The Only Enemy You Can't Run From
Last week I suggested that we work best in waves, that trying to keep a consistently high level is counterproductive.
To expand on that for a moment, consider weight training. Can you increase the weight you use linearly, forever?
Of course not, even if you use exogenous testosterone, human growth hormone and insulin. You must practice what the muscle-heads call "periodisation". You back off, so that you can go again. The price of not doing so is injury.
I did stress that I wasn't proposing indolence as a lifestyle, that's called drifting and you will end up unhappy, but...
Sometimes, the burden of the work you know you must do will bear heavy on your shoulders during the down cycle of a wave. That might be a sign that you've been "down" too long.
I've found that when that happens, I start to feel anxious. The anxiety is a useful signal.
When I was in my 20s, this anxiety would have led to an extended period of the blues, a dent to my reputation through broken promises, and eventually, depression. It takes a colossal amount of work to get out of depression. We don't want that.
One of the worst things that you can allow to happen to you, not just psychologically, but existentially, is a dent to your status.
This is wired deep within us. We can't escape it.
We might never consciously accept that we're status driven, but sadly, one of the biggest predictors of sudden suicide is a sudden catastrophic drop in status.
Using reason to address an issue that is subconscious, and hardwired, is to miss the point completely.
I've found that when I get into a long period of indolence, or even a short one, like this morning, which might have been triggered by a mini-perceived status drop like a comment that I've subconsciously perceived as criticism, even if all the logic in the world could show me that the comment was never meant to be critical, there's only one way through.
Do the work.
We nearly always know what we need to do, but we can often feel crippled by our indolence. We are not being lazy. What's happened is that somewhere along the way, we experienced a hit to our status (criticism) and the way our mind protects us from further criticism (which we perceive as existential threat) is to withdraw from the activity that caused a hit to our status.
This behaviour is a dead end. It will never actually fix the problem.
The only way out is to do the work. No matter how we feel, we tend to feel better once we actually start doing the work.
Start with some work where the likelihood of criticism is low, and praise high. Like a newsletter post. (Ahem!)
Then move on to the work you know you have to do, because now your status will feel slightly enhanced, your mood will be better, and you have some momentum.
The only way to get rid of anxiety is through the work that caused it in the first place.
In the old days they used to tell us to "get back on the horse".
Now we know why.