0356 – Less wrong and next steps

Quick note to self when I’m reading later: I started this vomit before I finished the last one. (And the one after that!) I don’t always start and end my vomits in linear fashion, sometimes I start one, stop halfway (usually because I was writing on the train or something like that) and start something else somewhere else. It’s a bit tedious, but so it goes.

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The first assumption should be that I’m probably wrong about a lot of things. Maybe most things, maybe just a few things- but those things might be critical and they might be causing me pain and stress. It’s far too burdensome and tiresome for me to continue to try and hold on to everything. Just as I went on an exile from social media when it got too much, I ought to go on an exile from my beliefs.

With social media it’s technically easy- just click unfollow and unfriend a couple of thousand times. You get some itches to log back in, but there’s nothing there so you just get hit with the realisation that you have this weird tic or impulse that you’re not even mindful of.

With cigarettes it’s a little harder- you get rid of the packs and the lighters and the ashtrays. You breathe and meditate as much as you can. You take long walks. Drink lots of water. Naps while your body repairs and recovers. The cravings come and you recite some mantra- “I want to go a year without smoking” or something along those lines. I think mine was “I want to know who I am without cigarettes.”

Well, what about beliefs? How do you walk away from those? Do you need to know what your beliefs are before you can actually walk away from them? I guess the problem with beliefs is that they’re rather invisible, and they might not be neatly contained.

I think it was Tony Robbins who asked, “what must I be believing in order to be where I am right now,” and to contrast, “what must I believe in order to get to where I want to go?”

Well. This morning I believed I was too tired to get out of bed immediately. I believed I could somehow get away with doing some lengthy reading on my phone in bed and still get to work on time. I did leave before it got too late and I do think I’ll be making it on time-ish. But those were silly beliefs. Beliefs I defaulted to rather than deliberately chose.

What else do I believe, or must I believe? I must believe that showing up to work is somehow good enough. And it was, at some point. But I also believe that I ought to grow into something better. I know I have that belief because I’m not content, because I get stressed and worried. I hold that expectation and constantly fail to meet it.

We’ve talked about this a few times. The question I have is- is this cycle of behavior what I really want? Do I sincerely believe that I’ll break from it someday? Or is it a “if you buy enough lottery tickets you’ll eventually win, I do have a chance” sort of belief? It seems be more of the latter. A lot of my life is about me excitedly buying lottery tickets and then getting all stressed and anxious when I don’t win. And then it happens all over again. I’m addicted to the cycle of drama somehow.

How is a cycle of drama broken? It begins with an individual deciding they’ve truly had enough. The decision is made internally without consulting the fellow actors, because consulting the actors always results in more drama and the cycle continues without any real change. (This is what sitcoms are all about. Characters rarely really change. Sitcoms encourage stasis. Little attempts at change, but ultimately it’s more trouble than its worth. Things get bad and worse, and ultimately a little flicker of genius from one of the protagonists saves the day. The moment of genius validates them, and their reward for dealing with the unpleasantness of the world outside their comfort zones.

So… what are the next steps, what should I do? I do feel like I need to spend a bunch of time walking and meditating and breathing and resting and sleeping, and maybe talking to people because people ask the right questions. That much is clear. But more importantly I think I need to recognize that when I’m in a downstate. This is an interesting piece of writing because the earlier half of the post was when I was in a pretty dull, bad downstate [1], and the rest that I’ve been writing since have been when I’m in a relative upstate. Not the highest of the high, but pretty good. Would be happy to have this.

So in general it feels like I have a whole bunch of “next steps” scattered all over the place and it’s quite exhausting to think of all of them, to process all of them, to figure them out and have them “locked down” in the right way. And I guess I need to realize that it’s never going to happen, I’m never going to suddenly have everything figured out perfectly. Rather, I need to learn to act in imperfection, and to… take the big little-steps that make the most difference. Do the highest priority, highest impact thing at each step of the way if that’s possible. So I just need to figure out what that is, eh?

Let’s just keep writing, and let’s just keep thinking about it, and let’s take more time out for reflection. I need to tie a reward to these reflection sessions so that I commit to actually doing them.

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[1] I never know how to quantify my own annoyance or pain or misery or suffering. It’s all inside my head, how do I quantify it? When you say bad, and I say bad, what’s the difference? This feels like it ought to be a solved problem– we ought to have a better scale of quantified suffering. That sounds weird until you think about how it’s weirder that we DON’T have one.

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