I know what I must do. I think we all intuitively do. The path towards health, creation, and happiness is generally pretty simple. If I want to get in shape I need to drink more water, cut out caloric drinks, eat a plant-based whole foods diet, be active, minimize processed foods, and get plenty of sleep. It is really that simple. But it can be so fucking difficult for me.
To become a writer I need to sit down at my computer and write. No amount of reading about writing or planning about writing or researching publishing options is going to put words on the page. I need to block off time every day and just write. But I don’t. Instead, I clean my house or go for a walk or set up a “writing plan” for the hundredth time.
So, why is this so hard for me? I think it comes down to two issues.
First, habits die hard. Habits are easy, they are comfortable, they provide stability. But ease, comfort, and stability are the enemy of a full life. We need difficulty, discomfort, and disruption to reach our potential. There is no feeling of fulfillment or accomplishment from an easy life. But my evolutionary past has selected for the easiest life possible in order to conserve energy. The truth is, I have plenty of stored energy (just look at my love handles), what I need is to struggle and burn and cry… but my habits work against that. They work against my health and happiness. At least I know I’m not alone, there are entire non-fiction genres dedicated to this issue and overcoming it that include books like “The Power of Habit” and “Emotional Alchemy”. It may sound shitty, but I get a little bit of comfort from knowing that I’m not alone in the temptation to choose an easy existence over a difficult life.
Second, the unknown can be paralyzing. I like how Tim Ferriss said it in “4- Hour Workweek”:
Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.
I know I certainly have. I look at the ideas I want to write and I’m unhappy, but I’m uncertain if I have the skill to put it on paper. I’m uncertain if my time will be wasted. I’m uncertain if people will laugh at me or judge me or ridicule me for trying to be something I fear that I’m not, a writer. (Sidebar: My therapist and I chatted about this a little last week and I think the CBT exercises can help me with this type of thinking.)
I’ve stayed in bad, abusive relationships because it felt better than being alone. Better to be unhappy with someone than potentially unhappy alone… right? But I know that is a false dichotomy and once I broke up with my abusive partner I ended up much happier, and because of that decision I found my current partner and created my current badass life. I knew for months that the relationship was bad, that it was unhappy, that I would never be fulfilled, that we wanted different things. But I stayed because uncertainty froze me like Palom and Porom.
So, how can I overcome this? I don’t have a good answer to that. Certainly, having a plan and principles is a good start. But a plan is pretty worthless if I don’t follow through with it. That is where principles come in, but historically I’ve been a lackluster follower of self-imposed principles (except veganism). The interesting thing is, I tend to do MUCH better with my physical health goals than my writing goals. I wonder if on a subconscious (and conscious) level I want abs more than I want to be a writer. Or maybe the discomfort and fear I feel when I think about writing is much higher than running.
All I really know is that identifying this problem and blogging about it makes an incremental change in my behavior in the right direction. Recognizing the issue and knowing that when I am tempted to do the dishes instead of writing or eat an Orea instead almonds it is because of bad habits and fear. Knowing the source will help me address it, which is the first step in overcoming fear and changing habits.
Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”