May 232008

I’ve had a few epiphanies lately and I’d like to share them with you to see if they might resonate with you and you may gain some insight into yourself.

The first of my ephiphanies was that I care about what other people think because I believe I can influence or control their feelings or thoughts about me. That is, I believe that others offer valuable feedback about me and I should listen in case there’s something truly negative there. That doesn’t sound so bad, but at some point I started listening to everyone instead of being selective about whom to listen to. The other thing I have to remember is that I can’t really control what other people think or feel, so I don’t have to care or worry about what other people think. Their thoughts become a feature of the landscape, just another uncontrollable thing, like the weather. This, for me, is a key to not worrying about how others will perceive me or what I do.

The second epiphany also has to do with control, but on a more general level. Control, or the desire to control comes out of the two simultaneous issues: emotional attachment to something and the fear that if I don’t control it, bad things will happen, and since I’m emotionally attached, these bad things will actually hurt me. Meaning that if I’m having trouble detaching or letting go of something, I feel that I can still control it in some way, and I want to control it to prevent something bad happening.

I want to distinguish between two kinds of control: there’s a normal “positive” control and then there’s a more “negative” emotionally attached sort of control. Imagine parents who’ve found out their teenage son is doing drugs. They want to prevent something bad from happening, such as losing their son to drugs or whatever, and may go into the negative control mode and try to control their son. They are afraid so they attempt to ground the son or what have you.

The difference between the two kinds of control is that the negative kind has a sense of desperation. It doesn’t feel good.

Another interesting thing I’d like you to think about is this: What is the payoff of everything in your life. Even the negative things have payoffs, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing them. I’ve written before on how people smoke for a variety of reasons, not just the physical addiction. For some people, smoking allows you to take a quick break from work or whatever to clear your head. For other people, smoking is relaxing not because of the chemicals but because of the deep breathing involved, and so on. So, for negative things that you do, ask yourself what the payoff is. Even procrastination. The payoff may obviously be putting off something uncomfortable, but what sort of discomfort is it? You may be using procrastination to put off something that could possibly make you feel judged and bad.

Last epiphany: Money isn’t very motivating. In fact, my biggest goal right now is to create a certain amount of money passively so I can go off and do interesting things. But I’ve been stuck in a cycle of procrastination and busywork. I’ve realized that doing something solely for the money eats away at my soul and my conscience rebels. I have had no peace until I changed the way I thought about my real work. To try to fill that gaping void and sense of inner incongruence, I’ve watched a whole lotta TV and done a whole lotta meaningless, unpaid work. So I’ve decided to change direction. I’m going to ignore the money right now and focus more on delivering real value and creating good content and products. I’ve also realized that there are many interesting things I can do now and I don’t have to wait till I reach x money or y state.

When you have inner peace, it is because you accept yourself as you are and do not deny any parts of you, including the parts you are not proud of or dislike.

Main Points:

  • If you care about what others think, it might be because you feel you can control or influence them. If you accept other people as masters of their own feelings and thoughts and not really controllable by you, you can let what others say pass over you like the wind.
  • Control is rooted in attachment and fear.
  • Everything in your life has a payoff, even the bad stuff. Finding out what it is and replacing it is a key to breaking any habit or changing something.
  • Money isn’t very motivating.
  • Inner peace comes from non-judgmental acceptance of yourself, including the parts you are not proud of.

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