When I can’t scrape up the enthusiasm to write, I open Evernote and start journaling about my day.
Without a readily available cure for writer’s block, I have no choice but to shut up and write something. Anything.
Journaling will usually spark an idea, then I try my best to piece something together that’s halfway decent.
The other day, my journaling turned into a list. I tried writing down all the thoughts I had that day. It went something like…
Hurry up or you’ll be late. Don’t burn your eggs. Take the garbage out or you’ll miss the pickup. You’re shirts too big. Make sure your hair isn’t messed up. Even though you’re the new guy, you should look busy. Why aren’t you an expert by now? Don’t take too long on lunch. Make sure you leave on time. What do I have to do when I get home? It’s getting late, you wrote nothing today, what a waste.
You get the picture. Basically, a lot of nonsense that I could have lived without. Each thought made me feel unsettled and anxious.
This isn’t unique or new. I do it all the time. Most of us do. If you don’t please let me in on your secret and let’s patent your system and start selling that snake oil!
Thoughts and ideas mean nothing until we entertain them or assign them meaning. I’m not big on assigning my thoughts meaning, but I’m guilty on all counts of entertaining my thoughts until the cows come home.
I think about what I should have for breakfast. Then I decide on eggs. Then I think maybe I should switch it up. Then I decide not to. But then I think maybe I should have more than just two. Should they be fried or scrambled? I shouldn’t be adding so much butter to the pan.
10 minutes thinking about eggs is 10 minutes wasted. Cut it out Nick. It’s one thing to have a thought. It’s another thing to make a mountain out of a molehill. That’s a bit ridiculous.
It’s hard to separate reality from our thinking. I regularly float off into the land of thought, where everything is mainly conceptual and mostly false.
I hate advice, but I’ve got something to say about this. Treat your thinking like you use to treat your gym teacher’s speech on the “rules” before playing dodgeball. Let most of it go in one ear and out the other. Catch the stuff that’s critical and leave everything else behind.
I’m not saying we should completely ignore our thoughts and feelings, I’m saying we shouldn’t turn them into something they’re not.
The only way to avoid doing this is to pay attention often enough to catch yourself before you go overboard. That’s all it takes because once we’ve noticed something we’re no longer under its spell and it loses its grip. It’s like when King Kong finally puts Ann down, she can breathe again.
Dysfunctional ideas break us down only when we’re confined by them. Don’t limit yourself. Live in the real world, not in your head.
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