The New Year Cognitive Shift

This is going to be a scattered collection of thoughts.  You may or may not follow it, hopefully you do.

First, I hate New Year’s resolutions.  They seem like a good idea, but if they’re good enough to do on New Year’s Day then why aren’t they good enough to do at any other time?  Is it the tangible I made it 365 days challenge?  I digress.  My point is not to rail on the traditions of yesteryear – it is to move forward and my challenge to myself and everyone else.

Here’s my challenge (in 2 parts): Be something awesome.  Do something awesome.

This seems like a strange challenge.  What I mean is that you should be you, do the things you love to do.  Don’t worry about what other people think.  I wear bright yellow shoes – I don’t care what people think about them.  They make different colored shoes so we can wear what we want.  The reason I started wearing them in the first place was to get over my own insecurity so I could be more at ease doing stand-up comedy.  What better way to get people to look at you than to do it on purpose.  Now, I really like my shoes and own three pairs.  I picked out the shoes I wanted and thought were cool.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  I’m also the proud fan of the Calgary Flames – and I live in SW Missouri.  I am, quite possibly, the ONLY Flames fan in this area; I don’t care.

This goes for most things in my life.  I do them because I think they’re cool and not because other people think they are.  There is one part of my life that this is not the case – and that’s when I write.  I get bogged down by details that make no difference.  I can’t clear my head and get what I want on paper.  I have nagging thoughts telling me I’m not good enough; it’s not good enough; nothing is good enough.  Is this the perfectionist in me?  Is this a chemical imbalance that cannot be changed without medication?  Is this a cognitive shift that needs to occur to pull me into a place where I think the opposite?  I don’t know.  For 10 years I feel that I’ve been defined by my illnesses and that I’ve not defined them.  I have been diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive and overfocused), PTSD (the comedian in me wants to say “due to my first marriage” but it’s really Iraq), and major depression (2ndary to PTSD.)  I like to have a good time, but my wife says I often say things that are “downers.”  That’s at least something I can work with 🙂

I love writing and I always have.  If I can visualize the script I can write it.  The problem I have quite often is an inability to visualize the script.  This is not because I am unable to under normal settings, but because I let other things creep in that keep me from visualizing.  This can range from the mundane life details to feeling “down” and letting my FB status checks get in the way of writing or at least quiet time so I can visualize.

I decided about a month or more ago that I was going to fix that issue.  For me, an introvert and over thinker, that meant analyzing the issue from a ton of different angles and over analyzing it to the point that I was just about to stop when I read an article by Wil Wheaton (https://wilwheaton.net/2013/12/not-everyone-is-going-to-like-the-thing-you-made-and-thats-okay/) which started to flip me in a direction that I wanted to go with my life.  That direction sounds something like: “I’m happy with this, if you’re not that’s ok” – I may or may not have used more harsh language, but you get the idea.  I’m tired of feeling like my creativity is dictated by others negativity (or perceived negativity, or potential negativity.)  This can be debilitating at its worst.

A few weeks ago I went on a road trip for a client and read a book about introverts and extroverts that my wife said I should read.  I learned a TON about myself and why I do things the way I do.  I’m all about the why.  If I know why, then I can either make changes to fix the now or recognize when those things happen so I can change the direction.  What I learned is that I am not broken.  I do have an internal dialogue that continues repetitively through a problem (or in this case we’re talking about negative feedback) and I take it personally.  I shouldn’t take it personally, but I do.  A cognitive shift would be to reframe (there’s my NLP background coming up) the event so that I expect some negativity and negative feedback, not as criticism, but a different viewpoint.  That’s a difficult thing to do.  I think it’s a difficult thing to do, maybe for everyone, but especially for me.  As I’m doing something or presenting something I apologize for it.  “Here’s something awesome I did, but I know it’s not quite right here and here” the viewer may not EVER notice, but I do so it’s not perfect.  This is what I do with my creativity.  I don’t hear painters say “well I wanted another happy little tree here, but I ran out of color” – they just present it and there it is.

I want to make a change, so now what?  Well, we’re not quite done with the exploratory phase of this writing.

For many years I’ve struggled with my weight.  Struggled as in coming to accept it.  I don’t like being as heavy as I am and the last two years I’ve worked out more than I’ve ever worked out probably since graduating high school, with the exception of basic training and AIT.  If you’ve been reading this blog then you know I was running.  In 2012, I was working out regularly until stress from work intervened and I missed some workouts.  Then I started back up in July of 2013 and ran quite regularly until again work stress caught up to me and i was working 60 hour weeks and didn’t have (or make time) for working out.  Not because working out was rough, but because working out meant that was a stressor that I needed to handle like everything else in my life.  Something has to go and I’ll always choose the things that are “for me” and nothing that benefits anyone else.  In those 8 weeks of stress my eating changed from mostly vegetarian to pure crap.  I would eat anything and everything.  I went from no Coke to 6+ cans a day.  I also quit working out.  I went from 270-275 pounds up to my current (today) 295.  That’s a huge effing setback.  I don’t feel down about gaining the weight.  I was expecting some, not that much, but some.  I’m not depressed about the weight gain.  Back in Sept I had to quit running because my 270+ pound frame was crushing my left shin to the point that running daily was killing me with pain.  So I’ve not run since sometime around 11Sept13.  The strange part is that I’ve wanted to.  My entire life was spent HATING running and now I want to and I get injured when I do.

This article (http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person_p2/) resonated with me quite a bit. I watched the movie Saving Mr Banks (awesome film btw) and it dawned on me that Walt Disney had a drawing of a mouse he loved and that was it. he didn’t care if anyone else liked it; didn’t care about anything except that it was his and he wanted to share it. In today’s age I think there is so much focus given to “not offending xyz” that we forget that bitter people are always going to be offended.

Anyway, the line is on this second page toward the bottom “Also, courage. It’s incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.”

That rings very true for me. I worry that whatever it is I’m writing or filming will not be funny enough or good enough or look like crap on screen, etc. I don’t think about if I’ll be happy with it so much (other than I want it to be perfect;))

And then there’s this “Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that part? Yeah, whatever you try to build or create — be it a poem, or a new skill, or a new relationship — you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it.”

My life has started to change based on an article by Wil Wheaton that said something along these lines. Then another video, this time by Ashton Kutcher. And this article, and a few others out there that I didn’t keep track of.

So, to recap there are a few things that I want to discuss, if nothing else so you can understand that they are there and you are not alone.

1) my weight.  I want to be smaller – not just so I can fit into an airplane seat better, but also so I can touch my toes and chase my kids without dying.  They’re very active and I want to be a part of that not just the fat guy at the bike park staring at kids.  Again, I feel no shame in my size.  My wife does not make me feel like a loser.  I just want this.  If nothing else I want to do it so I can torture my wife forever.  If I die, I lose out on all that joy.

2) sitcom – this is more about creativity than a sitcom, but for me it starts with my sitcom dream.  I want to be creative and NOT be debilitated by recurring thoughts of worthlessness and how someone will poopoo my ideas and the script.

3) be awesome/do awesome – just be.  There are people who are going to hate on you for doing something, anything.  Your job is to do whatever it is you love the best you can and be/do awesome.  Don’t be drug down by people who think your idea of awesome is stupid.  My 8 year old wears basketball shorts and a buttondown shirt with green camo rubber boots and thinks it looks cool and doesn’t care what others think.  You can too.

At the end of this year I will be able to say that I ran a 5k, I lost 100 ish pounds, I’ll have run and biked and played with my kids, and I wrote and filmed a sitcom that makes me laugh.  That will be me doing awesome for the year.

What will you do this year that will be awesome?

update:
here’s another post that I found today: http://lifehacker.com/stop-caring-about-what-others-think-and-get-back-your-1493922746

update 2 (15Jan14):
Here are two more posts I found yesterday and a reply I posted about one of them:
https://medium.com/on-ownership/42ec08cd5105

https://wilwheaton.net/2014/01/and-i-am-nothing/
From a friend: Yup,I’m having troubles with depression right now. I want to eat junk food that will guarantee I become a diabetic, then beat myself up over the junk food. Then just sit in my chair mentally beat myself up while I zone out & not pay attention to what ever is on tv. And in turn that doing out I get nothing accomplished except for feeling bad that I got nothing accomplished. That’s how I’m feeling at the moment

My Reply:  Hey brother. that’s how it goes. Here’s what I do: I get up and have a plan for the day. I ony have three things I need/want to do other than work; 1 – work on my cherokee language book that I started for the kids — 2) workout for 30 minutes with Tony Effing Horton — 3) Work on my sitcom. That’s it. When I get to lunch time and think about working out I end up finding another reason not to (mainly stress about work – even though I know a workout will relieve that stress) — then at the end of the day I spend that time not focused on either the book or the sitcom. I know if I dropped FB for a bit I’d be much better off and if I just shut everything down I’d be much better. But I don’t. Right now, I’m doing a little work waiting for a reply AND futzing with FB. Tonight, I’ll be a little depressed b/c I should’ve worked out; I mean what’s 30 mins in my life, right? And I’ll feel better having gotten something outlined or shots setup for the sitcom or even got a few notes laid out for the book. I KNOW that… but I don’t know why I dont work on them – so I feel depressed and crappy that I didn’t “will” myself to doing something else. Once I get to the point I’m beating myself up then it’s easier to keep going: If I’d been working on this for 15 mins a nite I could’ve been done with it 20 years ago, but after 27 years I’m still writing my book…why the hell isn’t it done. Or I can’t finish a friggin script anymore it’s been 16 years since I started out and the script has changed a bunch, why is it that I don’t jump in and finish it. Sorry this is long, buddy — but I wrote about this very thing on the 3rd:http://elvisapocalypse.blogspot.com/…/the-new-year… I’ve also been beating myself up b/c I can’t build anything. I would need @Joshs help to understand why my foam building is crap Once I find out why I’m unable to get it the way I want it or once I can visualize it then it’s easier. Man this got long. I’m looking inside to find out what the reason is that I’m not moving forward but staying stagnant. This is the year I’ve dropped ALL other projects and I only have my projects to work with…so what am I doing holding me back? And I’m always here if you want to talk

https://wilwheaton.net/2012/09/depression-lies/
Dear Mr Wheaton, you are not alone.

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