My Escape from the Culture of Fear

I am about share with you a powerful discovery I made about myself. I write about it with the desire that this self-discovery will be as valuable to you as it was to me.

I think there is something strange about the way I learn. I just began to figure this out in the last three years. I learn subjects in detail through long focused obsessive immersion. I find something captivating, and I immerse myself in it obsessively until I either burnout or reach a level of knowledge and ability that satisfies my desire. And I get angry or depressed when I am forced out of this hyper focused state.

They use the term hyperfocused in ADHD circles. I’m not saying I am ADHD – I don’t know, and I don’t really believe it’s a “disorder” anyway. – See footnote

My learning style doesn’t allow me to learn something I am uninterested in. I know, I know, I’ve heard it before, “don’t give me that crap you narcissistic ass. Just put the pencil on the paper, do the work like everyone else, and quit thinking you are so effing special.” But for me this is real – I can’t just snap out of it – I would have if I could have.

After failing at school (and other things) during my ninth grade year, my parents sent me to the mountains to bust my butt on a trail crew. They meant to teach me the meaning of hard work, so I would understand that school was a better choice.

They meant well, and their plan worked. I was dead set to make it in school. This time was going to be different. I was going to focus on the work and do it whether I liked it or not. I was determined. The work wasn’t difficult. It was easy and I knew it.

My determination lasted less than six weeks. I barely passed the first quarter.

I’ve discussed this at length with my wife and she had similar experiences. She’d promise herself she would pay attention to her studies and succeed. 30 minutes later, she’d fall asleep in class.

My brain turns off when I am not self-directed. It‘s that simple.

I could read entire sections of the dictionary, the world almanac, or The Longest Day, but if you told me to read something and the idea wasn’t mine, it was over.

I told this story to a co-worker who has a nephew flunking out of ninth grade. She asked me, “how do you get anything done in corporate America if you have to be interested to learn?”

I put that puzzle together this week.

Most of my adult life I have been a negative thinker. In meetings if someone asked, “what’s the worst case scenario”, everyone would look at me. My boss frequently said, “I didn’t ask you what could possibly go wrong. I asked what is likely to go wrong.”

My negativity helped me succeed, because seeing hidden problems and vulnerabilities that others overlooked is a precious IT skill.

In 2004, I was tasked with leading the technical portion of a multi-million dollar ERP implementation. I was overwhelmed with worry and fear. There were too many points of failure. All I thought was – Hershey. I thought we’d fail, I’d be mopping floors somewhere, and my kids would be on food stamps. I imagined a picture of myself on the front of Computerworld with a title that read – “Don’t Do What This Dumbass Did.”

I can’t describe how insane it felt.

So I decided I had to stop worrying.

Over 18 months, through several methods, which I will describe in future posts, I was able to reduce my fear and worry and that got me through the ERP implementation. The ERP implementation was a resounding success.

Now my worry and fear were gone, which felt wonderful, but I found a terrible side-affect, I was completely unmotivated. I was bored. People would tell me about some urgent need and I was completely uninterested. In fact, I couldn’t even concentrate on what they were saying. It felt like I was back in Jr. High. So I began to journal about it… daily.

One day the answer popped into my head…

I HAVE BEEN MOTIVATING MYSELF WITH FEAR! AND I’VE BEEN DOING IT FOR YEARS! WHEN I LOSE MY FEAR – I LOSE MY MOTIVATION.

The only way I’ve been able to motivate myself, is to convince myself – if I don’t do it, and do it perfectly, something catastrophic will happen. This method worked great. I was running around trying to fix everything so the universe didn’t fall apart. Little did I know, the universe was doing fine without me.

When I worried, I was motivated; when I stopped, I was bored. I was addicted to fear.

The realization that I was using fear to motivate myself occurred to me a little less than a year ago. I didn’t know what to do (I still don’t have a perfect answer to this dilemma). I was caught in a catch 22. I hate being afraid, but I hate being bored and unmotivated.

I recently wrote “How the Public School System Crushes Souls.” So I’ve been thinking a lot about my education.

And that’s when this realization popped into my head:

MY FEAR AND WORRY WAS A DYSFUNCTIONAL COPING MECHANISM TO FORCE MYSELF AWAY FROM MY PASSIONS AND TOWARD SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEA OF WHAT IS RIGHT FOR ME.

I told myself that if I didn’t do it, and do it perfectly, some awful thing was going to happen. Kinda like “old time religion” – if you don’t do what they want, God will burn you in hell forever.

It was the only way I could “put the pencil on the paper and get it done.”

But the problem is… as an adult, I never followed my passions either. I believed success was impossible unless I followed the correct plan. You know the plan… go to school, get good grades, get into a good college, get a good job. What other path is there? If you followed some other formula and succeeded, it was obviously a fluke and you didn’t deserve it anyway.

So I am back where I was in school. You see, when I was kid I wasn’t afraid, so I wasn’t motivated to do ‘their’ work. I didn’t fear the consequences and I didn’t do the work because there were so many other things I was more passionate about.

So now, I have a decision…

Do I do the things I am wired to do through my hyperfocused obsessive learning, or do I return to frightening myself into doing what other people expect me to do?

I think you know my decision.

Do you have a similar decision to make?

————————————————————–

Footnote on ADHD
The word “disorder” suggests that there is something wrong with you that someone must fix before you can be “normal.” I believe some people learn one way and others learn another way and kids with classic ADHD symptoms make life a pain in the ass for everyone around them, so we all think we need to change them, when maybe we should be looking at ourselves instead. Maybe we need to change they way we think about ADHD.

45 thoughts on “My Escape from the Culture of Fear”

  1. I agree with you about interest being a necessary condition for real learning and growth. Education these days is all about regurgitation, even up to the college level.

    Being happy is about finding a source of income that encourages you to follow your interests. Unfortunately this is the opposite of the most jobs, that would rather you be a machine. I’m still trying to find my ideal means of employment.

  2. Except for the fear, your insights into your learning processes sound much like mine. I was particularly struck by the “negative” point of view. I’ve always been told that I over analyze things and that my outlook is too negative. But the analysis necessarily involves what others consider negativity because it uncovers the problems, potential or present, and that’s something most people don’t want to deal with. May I suggest that your real motivation is the compulsion to analyze everything until you understand it thoroughly and the satisfaction that brings. The fear is a conditioned overlay that you don’t need. Work to separate that out and put it aside, and you will be able to see your real motivation for what it is, the source of your success.

  3. Your writing is bang on. It seems that you and me are wired similarly. I’ve struggled through school (even though is was easy) and struggled through college (which was mostly ok as well). When you don’t do homework and sleep through lectures it’s hard to do well during exams. This post is extremely close to me, because most of my life i”ve been interested in computers and this passion is slowly fading. Once it’s gone, what do I have left? Coupled with that is the overwhelming fear of stagnation.. I look forward to the rest of this essay..

  4. Thanks for all the support folks,

    This one was a tough one to write. But if it helps some other people to understand that they aren’t alone, or it helps people that don’t learn like me understand, then it was worth it. It seems to be communicating the right message. That’s the strange thing about writing… when you write you can never be quite sure if people understand what you mean. It takes practice and skill.

  5. Steve, Steve, you are telling my story! Down to the 18 month ERP implementation!

    I’ve opted out of fear and still need to make money. Now, I’m in tech support. I feel like I’m navigating the depths of hell daily. I had to reframe the entire situation. I see it as expanding my customer service skills and practicing everything I know about spirituality despite the outer situation. I am also working diligently on getting the hell out of there (pun intended).

  6. Great post. Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is a great read for people who are regularly overcome with worry.

    Like you said, worrying can be a good thing. As a young flunky in a law firm, I quickly figured out that my worries about our clients’ business plans was a big help in figuring out how to protect them from future liability. My dad, who fixed airplanes for years and years, once said that his constant worries about what might happen to the passengers forced him to do his job as best he could, every day, no matter what. Just like your stories from the IT business.

    I guess the key is consuming your worries with productivity, rather than letting your worries consume you.

  7. Hi Steve – thanks for sharing your stories with us, I find a lot of value in reading about your experiences. And your reflections of your life and learnings are full of wisdom.

    Have you ever read any of Barbara Sher’s books? She writes about a group of people she calls “scanners” and your learning style sounds exactly like a sub-group of scanners she calls “serial masters”. Have a look at her stuff and see if it resonates for you.

  8. Great post. You are definitely describing parts of my life as well, even the adhd. I learn very well when I’m interested and so-so when I’m bored. But sometimes I also have to learn some boring stuff to get through life. That’s no way around that I guess.

    These decisions are difficult to make as we get a little older and have family plus kids. I see many that are stuck in a catch 22 situation unable to change anything and “break free”. Especially those with a large mortgage. I would rather workout, surf the net, blog, and do some other things during the day. But I kind of have to go to work. My work situation is nice since it also gives me possibility to spend much time with the family. But it’s not what I dream about doing.

    Thinking about fear the whole time might get things done but it can’t be a healthy thing in the long run. I’m sure you will make a decision that is best for you and the family in the long run.

    AD

  9. Your essay describes exactly the same problem I’ve been dealing with. My negative thinking actually helps me in my job as a lawyer. However, it makes me miserable as a person. In the past, when I’ve tried to eliminate the fear and worry, I ended up not caring about *anything,* which makes it hard to do anything. I’ve been trying to figure out “my passion” and “what makes me happy,” but I’ve operated so long with the fear-and-worry motivation that it’s difficult to identify things that motivates me in a positive manner.

    I hope you’ll write more on this ….

  10. you nailed it.

    i can say a lot of the same things about myself as you are saying about yourself.

    keep up the good work.

  11. The main problem I see is how do I support myself by following my whims? I may be interested in nuclear physics one day, then political science the next, then economics the next. Switching careers that drastically isn’t really feasible if you want to make enough money to live on and support a family. How do you get paid to research whatever you feel like to the level you feel like, at some point you have to compromise.

    Following what you enjoy sounds great on paper, but it doesn’t strike me as that reasonable in real life.

  12. Hawkeye,
    Not a whim…
    A passion. My point is, if you have scare yourself into to doing something, you are not passionate about it, which means that you should be doing something else. That something else will be far more productive. You just need to figure out what it is.

    I’m quite jealous of my wife. She has NEVER compromised her passion. She’d rather work for seven bucks an hour doing something she loves than make 100K doing something she hated. I used to give her a lot of crap about it. But I was wrong, being happy is much more important than money. But chances are, if you are happy, you’ll have all the money you need. So what’s the problem?

  13. Steve ……… I believe I have found kin. It has been eerily pleasant reading your work the last two days. Keep it up. And thank you!

  14. Thanks Steve! Right on!

    I just had a job that went bad, and while I wasn’t able to keep it, It did make me think hard. I came to the same realization you did, I’ve been using fear to keep myself motivated. Well, I’m looking for work again in the same field, but this time I’ve also been working on a ‘out’ plan for my passion. I am going to use my job to fund my passion, and eventually pursue it as my job.

    So it can change, knowing the trap you’ve put yourself in is part of the solution!

  15. Man, have I got a book recommendation for you. My work history has a lot of overlap with yours. I was the guy everyone turned to in a meeting so I could shoot holes in a new concept, and of course, I could always find them, since that’s often the nature of new ideas. I, too, was driven to bust my ass and generate work that was as flawless as possible, with every contingency accounted for. The fear of doing a sloppy job in front of my peers was a big motivator.

    Rather than see this as some sort of dysfunction, what I discovered was that for certain personality types (presumably yours and mine), it’s a valid and effective mechanism for reducing stress and producing lots of high quality work. I highly recommend reading the book The Positive Power of Negative Thinking by Dr. Julie Norem.

    It’s a brief, fairly academic, but easy-to-read book written by a psychology professor, who makes the case the what’s often perceived as pessimism is neither good or bad, but rather that for certain people it can be an effective way of thinking and working. No one wants to be labelled a pessimist, or go through life thinking that fear is their main driver. But, this book gave me a different perspective on how I think and work, and perhaps helps explain why I was often the go-to guy for complex tasks, and built a very successful career around what I did for a living.

  16. Steve, thanks for the great post. I am exactly like that too, which is why I am so good at IT. But it also keeps me stressed out all the time, which I hate.

    I once quit and tried to do something else, but could not find anything that paid anything, so reluctantly I went back to IT.

    By the way, I bought the book you recommended, Underground History of American Education. I’m almost done reading it. I stayed up late every night – it was hard to put down.

    I’m interested in how you go about finding your passion now. Keep up the great posts!

  17. Steve – A great post and one I think everyone has connected to. I frequently suffered from being bored shitless in my job and in my life. I have since followed my passions and life has been so much better in the last four years.

    if I could make enough money from blogging and personal development I would pack in my current job.

    I hope your passion stays with you.

  18. I think you are on to something. I am in a similar situation. I think this may have helped. I fear most going out on my own and being an entrepreneur but it is what I desire most. The da vince code to motivation is possibly solved.

  19. You should not confuse fear with responsability. They sometimes look alike, and most of the time they come together, but they are two very different things. See the story above of the airplane repairman.

    Also, doubt is the first condition of – erm, English isn’t my first language – intelectuality. There is no real thinking without doubt, and self-doubt is the queen of all doubts. Critical thinking is not negativism. It is NEEDED whenever you plan anything.

    And yes, this is my life’s story as well – I’m 41 and in quite a mess professionally. I do things I don’t really like, and some I really dislike to earn a living. There’s a way to cope with that – find the parts that you like. I bet you dislike the act of cleaning your space (it comes with – erm – intelectuality), but you still get satisfaction, a job well done etc. I have no idea what my passion is, except for “effing” living, and I can live with my job, it’s just a part of my life, not the most important as it were, well tant pis.

    The fact is, I was never good – I was never GREAT at doing things I was passionate about. One needs a bit of distance, I suppose.

    And again read Jung’s Psychological types (are you an ENTP?).

  20. Regarding your comments on ADHD and disorder. Disorder means that it is a problem *for the person*. As someone with ADHD I can tell you that it very well can be. In fact, the standard doctors use is not “AM I (the doctor) bothered by it”, but, rather, “Does the condition hurt the patent”.

  21. Hawkeye – it’s called being a freelance writer. And you can make a living at it, if you hustle. 😀

    Steve –

    I have the same “worst case scenario” thinking issue, too, but I’ve long since accepted it as part of my makeup and have acquired the same sort of amused tolerance of it that people develop toward otherwise lovable and non-negotiable family members who have disagreeable quirks, like that really cool and otherwise harmless uncle who just happens to enjoy waving his weenie at old ladies in the park.

    OTOH, I have another baby-halving choice to make of a similar import, but different nature. I have a passion with which I can indeed make a living, but I long ago came to realize that making money at it was actually preventing me from enjoying it (not because of any hatred or distrust of money, but rather because I was too worried all the time about creating something marketable and salable that it was stagnating my creativity and enjoyment – I was too afraid of falling to fly).

    So now I’m working out some sort of balance where I can indulge in my primary passion without money worries, while funneling income needs into another, not so emotionally invested, enjoyment.

    Not quite there yet, because the money-maker is just almost not-quite-but-sometimes enough of a passion to capture my total attention, if you know what I mean.

  22. This is definately a wonderful realization. Congrads! I personally realized that I was driven by fear about a year ago. I was afraid of failure and the dissapointment of others. Then I switched to fear of success. Now I’m in a phase of acceptance and growth. I take it every moment at a time and do only what is required for ME. Some say it’s selfish, I say it’s selflove. I’m taking my own path. The whole school-college-work-yourself-to-death route leaves a foul taste in my mouth 🙂 Some never get to the point of enough is enough. Imagine what would happen if everyone around the world woke up to this realization?

  23. Well I’ve had this forever, except for a single difference. I can get the work done only becuase I feel well I might as well do it so I can get out of the poverty level. Otherwise I am content with sitting around with zero ambition, and I find things work very hard to learn everything I need to learn and then loos interest. The only thing that keeps my interest over time are Books, the internet(gotta love constant information), and politics.

    Teachers ask me “Its obvious you know what your doing why dont you do it?” I say “Well, I have no reason to impress you”

    There has been many a time that I just want to run away and be a lazy bum in hawaii or something.

  24. Steve, I’m amazed at just how similar your life and so many of the posters on this story are to my own. Ive gone through the super stressful ERP environment as well. That was possibly the worst time of my entire life. At one point because I was so stressed out that I literally couldn’t think any more, they noticed I wasn’t getting much done and put in place a ‘motivator’. This turned out to be another consultant who basically checked in on me every hour and screamed at me if I hadn’t finished the latest deadline. I still don’t believe I stuck with that horrible job for over a year and a half. It wasn’t even the money, it was the fact that every day was so all consumed by fear and every weekend was so consumed by decompression that I had no time to wind down enough to actually rationally think about my situation.

    If I go back in time, fear has always been with me, right from grade two when I moved to England and a horrible teacher decided I was the kid to pick on because she ‘just didn’t like me’, and that just stuck I guess, plus the fact that my mother would move town or country every few years and so I never felt my life or friends were permanent.

    After that contract ended (read I got layed off), I decided something less stressful and more creative might do me good. So I went into tech support for a web-based company, thinking I might get an in as a graphic designer or something. That didn’t really materialize as I got cornered into phone support. After a year or so of that, it was simply soul draining.

    Im now in another support position with another tech company and falling asleep daily at my desk because there is utterly no motivation in me to do or learn ANYthing else about this line of work. It not even as though I couldn’t integrate some of my own passions into my job, I think its more that I just feel like this job is a dead end, not a launching platform for something else. I fooled myself into that for years.

    So what I’ve decided to do for the last 6 months is learn something I’ve always wanted to get into. 3d design and games creation is something that I think a LOT of guys who use computer secretly would love to do, but I’m in a unique position. I have 5 close friends who I have been friends with for years now. All 5 of these friends have gotten jobs at the local games company Bioware. This to me at first was just blind luck or some sort of natural talent. The first few went to a film school in Vancouver and did it the fast track way, and they got jobs right away and to this day they seem very happy in their jobs.

    However, it wasnt until about 6 months ago when one of my other friends who has easily less motivation than me, and is probably afflicted more by the symptoms of forced learning than even I, got a job with Bioware all on his own, that I really felt that anything is possible if you are interested in something enough.

    So I’ve spent the last 6 months learning all I can in my spare time, its not easy and it sure is slow going, but I feel better about myself and feel there is direction now, even if I don’t get that dream job, its still something I’ve always felt I wanted to be able to do. If I make a kick ass demo reel in a years time and no one ever sees it, that won’t matter, I’ll be able to say to myself, I know how this works, I accomplished that and I’m proud of it.

    Anyway, that would be my advise, even if you don’t see a career opportunity coming of something that you’re interested in, put some time aside to do what you want to do. If its working out, losing or gaining that 20 pounds, painting that picture, taking that cooking course, whatever, just try to kick start your brain by trying it. In this grey professional world, we need to get ourselves out of the cycle of day to day brain numbing routine.

  25. Sounds like me. I have short to mid length bursts of passion that consume my life.

    At 6 I was tested for add, with a negative diagnosis. I never tried in school, until I got a bit more ambitious my sophomore year. Now I’m a 4th year computer science phd student. Rather than focusing on a single topic for 4 years, I feel like I’ve been learning the field almost breadth first, bursts in various topics at a time. These are more than just fleeting interests, because I do significant learning in the area of interest.

    Anyway, I think a good book is “now, discover your strengths”. The basic premise is that you should focus on your strengths, and just manage your weaknesses. It comes with a surprisingly accurate online test to identify your strengths. I think my strengths were competition, intellection, focus, learner, and achiever.

    Basically I think the fleeting intense interests distinguish between being a generalist and a specialist. Neither is inherently better. Since I’ve recognized that I’m a generalist, I’m focused on contributing via my cross-disciplinary knowledge, rather than pushing at the depths of a single area.

    It seems important to consider this self knowledge when considering a career. For example, I think intense bursts of concentration lend themselves well to entrepreneurship.

  26. Thanks for all these stories. I love to hear them.

    Damocles,
    Stick with it you’ll get where you need to be. Game programming sounds wonderful.

    Steve 2,
    I’ve read “now, Discover you strengths” and I took the test. I should post some of that stuff on my about page. Yeah, it was amazingly accurate. The stuff I learned from that book is one of the reasons I am blogging.

  27. Hi Steve… don’t want to scare you off, but just a little mental health warning…

    The activity that your doing can become addictive because it stimulates hyperactivity in the brain. I say this because I also thought I had ADHD and hyperfocusing ability. It sent me to hypOfocusing, then into manicfocusing after which I spend some time in hospital (Full blow manic attack).

    Anyhow my experience taught me that hyperfocusing can be used by thinking about how you can change your environment (or thought process) to improve the flow BEFORE you hyperfocus.

    A simple example; You want to draw a box with a curve in photoshop.

    Wrong way – Open photoshop planning to have learn how to use the arc tool and draw the shape.

    Right way – Learn how to use the arc tool first. Then when you start your hyperfocus session you will have true hyperfocus.

    Just a simple example, but when doing a big task > things can work like clockwork and really fall into place.

  28. Replace the word fear by guilt, and you’ve probably described what goes on in most grad students’ minds a few years into their PhDs…

  29. “Yes of course” he exclaimed as he snaped his fingers, “Left minded in a right minded world” it all began to make sense at last. He turned back in to the darkness his heart lifted having found others from his tribe.

    Thank you for these.

  30. This kind of “obsessive immersion” in a subject, then moving on [like the Orchid Thief character in “Adaptation”] seems to be characteristic of a number of talented people.

    In her article Are You a Scanner? [on my site]
    http://talentdevelop.com/articles/AYAS.html
    Barbara Sher comments about what she calls ‘scanners’: “Unlike those people who seem to find and be satisfied with one area of interest, you’re genetically wired to be interested in many things… you’ve been taught that you’re doing something wrong and you must try to change. What you’ve assumed is a disability to be overcome by sheer will is actually an exceptional gift.”

    In her article Addiction to Perfection,
    http://talentdevelop.com/articles/ATP.html
    Dr. Margaret Paul has some interesting perspectives on how the “disorder” of having to do it perfectly impacts us – for example: “Needing to be perfect is a form of control. The wounded, critical part of us believes that, If I am perfect (whatever that means!) then people will like me, love me, admire me, approve of me, pay attention to me, or validate me. Then I will feel worthy. I can control how people feel about me by being perfect.”

  31. I couldn’t agree with you more. Think about it. Imagine a world within which you were utterly uncontrolled by other people. There were (metaphorically) no other people there at all. What would you do all day? The answer is so obvious and so simple that we have erected entire civilizations to deny it’s factuality. Nothing. No action we could conceive of would have any kind of extrinsic value, because that value is propagated by the fact that other people like or dislike that action. So, what would we do on the (now considered worthless by most of America) inside? We would learn. What? Whatever we wanted. E.G. You wanted to study the history of earth (before all the other people “disappeared”)? Thats what you could do for eternity. But if everyone knew and accepted that, walls crumble, cities fall, and if everyone does merely what they want to do, all vestiges of control, dominance, and human authority (that has been the bane of our existences since times untold) would be wiped from the face of the earth.

  32. Tom,
    I’m not sure what to make of your comment…

    Don’t you think you can do things for other people because you want to do them, not simply because you are afraid of their possible reaction if you do something they dislike?

    For example, sure civilization would break down if everyone decided to kill everyone else. The authorities couldn’t prevent it.

    But I must assume that most people don’t kill other people because they don’t want to kill other people, not because they are afraid of going to prison. I mean… I don’t want to kill anyone, and I assume most other sane people do not want to either.

    The reverse situation is… most people break the speed limit. They want to and they aren’t afraid of the consequences.

    But I must assume that fear of consequnces is not a major factor in either example. Our beliefs about right and wrong are much more prevelent. Morals.

    Did that make sense, everyone??

  33. Steve,

    I am late to the party here. Just found your post & site via reddit. Anyway, I read or skimmed the responses. I have to tell you what you wrote struck a chord in me as well

    I would encourage you, and everyone, actually, to find a reputable psychologust, or career counselor, and take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. You cn do it online, but I would work with a professional. More on wikipedia about it here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator

    Someone mentioned ENTP. I am an INTP.

    Once you know what your type is, there is a lot of good info online. For instance, I could never understand why I don’t get excited going to “events,” why I was always afraid at work, and why I hated being interrupted when deep in a project. It has explained so much for me.

    Best of luck. Thanks for the article – it’s helped.

  34. a late comment:

    i was nearly going insane with worry about a project
    and this was in spite of the fact that i know i can do it extremely well
    but the worry had stopped me from workin
    i was thinkin
    why do i have such a horror life
    i need to stop this worryin
    and i was thinkin maybe i am psychic or something
    unable to carry on somehow i drifted to this blog
    it is helping me so much in understanding what is happening to me
    there are tears in my eyes when i read ur words
    thanks so much!!!
    the responses are also helpful..

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  36. What an odd thing for me to surf into. It’s odd in the timing: I’ve been struggling with myself, trying to figure out why I can’t get my homework done.

    It’s been a growing problem since high school. Now I’m a college junior.

    I’ll schedule a time to do the work, but when the time comes, I find myself running away. I usually only get things done when it’s at the last deadline, and I’m scared to death of failing.

    Like now. I have a paper overdue, and a website that won’t be done by tomorrow. And the fear just isn’t enough. I’m tired. I don’t care. Thinking about the money that could be wasted stirs my panic for a moment, but then settles again. The fear seems to have worn off.

    What am I going to do with my life?

  37. Fear is a big factor in motivating many people, it is not a choice of motivation though but rather an outcome of having to achieve a certain goal or face disaster.

    I let fear control me too much and I can tell you it is not healthy, I am starting to develop my skills to have greater belief in what I can achieve and not let fear rule my actions.

    Thanks for the great post.

  38. This is something I was thinking about quite recently, and was considering writing about it, but your post just put it brilliantly. I think I’ll just link to yours instead 🙂

  39. Sometimes I think that I’m mildly bipolar. I find that when I get into my hyperfocused state as you call it and really feel like I’m getting something done in the area of my current obsession, I get extremely manic, and for days afterwards I’ll be happy and genial. If, however, I go for a long enough time without doing something that I feel is worthwhile, I fall into pretty severe depression.

    Far from a handicap, I see this as a blessing.

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