Author: Paul Joo

Paul Joo, Decision Architect and devotee of Human Potential & Performance. My passion is identifying & unleashing personal potential.

there is no “reset” – just live forward!

If you’re an intense person by nature, it’s likely that up to 75% of your life energy every minute, every hour, every day is automatically being allocated to ignore what you don’t want to think about. You tell yourself “I need to ignore certain things, otherwise I can’t deal with them. I need to ignore them to get by.” 

OK, but then consider how much of your total energy you have left to consciously deal with the realities of your day? Say 25%. Then it’s no small wonder that in a day you feel that you can’t accomplish very much. And at the same time when you do try to accomplish anything, you feel immediately overwhelmed. Under these conditions who wouldn’t, with only 25% of their energy available to them to manage their day? 

Managing your day is hard enough, but with only 25% of your energy available to try and gain ground, it becomes a disappointing struggle, which is why people live in a constant state of overwhelm; a huge proportion of their daily allotment of energy every day is already accounted for by ignoring this or that reality or “keeping such & such at bay for now because I just don’t want to think about it.”

So you end up having to be very sparing as to apportioning your energy during the day if you want to just survive. And that’s what many people do. And that’s why they’re then frustrated that they make no progress, feeling completely spent at the end of the day and disappointed that they should have more to show for their day. 

“How come I don’t have more to show for all the energy I’ve spent this day this week, this month?” is a common lament. Well, because your expectations are based on 100% effective application of your energy. Where your reality is based on 100% expenditure of energy but only 25% effective application of it!

People commonly perceive this pattern as “managing my life“. But in reality this is just a coping strategy. Personally I think trying to just cope is pointless. Far better to take the responsibility to manage your reality. Do that and you’ll never need to cope; coping is a powerless gesture because it is after the fact, and can effect no change. Managing? Well, managing means you’re doing your best, which is the whole point.

PS. People often want a “reset” because they want to “start fresh” without having to expend all the energy and experience all the stress of wilfully ignoring all the realities they are aware of but find disagreeable. In short, they want to reset themselves to a state of blissful ignorance, because they believe the adage that ignorance is bliss.

But of course that cannot & does not work. By avoiding the responsibility of their disagreeable realities, they end up struggling, which is compounded by the unavoidable price paid for ignoring &/or not managing those realities. Which is of course why they feel miserable, which in turn is why they want a reset in the first place. Vicious cycle, eh?

The point here is quite simple: Avoid the temptation to look for a “reset”. Instead, simply focus your attention on making the most of what you have.

money and happiness

It may be true that money in & of itself will not necessarily assure happiness.

But consider this: money can definitely help bring your resources & aspirations into alignment.

And it is precisely this alignment that enables personal achievement, which can indeed bring great happiness!

the truth about “shame”

Feeling shame is just the self-indulgence of wallowing in “I should have ___!”. 

And whenever you beat yourself up over “I should have ___!”, it is simply because you are not responsibly evaluating the validity of your expectations

Look, if you are so sure that “I should have made the right choice!” is a valid expectation, then answer the following question honestly: “Was I properly equipped to make the “right” choice back then – in terms of my mental acuity, emotional capacity & maturity, intellectual capability, experience and wisdom?” 

And if you come up with the inevitable answer that “Actually, I may have been a little short on experience & wisdom back then…”, then just LET THE SHAME DISSOLVE AWAY!

PS. Learning can be a very powerful way to neutralize shame and help restore your emotional pH balance.

the fickle finger of frustration

There are several things wrong with the complaint: “I feel frustrated with myself!”. 

First off, the root of the word “frustration” is the Latin “frustra”, which means “in vain”. So “frustration” implies that any efforts you make are futile because you are powerless to control your self.

However, since only you can be in control of how & what you feel, it’s technically impossible to be powerless over your self

So what’s happening here? Well, you’re telling yourself that some external force is acting upon your thinking or feeling or both and controlling them against your will. What you are essentially doing is simply pointing the finger of blame.

But here’s the thing about blame: It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re pointing the finger of blame at, when you’re blaming you’re saying “I’m not responsible for the outcome!” That’s what blame means. 

So when you say “I’m frustrated with myself”, you’re in effect saying “I’m not responsible for whatever I’m doing that I’m upset with”, which is both reprehensibly childish and inaccurate. 

Bear in mind: Every time you blame – and so complain about being powerless – you believe a little bit more that it’s actually valid. A dangerously steep & slippery slope indeed….

an antidote to feeling powerless

Self-discipline is an excellent antidote to feeling powerlessness.

Here’s how it works: Every time you discipline yourself, regardless of how or why, you are communicating to yourself that you have the power to choose. Which means that you have control over your life. Which means that you are not powerless. 

What causes many to hesitate is the doubt that self-discipline may not “work”. Good thing it doesn’t really matter! Because if your first choice didn’t work out as you wished, you have the power to make others that will.

The whole point of self-discipline is that you’re the one making the choice. Whatever the outcome is – good or bad – is not really the point. The point is that you made the choice – nobody else did it for you. And that means you have the power and the freedom to make your own choices. And that’s the antithesis of powerlessness – of feeling that you don’t have any power to make your own choices.

Bonus: You can see how self-discipline is the surest means of not only being in control of your life but of earning your own self-respect as well.

defaulting to stress for “motivation”

A lot of people unfortunately default to relying on stress to motivate themselves. 

The problem with that approach is that it dis-empowers you, because you’re still basically letting yourself get pushed around by whatever you fear. 

On the flipside, when your approach is “Well, I have to do something I don’t particularly enjoy doing but I know it has to get done and so therefore I’m choosing to do it.”, that is taking control.

Of course control doesn’t always mean you’re going to enjoy it – just that you’ve chosen to do it and you’re getting it done. So you get satisfaction, if not always comfort. And that satisfaction is irreplaceable because it contributes to your personal power. 

So every time you decide to do something of your own volition, you’re empowering yourself. Conversely, if you decide to wait till you’re stressed about it and then try to get motivated by stress, well then you’re always working from a position of weakness. 

Unless you’re operating from your position of strength, even if you manage to get the thing done you’re still not satisfied about it, you’re just relieved.  And that’s a sure sign that you are being motivated by stress: when you achieve your objective, you’re just relieved and not satisfied.

Remember that relief does not represent power; only satisfaction represents the power of “meeting a higher standard.”

too hard on yourself?

Many people tell themselves – and enjoy telling others – “I’m too hard on myself, you know, I beat myself up…” 

That’s almost always a false evaluation. Most likely what is actually happening is just that person inappropriately engaging in emotional self-indulgence. 

Actually being too hard on yourself would mean that you are disciplining yourself too strictly, which is not all that common. I’d wager that not a single person who complains ”I’m too hard on myself” is actually disciplining themselves too strictly.

Remember that self-discipline is a means, not a punishment, so use it to live well.

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