Stop Bashing Your Head Against The Wall!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It enables us to look back & say “Oh wow, that was a complete waste of a day.. or 10 years.”
Wouldn’t it be useful to know in advance if something was going to be pointless? Or how about just at the time? Even cutting that wasted 6 months back to a day or two would be a huge win.
How the hell would we go about that?
Well, an obvious way is to get more present (eg this excellent video tutorial on ‘Falling Still’ by my good friend @Dhrumil). The more aware we are, the more attention we’ll pay to warning signs that perhaps we’re wasting our time (aka, not being in the flow of the universe).
Getting more present is well covered territory, so how about just ensuring we’re not massively out of sync with the world in some huge way?
How do we spot when we are really, really nowhere the hell near what’s best for us? Or when we’re exhibiting akrasia, and actively going against our own best judgement?
In other words, how do we identify (so we can correct) when we’re making life unbearably difficult for ourselves?
Turns out, this is easier to spot than it might seem. The bad news is, it’s usually easiest to see about ten years after we’ve stopped doing it. It’s also typically accompanied by enlightened self-observations such as “dipshit” & other such beating ourselves up.
So what are typical head-bashing symptoms?
Very simply: pouring massive amounts of time, energy & effort into a situation (or person).. and getting disproportionately little in return.
What are the warning signs?
- Are you always the one to initiate contact?
- Is it always a massive effort to cheer them up (or them you)?
- Do you put way more effort into communication than they do (as I discussed recently, asymmetrical communication)?
- Does it feel like you have to “chase” them, but they’re never chasing you in return?
- Do you come away from them feeling drained?
- Is there a mis-match between your communication tones? (eg, you’re generally positive towards them; they’re generally negative towards you)
- Do you compromise way more often than them?
- Do you feel you need to ‘convince’ them of things that are obvious & reasonable in every other similar relationship you have?
- Do you dread seeing them?
Seeing these signs isn’t enough by themselves, of course, you need to allow for context. Everyone goes through difficulties, & every relationship in your life will show some of these at some point or other. One symptom by itself may tell you nothing more than that person desperately needs your support.
If you’re seeing a large number of them though? That’s a pretty good sign you’re just wasting a ton of time & energy for no good reason.
One obvious solution is just to remove those people from your life – or at the very least minimize contact as much as possible.
Of course, people always change, & in time they may well end up being your closest friend ever. Right now though? They’re not.
However it’s always a mistake (& one I’ve learned the hard way, repeatedly) to fall in love, or spend time & energy on someone based on who they might become – instead of who they actually are right now.
I’ve had relationships I’ve bailed out of because I eventually realised I’d been hanging on (for years in some cases), solely in the hope they might one day become the person I could see they were capable of being.
If you abstract this conversation up a level, you’ll also see you have relationships with companies – those who give you money (your employer, your customers), and those you give money to (your utilities, local cafe). The same rules apply.
Why waste your time, your energy, your life on any relationship that is non-reciprocal & not adding value to your existence?
Similarly, & in the interests of balance, it’s worth reassessing how you are to those around you. Are you “take take take”? Could you enrich the lives of those who love you by putting just a little more effort in?
Trust me, it is always going to be worth your time to do so. Really it’s simply a case of showing them the love & respect that they are showing you.
These small (though occasionally scary) observations & steps can help save years of your life, untold misery, & free you up to truly get in the flow of the universe.
Life is supposed to be easy. Not without effort, but certainly not a perpetual struggle. Believing otherwise simply leads us to create these walls & spend years, as I’ve done, bashing our heads against them.