mode, it's just their default. So in order to feel safer, they reduce their decisions to small manageable things. And it's hard for them to leave that default reaction, even when it isn't working for them. And yes, willpower has limited power over most of us I think. It's a factor, but it's not the sole source of action or blame.

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