A Boring Post About Quitting Habits

Upon completing a negative goal, where rather than do something for a month, I do not do something for a month, I usually notice some things.

 

cravings
Replace those delicious pastries with manosphere and weight training blogs, and you’ll get the picture

 

There are the cravings.  Once the allotted time of the goal is over, I don’t overtly want to do the thing I stopped.  There’s a strong sense of control developed over the month, that keeps in line any physical need for the habit.  But beyond that lies a little, tiny voice.  It’s very insistent.  It tells me that there’s no need to go on with the goal.  The time’s over.  You can have some beer.  You can check your phone.  It’s ok.  It won’t hurt.

But it does hurt.  I remember as a teenager starting to smoke cigarettes.  They were awful.  They tasted disgusting, made me sick, but I continued anyway.  I would quit now and then, and I would have no physical cravings after several weeks.  But the mental voice would insist.  I would inevitably be disappointed with the result of trying it again.  It was never as good as I thought it would be.

 

teen-smoking
Duuuude… how fully sick are we

 

Beer is incredibly relaxing.  But it makes me stupid.  I like to relax.  I don’t like to be stupid.  On a hot Friday afternoon after work, I would rather be relaxed than tense, stupid be damned.  On a cool Friday night, however,  when I’m ready to write or work, I’m pissed and stupid and can’t do anything.  I don’t sleep so well, and the next day I’m still stoopid; my memory is noticeably worse, and lethargy is pronounced.

The brain is a trickster organ.  It told me that the beer I had on the first of December would be cold and delicious.  It also told me that the feeling it would give me would not be everything I wished for, that in fact it would be extremely ordinary, and after the first sip I would regret having one.

That’s precisely what happened.

 

Evil Brain Comics

 

But like any good man I pushed the voices in my head into a padded room and continued to drink.

The same thing happened with my iPhone.  I found a blog article and settled in to read it.  Five minutes later I had incredible tension in my eyes and forehead, and my temples felt crushed in a vice.

For the rest of the day I had trouble focussing on the world around me.  It travelled past me in a blur.  I looked at it, but I couldn’t see.  It was like looking at a slightly out of focus photograph, two dimensional and out of focus.

This has continued to happen every single time I read on my phone.  My distraction machine is no longer pleasurable to use.  But the habit is still there.  I still want to distract myself when I’m on the shitter.

I don’t like to do things that are bad for me.  When I really want to stop something, I set a goal for a set amount of time.  I’ve never set a lifetime goal.  I’ve never decided to quit something for ever.

So having never tried this before, here’s some ideas on how to do it:

 

  • Desire:  The desire to stop must be stronger than the desire to not.  Otherwise there’s no point.  Quitting something you enjoy without really wanting to quit will create immense amounts of pain.
  • Closing the door:  Once the decision is made, it must be like closing a door for ever.  You can’t see past a door that is closed.  You can’t wonder what it would be like to try that thing again.  It cannot be a part of your thought processes anymore.  It must be like forgetting a memory.
  • Systems: The Myth wrote a great article on lacking willpower.  The way to get around it is having systems to avoid what will encourage your lapsing.  Don’t visit bakeries if you need to give up sugar.  Don’t hang out with smokers if you want to quit.  Don’t carry a credit card if you have spending problems.

I don’t want to quit booze and iPhone browsing for life.  I just want to quit when it’s not necessary.  I want these things to be tools I can use rather than crutches I lean on.  But that’s where the difficulty lies. As St Augustine said: “Total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”

 

pokemon randomness
True dat, Augustine.

Hate = Promotions: How Audacity Pays Off

Two years ago I was righteously pissed.

The organization I worked for seemed to do everything in the worst way possible.  I had just developed my iPhone apps, looked around, and saw that the IT component of my work operated just like the washed-up body of a bloated whale; i.e. Completely Fucked With Shit Everywhere.

 

bloated whale

 

Now, I work a blue-collar job.  I tighten nuts and bolts for a living.  I love what I do; it’s very rewarding.  It’s reasonably technical, and a lot like a chess game; all the pieces have to be in the right place at the right time.

But, like a lot of blue-collars, I know that physical work carries a limited life-span.  Digging trenches and carrying loads into my fifties and sixties motivates me like an icepick in the eye.

I also know that there is a very hard ceiling on my wallet.  Two years ago I was five years into my job and three-quarters of the way to that ceiling.  Knowing that for the rest of my life I would be relying on the company agreeing to wage rises to guarantee an increase in my standard of living put a monumental dampener on any enjoyment I had in my work.

Every job I worked has been better than the one before.  That’s not by accident.  I think it should be the goal of intelligent young man to weigh his work up and improve his lot.

The questions I have asked myself are:

  • Money:  Does it pay more?  Does a higher annual rate mean you’ll be working more hours (not good), or that the hourly rate is higher (very good)?
  • Conditions: Do you work your ass off, or is it a laid back environment?  Are there contract conditions that make your job more enjoyable?
  • Experience: Is this job going to help you down the track?  Will you learn manual, leadership or technical skills that make you more awesome outside of your job?
  • Time:  How much time do you save each week at this job?

I dunno about you, but I want to spend as little time as possible working at my job.  I would rather be working on building an independent income, enjoying my hobbies, and playing with my kids.

Travel time to the job takes that time away.  Overtime work takes that time away.  Working weekends takes that time away, and you will never ever have it again.  Getting paid for overtime is only cool if you REALLY NEED the money, ie you can’t eat or have nowhere to sleep.

Most middle class bovines work overtime so they can spend it on their new couch.  That’s eight hours of your life GONE.  It’s gone working for someone else’s agenda and some overpriced tartan furniture.

 

"Diane, I will happily give up my weekends to give you furniture we can't sit on.  I wuv you too snugglebunny "
“I’ll happily give up my weekends to give you furniture we can’t sit on, Diane. I wuv you too snugglebunny “

 

All these things were on my mind.  But that’s not why I wrote that hate-filled email.

Back to being righteously pissed.

I hate inefficiency.  Even when making breakfast, I do it in the most efficient way possible.  I make the minimum of trips to the fridge, to the cupboard.  When someone moves my oatmeal, I start breaking shit.

 

 

So when I started working for this bloated corpse of a company, I felt a lot of internal turmoil.  Things were outdated, software was redundant, double-handling was rife.  Working there rubbed against many of the things I held dear.

I gathered my pissed-offedness and hate into a mental USB stick and downloaded it into an email.  Several rewrites later I had a frothing, laser-sharp review of the atrocious nature of our IT.  After staring at the screen blankly for a few moments, I took my future into my control.

I sent it to the GM.

Immediately I started sweating.  But I backed myself.  Come what may, I’d said my piece.  I was doing my bit to battle the burden of omniscience.

After a tense two weeks in which I wondered whether I still had my job, I received a reply.  The GM thanked me profusely and put me in touch with the manager of IT, who then ensured I had access to the people who could make a difference.

Two years later and that email is paying off with a move to IT.

I really wanted permission to send that email.  But I asked no one and told no one.  I was scared, but it payed off in spades.  During #NoNothingNovember as I reflect on not asking for permission, it strikes me as no coincidence that the most audacious act of my working life would occur now.

I have no degree.  I don’t need one.  If you’ve never been to university you’d be surprised how stupid 90% of the students are.  I’ve worked only sales and blue collar jobs.  Many of the men there are far more intelligent than any graduate.

If you are working a blue collar job, and you want something more, you can move on and up.  Do not believe them when they say you MUST have a degree or qualification.  If you are intelligent enough, if you show enough initiative, people will find YOU.

Buck the trend and get what you want.

The Golden Rule Of Achievement

I’ve failed.

I’m fucking hopeless.  Just hopeless.  Just like the losers out there who can’t stop masturbating.  The guys who have no self-control, who fold like cards, who justify their actions through meaningless arguments… I’m just like them.

Except I’m not.

My phone got the better of me.

Except it didn’t.

This is the difference between enhancing your life with goal-setting, and being a slave to your super-ego.

 

What is the super-ego?

 

He’s your internal cop.  He’s the one who says “you shouldn’t”.  He makes you feel terrible when you fail, and beats you up psychologically.

He makes you feel guilty.

The superego is our internal policeman. It decides right or wrong, do it or don’t do it, permitted or not permitted. It is the superego that produces feelings of shame and guilt. It is the superego that inhibits and prevents; it makes us obey the rules, both legal and social. The superego stops us.

Jack Willis, Reichian Therapy – The Technique, for Home Use.

 

Most men’s super-ego represents as their father.  Depending on your father’s attitude towards discipline, your super-ego may be chilled out, or, as in my case, a fucking asshole who rules every moment of your life with what you should be doing.

If he’s a bully, you can’t win.  If you won, you didn’t win well enough.  If you failed, there is no hope for you, you piece of shit.

 

My Internal Attitude to Goal Setting

 

I read the r/TheRedPill forum and was surprised at the amount of young guys having trouble getting what they want.  I shouldn’t have been.  No schools I know of teach the proper attitude to achievement.  It’s a skill that needs to be learnt, and it takes a while to learn it.

The media shows us plenty of great men doing great things, while riding in chariots of gold-plated greatness.  If you’re like me when I was in my twenties you think “I can do that!”

You try.

And try.

And try again.

And fail over and over and over.

And when you fail, you berate yourself.

Why can’t I finish what I started?  Why does it seem like everyone else is getting somewhere?  Why do I seem to get in my own way?  Why does it seem like I want to fail, when I do it so often?  Am I really a loser?  Am I just a Weak Willed Pussy?

This is your super-ego, and he needs to be shushed.

There is one, and only one, golden rule to achievement.

When you fail, never ever berate yourself.

This rule is so important I will repeat it:

When you fail, NEVER EVER berate yourself.

When you fail and beat yourself up, you are dealing yourself pain.  Beating up yourself is far worse and far more insidious than anyone else doing it to you.  Guilt starts to build within you.  You start to avoid setting goals.

Ever wondered why after you fail at a goal you take a while to start again?

Pain avoidance.

You’ve heard that negative self-talk can destroy you.  Well, there is only one time when it is supremely important that you talk positively to yourself.

After you fail.

 

failure michael jordan

 

Failure is inevitable.  You cannot try and not fail in your life.  The secret of winners is that they continue to try, over and over again.  But in their heads they are whispering “I don’t like that you failed, but it’s ok.  You discovered x, y and z about yourself.  There’s always next time.  There’s always next time.”

There is always next time.  You can try and try until you succeed.  The only one you are racing against is yourself.  You’ll never beat him.  But you can both lose if you don’t get your head right.

You have to think long term.  It doesn’t matter if you take 6 months, or a year, or five years to get what you want.  If you don’t get it the first time, it is obvious there is more for you to learn before you can achieve it.  You will learn so much in your journey, and will look back and marvel at how far you’ve come.

When you stop berating yourself, you can then deal with the other roadblocks in your way.  Fear of success, and fear of the unknown are common issues, but are only accessible after the super-ego has been quieted.

 

…..

 

I failed at #NoNothingNovember.

What did I do?  I checked email.

Why did I do that?  I was entirely aware of what I was doing, that I was failing at my goal.

What was the alternative?

That I wouldn’t get a very important delivery when I wanted it.

Goals shouldn’t get in the way of an enjoyable life.  There is certainly a place for discomfort in goal-setting, but in this case, my actions are completely justifiable to myself.

I feel no guilt.  I feel no shame.  I have not beat myself up in any way.  I’ve admitted my failure to myself, but I will continue to not use my iPhone in the way that I committed to.

#NoNothingNovember goes on, and I go with it.

 

Ritual De Lo Habitual, Or, I’m Reasonably Sure Jane Was Addicted To Her iPhone: #NoNothingNovember

Breaking habits is Zen in action.  I have to be aware every waking moment, for  my Autopilot works far better than I thought.  He’s basically a fully functioning human being without the capacity for reasonable thought.  He has no problem doing the things I have banned.  It’s slightly scary that he is in control 80% (or more) of my day to day existence..

 

Autopilot
And this is what he looks like. Pretty much a spitting image of me

 

My phone use is proving the most interesting at the moment.  Several habitual situations have reared up like superbly muscled stallions attacked by a bee swarm:

1. I can’t check email on my phone.  This was a deliberate decision, but I  found myself this morning tapping the icon before I’d thought about it.  Autopilot 1, Me 0.

 

2. I can’t check my blog dashboard.  This led me to an internal discussion about what is important about checking Google Analytics, which is the only reason I would visit my site on my phone.  I justified checking by saying that I needed to stay abreast of what was working to attract visitors and what was not.

I then countered with the argument that at this stage of the blog (less than 6 months old and less than 1000 page views a month) checking Analytics was nothing more than useless ego masturbation or crushing ego defeat, depending on what the numbers said.  Statistically, very little would affect blog progress, and there was nothing that couldn’t be handled at the beginning or end of each day.  I then congratulated myself for such a sensible and cleverly constructed argument, and toddled off for a well earned rest.  Me 1, Lawyers 0.

 

3. I like to read phone articles on the toilet.  So now I have to read old piss-stained editions of National Geographic. Did you know a teaspoon of nicotine contains 111 lethal doses?  Useless Trivia 54, Me 0.

 

4. I like to check my phone in bed in the mornings, on weekends and in the evenings sometimes.  Now I have to pay attention to my wife, who also joins me in bed it seems.  Because I don’t have a phone in my face I can put a vagina there instead. Me 4, My Wife 8.

 

5. More seriously, I often look for a moment’s reprieve from the loud, insistent, and occasionally cute onslaught of children.  This is one of the main reasons I have quit the phone for the month; I don’t want to be a role model with a phone in my face 50% of the time.  So many times I answer “Just checking something on my phone”, or “Just sending a message”, and my wife is much worse with constant FaceDouche updates.  My kids think it’s normal to have parents with phones for faces, and I don’t like that.

In addition, this momentary time I get on the phone is never good quality.  I get interrupted constantly, and am rarely able to finish what I am reading.  “What is the point?”  I asked myself in a moment of lucidity, after getting pillow-raped in the head by a five-year-old.

I decided then to actually be there with my kids.  So while I enjoy taking time out for a moment’s rest, in the long run I would rather be an awesome dad, and make the most of the time I have with my fast growing children.

Quality of Life 1, iPhone 0.

No Booze, Phones or Permission… #NoNothingNovember Here We Go

You may have seen that Kid Strangelove in conjunction with /r/TheRedPill are running #NoNothingNovember.  This is post-modern Lent, where we become ascetics with the things that are bringing us down and making us weak, in the hope that we will become strong.

I’m quitting alcohol (pretty boring), my smartphone (sort of interesting), and asking for permission (I have no idea where this will lead).

No Alcohol:  I’m starting this from the 3rd of November rather than the 1st.  I’ve a party to attend.  It may not the be the whole of November, but hey.  I’m no masochist.

Alcohol and I have a funny relationship.  I get terrible hangovers, which has mostly prevented me from drinking more than 6 beers at a time for years.  This is a good thing.

I don’t mind a beer to relax.  But when beer happen everyday, and starts to wear away the sharp edge of my awareness in the evenings… then there is a problem.

I’m the sort of guy who can keep to a goal like this once I’ve started.  ( I wasn’t always like this… but that’s for another time.)  It’s not the first time I’ve quit drinks for an extended period.  So I’m taking this opportunity to put booze back into the barrel for a month.

No Smartphone:  This is one I’ve been thinking of for a while, and wondering how I would go about it.  Well, I’m going cold turkey.

Why you ask?  My iPhone is ruining my head.

I’m an info junkie.  When I get interested in something I read everything I can on the subject until I get smashing headaches.  My phone is my research vehicle, and I will read blog after blog after blog until my brain literally feels full.  This happens every couple of weeks.

In between those times, my phone is my distraction machine.  If at any time I am slightly bored, the phone will come out.  Even if there is nothing for me to read, I will search around on the web until I find something, anything.  You know and I know, there is a ridiculous, tottering refuse pile of shit on the net.  I usually cannot remember what I’ve just read the moment I close Safari.  And I don’t even use Facebook, Reddit, or any other forum style time-wasters.

Not only does my brain literally hurt, but my eyes are paying the price.

I have always had excellent vision, both long range and short.  Due to iPhone use my eyes feel incredibly tight.  It feels like I look, but I don’t see.  I sweep my gaze around a view, but I don’t take anything in. I’m sure this is due to the tiny eye movements one does when reading the small screens of phones over several years.  I don’t know how common this is, so I’m interested to see if anyone else out there has the same problem.

So what are the rules?  The only things I can use on my phone are text messaging, phone calls, Apple/Google Maps and photos.

No Permission:  I read this article about audacity over at Danger and Play and it’s been bugging me ever since.  Whenever I’ve been audacious in life it’s paid off.  Usually it’s been a function of anger and frustration, where I finally say what I’ve been bottling up, and the results are usually excellent.

Audaciousness is a function of permission.  When I ask for no-one’s permisson but my own, I become a white hot pillar of unstoppable flame.  Metaphorically of course, cos otherwise I’d be dead, stupid.

I really don’t know how this one will turn out.  Character change is a very long term project (i.e. 5-10 years minimum), and this particular aspect is bound to cause significant anxiety over a period of a month.  There are important relationships in my life (my wife, my work colleagues) that this will greatly affect.  Nevertheless, paying attention in this way will show me how much permission I’m asking for in my life, and how much it will pay off by refusing to ask for it.

I have no measuring stick for this one.  I will simply be paying attention to when this behaviour crops up, and monitoring my anxiety levels when I go against my regular character-based actions.

 

Thanks again to Kid Strangelove for instigating this little bit of awesome in my life, and also TheRedPill Reddit group for supporting it.  Nice one guys!