unpolished thoughts 1/15/2019
There are just a few things that frustrate me beyond my levels of tolerance.
When this happens my self-regulation skills break down and I head for my old ways. I feel somehow justified to raise my voice, curse, throw my hands up in the air, and give in.
One of these things is what I was doing – or rather, trying to do – for several hours last night.
Is there someone out there who responds differently than I when trying to get something to happen on a computer that is supposed to be “intuitive,” but feels more impossible by the minute?
It’s hard for me to imagine – and that lack of imagination is likely a sign of what I’m doing wrong.
When I absolutely positively cannot figure out the thing that I’m trying to do, I tend to conclude that either:
a) Nobody in the world could possibly do this, or
b) Probably I am the only one in the world incapable of doing this.
There is no third option, such as:
c) The curious voice that gently asks “how might someone successfully do this?” and invites me to play with possibilities.
So I go into a place of meager resources and assign the task of analyzing the situation to the most resentful parts of my historical self.
The analysis rarely changes.
The reason you can’t figure this out is: you’re a freakin’ idiot.
If you would have paid attention back in the day when everyone else learned this, you wouldn’t be in this damn situation right now. But you didn’t, so you are – once again.
Since you didn’t do it before and are so far behind as a consequence, it’s pretty much guaranteed that this situation will never change. Therefore you can expect nothing but further failure in the future.
The main problem here is that you are just incompetent. Obviously, the most logical response to this situation is to give up.
I don’t live in scarcity as much as I once did, but when I revisit that territory, I seem to excel at it. Drinking all day from half-full cups, I am capable of continuously “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” as my elementary school gym teacher use to say.
One of my most reliable roads into scarcity is when I think that problems I’d like to solve require money I don’t have.
A related drive is the feeling of needing to do something to generate that money – even if I’m not so sure what exactly I need to do right now. “Just do something!” the internal voice says, and so I make self busy with this and that half-baked idea, neglecting self-care and wondering why there aren’t more than 24 hours in a day.
Last night, I had a long and complex dream which managed to maintain a story-line from beginning to end, despite all its twists and turns.
I was somehow an unwitting accomplice in a smuggling operation where some kind of ghastly consequence was going to be initiated.
It didn’t happen because the key figures who recruited me into the operation were caught by the authorities. It was big news in the world, but no one around me knew that I too had a role. I had passed through a security line just after those that were caught, but I was allowed through without suspicion.
Afterwards, I discovered among my possessions that indeed I had been carrying illicit materials. I myself hadn’t put them there, but I would have been hard pressed to explain the situation should anyone have questioned me. Luckily, no one ever did.
Still, I wandered through the rest of my dream with a silent feeling of guilt, even though I hadn’t actually done anything except having been an unwitting pawn in someone else’s game. I moved from one strange scene to the next, always anticipating interrogation that never came, silently feeling that I was being dishonest with each new person that I met.
This morning, over breakfast, I was reading about trauma.
Trauma is like that piece of the past that we carry around that prevents us from being fully present in the here and now. This was the quality in my dream last night. It was as if I was carrying a burden, a filter that came between myself and each other person with whom I would have like to have felt connection.
Last night, my computer didn’t particularly care how I felt about things. It didn’t provide me with any helpful hints.
My only moment of insight was to stop. I realized that I did not have the resources within me to solve the technical problem I was facing.
I could feel that continue to fight with my computer was guiding me back into a past part of myself, taking me out of presence. I could feel that past charging up inside me, wanting to take over my whole body.
The sensation was familiar enough for me to sense it, and call it by name: scarcity.
Scarcity is a place where frustration and self-recrimination find fertile ground for growing and blossoming into complete failure.When I think my options are limited, I simply stop looking for new options.
The opposite of the scarcity mindset is abundance. This is the place where curiosity lives, inviting playful experimentation, flexibility and adaptability.
Here I’m more likely to rest easy in my mind with the confidence that a solution can be found to the thing that currently perplexes me. This means there is no particular need to wind myself up with strain to “fix” things.
But in scarcity, strain serves a purpose: it reminds me how difficult everything is and reinforces my inability to achieve. This is strangely comforting because because I am currently opposed to feeling ease. I am determined to repeat my mantra of incompetence. Nothing is allowed get in the way of this!
Moshe Feldenkrais pointed out that using willpower to tackle problems always means invoking our historical habits. If we don’t know what else to do, we simply do what we know, and amplify it. Like the person who thinks repeating the same words slower, louder, and more angrily will somehow make the foreigner understand.
While I don’t enjoy meditating on scarcity and willpower, it’s nice to know that a part of me is capable of stepping aside to identify when these parts of myself have taken control of the steering wheel and the gas pedal.
Now I can start a new process by putting a foot on the brakes, and bring everything to a stop.
Feel the support of the ground.
Listen to my internal story, find the place where I keep getting stuck, and ask:
What possibilities are here that I can’t see right now – but might discover if I look through the eyes of curiosity?
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