Denial of Escape – Your Key to Productivity

by Dan on February 13, 2010

The road to success and enlightenment is not a continuous stream of progress.  We have bursts of momentum filled sprints, and sometimes it can feel like we’re at a plateau, or even a full stop.  Sometimes it can even feel like we’ve lost so much of the ground we’ve covered.

It’s times like this when it’s good to check in with yourself and see if something is in the way.  It could be as simple as a cluttered room, or a bad relationship.  Often it’s something deeper, or you’re simply just scattered.

When I’ve hit the bottom pit of apathy, I know it’s time to cut out my “escapes” for a period of time.  I talked about this in detail in the post Cutting the Crap from Your Life.  I described how six weeks without movies/tv, alcohol, instant messaging, or music was so powerful.

Today I’m going to talk specifically about the relationship between cutting out escapes and your personal productivity.

There’s some bizarre phenomenon in humans where we can feel extremely negative about something very fixable, for long periods of time, while doing nothing to fix it.

“I hate how dry my skin is.”

“I hate how dirty my apartment is.”

“I hate that my car stereo doesn’t work.”

The answer to all of these is pretty straightforward.  For the first problem, you buy moisturizer.  If that doesn’t work, you see a dietitian or simply google “foods that moisturize skin” (hint, usually omega-6’s and 3’s do the trick).  If that doesn’t work, you see a dermatologist.   For that matter, how many problems do you have right now you’ve never even entered into a search engine?

If your apartment is dirty, you vacuum it and take a few hours to clean up.  Maybe you hire a maid.

If your car stereo is broken, you buy a new one, or take it in to get fixed.

If these answers are so straightforward, why do we let uncomfortable situations like this go on for months or even years on end?

I think your escapes are where you go wrong.  What exactly are escapes?

I define them as whatever takes you away from your present life situation.  The movie takes you from your world to another.  The music in your car takes you away from the reality of you, by yourself, staring at the road in front of you while your tires burn against the pavement.  The instant messaging on Facebook takes you away from you sitting in your apartment by yourself.

This is not to say these are bad, or that they should be completely obliterated from your life, anymore than chocolate should.

The problem sets in when you begin to depend on the escapes to keep you from your anguish, where if you were alone in your thoughts, your misery would meet you face to face, with you not being ready.

If you don’t think this is an issue, take a look at if you’ve been profoundly unproductive in areas you have set specific goals for in the past.  If you’re not making progress in your desired areas of achievement, that’s another huge sign that escapes are dominating your life.

Now what happens if you take them away?

Your mind suddenly has far fewer options to escape your suppressed emotions.  Now your time to meditate, do Release Technique, or EFT has really opened up.

The funny thing that happens is that your mind still does not want to face the baggage that comes up.  So if you’re not meditating, but can’t watch TV, listen to music, or even goof off on the internet, then what’s left?

Suddenly cleaning your apartment doesn’t look so painful.  After all, it keeps you busy, taking you away from your thoughts.  However, there’s only so much cleaning you can do, before your apartment looks beautiful.  What’s next?

Somehow you don’t really need to talk yourself into going to the gym either.  In fact, you may even find yourself going twice a day, with the energy starting to bubble up inside you.

That home business you wanted to start?  The novel you were writing that never got past chapter 3?  Those all become automatically enticing as de facto escapes.

Oh you do get the meditation in, the releasing, and any other spiritual or self-development practice you wanted to do, but hand in hand comes the productivity in your external life.

Your mind needs occupation like your body needs calories.   If you feed your body excess junk food over what your body needs, then you will never lose body fat.  When you cut out the extra calories you were putting in, your body senses the deficit in what you were eating and turns to eating up what’s left around: your pot belly.

Similarly, when your mind feels the deficit in distractions available, it seeks to occupy itself with the default: projects you actually need completed in your life.  The mind will give you all the motivation you need to get rich, get healthy, and socially popular.  You find a huge spurt in momentum in everything you do, and it’s extremely powerful.

Now how do you go about doing this?  If you already have a spiritual practice available, such as meditation, EFT, or releasing, I’d say cut out all you possibly can and deal with the uprising negativity as it comes up.

If you don’t have a way of dealing with these problematic emotions, then take it a little slower, and cut out some big ones, preferably in the same central system.  Make sure you won’t be able to easily substitute one escape with another.  If you’re addicted to watching TV, cut out movies too so you’re not watching videos daily instead.  If you’re addicted to the videogame Counterstrike, cut out all non-essential websurfing, blog reading, and instant messaging, as well.  A computer with an internet connection is a Pandora’s Box of time wasting.

When cutting out escapes, treat the computer like McDonald’s.  Anything you would actually go there to eat probably isn’t good for you.  The acceptable stuff is what you had to eye the nutrition information poster to eat, such as a grilled chicken salad, because the only reason you’re there is because your stoner buddies refuse to eat anywhere else.  So if there’s a blog you rationalize as helpful to your job, be honest if that blog is the cheeseburger or the salad.

I suggest you read up on Steve Pavlina’s blog about his 30 Day Challenges too, because he goes into a lot of this stuff as well.

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