I present the present of your present – the only time is now


Look at this moment.

In this moment you can act, whether that act is to think, to do or to wait.

This is the time when you can consider your past, not to feel guilt, shame or other justifications for self-abuse, but to learn from it. That is all that the past is really good for, to tell you what worked and what didn’t, to remind you of what you like and what you don’t. It is there to inform you about what you want your future to contain.

Consider your future. If you don’t like what you see, then perhaps you should consider making changes now that will affect that future.

Are you seeing your future clearly? Is this what you want? If what you want is based on someone else’s choice, then you aren’t seeing your future, you are trying to see theirs. If I see my future as the new husband of some person, then my future relies on them and how I see them. Often we don’t see people for who they really are. Instead consider, what is it that I like about that person (whether it is real or not doesn’t actually matter), and what kind of person do I want to be such that a person like that will want me. We have now removed the specific person and substituted it with the ideal type of person.

Do I like this hypothetical person? Is this who I want to be? If not, then perhaps I need to re-examine my perspective on this. If so, then what changes do I need to make now to head in that direction? What changes do I need to maintain to keep this person I am growing into stable and achievable? Make those choices, and then make those changes.

We can all make changes to our future by making changes in our present. What is hard is keeping those changes going and not sliding back into the habits of who we have been.

Anger, what is it good for?

Well, it turns out, quite a lot. It tells you when something is wrong, when there is an unidentified danger, or when there is a situation when you have decreased power. Often our actions are turned to the outside world in a reflexive action designed to reassert ourselves and give us temporary reprieve, or they are turned inwards, leading to self-harm physically or socially.

The best general response to anger is to not act. In the heat of the moment you cannot accurately act in a meaningful way because often you don’t really know what you are angry with, or when you do, your emotions cloud your response system and you overreact. So, step one, don’t act.

The next thing to do is calm down. Acknowledging how you feel is a good tactic for calming down. “I am angry”, “I’m pissed off”, “I am enraged”. There is nothing wrong with how you feel – the feeling is trying to tell you something. Acknowledge it, feel it, let it run its course. This could take a few minutes, a few days or even a week. If it takes longer than a week, perhaps you need to consider doing more calming actions.

Once it has moved, look back at the situation leading to your anger and look at the triggers. Were they direct or indirect triggers? That is, did your level of anger match the thing that triggered you, or was that trigger the bit of the iceberg that you can see, the last dribble of the avalanche of events that has collided with you and many more metaphors? If your response was far greater than the triggering event, look at what that event means to you and see if it is indicative of something deeper or elsewhere that you actually have to deal with. What I am briefly describing here is complex anger rather than simple anger, where the event was met by justifiable rage.

Now that you are calm and you know what has triggered your anger, it is time to work out what you can do about it. Often we can’t fix the entire problem, but we can put in strategies to manage repeats. Sometimes we can’t fix the problem at all. This can be very frustrating, but what we can do is manage ourselves until the situation can be fixed.

For example, I can quit work, leave a relationship and tell my best friend that what he did was wrong. These are actions I take to change the world around me. If I can’t quit work (such as financial problems), am guilted into staying in the relationship (she only has a few months left to live damn it) or I can’t tell my best friend what he did was wrong (since I’m not supposed to know and that is breaking someone else’s confidence) then the change that I must enact is internal rather than external until the situation changes and I can make an external change.

Anger only leads to the dark side when you do nothing about it. Anger itself is not bad, regardless of what society says about it. What is bad is the aggression that we often use on others or ourselves instead of calming down and solving the problem.

If you want changes in your life, you have to make changes in your life

I have often heard that there are three types of people in this world, those who can count, and those who can’t.
I believe that two categories is more appropriate, with several sub types.

The Blamers

Blamers concentrate on the problem rather than the solution. Generally the problem seems insurmountable and nothing much is done about it.

Self Blamers

Self Blamers feel that they are the sole contributor to the problem. They are usually accompanied by self pity, low self esteem and fail to act because they don’t feel that they are worthy. Often the amount of change that needs to be done to the self seems too much to actually achieve anything and so the individual fails to modify behaviours, perspectives and life style to address the issues that are holding the individual back.
A large proportion of the energy of the individual is pumped back into feeling incapable and unworthy rather than actually working on a solution. The individual is so problem focused that they cannot see solutions, even if they are looking. Self Blamers often run out of hope and just stop trying.
Self Blamers often excuse their lack of action on an inability to work out why they should change, or how they could change that they haven’t already tried and failed. Self Blamers will often given token efforts at change and stop before any significant result can be noticed.

External Blamers

External Blamers feel that they have nothing to do with the problem. That is someone(s) or something(s) else has created this problem and the problem would just go away if someone else would change and fix it.
People who have this mind set generally see the responsibility for change to be someone else’s. When they do see that they should make a change to fix the problem, they plan to change the whole world, which is too hard and destined to fail.
All of the power to solve what ever problems the individual faces, is in someone else’s hands. This forms the basis for a lack of action as solving the problem is too big, to complicated and not really their responsibility.

The Doers

Doers come in three main flavours. Doers are those who act to solve a problem because they see that unless they do something, then nothing will change.

Overachieving Doer

This individual takes on too many changes and cannot adequately support any single change, leading to a systemic failure as the house of cards falls down due to poor foundations and design. The Overachieving Doer is someone who makes up for quality with quantity, but without that quality will find that quantities of crap only creates a very large pile of crap.
The Overachieving Doer will often be heard to exclaim that with this much effort something is going to change. This may be true, but the odds are that when something does change, the Overachieving Doer won’t notice it in the large pile of crap they have created for themselves. The Overachieving Doer has no real game plan, they just keep trying to plug leaks in the damn wall and hope that it will all work out. The likelihood of disaster is high because the individual has not got an effective strategy for success and too few resources to share amongst all of the actions.

All-or-nothing Doer

As I couldn’t think up a snappy two word description, I have cheated by concatenating three words into one.
The All-0r-nothing Doer is an individual who will put all effort into changing one single aspect and assume that it will change everything. These individuals will use lines like “If I just get this one thing done, everything will be all right”. Unfortunately this is often a head in the sand solution. If problems were as easy as solving one thing, then they wouldn’t be problems. In effect, this is an attempt to regain control of the situation by controlling a part of the situation. It is an illusion, controlling part does not control the whole.
Going back to our bursting damn solution, it is like ensuring that you find the right piece of wood to put in the right spot at the right time to prevent the crumbling wall from falling down. Failure means disaster.
Balanced Doer

I was considering this step to be the “Thoughtful Doer”, but I think Balanced Doer is a better descriptor. This is a match between the All-or-nothing Doer and the Overachieving Doer. This individual will try a small range of plans to make the necessary change to solve this problem. By considering the problem first and working out goals to achieve to create the solution, this person uses energy in a balanced way to make headway in several different aspects to achieve a solution. Due to the limit of having only a few plans in place, this person can meter our the resources to make effective change.
Not all the plans will work, but because several are on the go at the same time, the average is success. This makes failure of a plan a learning curve rather than a disaster.

Having a few plans for making changes that are not important is just as foolish as all of the other strategies. To be effective requires understanding the problem, coming up with a plan and believing in ones self worth and ability to achieve.

Resources and artificial scarcity

Resources. It is all about resources. There are just so much before the raw resources run out.

I look at my life and I see myself attempting to manage my resources on many levels in many ways.

I consume resources, such as food, electricity, oxygen and so forth, transforming them entropically into other items, which hopefully become resources for other things.

Not all resources are simple matter transformation though, such as creativity, social connection, emotion, time and thought.

A certain amount of time and effort and time must be spent in the pursuit of the fictitious resource called money. Without it my access to vital resource is cut off or made exceedingly difficult. Thus this resource of time, energy and empathy is prioritised and allocated to the pursuit of cash, leaving me with diminished time, energy and empathy for the rest of the time in my day.

The less energy I have after parcelling out other resources, the less resources I have to be creative. Personally I wish that I could prioritise this resource, but I have responsibilities to my family – they need my time, energy and empathy too.
So I parcel more of my personal resources to them, leaving me with even less resources to put into creativity.

All of this also takes a toll on the resources that I spend on maintaining myself. If I spend too much of my resources on others and not enough on myself, I am harmed and eroded with the result of having less energy at the start of each day. This cycle leaves me vulnerable and requires a change of priorities. Sometimes I must let the family struggle on it’s own, or give off working a day.

It can seem like my existence is merely to serve the masters of money and the family. This spends emotional resources sapping the reserves for a positive perception of life.

The result of this is that I must manage my personal resources intelligently. This may mean expecting less of myself, or making more of the resources that I do have.
An easy one to examine is time. There is only twenty four hours in each day. A certain amount must be spent on travel, eating, sleeping, working, getting ready for the day and so on. By the time this minimum time has been spent, one can consider that there is very little time for the self. Oh the longing for an older time of nomadic wandering, where eighty percent of time was spent doing whatever one felt like.

Clearly time is immutable. Yet there are things one can do to shift the time around. Sleep is hard to change, as is eating. However one can change how one cooks to decrease time spent on that, and one can increase the quality of sleep to make the most of that. As I drive to and from work I will listen to podcasts, which parallels the use of that time. I could also find a workplace closer to home. I am always on the look out for a more efficient way to get ready for the day so that I can cram in more so that when I do spend time on me, it is more time and of higher quality. Even if that means that I just sit and do nothing or go and play in the park with my daughter.

The management of time, and by extension other resources, is really important. Often we forget to look at the efficiency of what we do and end up stuck with what we have always done. We loose ourselves in tradition and forget to prioritise what is truly important.

I still want to find a way to make money from being creative. It’s good to have goals.