Matt from 30Vanquish left this really good comment on "The Cognitive Costs to Doing Things" - I think he's mostly right on with how he's going with it, but I have a few additional thoughts. Okay, here's Matt -
“Neurosis/fear/etc – Almost all humans are naturally more risk averse than gain-inclined. This seems to have been selected for evolutionarily. We also tend to become afraid far in excess of what we should for certain kinds of activities – especially ones that risk social embarrassment.”
This really hit me. I never thought of it as neurosis but that’s what it really is. I think I’ve made it a life goal to want to minimize this feeling as much as possible. It’s such a huge challenge for me that it’s something that’s worthy to challenge and overcome everyday.
It’s a daily battle because neurosis (especially in the social realm) is like a rubber band. Every time you do something neurosis inducing, it stretches out a metaphorical rubber band out more. That symbolizes how “flexible” you are with this neurosis. It’s like momentum. When you continue to do it, you have more leeway with novel experiences. (It’s not as neurosis inducing after the 10th risky situation in the same day for example.)
However, the rubber band bends back the moment you stop having those neurosis experiences, so it’s a never-ending challenge.
Of course, people have metaphorical rubber bands that range in many sizes (their ability to resist neurosis naturally).
So in summary: if you’re someone with high sensitivity to neurosis like situations, then it’s just a matter of tons of exposure to expand the “rubber band”.
Overall, I like the analogy a lot. A few points that I think are worth thinking about, though:
1. I use the terminology "neurosis inducing" which I think is accurate-ish, but it's important to not necessarily make mountains out of molehills. That's just a fair warning about my own terminology there. Something to keep in mind.
2. "I think I’ve made it a life goal to want to minimize this feeling as much as possible." That's a very solid goal, though I come at a bit differently - I want as much of it as I can handle. That's what I wrote in "Give Me Strife and Suffering (but in manageable doses)," and it's still true.
3. The rubber band analogy is good, quite good. Where it fails, though, is that even minor differences in situation, mood, energy level, sleep level, can have drastic effects on your ability to persist, endure, etc. Also, there's lots of people that can be have a "very stretched out rubber band" in one domain (maybe, sales) but have a hard time in another (say, speaking up when unhappy in a relationship).
4. "However, the rubber band bends back the moment you stop having those neurosis experiences, so it’s a never-ending challenge." -> Sometimes that's true, but sometimes not! Some gains are permanent like riding a bike. For instance, traveling to a new place scared me when I first started doing it, whereas now I'm comfortable striking off to somewhere without any research or place to stay, and I know I'll just figure it out when I get on the ground. My travel-neurosis is basically zero, and spending lots of time in one place doesn't seem to increase it at all. So, some things you conquer are basically permanently conquered afterwards.
Overall, very good comment though and I agree with the gist of it.
Here's Matt's blog. He previously did a guest post here called "Letting Go of Your Ego Enables You to Live Without Limits."
Just had a smart conversation yesterday about this. It's been something I've been thinking on for a while.
There's a bit of a problem with long term habit change. If you're working on something that takes a while to achieve, you spend a lot of time falling short of your target and aware of it.
So, let's say you were currently drinking a lot of soda, and you want to quit.
You start replacing soda with other drinks, trying to order different things at restaurants, buy other things, turn friends and family down when they offer you a soda, get a bottled water instead of a coke at the movie theater with popcorn, etc, etc, etc.
Sometimes you go to a barbecue or a cheap lunch with pizza, and the only drink is soda. You try to just have nothing those times.
One of the most important life lessons I’ve ever learned is you can fit in, or you can stand out. You can’t do both. The moment you decide to start improving your life you’re going to start attracting haters.
A lot of people will get offended when they see you making positive changes in your life because it makes them look bad. These people will attempt to bring you down to their level in order to preserve their ego. They’ll tell you you’re being unrealistic and that you should just give up because you’ll never amount to anything.
Don’t worry about them though. It’s unintelligent to focus on what the haters are saying for two reasons.
Another problem with haters is people tend to focus on them too much. I see a lot of people attempting to do something not because they care or are passionate about it, but simply because they want to prove the haters wrong. What are the problems with that you ask?