0633 – slow down when responding to people (ugh fields)

There’s something a little strange about me that is a sort of bug that I want to correct. It’s kind of like “an island in a lake in an island” situation.

I generally procrastinate quite a bit, on a lot of things.

At the same time, I have a habit of getting all panicky and rushed when responding to people. This is one of my ugh fields – one of the areas in which I behave in a way that’s very impulsive, very ‘jerky’.

When we’re asking the question “how do I improve my life”, there are many different possible answers, many of which contradict one another, some of which are conditional on things that are uncertain, unclear and so on.

But I’m thinking that confronting ugh fields is one of the best ways to do it. It’s improving one’s life by cleaning up the toxic spaces, in a sense. It doesn’t presume to know what’s the right thing to do, how to allocate resources in a globally optimally way or anything like that. It’s just about removing things that trip you up.

So – one ugh field I’m happy to have conquered was involving food. I used to be terrified of handling food, probably because of some childhood hangups around mealtime and food preparation. But after I became an adult, this was a sort of really outdated, silly hangup that I had that didn’t make sense any more. So I decided that I was going to learn to cook. I’ve since learned to make pasta with minced meat, pan-fried stakes and chicken breasts and so on. I can do a pretty decent job of feeding myself with ingredients bought at a supermarket. But more importantly, I now have a sort of context in which I can continue to get better at cooking. I’m curious about buying better tools (pans, cutlery).

I’ve done the same thing with my fear of squats. I used to be strangely afraid of doing squats – mainly, I think because I was too tall to use squat racks as they are typically configured in local gyms, and I was ashamed to squat with just the bar, and I was worried that the form would be all wrong… all of those things. I got around it by literally buying my own squat rack so that I can squat at home.

So now that I’ve done it with both fitness and with food, it’s time to progress on to other things. One of it is to do with schedules and daily tracking. Accountability to self. I grew up being frustrated and terrified of timetables, bills, todo lists and tasks and so on, and so very often I just ignore those things as much as possible. I know it’s weird, but that’s just the nature of ugh fields and I have to accept that. To get past it I need to make them a highly-visible feature of my environment, and I need to make them a part of my daily routine. I think it’s especially important to carve out a substantial part of the weekend for myself every week to go through this. The next level would be to set aside time every single DAY to go through my stuff – I’m not sure why I haven’t been able to do that effectively yet, but maybe that’s just the nature of ugh fields. You need to be very strategic about it. It’s like a game of Heroes or Civilization or Starcraft – you gotta marshall your resources carefully. You have to concentrate your efforts, focus on the most important thing and get it knocked down. Secure a beachhead, and then move on bit by bit. You can’t just scattershot at everything.

The other thing is to practice meditation. Meditation often seems dull, or stupid, or a waste of time – just sitting there doing nothing. But it’s really about zooming out and getting a more global sense of perspective. It’s about getting removed from whatever situation is troubling you, at least inside your mind, and then you can see better, decide better. But meditation hasn’t quite caught on for me yet.

And now we get to what I started with, which is talking about how I deal with other people. My ugh field with other people – when people start talking to me about something, I very easily look at it through some sort of foreboding or intimidating lens. I get nervous for every single meeting that I go to, even 1-1s with my boss who I really enjoy, even though we’ve been doing this for almost 4 years. And this is a sort of global paranoia and anxiety that I have. I was going to say “low level”, but I have no real idea about what the actual level is. I want to address and resolve this anxiety and really make it my bitch. I think that’s doable, it’s just going to take a lot of smart, intelligent effort – because we’re talking about rewiring a brain that’s been wired a certain way for 20 years. So it’s got to be a sort of keyhole surgery, a very hard and deliberate approach..

I particularly want to stop freezing up when talking to people. I want to be warm and open and slow. I want to be able to take my time. I’m reminded now of my wife telling me how she saw me almost panicking when anxiously trying to get money to pay a pizza guy once. It’s like I was worried that he was going to get angry and scold me. Which is silly, because why would a pizza delivery guy scold me in any scenario, let alone one where I’m bigger and older than him? So there’s some sort of deep rooted shit there, and I need to meditate on that every day in order to change my perspective, in order to approach it differently.

That’s what I want for myself in 2017. I want to eliminate all the ugh fields that I can conceive of right now. Cook a great meal, have people over and relax in their presence, and go to meetings well-prepared without any sort of anxiety whatsoever. That’s what I want for now.

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