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The Tinkered Mind
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December 30th, 2019
It’s rather remarkable how much stress we can generate for ourselves given things that don’t actually threaten us physically. Sitting down for the first time to try and take a crack at a big complex subject, like coding, or taxes, or any number of things that might make us feel inadequate or like a forgone failure.
Such feelings can be so overwhelming that we are rendered nearly paralyzed. And it’s for two reasons:
Lack of Exposure
No clear first chunk to start with.
And these two need to be dealt with in order. Lack of exposure means that anything upon first exposure is going to be a fairly intense experience. Think of our iconic character who has been locked away in a dark prison and then finally gets free and walks into the light only to be blinded. But given a few minutes and eyes start to adjust. It’s this initial shock of feeling and emotion that we simply need to sit with, and endure. Feelings, particularly the negative ones, just don’t have too much longevity built into them. Just think about how much energy it requires to stay really angry for any length of time. Something like fear, and even anxiety, if we can mindfully sit with them for a long enough period will dissipate after time.
If it’s connected with a particular task or activity, then our first aim for progress shouldn’t necessarily be anything that looks like progress. It’s fine just to pull out the tax forms or the blank page, or the instructions or the recipe, and just sit with it and do nothing. For some things the feeling of trepidation can be so strong that just spending this sort of time can be a good thing.
Once the emotion lets up, its as though our eyes have adjusted to the bright new world, and we can begin to see how things might fit together, and from that we can zoom in on a smaller chunk of the subject and then finally start with that.