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Things aren't really changing, and none of this is getting better

Monday May 11, 2020

When I start to feel exhausted or worn out, one of the messages that frequently comes to my consciousness goes like this:

  • You make all these changes and say you’re improving your life, but nothing is really changing.
  • Otherwise you wouldn’t feel as grumpy as hell right now. See? This doesn’t feel good at all.
  • So none of these improvements you say you’ve made are worth a thing.
  • Might as well give up on these changes.

Having written that out: I cringe to think of the drastic decisions I could make while feeling this way, knowing that I’ll periodically have to review this kind of message for the rest of my life.

Materially, the premise is incorrect, but easy to trust in a deceptive way. It ignores various really important details (my own life has improved greatly, and I have the logs to back it up, but I do have to remember to give that fact some weight—not always easy when the illogical NOW feeling is in control), and in doing so it re-seats the simplistic, naive look at life improvement: “Just” do whatever you feel like right now, and that’s the good life right there. All you have is the present, and the best way to plan for the future is in simplistic, fearful terms.

Really though, it’s pushing for huge, uncontrolled, chaotic, explosive change now. It wants to be able to say:

  • We REALLY changed just now! Hahaha!
  • That’ll show ‘em!
  • We made people notice, didn’t we?
  • In the end, the only truth I have is me, and the purpose might as well be my whim and pleasure.

I used to live that life a lot more than I do now. And being aware and planted in the present is indeed important. But this tired-me version of that philosophy is not a good one on which to base a life. As it turns out, when given the helm, it robs both the past and the future in sneaky and regretful ways.

(One of the other lessons here is: Big-picture change can feel very hard to perceive and difficult to grasp, even though it’s materially effective and measurable)

I made some real big & dumb decisions in the past, and many of them were indeed decisions I made while feeling pretty awful about life. While that isn’t “normal me”, I persisted in stubbornly thinking it was still “me” at the controls. So I trusted “myself,” which was in fact a completely different person in the sense that it was a messaging system with vastly different perceptions and judgments than the “me” that I have learned to leave in charge when possible.

Really, I wonder if one of the first-best improvements one can make as a self-aware person is differentiating these various mood-personas with their mood-messages. From there it’s possible to find a way to at least compare them and make a judgment at a healthier distance, so that the collection of perceptions can lead to smarter and more effective outcomes.

Filed in: /40/ | /90/ | /77/

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