jusummerhayes (jusummerhayes) wrote,
jusummerhayes
jusummerhayes

Don't think (too hard)

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” -- William Hutchison Murray

This is one of my favourite quotes, and I can see how, at times, I’ve adopted it (e.g. starting my first business and leaving law).

But in the end, call it Resistance or fear, we’re apt to over-think our situation, and it’s in that moment of hesitation, all momentum is lost.

I’m not suggesting that we put ourselves in harm’s way, but how many times have you allowed your inner critic to undo your fantastic and possibly life-changing thought? I know I have.

However, I think I can place the foregoing in a sort of first-half-of-life context (see the work of Richard Rohr for an expanded version of what this means), namely, there’s often too much attention paid to overcoming fear by dint of action for action’s sake -- sorry if this sounds paradoxical. With the best will in the world, even if you do manage to commit, there’s still a sense that you’ve overplayed your hand -- that damn Resistance never leaves you.

A better skill -- if it can be described in that rather mechanistic way -- is to sit down, close your eyes and breathe. Even if you’re not ready to commit to meditation, you have to understand how the thought arises and to understand that it’s just that: a thought. And like all thoughts they’re of a temporary nature and will pass...in time. (The other issue to bear in mind is that most thoughts are highly repetitive. In other words, if you’re not very careful, you’ll find yourself stuck on the same I-am-not-worthy merry-go-round.)

I’m not suggesting there’s some catch-all approach to getting things done, overcoming fear or saying no, but action is too often at the mercy of exterior expectations, whereas we should have the courage to either meditate or allow the thought(s) to collapse -- a no mind approach if you will.

I know this sounds ethereal and other-worldly, but it’s how I now see the second-half-of-my-life approach to fearful or unknown situations: I no longer consider that I can overcome the negative reaction just by action, but instead in applying a non-dualistic approach to my supposed reasoning.

Try it. Next time you feel the negative reaction, close your eyes (in a safe place of course), sit down and breathe. Even a few minutes of meditation can make a world of difference. Likewise, just observe the thought, don’t engage with it, i.e. don’t think another thought into existence of the same shape and form; and if you can conceive but not think it, let the thought collapse, which is similar to the metaphor of thoughts representing clouds (Andy Puddicombe does a great of job of illuminating this idea).

Like all aspects of our life, the more ingrained the positive habit, the more likely we’re going to see positive benefits. In other words, simply doing this once won’t make any difference. It has to become part of your daily life. As I said last week, habit formation is best approached in a very marginal way, i.e. do the smallest thing possible rather than trying to bite off more than you can chew. I would call this mini habits, rather than the more common or garden variety (if you not familiar with the law of marginal gains or Kaizen, then you can always check out the book The Shibumi Strategy, which is a wonderful read).

Of course, you may have a completely different way to overcome Resistance. If so, I would love to hear about it.

Tags: andy puddicombe, kaizen, resistance, seth godin, steven pressfield, the shibumi strategy
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