THE WET BLANKET OF INERTIA
Naturally, I am sitting here writing this
when I should be doing something else. There is a pile of paperwork beside my computer
where I can't help but see it, and I've been engaged in heavy Task Avoidance Maneuvers
every day of this hot 100+ week, dodging my growing stack of To Dos until they become Must
No doubt the heat is part of it, but this has been a lifelong 'racket' of mine: delay the
little low stim tasks until a last minute crunch adds an adrenaline shot to push me past
Bouncing brains sure aren't unique in that,
but we sure can push the envelope. At times, this resistance can be as powerful as
an addiction in being so irresistible, and as unsettling as an obsession in having so
little to do with logic.
One of the tasks in my pile will yield a check for $250 as soon as I send in the forms.
But not even the lure of lucre is moving me past the paralysis.
It's one of the most paradoxical parts of a stim- driven psyche: how you can clearly see
what you need to do - and sincerely desire to do it - but still can't budge the wet
blanket of inertia that suffocates your momentum.
Activation Impotence? I asked another
presenter at a recent conference for his take on what I've been calling "activation
impotence" because it is rather similar to that other kind of want-to-but-can't
I gave him a two line example: "You know, you see the letter sitting there and it
only needs a stamp. But it takes days to grab the stamp, paste it on, and walk the letter
out the door?"
He looked at me blankly as if he'd never felt anything like it. Given how much
"hyper" energy this man exudes, I wasn't completely surprised. It only seemed
odd it had not occurred to him, a specialist, that the things the stim-driven don't do
aren't always about forgetting or distraction.
I could see his mental wheels turning, wondering. How a pretty sharp person could look at
a pile of paper and be unable to move for reasons having nothing to do with forgetting (or
fear of failure) was clearly a puzzlement.
He turned to another speaker who was standing there and asked what he thought.
"Reticular activating system?" he wondered aloud to his colleague. The other
fellow shook his head, as if to say he didn't know either.
After a lifetime of this nagging tension over chores undone, I think in my case it's now a
conditioned response that's become a self-fulfilling prophecy: I expect some kinds of
tasks to auto-kill my arousal, and so they do.
But that conditioning didn't begin out of the blue. It started with some sort of
compelling urge early in childhood, some inborn aversion that only the deepest dread or
the keenest desire could overcome.
One of my more successful work-arounds has been to tackle something else I need
to do instead of the most dreaded chore on the list. At least then I have the payoff
of making the chore list shorter. Sometimes that little satisfaction boost also works to
fuel the "oomph" I need to move on to more onerous items on the list.
The S Word: Satisfaction, that's another key. I joke about
"Attentional Plates" and "Stim Diets" in my workshops, the idea that
without a balance between positive and negative feedback we tend to get stuck in under or
overfocusing. But it's not such a joke.
That small "happy hit" from the
little thing I just made myself finish, even if not the biggest chore on my list, just
might give me an extra dollop of serotonin to soothe my guilty spirit or an extra dose of
dopamine to get past my "Reward Deficiency" and trick the stim-seeker inside
into feeling satisfied.
However it works, completing something less dreaded but also constructive just might
provide enough stimulus fuel to kick-start the ole momentum engine.
So maybe, just maybe, after the pleasure of
creating something new for this web site today, I'll find myself making a dent in the pile
beside my CPU - especially now that I've shared it with you to make an even larger
commitment to following through.
- o -