advice on mending /working on some quirks

Hey all,

I know we all have our quirks, etc-but there are some innate behaviors that I have that I’d like to control a bit more.

I notice that I am very future-focused; I will beat myself up constantly for not knowing enough in my field, or as much as others, and will kill any attempts at discipline to learn by telling myself that I am not learning enough (this is too small of a thing to get you making significant personal progress).

So I guess what happens is I am constantly worried about the future me, I have a hell of a time living for “now,” and as a result I have no discipline to sit down every day and learn little by little, even for an hour ad day, and I as a result have very low self-confidence.

Any personal experience/advice on where to start? It’s not a small thing in my life-it’s typically high levels of anxiety/depression that seem to be fueled by it.


One thing that works for a lot of people who need to focus on doing something regularly is to find a group or partner to do that activity with.

If you sign up and pay for a class, you may be more likely to go.

If you can find someone else who wants to study for a certain certification exam, make regular appointments to study together. Studying together may even be a little less efficient than studying by yourself, but if it results in more total studying, it can still leave you better off. Nothing really gets learned in those super-efficient solo studying sessions that you never get around to having.

Even making appointments with yourself to regularly go to the library or a similar place to study could be a step in the right direction.

Or get married and have your wife nag you. Worked for my husband (who was less than thrilled at the time but appreciates it now).

Do you find yourself getting distracted by things like TV, phone calls, or e-mail? Or for that matter, the SDMB?

Two tricks that have worked for me and may help you.

First, it really helps with small psychological tricks if you tie them to a physical activity. It doesn’t have to be hard, just an actual action. (No accident they want you to stand, kneel etc, in church - it works to reinforce the concept to tie it to an action, no matter how small!)

So when you pour your morning cup of tea/coffee, say to yourself, [aloud is best], “I give myself permission, this day, to be less obsessed with the future!” That’s it. I know, it sounds so very insignificant, how can it possibly work? But it does. Because when you can identify the change you’d like to see but cannot find the discipline to get yourself there it’s because YOU are in your own way. This gets you out of the way. (Yeah, I know, years of therapy will work as well, this is sort of the shortcut, as it were.)

The second trick is also very simple but I really encourage you to give it a try. As you climb into your bed, each night, isolate one moment of your day when you were not future obsessed, when you were in the now. No matter how small or insignificant you deem that one moment to be, bring it to the fore of your thoughts, last thing before retiring. How easy is that?

Both of these things sound so simple, don’t they? I encourage you to give them a try, they produced remarkable results for me. You’ll know, by not being able to remember these two little things, that they are actually challenges to your way of thinking about yourself and life in general. As simple as they sound and seem, it will be challenging, your mind will want to rule, it will distract you, at every turn from these two tiny little exercises. That’s your subconscious mind trying to defeat you, and proof you need this exercise. Persevere.

Once you can remember to do these two exercises for 7 straight days, you’ll feel differently about things, I predict. Your anxiety will diminish and you will find that suddenly YOU aren’t in your own way anymore and what you wish for will suddenly appear quite achievable. Good Luckl!

And thank it.

elbows, what’s up with all of these excellent and insightful posts you’re making today?

I can’t explain it. I have a terrible headache right now too. Maybe it stirs up the grey cells, who knows? (sorry for the hijack!)

elbows-thanks I am going to try this for sure. How did this work for you/what was your experience that taught you to do this?

Thanks again…it’s been hell hehe :slight_smile:

I’ll spare you the sordid details here’s the short version; I came from a home chock full of dysfunction, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, unaddressed mental illness, emotional abuse, yada, yada, yada, you get the picture I’m sure. When not quite of the age of consent yet, I was victimized in a way that had life long implications and left me a shattered shell of a being.

I was not yet old enough to drink and facing life already so bent and warped I thought I should surely just throw myself off a roof and be done with it. Whichever way I looked I appeared to be right royally f**ked, psychologically, emotionally, mentally, you name it, there seemed little hope for me to come out the other side as a well balanced human being with hopes for a happy life.

I was desperately trying to reconstruct a person out of the shards that were left, one day at a time. I was all up inside my head, searching and searching for anything that would help me through. I somehow mastered walking through the days, one foot in front of the other, but the nights were truly killer. There seemed to be no hope for me, to come out of it, to get better, to be, one day, well. I read everything I could get my hands on but it only seemed to confirm my suspicions that I was hopeless.

Talking with my peer group was pointless, I was already 10 yrs more mature than them, forced by circumstance to grow up way too soon to the trial that life could be. Trying to talk to adults was just as fruitless. “Try to keep a positive attitude.” Really? That’s all ya got? “It will get better, with time.” Really? And you base this on what? Are you even listening to what I’m telling you? Time, it seemed to me, was more likely to make it all worse than all better. Platitudes and pity weren’t helping me and I could feel it in my bones.

Alone with my thoughts at night I thought I would surely become unhinged. I decided I would seek out whatever meager resources, therapy wise, that were available to a teenager with no income. Meager indeed. But I kept trying, surely someone would listen. Surely someone could hear.

I started reading deeper books, that helped, because it engaged by brain and I soon came to realize that all the thinking might very well prove my undoing, but it was all I had. I read the entire psychology section of the local library, I swear, before I was 19 yrs old. Whenever I would hit a particularly rough patch I would seek out someone to speak with. As the years passed I became more open to who I would seek counseling from.

Eventually someone hooked me up with a clergyman willing to listen to my concerns. I’m not even a Christian so to say I was skeptical would be a huge understatement. But this guy really seemed to get me, to truly understand where I was coming from and what I was so afraid of, that history determined outcome. He was also clever enough to know I wasn’t likely to undergo years of extensive therapy. I guess he could tell I was a horse of a different colour.

I was all about how screwed I was then, and I’d used my intellect to create an airtight argument that I was truly without hope. This man listened attentively and then presented me with a simple challenge. For one week, whenever I said the words, “I am…”, they had to be followed with something kind and gentle. I was, of course, resistant to the whole stupid idea. When I pointed out that I was, indeed, screwed up and anything else was a lie, [and the one thing I wasn’t prepared to do was lie], he pointed out that the truth was actually that I was hoping to one day ‘be less’ screwed up. The ‘be less’, he assured me, for all my skepticism, was enormously important. He looked me straight in the eye and dared me to go one week, only one week, referencing myself and my perceived shortcomings in only the kindest and gentlest terms. As I was making that ‘pft’ noise, he told me if I found it easy not to come back, but if I found it hard to come back and see him in one week.

I was back a week later. Because it was remarkably difficult to do, for me. Now it’s a snap, but then, not so much. We didn’t meet regularly, just from time to time when I felt the need. He was a wonderfully insightful man who taught me many wonderful tricks for getting the hell out of my own way and find my way to mental health and stability, a place I honestly thought I’d never reach. And, to his credit, never once did he try to make me one of his flock, he had not the slightest interest in my immortal soul, as it were. Perhaps he sensed that would end it for me.

Each time I met with him he’d set some silly challenge for me, and I’d leave his office thinking it would be a snap. It never was. But they were all tiny little tricks like the ones I’ve shared with you. But they worked. He always told me, that if it’s not easy, it means it’s working. It took a whole host of people, each contributing a little to get me through it, but this man really changed everything.

He also hooked me up with a book that I still treasure. I think it’s out of print now but you might find it in a used book store. It was called ‘The Portable Therapist’, by Susanna McMahon Phd, the most asked questions by people in therapy. A great book, in my opinion. The answers to each question is right there, in a couple of pages. Of course, it’s not that easy, sometimes you have to go back and reread it, again and again, until you get it. (That’s where the therapy comes in.)

On review, aren’t you glad I went with the short version, damn, sorry to have run on so. But there you have it.

wow thanks Elbows for the super insightful background…I really appreciate it :slight_smile: