So, I know we’re only 18 days into this 90-day experiment, but I felt like it was time to hit the “reset” button on the entire thing.
No, I’m not starting over, but I felt like I was getting off track a bit. So, for my sake, and yours, I’ve decided to revisit the intention of the experiment while addressing relevant questions and concerns.
Here’s what’s up:
What Happened to You?
In a word, burnout.
I was in denial of this fact because I worked very hard this past year to avoid burnout.
But as they say, whatever you resist persists. Avoiding is a form of resistance.
The goal should have been to be healthy and to be healthier. There’s no resistance there.
I can’t deny that the leadership program, along with a punishing work schedule, has taken its toll on me physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically this past year.
Has it been worth it? Yes. Because I feel I have uncovered what has been at the root of agoraphobia and anxiety all this time. I realized the other day anxiety came knocking at my door because there was something much deeper waiting to be dug up – childhood trauma.
That’s the good news. The bad news is I did not know that digging up the trauma would mean opening Pandora’s Box. I’ve experienced headaches, physical and emotional exhaustion, depression and anxiety, and many shades of grey in between.
But at this point, I am closer to the end of the tunnel than the beginning. Most days I still feel like being a hermit, but I’ve been around people a lot as of late, and it has mostly lifted my spirits.
What is This Experiment About?
It’s about recognizing that everything we read, listen to, or watch has an impact on our lives. Therefore, choosing our inputs is critical.
The experiment is also about love. In this burnout, I have come to a point of surrender I don’t think I ever have before. Achievements no longer matter to me. Attaining wealth and material things matters less and less.
What matters is love. Loving myself, my past, others, and the Universe or God.
As I focus on love, the discoveries, opportunities, and blessings keep coming, seemingly without effort. But I am not seeking those things.
I am also not “doing” the experiment perfectly, but I keep having new cognitions. So, it has been worth the time and effort, and I’m going to keep it going.
I suppose the experiment is not about doing at all, though, and rather about being. In that sense, I am doing it exactly as designed.
What Are You Working on?
So, you might assume that I’m not working on anything right now, or that I’m avoiding work completely.
Trust me, that is tempting…
But it has been my experience that ironically, you need “burnout projects” to get yourself out of burnout.
So, here are the key things that are keeping my mind occupied:
Clean Slate: The event has yet to be announced in an official capacity, but we’ve laid much of the groundwork, and we are currently tracking down a viable venue for the New Year live music and multi-media event.
A new composition: I have been working on this since September. It has been taking a while because of burnout, as well as the fact that it’s one of the more sophisticated pieces of music I’ve worked on in a while.
Comedy writing: I can’t say too much right now, but I am preparing some comedic video content for Clean Slate.
A joint venture: I have a new product in the works in the domain of skincare / aromatherapy.
I am very gratified that my various creative passions are finding expression.
Why Are You Not Getting Back to Me? You Hatin’ on Me, Bro?
I’ve had very little willpower / emotional resilience, making the whole “depression and anxiety” piece hard to predict and manage. At times, one little disturbing thought could send me down a spiral that would force me to meditate to reset.
I know it may seem like I’m okay and I’m still doing stuff, but I think my work quality and output have suffered some because of this entire ordeal.
I’m still trying to put my best foot forward, though, and I apologize to anyone who has been impacted. My priority now is to get the rest I need to get back to my former self.
I’m not trying to ignore your email, but in the world of priorities, unfortunately, I can’t place it any higher right now.
Besides the above-mentioned projects, I am mostly going with the flow. I have learned a very important lesson about being and not just doing, and as counterintuitive as it feels sometimes, I plan to lean into that.
Doing too much can impact my health and well-being. Being has helped me connect with more people, uncover new opportunities, find opportunities to unplug and enjoy life, and importantly, spend less time at the computer (which is why it feels counterintuitive).
I feel closer to God, or Spirit, or Universe, or whatever is out there. It has been responding to me, and miracles have amazingly become commonplace. I plan to follow the leadings and the promptings of the divine that has seen to it that I find my equilibrium again.
As the days pass, I’ve started to wonder whether I’m even doing this experiment “right.” I’ve asked myself whether I’ve already lost sight of the original intention.
Yet, I am still discovering new things on a near-daily basis. This leads me to believe that the experiment is somehow playing out exactly as it’s supposed to.
Here are a couple of things that have stuck out to me today:
I’m realizing that with this experiment I’ve set myself up to allow for virtually no mental escapes, at a time in my life when all I want to do is escape how I’m feeling. My default way to handle this, based on what I’ve been discovering about myself, would be to drown the pain in pleasure – food, movies, games, and other addictions.
But because I’ve been healing my eye floaters, and because I’m committed to the experiment, I’ve been staying away from several forms of addictions.
As difficult as it has been at times (and I have not done it perfectly), the things I’ve been discovering about myself have been worth the trouble.
As I reduce mental escapes, I’m seeing that:
I don’t need the distractions anywhere near as much as I thought I did.
The distractions were masking fleeting anxious feelings.
The anxiety-distraction insanity cycle is addictive, and it can play out without you even noticing.
I can fill the time lost to distractions with more productive things.
I’m attracted to more women (which is something I’ve heard from people who’ve given up porn, even if temporarily).
Doing Vs. Being
I can see clearly now that my default mode has been “do, do, do” especially in the last 15 years or so. I wasn’t expecting to hit a figurative brick wall at this time, but that’s where life had led me. And now I get to be with the trauma that’s been waiting to be processed for a couple of decades. In all the work I had taken on, that’s what I was running from.
I can’t get back to my default mode now, even if I tried. I’m far too tired and sensitive. And I’m sure one of the reasons I’m tired is because processing past trauma is taxing in its own way.
But during this time, I’ve been discovering what it means to “be.” I never expected “being” to be so effective. People, events, and circumstances seem to line up without effort. Opportunities arise. Projects move. Resources and tools present themselves.
I’m sure this is something the Universe has been wanting me to see for a while, but it had to create the circumstances necessary for me to stop and notice what it’s like to simply be. And now that I’m here, even though I’ve gone through some dark moments, I’m not sure I would have it any other way.
In my 30s, I had a hard time believing that the Universe or God loved me in any capacity. So, I kept my nose to the grindstone. “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” was my mantra. Keeping busy drowned everything else out.
And now I can see that it isn’t all supposed to be hard. It’s just that we often end up choosing paths that aren’t in alignment with our greatest expansion.
It’s been said that planning is essential, but plans are useless.
I set out on this experiment with a plan, even if it was a bit mercurial. And now I’m finding reason to course correct, even if only slightly.
But we’ll get to that. Here’s what there is to share regarding the experiment for today:
I’m nearing the end of my intensive two-year leadership program. Last night, we had a classroom (one of the last I’ll be participating in), and I broke down while sharing that I finally understood what I’ve been feeling lately – it’s depression.
It put a lot of things into perspective for me – the fact that I wake up tired, don’t have as much energy, don’t want to go out, sometimes can’t sleep, obsess about nothing, and so on.
This confession, however, was like a load off my back. Because I didn’t feel like I needed to judge myself anymore for the way I’ve been feeling. Sharing with others also created an opening that wasn’t previously there.
There is an opening for meaningful actions as well.
I was invited out for drinks last night. I almost didn’t go.
As I shared yesterday, I’ve been tending towards isolation. Even though staying home hasn’t exactly made me happy, it has felt like the lesser of two evils. The alternative is going out and risking overwhelm and overstimulation. Plus, I didn’t sleep well the night before.
But I decided to go. I was almost instantly blown away by the amount of support and gratitude I felt for having a friend who didn’t just care but was willing to listen and contribute to me.
Talking with him and partaking in some late-night snacks and beer took my mind off the day I’d just had. And I returned home feeling closer to normal than I have in weeks.
I am very glad I went, and I’m also happy to know I might be ready to start getting out a little more too.
Before leaving the restaurant, my friend sent me off with some tapping sequences. When I say “tapping,” I mean Thought Field Therapy (TFT).
He shared with me how anxiety used to be his kryptonite, and how he would pull over by the side of the road to tap, no matter where he was.
At first, he spent a lot of time administering TFT to himself. But eventually, it blew out the anxiety completely, to where he taps maybe once per month or not at all.
I’ve known about the benefits of tapping for a long time and have even used it now and again. But I was not aware of any sequences, and I didn’t know the technique could be used for physical conditions too.
I’ve been trying a few sequences today and have been persistent in trying them.
I watched this video today…
And my thinking was challenged on one point.
Part of this experiment has been intentionally choosing inputs that are inspiring, uplifting, and informative.
But in the video, Teal Swan says whatever makes you smile and laugh increases your vibration. I recognized instantly this has been missing from my content diet so far, and I may need to rethink what inspiring, uplifting, and informative means.
I’m beginning to think that “clean” comedies might be okay. I’d still want to stay away from the late-night variety though.
It would be very healthy for me to laugh, especially in my condition.
On a separate note, after I came home from drinks last night, out of habit, I turned on an audio program while playing a game on my smartphone. And then I started to ask myself – I’m listening to something that can benefit me, but am I breaking the rule by playing a game on my phone at the same time?
For the time being, I’ve concluded that yes, smartphone games are “fluffy entertainment.” But this is a point deserving of more thought as well.
I have not had any major stumbles on this journey so far. But I am realizing that even if I do mess up, I should be kind to myself. The core of this experiment is love, so anything less would be perpetuating a separate insanity cycle.
I marvel at the changes this experiment has already brought about in my life. It hasn’t all been easy, but I think much of it has been healthy.
Today, I’ve organized my thoughts under a few headings, so sit back, relax, have a water kefir, and read on.
The Error of My Ways
In the last two days, I’ve made massive progress with editing one of my forthcoming books (a travelog).
There are a couple of things that became glaringly obvious as I’ve been looking back on my journeys and misadventures from 2022:
I was not eating healthy. Somehow, I was deluded into thinking I was because I was enjoying what I was eating. But I was eating out a lot. Circumstances dictated it. I was frequently traveling and moving about, I wasn’t always staying at places where I could freely cook meals, and sometimes I was simply too preoccupied to make meals.
I complained of tiredness and exhaustion numerous times. The impact of bad habits was showing, and I was not noticing!
I have been getting into much better habits this year, opting to get back into working out as early as February. But my eating habits didn’t really change until about September when I finally decided to bring my Instant Pot and Ninja blender with me everywhere I go.
I’ve also got a tote box I refer to as my “Airbnb survival kit,” and it includes teas, powders (protein, collagen, barley grass juice, etc.), teas, some dry foods, supplements, and a few kitchen utensils.
In that sense, I haven’t had a healthy eating streak for more than two months! No wonder I’m in the condition I’m in (though, as I’ve noted before, I’m not deathly ill or anything).
Sometimes, we need to make more thorough examinations of ourselves to get to the root of the issue.
The time that I’ve gained back from reducing fluffy input is either going into my own projects or supporting the people around me. I find myself saying “yes” far more often than I usually do, but since this experiment is about loving myself, others, and the Universe more, it seems in alignment with stated goals, even if stopping to support others interrupts the flow of my day.
Loving others is loving myself, given that we are all ultimately connected.
I am already feeling a sense of withdrawal from my “no porn” policy. Not because I was such a frequent user. Rather I’m becoming more aware of how much media is out there designed to draw my eyes – an album cover, a music video, or even a YouTube thumbnail. If you’ll recall, my definition of porn for the intents and purposes of this experiment is “anything that turns you on.”
It sounds crazy, but until you start abstaining, you don’t notice how much you are being bombarded by titillation and how it feels to disconnect from the constant escape of sexual fantasy.
I figured this would be par for the course, however, and I know that the sense of withdrawal I feel could continue for a while.
What if your best ideas, best plans, best strategies, best efforts didn’t pan out?
What then? Would you give up?
What if you knew it was time to get your act together? What if you knew you didn’t have much time left? What if you knew it was now or never?
What changes would you make? How would you adjust?
Would you move to a different city? Make new friends? Start a business? Try a new workout routine? Embrace minimalism?
If you knew that you would simply be trying old things in a new way, would you feel discouraged about the fact that breakthroughs may not be forthcoming? Or, contrary to all evidence, would you continue to believe in breakthrough results?
It’s a big decision. Would you think long and hard on it before getting into action? Or, sensing the limitations of time, would you spring into action, doing something daily to create the life you’ve always wanted to create with the time you have left? Even if you have no idea whether those actions are going to lead anywhere?
Perhaps there’s a different option.
Maybe you could live your life in three-, six-, or 12-month capsules. Give something your full attention for a while, before moving on and trying something else. After all, what’s a quarter, half a year, or another 365 days in the grand scheme of things? Maybe you could indulge the multi-passionate within you. It could be a fun life.
Perhaps we could let go of the significance and drama of the situation altogether. Maybe we could adopt a laidback, easy-going attitude instead.
What if you created life as an experiment? What if you let your curiosity drive you? What if you held onto that curiosity for the rest of your life?
There are many ways of approaching the situation. The only thing needed to find solutions is to see the problem from different angles.
What’s even more fascinating, though, is that the “situation” itself is a creation. It’s not real. It doesn’t exist. We know this because the situation doesn’t have an opinion on the matter – only you do. Since you’re the only one with an opinion on the matter, it’s all context, and contexts are created.
What context do you want to create? This is the ultimate question.