0298 – confront the fears that paralyze you

A: People are boring and predictable.

B: Why, how boring and predictable of you.

A: I KNOW. It bothers me. I don’t want to be guilty of the very thing that bothers me. And the fact that I AM bothers me even more.

B: What makes you say that people are boring and unpredictable?

A: I don’t know. I look around and nothing is interesting. I know that I’m not the first person to say this, I know that lots of people have said this sort of thing over the years in many different contexts. What I want to know is what I ought to do about it.

B: Well, what do you think you ought to do about it?

A: I think… other people are usually a mirror to ourselves. We see what we want to see– or we focus on what we’re concerned about, what we’re worried about, what bothers us.

B: So….

A: I am boring and predictable.

B: I’m sure you already knew that.

A: Yes, but why does that bother me? What’s wrong with being boring and predictable?

B: I suppose it must get stale.

A: Yes. It feels like wasted opportunity. It feels like stasis. We’ve got an eternity to be in stasis after we’re dead, so why am I like this while I’m still alive? What will it take for me to truly live?

B: You know you’re probably never going to answer that question. Or rather, maybe, you’ll only truly live when you are able to let go of that question. You’re living in your head, constantly asking questions, and the questioning is kicking up a dust that prevents you from living, whatever that means.

A: Yeah. I suppose I should stop and look at the clouds for a while.

B: You should. They’re pretty beautiful.

*they pause to look at the clouds*

A: *a while later* So what then? What next?

B: It’s entirely up to you.

A: My original sentiment hasn’t changed. I still feel like I’m in a boring environment, and I’d like it to be more interesting. I recognize and acknowledge that “boring environment” is a function of the lens that I use to look at it, so I ought to change my lens. What do I need to change about my lens?

B: Well… you say that people are boring and predictable. What might be interesting and unpredictable about people?

A: That’s a good question. I think… people get interesting and unpredictable, at least a little bit more so than usual, when you get them talking about themselves beyond the script.

B: How do you get people talking beyond the script?

A: I have some vague ideas but I’m not absolutely certain– if I were, I wouldn’t have this problem.

B: Let’s try it out. Do you think I’m boring and predictable?

A: Nope, you’re pretty smart.

B: What makes you say that?

A: You ask a lot of questions. You make me think and question things.

B: So…

A: So maybe what I need to do is ask more questions.

B: That seems like a fair course of action to take, yup.

A: Do you find ME boring?

B: *tilts head* I… never thought to think about that.

A: Doesn’t it bother you that you’ve never thought to think about that?

B: Not really. Like you said, boring is a function of the lens you use to view the world.

A: So what is your lens? How do you make sense of the world?

B: I’m not sure if I do. I just pay attention to whatever’s in front of me. In this case, right now, you.

A: What are you going to do afterwards?

B: Pay attention to whatever’s in front of me.

A: That sounds quite liberating, actually.

B: It is.

A: So what’s in front of me right now?

B: This conversation we’re having. We’re getting a little meta here.

A: I think meta-conversations can be interesting, but sometimes it’s also a bit of a copout. We go meta as quickly as we can and that makes us feel like the issues we were trying to address never got around to being addressed.

B: Sure. So what’s the issue here?

A: I have some sort of itch or desire that’s being unmet.

B: Describe it.

A: I want to be surprised. I want to be delighted. I want to be excited. I want to be in awe.

B: Those are nice things. What do you have to do to get those things done?

A: I have to change my behavior. I have to do something I’ve never done before. I’ve to get into environments that I’ve never gotten into before.

B: What would you like to do, where would you like to go?

A: I’d like to make YouTube videos, for some reason. I feel like that’s a whole world I haven’t explored. I’d like to go to the gym, but I haven’t figured out the logistics of going to the gym near my place. And if things aren’t clear, I don’t do them. Finally, I’d like to get all my work done, but for some reason I’m finding that really hard.

B: The videos, do them. The gym, figure out the logistics. What’s stopping you from doing your work?

A: I suppose it’s a kind of fear, uncertainty, doubt.

B: What are you afraid of, what are you uncertain of, what are you doubtful of?

A: I’m afraid that things will be crappy. I’m uncertain of whether any of this makes a difference. I’m doubtful that I can consistently deliver great value.

B: Okay. What’s wrong with crappy? What difference do you want to make? Why do you doubt your own consistency?

A: People will laugh at me, or realize I’m a fraud. I want to be an asset, not a liability, so I can be happy and comfortable– not necessarily exhilarated and indulgent, just not-worried and not-anxious. And… I’ve never been consistent before, so I have a lot of reason to doubt my own consistency.

B: Let’s try this. You are a fraud. Ha ha ha. Fraud. You are a liability. And you will never be consistent, ever.

A: That’s… hm.

B: Hm?

A: I won’t stand for that.

B: Why not?

A: Because this is my life and I don’t have to be those things if I don’t like them.

B: Yup. So…

A: So I start from zero.

B: Yup.

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