Powerful Musings

by Paul Goodchild on July 23, 2015

I’m in an interesting place just now. It’s the beginning of something that I haven’t experienced for a while – Hope.

It’s a little tentative, but it grows every day. Not by much, but I’m feeling a return of something important that I’ve forgotten, or perhaps I let go of.

It started about 2 months ago when someone close to me made a comment – a very simple comment – saying that I’m completely different to the person I was 7-8 years ago.

We all change as we get older, of course, but that wasn’t the point. As soon as it was said I already new what was meant, but it’s funny how it takes an outside voice to slice through the fog in your mind.

7-8 years ago I was living in Japan. I was earning lots of cash and generally had, by almost anybody’s standards, a wonderful life. I was with some of my closest friends; I exercised almost daily, ate well, and socialized at a lot (well, a lot for me at least).

I was healthy, enjoying life, and full of confidence for myself and my place in this world. But something was lacking and I left that life behind and completely changed my focus. The whys and wherefores aren’t relevant, but the path I ultimately took was completely unplanned and the destination, the place I am right now, was even less expected.

I wonder, if I were warned that I’d be where I am today through the choices I would make 6 years ago, would I have still made the same choices?

I’m not so sure that I would have.

I’ve never taken that stance before – I see how so many things we experience, good, bad and wonderful, are all connected through the many decisions we make over time. But is the sum of what I’ve gained and lost worth it?

Do I have it the worst? Of course not.
Do I have a lot to be grateful for… yes, of course.
And that’s why I’m writing this. My feeling is that I’m coming out the other side of what appears to be slow, incremental descent into a great pile of shite.

So what’s new… what’s different now?

That’s a hard one to answer.

The best way to describe the feeling I have is… a growing power. This power isn’t power over someone or some thing, but rather a strength of character.

When you live a long time in fog, where you wake up each day and you slog through it just trying to reach the end, “knowing” that you have no other choice than to keep on keeping on, you lose your ability to make powerful… empowering choices.

These choices might be simple things, such as

  • What will I eat for lunch?
  • Will I eat for lunch?
  • Will I watch some mind-melting TV, or read, or sleep?
  • Should I go meet that person, or take the easier route and give myself an excuse as to why I can’t?
  • I’ve worked enough for the day, I’ll go home… or I’ll stay on and just finish this one last thing…

If for most of these basic decisions you’re repeatedly making poor choices, the result over the long term isn’t pretty – you suffer a gradual degradation of your self-worth.

A gradual degradation of your self-worth?  What does that look like?

I guess it’s probably different for each person. For me… I lost my ability to present my best self to the world. My decision making and prioritization skills were terrible. I became increasingly cynical and apathetic, neither fun to be around, and worse, feeling I’m not worth being around.

The less you think you’re worth hanging out with, the harder it is to put yourself in situations where you would hang out with someone. So you gradually turn inwards and you’re left with only your own mind to solve all its own problems for you.

As Einstein rightly said:

Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.

Now you’re properly screwed.  There’s a nasty feedback loop in there where the worse your logic and decisions are, the worser they become.

You know what you should do, and you know what you need to do – but you just don’t do it.

Your decision-making muscle is weak, while your reasoning and logic are flawed.

What to do? It’s hard to say what the fix is, but I think it’s usually triggered by something that happens outside of yourself. For me it was when I realised that others could clearly see the difference between me now, and the me of 7 years ago. The difference was clear to me and I didn’t like it.

The realization and discomfort which spawned from that moment has slowly unraveled some of the warped logic in my head, and with the regular advice of another good friend, I slowly got clarity on many things.

What’s next?

I don’t know exactly. I’m working it out at the moment and building up a better frame of mind with each day that goes by.

I’ve mentioned “power” already a few times, and that’s really the best way to describe it. I’m rebuilding physical and mental strength, and I have faith that in-time, the me of 7 years ago will be back, a bit wiser, and more confident than ever.

Stay tuned.

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