Step 3

My interpretation of step 3 is “Turn to a power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity”. In this context, the power I refer to is the sum of the forces behind the veil of what I am worried about. Sanity means balance. Together this means looking- objectively- at the reality of my worries and use this to bring my mind into balance. I only realised this in so many words, today. Today was a non-starter because I started by going to bed at 3:30am. I skipped the gym and I got up late and achieved nothing. I tried to set up two new SSD drives I bought, but failed at that too. I tried to eat dinner, but in my anxiousness I ate too quickly, threw it all back up and threw the rest of it away in anger. But then I had a moment of understanding, on the bus, just like all great ideas. I realised that the things worrying me today are as follows:

  1. I am not on pace to finish my PhD as quickly as I hoped.
  2. I can’t fucking clone this shitting harddrive.
  3. I wasted another day.

How true are these? With number 1 I am holding myself to impossible standards again. In the last few weeks I have done much better work than in the weeks before then. I am moving forward, this is a truth. With number 2, I don’t have to install the drives today. My life won’t combust if I leave that for another day (though I did send a pretty scathing e-mail to tech support asking them to advise on why what should be simply, seems to be anything but). I didn’t waste a day, thinking a day is wasted implies there are non-wasted days, which opens the door to castigating oneself for not meeting our own expectations. How can I reframe this list?

  1. I am moving forward with my PhD.
  2. I attempted to install two SSD drives but have consulted advice instead.
  3. I made it through today.

This restoring of sanity can be explained mechanically as I have done, but really it seems to happen chemically and much quicker. At some point I was feeling bad feelings and thinking bad things, and then I countered a though and a switch flipped. I didn’t feel so bad, I felt open to reinterpreting my thoughts. This chemical switch flipped and I was restored to sanity. You have to keep trying to counter the thoughts, like I have been doing more and more. The capacity is within us, even if we are not able to find answers in others, just keep looking.

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