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NO SHAME

A friend of mine set some goals for last week, and failed. His goals were realistic and possible, but he did not do them. He sent me an introspective email analyzing why. We had a good discussion on it, here's an excerpt of what I wrote him -

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I understand. This really sucks. By the way, I still do this, myself. I still catch myself making the occasional fundamental mistake. The good thing is, no single mistake kills you (well, usually). Usually you can recover. Don't flip out when you a mistake, damage-control it and move on. How old are you - 28? You've got 10-15 years of mediocre societal programming, you don't get that out of yourself in seven days. 30 days, 60 days, you can take a huge chunk out of it. A year or two, absolutely you can almost completely re-wire yourself. But remember how you were saying, "Dude, I can do this so much faster than your timeline!" Well, I've been there. Shit like this happens. You're fighting some of your deepest, instinctual defense mechanisms to keep you alive. You've also got your toolbox of good instinctual mechanisms limited by society, so you're needing to create new tools. Basically, you've got all the disadvantages a caveman had (fear, nervousness, pressure), but you lose a lot of the advantages (unbridled, raw power, no rules, etc). You've got to make new tools - calmness, focus, intent. It takes a while. There's no shame in that - let me say this -

THERE'S NO SHAME IN THIS, IT'S NO REFLECTION OF YOU - WE'RE ALL BUILT WEAK, YOU'RE ONE OF THE FEW WHO ACKNOWLEDGES IT AND TRIES TO BECOME STRONG.

We're all built weak, man. Most people hide from it, deny it. That way they don't have to feel it. But you're diving right in, into your weakness, into your errors, into your unrefined patterns, into your fears... so you feel it. But don't mistake these things - these things are the weakness that everyone feels, there is NO SHAME in feeling it. It's part of being human. You need to feel it to conquer it. This is what I was writing in "Give me strife and suffering" -

Step 2: Facing Fear

On The Groke's Zen Habits

About a year ago, I began to notice things. Waking up from a very vivid dream, I would wonder at the difference between dreams and reality. I started to see that the world I lived in in my mind was quite subjective. I began to pay attention to my bad habits instead of purposely overlooking or justifying them. I began to desire deep change.

I am writing this now because I want to challenge myself to be more awake and more alive. I wish to stop wasting my precious time on this planet and learn to embrace myself with compassion and strength.

I struggle with procrastination. I waste time because I am afraid - of failure, of not getting what I want, of criticism, and of simply being uncomfortable. I procrastinate because I am terrified of discomfort.

Recently, this root of fear is easily exposed - at the subconscious drop of a hat, my stomach is in knots, my heart is racing, my hands tremble. It's very physical. In those moments, I may have no conscious idea why I feel these physical symptoms, but I feel that something below the surface is crying out to me, "I'm afraid! Let's run - let's go hide in a safe place." I notice that I could be sitting at my workstation and attempting a simple task, and suddenly like this I begin to feel very nervous and ill.

I want to learn to say to myself, "you are safe. Nothing can truly harm you. Take the sweet and the bitter in equal measure and with gratitude. Don't avert your eyes - look carefully at this fear, name it, befriend it. Embrace it tenderly. Take care of it. It doesn't know any better."

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