B: So the more interesting question to ask, I think, is why do you feel this way? Why do you constantly overestimate yourself? Why do you carry all this guilt and shame, that’s mostly imagined?
A: I suppose it must be serving some sort of self-interest. The saboteur-bum.
B: Do you find that metaphor useful for you?
A: Actually… not as much as I had hoped. I hoped it would’ve motivated me to defeat him. Instead… I find myself sort of using him to explain things. I’m being passive about it.
B: If you’re okay with it, then be okay with it.
A: I suppose… as long as I’m having difficulty sleeping at night and I don’t feel happy to be waking up in the morning, there is some sort of problem that I ought to address.
B: If you say so.
A: Yeah. I guess it’s this weird, twisted…
B: Not that weird. Not that twisted. It’s pretty normal. People like to come up with stories that make them feel like they didn’t have much of a choice. It allows you to give up, give in, surrender to fate. You just put up a socially acceptable amount of resistance– you whine and bitch as much as it takes– until you get tired, or until you feel like you’re justified, and then you go on living the same way, doing the same thing. You complain about drama, but really, you’re guilty of perpetuating it inside your own head.
A: You don’t have to put it that way…
B: No, I don’t. I’m not sure if there’s a more polite way of describing it– if I figure it out I’ll let you know. But in the meantime– would you disagree?
A: I guess not. And I suppose that must be why I’m so exhausted in a psychological sense. Because I’m carrying a sort of double act. I was just telling some guy on Hacker News a while ago that that was his problem, too. That he was a fraud, because he claimed to be ambitious but admitted that he spent a lot of time vegging out online or in front of the TV. He described a gnawing feeling in his chest that I think I have too, and the reason I think I have that is because of the “complain about drama but perpetuate it anyway” situation you just described.
B: Right. Very good. You’ve got it figured out. But that’s the part you’re good at. The part you’re not so good at is following up. How are you going to followup here?
A: I’ve been using a phrase over and over again lately, which is self-flagellation. When I hear the word I think of those guys in the Philippines who literally flog themselves until I bleed, and I think about how overblown and ridiculous that is. They might get off on it psychologically somehow, and experience some sort of exalted high, but when I look at it I just see something that seems absurd. I hope by using the phrase and letting it sink into my subconscious, I’ll start to associate it with my own behavior. I self-flagellate too, only with my emotions and self-talk instead of a whip. But it’s equally absurd.
B: So what is the next step?
A: I guess the first thing is to put the whip down.
B: How do you do that?
A: Recognize when I’m doing it. Forgive myself. Blah blah. You’ve already heard this stuff.
B: Okay– what are we missing then? If you already know this stuff so well, why haven’t you implemented it?
A: That old bullshit about how knowing intellectually isn’t the same as knowing-by-doing. Knowledge is not techne, however you want to word it– you know what I mean. Dr. Russell Barker talked about this right? An ADHD person will know exactly what to do and yet not do it.
B: Well– why? You watched the talk. What did he say was the problem?
A: Something about… blah blah blah it doesn’t really matter. This is far more effort than it needs to be. All of this is just bad habits, old patterns. I just need to shake it off.
B: This sounds familiar. You’ve said this before.
A: I suppose I need to get into shorter and shorter cycles of actions. The longer time I spend between actions, the more I get into this stupid funk. I need to be aware in lots of little bursts. Hey, I restrung my guitar today. I did the dishes. I do all these little things. Spent the past few vomits talking about how it would be nice to go to the gym. Well, I should fucking go to the gym. Enough talking.
B: Sounds like you’re getting somewhere. But what’s going to stop you?
A: Nothing. I’m going to do it.
B: What’s different?
A: I guess it’s self talk. I guess it’s learning how to make the self-talk crescendo and modify the mood. Everything is a remix, right? And there are different streams of thought in my head, at different levels, different volumes. I need to bring some good things out of the mix, and put the bad things lower in the mix. These things will never go away but I need to take little actions. Hey, I’m doing these vomits and vomits are something, right? I’ve completed 30% of the journey that I set out for myself.
B: That’s good stuff, I’m proud of you for getting this far. You still have 70% to go.
A: Yup. And along the way I guess to move faster I need to work out. I need to stop mapping out the same map that I already having, and explore the uncharted territory. In this case it’s a very clear grey fog of war area between my house and my workplace and the gym. I don’t know how to get to the gym, even. I haven’t figured out what steps I need to take. And I know that when things are vague, they don’t happen.
A: So I’m going to the gym. Bye. Will write more later.