One of the most common states of mind I’ve found myself in in my life is “I have to many things to do, but my mind won’t cooperate”. I’ve been stuck in this kind of frustrating limbo so many times, I’ve actually actively dedicated time, full hours of many days, to thinking and reading about it in itself a lot. So many questions have come to the surface… what exactly are things “I have to do”? Do I really need to do this? Do I avoid them ’cause I see them as something imposed on me? Why am I still avoiding things I want to do? Do I really want to do them? Can this be an issue of motivation? Of lack of time? Of poor organization skills? Of mental health? Many questions of the sort have crossed my mind… and with time, I’ve come to discover many answers. These are, for the most part, a mix of completely personal and experience-based discoveries, plus more official stuff I’ve read on various sources. However, for now I would like to discuss a bit about one of my most recent musings, for maybe some of you will find it helpful or at least, a bit interesting.
When you have what seems to be “a life FULL of things you HAVE to do”, life itself turns into an overwhelming task in your mind. It may not matter that not every single hour of the day is spent on school or work, or that the chores or homework you have ahead won’t really take you more than an hour to do. It doesn’t matter in the slightest ’cause you’ve trained your mind to think that everything school or work related is something you are forced to do. Since we are little kids, society imposes this things on us and bit by bit we learn from experience to think that school=bad and work=tedious (I put most of the blame for this harmful thinking on our broken educational system*, but I’m not going to go deep into that for the moment), and this doesn’t mean that we are lazy or don’t like learning, just that this is the way these things are viewed in general by society. Who doesn’t remember a blissful sick day off from school when they were young? I mean, you were sick but not in school so it was worth it! At least nobody was forcing you to do anything (except maybe to drink some cough syrup).
Anyways, when you are faced with situations you deem negative, your mind has a natural way of protecting itself, and in this case, when facing a situation in the present in which a school or work related chore must be fulfilled, you start thinking about it in a way that avoids the present. The present is where all the responsibility is so it’s better to think about something else, of course. It’s funny though, ’cause I realized, in most situations in which I found myself “avoiding” the thing I had to do, my mind was only occupied with two main thoughts: the wretched thing itself, and the fast coming future in which I surely was soon going to find myself forced to get it done. Personally, this type of thinking only brings me a feeling of terrible guilt. A feeling I want to avoid by occupying my mind in ANYTHING else, no matter how banal, un productive, harmful, unnecessary or stupid it is. Some stuff I’ve found myself doing instead of work in some cases are:
– Cleaning something that doesn’t really need cleaning
– Clicking one after the other of stupid videos on YouTube
– Rewatching TV show episodes or movies
– Logging in an out of my social media site accounts
– Listening to music with closed eyes in my bed
– Staring into the void
The list goes on and on, and I’ve come to notice, when I procrastinate it’s not like I’m working on something I actually like, or getting something personal unrelated to school or work done. It’s only activity after activity designed to keep my brain kinda… numb to the present. Which is (and this is the point I want to come to) completely pointless, once you realize there is nothing BUT the present. “If you’re not living in the present, you’re living in illusion. If you’re not living now, you’re giving up your life. You’re surrendering your power to create”, Jonathan recently wrote in a really helpful article I read on Paid to Exist**, and I think it really illustrates what I’m trying to explain here.
Recently, as I’ve thought more and more about how out of my reality I’ve been for the last years (always thinking about the fast coming future with fear and looking at my past with regret while forever escaping the HUGE task of DOING SOMETHING TO CHANGE THIS IN THE PRESENT), bigger is my feeling of truly wanting to reprogram my mind to stop thinking in the harmful ways it’s been thinking for years. I’ve been trying to learn more which things are more important to me today. Methods like meditating, learning how to breathe, and trying to look at things more calmly by writing about them have been a huge help, personally, for overcoming mind barriers that made me look at everything that required work and dedication in the present (even things I loved sometimes) in a terrible society imposed light, and have made me realize there’s stuff I just truly love and truly want to work in, and that there was stuff I didn’t really need to do but was making myself do out of fear, habit, and expectation from society.
Sometimes, though, you’ve spent so much time of your life, and so much space of your thoughts (daydreaming or thinking about the hour in which you’ll finally be able to go home) actively doing everything you can to escape the present, that suddenly just wanting to live more logically and responsibly in it just takes. a. lot. of. energy. It takes concentration in heaps we are not used to sustain and attention we are especially not used to give to stuff we don’t feel we need to do at the moment, for they can be done later. This “living in the present” thing is NOT an easy task and I’m barely beginning to work on it myself, but like I mentioned before, I think it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Before finishing for today, I want to mention again though, that one way to start is meditating, for it teaches us to shut up! Yes, it’s basically a way to remind our mind who the real boss is. Philosopher Alan Watts once said, and this is mentioned in the article I previously talked about too:
“If we are talking to ourselves all the time, we are never listening, we have nothing to thing about other than thoughts, and are never in relationship with reality”.
I couldn’t agree more. And the change comes in that, when you start living in reality instead of in illusions or unfulfilled wishes and tasks in your head, everything becomes clearer. Paying attention to detail, truly listening to someone and getting to know more about them, really paying attention when someone explains something, learning more about the place and society you live in… this stuff makes you just unbelievably excited about life! For you start noticing things you never noticed before, while realizing at the same time how much potential you have to contribute to all of it. It makes you learn more about yourself and about what you love and who you are as a person. An honestly, who wouldn’t want to start working for this right now?
* focus on the Mexican educational system
** Article link & quotes source: https://paidtoexist.com/how-to-live-fully-in-the-present/