A Cushion Called Excuse

stockvault-labrador-dog-lying-on-pillows130868I would like to start this post with a question to you, my dear reader.

And better think it through before you answer.

Which word is used as commonly as it is used out of context?

It is not “thank you” nor “I’m sorry”, though I get why you may think so 🙂

Nevertheless, the answer that I am going for is “I hope.”

“I hope I pass the exam”

“I hope we can resolve our issues”

“I hope she will see me in a different light”

Now, do you really mean that? Do you really believe in a positive outcome of the situation, as theoretically being hopeful for something indicates? ‘Cause I don’t. Whenever I say “I hope” it is followed by “but” and a whole litany of counterarguments. Like: “I hope I will get better with my writing, but it is hard to put your thoughts on paper, to present your ideas in a clear and comprehensive way, and to be able to remain interesting for your readers at all times.”

All of that is true; true but unnecessary. I should have stopped on the first part, leaving all buts aside. Why do I let constrain myself with fear and negativity? Why do I allow empty hope followed by excuses to undermine my life decisions? If I want to write better I will because I consciously chose to. As simple as that!

Of course I will have to work hard on it, because nothing comes easy in this life: every skill needs to be polished and taken care of, but the first big step has already been taken. I allowed hope, this warm comforting feeling that prevents us from resigning from our goals, to work its miracles: to motivate me, to make me feel good about myself.

Hope for better is not only a vague concept, you can actually physically feel it swarming through your body, energizing it as if to warm it up for future battle with obstacles. Hope is as tangible as fear which is a usual culprit to blame for a crime of negative thinking. Yes, a CRIME! A crime of striping yourself of every chance to succeed even before you start.

Feeling truly hopeful relaxes our body and contributes to our lower level of stress, whereas fear tenses our muscles as if we were being on a constant watch for a punch to hit us. Hence, we often tend to describe fear as a knot in a stomach. It happens because we expect the worst, and our body adapts mentally and physically for something unpleasant to happen, and what is more unpleasant than being punched in a stomach.

We tend to create many possible negative outcomes to every goal we strive to achieve. Why? Because it prevents us from feeling utterly devastated in case we fail. “I saw it coming anyway,” we usually conclude with a resigned nod.

This attitude unfortunately goes further. Even if we succeed, we are no longer able to be happy about it, but we diminish our achievement to protect ourselves from being hurt in the further future or not to look stupid before people we ranted during the whole process of achieving the goal.

We and many people around us use the same tactics to protect our fragile ego so prone to the opinion of others as much as to self-evaluation which very often is so much harsher than it should.

We surround ourselves with the whole bunch of cushions of “buts” for our fall to seem less hurtful. But those cushions as much as they absorb the shock of a potential failure, they do the same to success; they contaminate our true feeling of victory as well as they keep us negative throughout the whole journey that leads us to our chosen goal.

My mother once told me that a person does not fail; they just take a step back and begin one more time choosing other path which may happen to be even more exciting and eventful than we expected. Thinking in these terms makes us see the world totally differently; it allows us to see it as a never-ending adventure full of challenges rather than a gloomy jungle full of traps and horrific monsters ready to eat us alive.

So, here and now, I would like to make a statement.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby announce that from this day on I get rid of all my safety cushions of “buts”, “howevers” and “I- told-you-I-can’t-do-this”.

I pledge to live up to my goals enjoying not only the happy ending but also the journey leading to it.

And I invite you to do the same. Maybe you have already done so or you are thinking about it. I would really love to hear all about your experience with your cushions 🙂

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Homo Demotivatus

demotivated_2Lack of motivation affects almost all of us from time to time. We don’t feel like working, not even doing things that we like, and we look at happy people with the uncanny mixture of hatred, jealousy and unhealthy fascination. How do they do it? How can they achieve such a high level of ignorance towards the world’s general awfulness? Is it possible to tune out the reality and trick yourself into being unquestionably happy? Is ignorance new happiness? Many questions of similar intense self-pity go through our heads when we reach the infamous peak of demotivation.

I reached this peak not so long time ago. I questioned every step that I had taken in my life, and I evaluated everything in such a negative light that my boyfriend afraid of my intentions offered to stay home to talk this through.

So he stayed, we talked, I felt better.

It was not so long time after when I stumbled across a minor problem which resulted in an unstoppable fountain of tears and a series of sobs so loud that I almost caused my cat to suffer a fatal heart condition. The state of demotivation, protectively wrapped in my boyfriend’s sweet words of love and compassion, broke free to mock me and my so-called stability of mind. Why? I was doing so well! I recognized the importance of surrounding me love, I understood that I have to fight for every goal that I want to reach, and revised again the theory of success achieved only step-by-step with time. Dammit, I talked it through! I got better! So why does the feeling of being powerless haunt me again? Why do I feel so empty and deprived of energy?

I brooded long over cups of coffee so strong that after my musings I had to go for a walk to lose the shakiness of my limbs. I sat on a bench within the protective grasp of the ancient city walls of York, took my phone, and started jotting down all my fears.

Fears are not all so bad; they protect us from taking too hasty decisions, force us to think twice before we leap.

As it came out, my fears weren’t so terrifying after I gave them name and brought them into bright daylight. I came home, googled “types of demotivation,” and came across an article written by Cath Duncan who very wisely compared the state of demotivation to snow: many people see it as a general idea just like they perceive demotivation as broadly-speaking lack of willingness to live; but just like Eskimos who can observe different kinds of snow and name it accordingly, in the same way there exist different types of demotivation. Labeling your state of mind helps you to overcome it, as you are able to apply appropriate preventive steps or/and healing processes.

I learned a lot about myself that day. I discovered that most of my fears derive from the general unclearness of what I really want. Do I want to live in England or go back to Poland? Develop my career as a writer or go back to teaching? I operated within those ambiguities and inscribed them all in my long and short-term goals, instead of focusing on one of them, and developing only one of the possible choices. After my revealing aha! moment, I decided to focus on my present situation: I am an aspiring writer living in a beautiful city of York.

After defining my roles, I felt more self-assured, as if my body, floating in space of uncertainty gained weight and pulled me back on the path leading to a clear goal. I started to feel more real, more alive. Focusing solely on a chosen narrow goal made it far more achievable. I can almost see the end of the path – and it does not matter if I succeed or fail, because both outcomes are finite, and both of them enable me to move on to my next goal, to my next big dream.

In other words, I will continue to dream big, but I’ll resign from dreaming wide.

Will it work?