0281 – zoom out to see how you’re blocking yourself

Life is full of wonderful ironies that reveal hypocrisy in my thinking. But that’s good, because everytime I discover that I’m contradicting myself, I have an opportunity to correct myself, to decide for myself what I really believe in (or want to believe in), what I really care about (or want to care about), and what I want to do.

A powerful instance that I still haven’t done very much about– I was whining over lunch one day that I enjoy waking up early in the morning, but I seldom do it. My boss asked, “Well, isn’t that entirely within your control?” I realized in that moment that he was right, and that I was perpetuating my own displeasure… but I haven’t done very much about it. I haven’t made the connections from “I like waking up early”, “To wake up early I need to go to sleep early,” “to go to sleep early I need to finish my work on time, have dinner early, have a process of winding down”… in a nutshell I am the only thing truly standing in the way between the status quo and what I know is a clearly better life. Somehow this is an uncomfortable thought, and I have been dealing with it by ignoring it, and by manufacturing excuses and rationalizations for why I haven’t done it yet. Or better yet, I think about other things altogether, and then say “Oops, I forgot. I forgot to make my own life a priority, I forgot to do what was best for me. How sacrificial of me, how noble!”

So much bullshit, lol. I have to be kind to myself about this, because I know that if I self-flagellate, nothing will get done and I’ll just perpetuate the cycle. I have to be kind but firm. I have to realize that a better sleep means better everything else, and that will help me enjoy the life that I want. I say things like “I want to be rich one day”. That’s a nice convenient semi-fiction. Because it’s unverifiable. What am I doing to ensure that I will be rich one day? Nothing in particular. How far away is one day? It can be anything, it can be never. I can hold that belief rent-free until it’s too late, and then go “Welp, it’s too late now. Such is life.”

As Jobs might say, that’s a very limited life. Which is okay, if I want a limited life. I just need to be honest about it with myself. The easier thing to do is to discard “I want to be rich one day” altogether. Maybe I can dig into the nuances– why do I say I want to be rich, what do I really mean by that? What do I really want out of that? I want wealth, I want options, I want freedom. Okay. How can I get some of that right now? How can I be more free right now? Well– by sleeping early! Sleeping early is a sort of wealth. Good quality sleep is definitely wealth– it allows me to approach each day with a clearer mind, with a broader scope, I make better decisions in the reduced fog.

So… what do you say, subconscious? Why don’t we experiment with this sleeping thing? It’s not just about me saying “Oh I want to be all efficient to impress other people”– it’s also beneficial to you, because then we have more time to daydream, more time to read, more time to prioritize things that are really important to us. Feels like an all-around win.

But to get something like that in motion, there are a bunch of little details that have to be dealt with. The first thing is that work will have to be finished early, which means that we have to reduce the amount of time we spend waffling at work, and on the trains. Why do we waffle around? Because we think that we’re not going to get any real free time in our lives ever. We don’t deserve vacations, we don’t deserve downtime. So we squeeze it in whenever we can, as soon as we can.

We don’t have to make it a huge thing, that’s always unnecessarily intimidating and it sets us up to fail. This is about honoring a gentleman’s agreement with himself. Wouldn’t that be nice? To be able to honor our word? It would remove so much stress and anxiety from life if we knew that we would do whatever we say we would do. So we have to start small. Let’s say in the context of these vomits. If we keep going and we do more than 10, we’ll feel really good. We’ll be able to smile and relax. That’s totally worth paying a cab ride for. So if you finish all your vomits today, we can take a cab home later. I don’t mind. It’s a small price to pay.

But is that what we’re really interested in? What does my subconscious mind want from my conscious? It wants to play. What shall we play, then? A video game? I don’t think any particular video game is particularly interesting to me right now. We only play those games as distractions. Shall we watch a movie? Do some pushups?

Oddly– I don’t know if I’m too early in this process– it feels like when I ask my subconscious what it wants (this is itself a kind of neurotic process– like having a mandatory employee feedback session where nobody has any feedback), nothing really happens. Okay. I got it. We’ll meditate. If we keep going, we’ll sit in silence and stare at the sky and appreciate the fact that we’re alive. That’s a longwinded way of saying– the conscious mind will shut down for a while, and the subconscious mind will be allowed to express itself however it likes, on its own terms. And whatever arises then, we’ll listen to that. Let’s try that today. I think it’ll be interesting.

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