If you constantly find yourself at a task you would rather not be doing, consider that a lack of honesty may be behind this. Either you never wanted to do the task in the first place, and you have been dishonest with yourself about this, or you are not bringing the honesty needed to make the task enjoyable.
The second form of dishonesty can be particularly problematic in creative expression and in social interactions. Without fail I have found that when I dread speaking to another person or to people it is because I feel I cannot speak with them honestly. It isn’t just speaking: I can’t be around them honestly. I avoid certain actions that are normal for me in other environments (e.g. when I’m alone). I certainly don’t feel like my best self when I’m with them— I’m more like a wannabe, egotistical shadow of myself.
In creative expression I may go into the task with my hands wrapped, like a fighter does to force unnatural movements which will help him win the fight. This ensures that the result occurs only within a certain spectrum of social acceptability and yields a watered-down product which required a tedious, lengthy, heart-draining process to make. Such a product can hardly be called “art.”
One damnable “art” piece after another leads you to conclude that your craft is not for you, so you say farewell and move on to another. Unbeknownst to you, of course, your hands will meet with the same, sad shells of manufactured art no matter where you go, so long as those hands are not the workers of honesty.
When you avoid honesty factual truth is not the only thing you devalue. The openness needed to accept the consequences of honesty, the ability to love freely, and all the adventures and possibilities that may have resulted are killed also. When you try to kill honesty you kill life. Life, for you, can be nothing more than a diluted version of all the joy and complexity that is possible. Instead, you will live a monotone existence bound to rusted shackles, albeit one which is acceptable by likely-arbitrary standards. If the tone of your life does change at all while inhibited it will be one of increasing frustration and depression.
Your Ideal Future-Self
Perhaps this unsettling tone has been droning through your head for a while and you would now like to hear something more upbeat and exciting. What can you do? It is simple: be yourself unapologetically.
Imagine your ideal future self. It doesn’t have to be a particular age, though it’s probably easiest to think roughly five years down the line. Based on the major changes you hope to make in your life between now and then, what is this person like? I assume this person will be an improvement upon your present self. If not, I redirect you to Cynicism.
If it must, let this be your first exercise in honesty. Don’t just see this high-roller with his collections of muscle cars and trophy wives—talk to him, and make sure this is someone you want to be. If you’ve read this far surely you want to change more than your finances. If you don’t, consider in what ways you would have to change in order to create the financial situation you want. If you don’t have that money now you probably won’t get it by going about life as you do now—you will have to change somehow. Do the same with all object-based desires you have, such as having a family, losing weight, and starting a business.
“Object-based desire” means you want to create a change that can be observed directly: this is what you see. I can see your family come together, I can see your body get smaller, and I can see you doing a particular type of work.
This is in contrast with subject-based desires, which indicate that you want to change certain qualities you have. This is what you are. Other people can infer your qualities from your actions, but only you can be certain of them. A few qualities you may want to embody include honesty, fearlessness, and curiosity.
Object- and subject-based desires don’t collide with each other: instead, they go hand in hand. One may come to mind before the other is all. If you see what you want first, consider how you’d have to be to get it. If you first imagine how you’d like to be, then think about what observable changes those qualities may bring to your life.
Remember you’re going for your ideal here. Don’t worry whether your desires seem unreasonable. To have the kind of family you want, who would you have to become? Would you need to be more organized than you are now? Would you need to become more nurturing and empathic?
Usually I get an idea of who I’d like to be pretty quickly, as I consult my feelings more so than my thoughts. Desire, after all, is a feeling more than it is a thought.
Still, take all the time you need with this and be honest. Have no shame in your desires: this is all happening In Your Own Private World anyway, and at least at this point in history no one can know what you’re thinking about (if you read this at a time of telepathy-enabling technology, know that shame is probably still unnecessary).
How Would Your Future-Self Treat You?
Now that you have an idea of who you’d like to be, imagine, for a moment, that you can be married to this person. This may be particularly challenging; but hey, you love challenges, don’t you? This is the ideal way to do this, but if you really can’t handle it then turn the intensity down to cuddling or even just talking.
Can you think of any reason why you’d have to inhibit yourself from, well, yourself? Would you have to hide anything from this person in hope that they’ll accept you? Of course not. Your future self already knows everything about you and has thought all of your wackiest thoughts and fantasies before. Your future self knows exactly how you’d like to express yourself- if only you were brave enough- and this is precisely how she express herself. You thus cannot surprise nor disgust this person at all. You can try to hide, but she’ll only find a way to make the hidden parts of yourself come out. She has done this to herself before and is masterful at it. She knows you better than you know yourself.
Perhaps this makes sense to you, but as far as you can tell it doesn’t account for how other people may treat you. They can use you and pretend to like you when in reality they don’t care much about you. If you revealed your deepest desires to them they would be repulsed. Maybe you’re just an object of cruel humor for them.
Would your future-self think so lowly of you and laugh heartlessly at your struggles? Or do you think she would love you unconditionally? Would she think you’re foolish for being so inferior to her, or would she be grateful that she got to be you at one point and that you get to be you now, seeing that so many great things lie ahead of you?
Surely your future self’s genuinely high regard for you is how you would like to be viewed at all times—not just by people, but by life (or the universe) itself. Your future self knows you can do better and will push you to do so, but at the same time she supports and loves you as you are now. She has your best interest at heart, and she knows precisely what is in your best interest because she knows what you need to become her (and perhaps beyond).
What if I told you that your future self is a God who works behind the scenes of your life, bringing in certain events as she saw fit? How would you view your problems then—as nuisances to be dreaded, or as challenges which will help you become the person you want to be? Would it make sense that that the essence of who you are is safe in this reality, and that you are here to grow? Or would you still live fearfully in belief that your identity is limited by your body? If nothing else you would probably shake your fist at your future self, though this would be silly since your future self is you.
You have created this reality. If you don’t like what you’re experiencing it is your responsibility to change it. Of course, first you have to be honest with yourself about this. As long as you blame your discontentment on factors out there you will be stuck.
Likewise, you can take the attitude of your future-self and commit to your own best interest. You can create a life filled with the challenges you need to become person you want to be, and through being that person you can take on the challenges you aspire to, and so on. You can choose to reject, for yourself, all that you consider to be wrong. You can create reality as you see fit.
So, what might your “fit” idea of the workings of reality be based on?
Personal Preservation or Personal Growth
This is your life. If you want to go through it constantly and unnecessarily in defense-mode, that is your decision. If you’d prefer to live honestly and be open to whatever dangers or joys that may come as a result, you may decide that just as well. Neither way is necessarily more difficult than the other, though you will probably find one to be generally more empowering and enjoyable. Try on both if you’d like: if you see such experimentation as in your best interest, then there is no need to stop yourself from it.
Be exactly who you are, you wild, beautiful dreamer. That’s the best way to become who you want to be.