Overcoming passion's cyclical waning

I was responding to a comment Jorgeq made on yesterday’s post, Seven reasons why I stopped blogging just now, when this hit me.

Jorgeq said

“blogging changed from something I enjoyed doing to something I was supposed to be doing.”…I couldn’t have phrased it better myself. I stopped for an entire month and it certainly does feel like another job.

I responded

…it’s interesting; a week or so ago I realized that the passion for blogging had left me. I know that passions come and go in cycles, so I forgave myself and relaxed, knowing it would only be a matter of time before the passion came back. And wouldn’t you know it, a few days later I was writing like crazy.

I’m bringing this up because it’s an interesting look into how crazy we can make ourselves. See, this is the first time I’ve ever been able to relax in the face of difficulty. Up till now, I’ve tortured myself by holding myself up to an impossible standard.

In the past, I never would have been able to relax faced with a loss of interest in the very thing that I need to sustain my business. Instead I’d have panicked. What’s different about this time is that I’m starting to succeed at living in the present moment. Asking myself “what’s the problem at this moment“, I realized that there was none; work is busy, I’m madly in love with my wife, my family is happy and healthy, and I have the job of my dreams.

So I relaxed, and listened to what I know: all passions wax and wane. If I treated my lost passion with fear and hatred I would choke it. But if I just let it be, it would come back in it’s natural cycle.

It can be so difficult to listen to what you know. Our minds are so busy throwing chatter and worry at us that we can’t hear the softer voices of our selves. I’m sure that spending all day on the web doesn’t help, what with it’s infinite distractions and all.

I’ve been working towards being able to identify my minds’ chatter without reacting to it. “Oh look,” I’ll realize “those are anxious thoughts”, and I let them go on their merry way. And with that, the anxiety stops and fades away.

The ability to do this resides in each one of us, right at this very moment. The trick is to realize that all those negative, painful thoughts in your head are not you. You are the watcher of those thoughts. You are the space in which those thoughts happen. I’m not trying to sound all new-age on you. But if you take a moment to ponder it, I think you’ll come to that conclusion. Once you’re there, it’s a short skip and a jump to “the human mind, with its ego and prehistoric defenses, causes immeasurable pain”.

Well, maybe it’s more than a wee jump. Most of us have to go through hell to make it. You have to suffer enough to realize you don’t want to suffer before you’ll take action to make it stop. Once you’ve decided to do so, it’s remarkably easy to stop causing yourself pain. Live in the moment. Don’t fight what’s right in front of you. Accept it fully. Ask yourself the same question I did: “what’s the problem at this very moment”. Shake yourself up. Listen to what you know.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (it’s also available as an audiobook from audible).

So the trick to overcoming passion’s cyclical waning is to do nothing at all. To accept that passions come and go, and to relax about it. If you can do that, I can guarantee you’ll be back at it far sooner than if you keep making yourself feel shitty about it.

Seven reasons why I stopped blogging

I love to write. I love to connect with new people. I love the intellectual challenge of finding something to say, and expressing it in elegant, interesting ways. So it seems odd that I would have nearly abandoned the blogosphere. Yet I have.

Following my “97th monkey”:/about philosophy, I’m sharing this with you in the expectation that I’m not alone. See if any of this rings true for you.

Blogging became work

About a year ago, blogging changed from something I enjoyed doing to something I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know about you, but I resist doing what I’m “supposed” to do with a ferocity that I find difficult to explain. Combine this with the other points below, and you’ve got a recipe for one hell of a mental block.

Other interests

Three things have been pulling at my attention the past 3 months: learning to live more consciously, making art, and hanging with my kids.

I’m not going to go into the first item here – I’ll get into that a bit below. Suffice it to say that my personal time, time that I used to choose to spend blogging, has been filled with other pursuits.

Self-censoring

This is the biggest reason, and it relates to the point above. Much of my non-work time has been consumed with the process of becoming more aware of my conscious self. This is something I’ve written about previously. But the truth is that I’m not comfortable sharing this intensely personal experience in a work-related setting. And the fact is that I’ve been treating this site as an extension of my work life.

I’ve considered setting up a new site to discuss consciousness and whatnot, but the motivation hasn’t acheived the tipping point required to get me to move forward. (note: hmmm, perhaps a group blog?)

I haven’t yet made a concrete decision to stop the self-censoring here. I don’t really know why I’ve resisted writing about consciousness publicly – I suppose it’s because I’m concerned about being labeled a kook. Funny, when I say that out loud, I realize that a) I don’t care if people think I’m a kook, as long as they respond to my work, and b) I’m no more kooky than the rest of you!

Shame

This sounds stupid, even to me. But I had to stop putting myself in situations where people were asking me to do things for them. I was terrible at saying no, and as a result wound up disappointing people I care about. Stopping blogging was one way that I retreated from the online world.

Burnout

I love pasta. But feed me pasta every day, and I’ll be sick of it in short order. Same is true of the topics I’ve been covering. I work on blogs all day. I work with design and code all day. I just got sick and tired of thinking about it.

Lack of time

This could be renamed “poor time management skills”. I fell off the GTD wagon, and I fell hard. Chaos ensued. “Hi, my name is Peter, and I’m a poor time manager”. Thanks to the support of “kGTD”:http://www.kinkless.com and “others”:http://www.43folders.com, I’m back on the wagon.

It’s summertime.

I’ve got a great tan.

So how am I going to get back in to blogging? Easy. DMZ. Clean slate. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Call it what you will, I’m just going to stop being affected by the past and take responsibility for my actions in the present. In other words, I’m just doing it.

Talk to you again soon.