Don’t Force Yourself to do Things You Don’t Want

Sacrificing your happiness to please others is self-defeating

Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do is a losing proposition. It leads to resentment both for yourself and for any people you blame for your predicament.

I resent having to read your banal blog posts.

Exactly! Thank you for that great example. You’re forced to read my posts because I created you and didn’t give you a say in the matter.

In the future there will be laws against this sort of thing.

A lot of our unhappiness is due to us living in the past or the future as opposed to living in the present. But that’s a subject for a later discussion.

What does that picture have to do with the topic, anyway?

I don’t know, maybe the kid didn’t want to be forced to leave his home?

Anyway, sometimes we’ll agree to attend a social event out of a sense of obligation, or because we feel guilty for saying no. Other times the mere thought that we might receive such an invitation causes us to avoid people altogether. We don’t have to feel guilty about saying no if we never get invited in the first place. This kind of avoidance behavior can ultimately be self-defeating, as we can also start to feel guilty about avoiding people in general.

In these instances, we can relieve some of the stress involved by simply reminding ourselves that we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to.

I really don’t want to have to read any more of this post.

Why Things Always Get Better

As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Listen, John, quotes are great, but I’m up to my neck in pure shit and I don’t know what to do.

Understood. What you should do is largely dependent on the nature of said shit you find yourself buried in. I discuss techniques for dealing with various kinds of shit in other posts. The point to remember here is that nothing is permanent. No feeling, good or bad, lasts forever.

It’s actually physically impossible for your body to maintain the same emotional state indefinitely. The way you feel is a combination of several factors, many of which involve a delicate balance of body chemistry. What ends up happening is that your body exhausts its ability to produce the specific hormones and other chemicals necessary to experience a specific emotion, and as such your emotional state eventually changes.

How long do I have to wait?

That depends. The initial surge of chemicals that result in you feeling uncomfortable only lasts 90-120 seconds. If it doesn’t pass after that, it means you are continuing to feed your body’s response with negative thoughts. Change the way you think, and you change the way your body reacts.

I have problems with change in general. It scares me.

Change is a fundamental attribute of the universe. Since the beginning of time, matter has been transforming from one state to the next. We often fight against this by building structures or monuments that feel permanent to us, but that permanence is an illusion. What appears solid is actually composed of subatomic particles that are constantly in motion and that continuously exchange energy with the surrounding environment.

Studies have also shown that we are notoriously bad understanding and preparing for the future. Back in our caveman days, we were only concerned with the present moment. Planning for the future doesn’t matter so much when you’re staring down a tiger and just trying to survive to the next day. We’re hardwired by evolutionary forces to want to dwell in our current circumstances.

It takes conscious effort to overcome these tendencies, but over time these efforts will become habit! The next time you feel like crap, try to remember all the previous times you felt bad and how those feelings never lasted. Happy times await.

If everything sucks and you feel like crap, know that this feeling isn’t permanent.

Conversely, if everything is awesome, remember that you can’t sit around and hope that things will continue to be awesome all on their own. Situations come and go. Whatever is awesome today will be something different tomorrow. You must continually push yourself and seek new ways to bring awesomeness into your life.

How a Simple Mantra Can Change Your Life

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? How many opportunities have you allowed to pass you by because you were too afraid to act? If you find that you hold yourself back due to mild fears or discomfort, try using this statement as your rallying cry: Act without fear!

Come on, John, that’s kind of stupid. How am I supposed to just eliminate my fears?

Okay, so I wasn’t being totally honest with the way I represented that. This isn’t a magical cure-all to prevent you from feeling any fear. The point here is to not let your fear prevent you from taking action. Sometimes we don’t even realize that fear is holding us back. Instead, we convince ourselves that the reason we chose not to do something that might better our lives is because we were too tired or just didn’t feel like it. This creates an illusion that we’ve made a perfectly rational choice.

When this happens to me, I remind myself to act without fear. Often times this provides enough of a mental jolt to get me over the hump and take action.

Sounds like bullshit to me.

I challenge you to give it a try in your own life and see how much more you can accomplish, and much less you procrastinate.

Worried about giving a presentation at work? Act without fear.

Nervous about calling that special someone? Act without fear.

Nervous about asking that special someone to help insert suppositories into your rectum because you’re constipated? Act without fear. Also, gross.

Note: This isn’t designed to combat major panic attacks (though you’re free to try it). That will be the subject of a different article. But for all other fears you may face, keep this weapon in the back of your mind deploy it whenever you need help battling your own inaction.