0375 – body-wisdom and metaphorical car accidents

There’s a lot of information and wisdom in the body. I’m not a scientist, and I haven’t read all the literature, so some of what I’m saying is probably incorrect to some degree. But there have been people doing studies about things like how a person’s posture affects their confidence, and how smiling or frowning affects the mood. That’s the basis of behavioral therapy, isn’t it?

If only it were that simple and straightforward– if you’re feeling down, pretend you’re not and after a while you’ll feel better. It’s good to practice that, I don’t think we should knock it. Everybody should probably do affirmations (I don’t, I still feel a bit silly doing it) because they’d benefit from it. Everybody should exercise. I definitely stand taller after I exercise. And a part of that might be chemical, but I think there might be more to it, too. Just feeling like you’ve put in the work. I feel that way after writing word vomits. There’s no reason why writing a word vomit should give me good feelings the way I feel when I exercise, is there? Maybe there is. It’s the feeling you get when you play well in poker, or even a video game. Feelings are real even if the things we’re doing are arbitrary. I do know what it’s like to get sweaty palms while playing poker, to feel the heartrate elevate. Why do we feel things like that? It might be arbitrary and inconsequential, but the body responds anyway, doesn’t it?

The body might overreact and overrespond to things. When I’m anxious and upset it can be particularly annoying, spiraling into worse things. I don’t want to get into too much detail here because I’ll probably get things wrong. What I really wanted to talk about is the sinking feeling I’ve carried in my stomach for most of the past 20 years or so. At first I felt it because I didn’t do my homework at school, because I didn’t know what was going to happen the next day. Becaus I didn’t check my timetable. I didn’t plan in advance. It’s so strange and silly on hindsight that I didn’t learn from my day to day. I was supposedly smart– gifted and all– but I couldn’t recognize that I was effectively running into a brick wall every single day. My body was trying to tell me that something was not right, but it was always too late, and I was always trying to improvise my way out of it. So much stress and anxiety that didn’t lead anywhere.

And I still feel those things when I don’t finish my work on time, when I don’t fulfill my obligations. It’s like a warning system inside my body. This is a bit of a multi-layered thing, but in general I’m guessing that I don’t listen to my body as much as other people probably do. I don’t eat when I get hungry. I don’t sleep when I’m tired. I tend to just persist on whatever it is that I’m fixated on, without bounding it with broader structures. I read books for far too long. I play video games for far too long. I’ve never been “working effectively” for far too long, but I’ve definitely spent far too long staring at my work without making any progress. Which can be debilitating. It leaves me tired and weary and frustrated and then I don’t get enough rest and the whole cycle repeats itself. And central to all of that is this sort of clenching feeling that I have in my stomach, which makes me really worried and stressed. I’m sure that it’s bad for my health in the long run. I can’t keep it up like this, I’d get ulcers or something if I don’t have it already. So it’s important for me to exercise, rest, meditate, take deep breaths. But those are just palliative, they don’t address the root causes. I still somehow am able to pretend that I don’t see things coming. And yeah maybe I don’t from a “I am short-sighted with respect to time” perspective, but that’s no excuse, really. A genuinely short-sighted person might not be able to see oncoming traffic, but so then they know not to cross the road like an idiot. They either get a friend to walk them, or they go to the crossing. Suppose a person is able to survive traffic accidents, so they don’t get killed when they get hit by a car. They just get hospitalized and injured and whatnot, but they recover. Would they tend cross the road blindly again? I’m guessing not. Maybe the pain teaches them not to.

Whatever it is, I don’t seem to have fully, properly learned not to cross the road blindly when it comes to my time-blindness. I always feel like I have time. I suppose the opposite situation might be to always assume I have no time, but that sounds like an equally miserable way to live. But as Randy Pausch said, you DO have less time than you think. So you DO have to prioritize what’s important to you. It’s important to me that I publish a vomit a day, so I’m doing this. (Well– this is my 3rd vomit tonight. But I’m going to bed right after this.)

Talking aout this over and over again is also not solving the problem. That’s like me talking in the hospital, saying, aw damn, that’s the 20th car I’ve been hit by this year. I really should stop getting hit by all these damn cars. Well… that’s all nice and touching to be saying in the hospital, but how do I change my behavior when I’m thinking of crossing the road? I need to change my entire attitude towards the road. I can’t just walk on it randomly the way I always do. It needs to be a project, an ordeal every time. And once I develop that over and over, eventually I’ll internalize it. But before I can do that maybe I’ll need say 100 instances of me crossing the road in a purposeful way.

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