DAY 23 | What we tell ourselves #3 (how to always be right/wrong)

facing-addiction-what-we-tell-ourselves-3It’s easy to always be right. All you have to do is never leave your own mind.

I was having a real problem at work. I have this thing where I hate not being taken to my capacity. I feel like I’ve wasted enough time in my life, and I don’t like the feeling of being a replaceable cog in someone else’s machine just waiting for a procedure manual to cycle through.

Actually, I’d be totally fine with a job like that if it wasn’t something I cared about. My job was right on the cusp of being something I could see fully committing myself to.

My position was . . . experimental. I couldn’t always be told exactly what was expected of me. Everyone else knew their responsibilities well. Our boss even said her priority was to help each of us determine exactly what success would look like in our individual roles.

I’d sneak off at lunch and throughout the day to go get high, convinced it was justified because I felt so frustrated.

I remember spending a lot of time stewing at my desk, having loud, imaginary conversations in my mind about everything I thought should be different.

For each day my role in the company wasn’t made crystal clear, I developed more of a contrary attitude.

Tensions began to arise between me and my co-workers. We’d once all been friends, but I’d convinced myself it wouldn’t matter to anyone if I left—that their work would continue on without skipping a beat, and that they wouldn’t even remember me before long.

Finally it all came to an anticlimactic head when my boss called me in to ask why I seemed so angry. I felt like I didn’t know where to start, so I told her I’d have to go think about it. I went away to sulk for a few weeks before marching back into her office with this massive list of complaints.

Even as I heard myself saying the words out loud, I started to see just how silly and incomplete my thinking had been.

My boss gracefully dismantled all my unreasonable jabs with a few straightforward questions. I left her office feeling grateful for her willingness to even continue working with me.

Again, all my arguments had seemed so valid while circling so furiously around my weed-addled mind.

Here are some thoughts I wrote down right after that humbling meeting with my boss (yes, I wrote these while high at work):

“I’d convinced myself I was in an impossible situation: that I wanted to do a good job, but was being tested without knowing what passing the test would even look like.

“I felt like my attitude was justified because my boss had promised to show me what success would look like for me.

“I see now how thinking that way has sort of been like playing dumb the whole time.

“If I’m honest with myself, I’ve known all along what I should have been doing at work. It’s obvious: I should have had a good attitude, worked hard, asked questions, stayed positive, and shown gratitude.

“Instead, I fluffed around in motionless anger.

“I had myself thinking it was such a bad situation because I could get fired and would never hear from anyone again; but was I participating in the social functions, or even making an effort to build friendships outside of work with those I actually got along with?

“It all seems so obvious now.

“I’ve probably been coming across to everyone as totally crazy.”

Another time, I got high and wrote:

“It’s obvious what I should be doing at work: work hard, have a good attitude, etc.

“So, since it’s obvious, I must be lying to myself for some reason?

“Why?

“I value honest, personal, real communication so much; but I lie to myself and everyone else just to account for my own bad attitude.”

I see the same self-deception dynamics at play in other areas, too.

Here’s another high thought I once wrote down:

“I get it. In a way, I’m really playing dumb all the time because I already know what I should be doing. It’s obvious.

“For example, I always think: ‘I so want my son to be happy!’ But my part in his happiness has really been clear all along: to spend time with him, to challenge him, to be involved in what he’s interested in…

“These high thoughts are intuitions that my current conscious (non-high) mind has kept me from seeing.”

But even just realizing and writing down your truest intuitions isn’t enough. Engrained tendencies to lie to yourself don’t go away just because you recognize them.

Seeing the truth about your life (say, in a counselor’s office) won’t be enough to change your life.

Not long ago, I found myself starting to develop that same negative attitude again at work. After isolating, stewing, putting out the angry vibe, going home, and then stewing some more (instead of working on projects or enjoying loved ones), I got high.

Then all the same realizations about my own self-deceptions and immaturities dawned on me once more.

I wrote:

“I’m not being fair with people again.”

My guess is that for every intuition or experience shared in this story, I’ve probably written down almost the exact same words at least a dozen times. That’s because my limited state both binds and blinds me to its perpetual confines.

Without having my whole experience laid out, I could stare at any individual intuition on paper and understand it perfectly; I could turn that intuition into the most perfect plan to change; I could commit to the plan with full determination; but I’d still fail for the same reason that there are no shortcuts to maturity.  

For example, here are some related high thoughts I wrote down at different times:

“Feeling worried and anxious to succeed, and thinking everyone hates me, are probably things that won’t help me in my everyday life.”

“I intuitively feel like I want to be smart, cool, and relaxed.”

“I don’t want to expect all this stuff from other people all the time, but just to be understanding and fair with everyone.”

“I don’t want to get all uppity and demand things.”

Now, I could repeat any one of those intuitions to myself until I understood it perfectly; but then something might happen to make me angry, sad, or desperate enough for weed that the known logic behind my conviction would be overwhelmed and overridden.

On the other hand, seeing how all my related intuitions fit together in time forms a much wider context for perspective. Even when temporarily overridden by contrary compulsions, I can’t ignore the big picture of what I know I truly want.

With a wide enough context, no amount of feeling crossed, belittled, angry, bored, etc. can keep me from seeing my own immature patterns for exactly what they are.

Going public with your real experience can naturally empower you to rise up through the fog of your current limited state, resulting in your state, your behavior, your thoughts, your feelings, and your life literally changing.

Tomorrow: seeing from the future.

P.S. Going public with your experience is actually about more than just personal empowerment. I believe the power you and I can experience as individuals to grow and change is really evidence of something far more important happening in society.

Public attention has long revolved around having, spending, and making vast amounts of money. As a result, it’s long been held incredibly tight and narrow by a select few.

But the world is changing, and people are starting to realize they no longer need be forced to try to pay attention to whatever the powerful pay great sums to convince us all we should be interested in (both between and during commercials).

I believe real human experience is more powerful and valuable then anything produced or contrived.

Going public with your experience isn’t a competition for attention. A world of free information and expression need never be a zero-sum game. Rather, we’re coming into a world where all individuals can connect to build value together and for one another.

Following me online doesn’t keep you from following someone else.

I don’t want to sell you a new idea, or start a movement where I pull as many as possible over to my site to build a name for myself.

My message is the opposite. I’m saying: GO OUT! Share your experience for free through the avenues and space already available to you. See how doing so empowers you by holding you accountable to your values, and by forcing you to be honest enough with yourself to actually grow beyond your current limitations.

See the opportunities you have to chase your dreams, and be transformed into the person you need to be to reach them.

And keep in touch. I’d love to hear your story.

: )

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Intro, DAY 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, Afterword


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