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Blog

Reflections on life, the future, and the authentic self

How to stop screwing yourself over. An introduction.

Luis Martin del Campo

So there you are, trudging along trying to get your shit together, you´re feeling fine, you´re putting in the time, or think you are. You´re being patient. You´re doing the things that you mapped out that need to be done. The path is being followed. Some days are better, some not so much. But here you are.

You´re trying your best not to let the existential dread set in.

But one second of letting your guard down and there you are again, with the self-loathing and the self-judging and kicking yourself down.

It´s funny, because on some level, very intellectually, you realize it´s you doing this to yourself. You know your mind is playing games on you. You can hear it busy cackling and delivering truckloads of anxiety for the future (will this ever change? Will I ever get out of my mom´s basement? Will I ever really have enough and stop worrying about paying for the “rights to live”?). It´s busy delivering care packages of guilt (I´m not doing enough; I´ve fucked up chances in the past, I burned a bridge here, I hurt someone there, I´ve made a mess everywhere).

So, either living in the future. Or living in the past.

And you see it. you realize it.

But you feel helpless about it. It´s like a spiral that is self-affirming and indifferent to your observation. It just goes on. Relentless.

Sound familiar?

I´m struggling with this myself today. I´m lucky to have loving friends who will listen and slap me a bit to shake off the stupid. (*thank you*! you know who you are). Truth is, sometimes you just don´t believe in yourself, you don´t value what you´ve accomplished so far.

Sometimes you paralize yourself. It´s stupid. It´s enraging.

It´s fucking yourself in the ass for free.

And you also remain blind -sometimes by choice- about what´s really going on.

I spent the better part of today going round and round in my head in anxiety and persecution. Time was wasted, head ached, shit didn´t get done (which made me feel more guilty). Etc.

You take a step back and see the picture and it becomes ridiculous because: 1. life continues outside you oblivious to this inner storm. and 2. you´re doing this to yourself, so you alone can make it stop. 3. It´s really a defense mechanism to stop you from reclaiming your balls and doing what needs to be done to actually break out of the rut.

It´s easier to remain in the comfortable discomfort and pain of “stuck” than to get off your ass and try something different, actually change your patterns of behavior. We´d rather do anything else than face the resistance.

Hell, Hitler was a painter, yet you don´t see any of his paintings around, do you? He never cultivated this. They say it was easier for him to start WWII than to face a blank canvas.

Shit.

Yet that´s exactly where you need to apply the pressure. Focus all your strength on that one point. It´s the leverage point to change your system.

It´s said there´s a reason for everything. There´s definitely a lesson to be learned here for me. The nice-sounding one is: if I expect to help anyone maneuver through their own issues I gotta have experienced it myself in some way. But the other reason for this repeating pattern is the obvious and harsh one: I haven´t had the balls to change it.

In my case, it´s about showing my work. It´s being a perfectionist. Obsessing and over-optimizing and overthinking. I´m afraid my work will never be good enough.

So here I am taking a little step towards that. Facing the resistance with you. For me today, it´s publishing this. It´s facing the fear of clicking publish and sharing something that isn´t perfect, but is enough.

There is a story about a renaissance painter who, obsessed with making the greatest painting in the ceiling of a chapel, never left it until it was finished. He was so close to it he lost perspective. He didn´t, couldn´t see that he was so close to it the proportions were all wrong. He focused on the wrong things. He hurt his own work with his obsession and his fear.

The end result was a deformed monstrosity. We´re at risk of doing the same thing to ourselves and our projects if we lose sight of the bigger picture, lose our grip on reality and don´t do our job.

So, today, show up and do your job right where it hurts. Right where you feel most scared and the pain is sharpest. Don´t make it about yourself. Stab at it with fearless, dispassionate determination. Maybe today you will push through all the way to the other side. And for a brief moment you will be in sublime joy. You will have done it.

And tomorrow, you will do it again.