"Why don’t you just start running everyday? Over time you will run more and more. If you do that for just 3 months or so, running will have grown into a habit and you will do it automatically.”
People don’t get it, do they? Change is not "just". You don’t just creep out of your bed one day and be like “I go running every day now”, and then you do it and it will stick and then you’re a runner. Change is never “just”. You can’t tell a smoker to quit smoking using the “just” method. Inside people’s heads, these things are more complicated than “just” quitting to smoke.
Every person has their own beliefs. This is what makes it hard to do “just”. Things don’t just pop into existence, things grow that way. A person has to hit rock bottom before they are able to turn things around.
A really simple example. Think of your last relationship. Normally people are together until there’s one day where they are like “I can’t take this shit anymore!”. That is known as hitting “rock bottom”, from this point on, someone realizes in what kind of situation they’ve gottem themselves into and now it is important to get out of there. This means removing all the obstacles until they are where they want to be.
This all sounds easy, but it’s really not. Getting out of a relationship is kinda-sorta easy, but getting out of marriage is an entirely different thing. You have to sign contracts, attend meetings, etc. When you are “just” in a relationship you might “just” have to move out, or you might have to do a little more than that. It’s all complicated and easy at the same time.
Ones’ surrounding often times recommends some easy step to take to get where someone wants to be. (or where they think the other person wants to be. differnt story.)
"Oh I wish I would weigh a little less."
“Why don’t you just start running? It will do wonders to your health as well!” “Well, it is not so easy. I think I’m so overweight that my joints are going to hurt.”
In this small conversation alone there are so many hidden anxieties, beliefs, borders, limitations, that one person almost impossibly can overcome, and the other person doesn’t see the problem at all. For them it is more like “why don’t you just fucking start running?”, but for us it is more like “before I can go running, I want to accomplish this thing, and when I got that thing I want to do this thing, when I finally got there I think I can go for my first run.”
Running is easy for me. I do this for over ten years. I don’t see the point. But my experience as lecturer tells me that it’s “not so easy” for other people. I can see the smaller steps that eventually lead to ones first run. You start walking. Maybe walk one kilometer a day. Maybe just one kilometer three times a week. That’s the first step. Not “buy some fancy running shoes and go for a run, sweat, moan, and suffer in pain”.
But that’s easy for me to say, they say, but how can I be such a dick to recommend that first step when there has to be thing x first. Well, that’s you. If I’d have to start running today, I’d go for a walk. If you can’t see the point that walking will eventually become running, then that’s you. Everybody has to find their own way. I truly believe in that.
Let’s backpaddle for a second. Sharpening the axe. Most people want to do great things in their life. One year they’re all like “sexual liberation!”, the next year they’re all for “alternative living!”. Whatever floats your boat at the moment, I think, it all boils down to sharpening the axe. It’s personal development, is it not? For me sharpening the axe means to be able to cut down the bigger trees. I don’t have to sharpen the axe for trees I can chop down already. I need to improve the axe or get a better axe in order to chop down trees I couldn’t chop down before. And to sharpen the axe means: focus, saying no to stuff, effort, pain, energy, learning, improving, and ultimately, becoming dull. I’m going to write about dullness in a second. Let’s first take a look at energy and focus.
Focusing is one of the first things one needs to do to become a better version of themselves. Focus is “saying yes to one thing, while saying no to thousands of other things”. The “saying no”-part is actually what is going to cause your axe to become dull. Focusing means putting energy into one thing, while not putting energy into the other. Let’s take running again as an example. You can become a great runner, but at the same time not become a great hacker. Both are very different activities, and while one can become great at both, at the same time, it is unlikely because one activity involves a lot of movement, the other a lot of thinking. This is a radical example, I know, and it’s just here to demonstrate the point. Focusing means saying no. Do you want to become a great runner? Then you have to fucking run, Forrest!
Actually Forrest Gump is a rather nice analogy. Isn’t he? I mean Forrest seems so unintelligent not to see all the boundaries he exists in. And still he manages to become a great, wealthy person. Anyway…
Say you are a great hacker at the moment. Your axe is really sharp in those woods. But now you decide to become a great runner. So you walk in the “running” forest and start chopping. Not a single tree is going to fall at first. Maybe you get some small bushes, maybe some short trees, but the big trees are not for you yet. Someone has to start at the bottom and work their way up first, before they can take on the big trees.
Isn’t this correct? I have many nerdy readers. If someone would walk up to you and say “I want to get into computers, but I don’t know where to start”. What would be your answer? I know I could take 10 readers into a room and get 10 different approaches. Everyone would be able to tell from their own experience what things work, and what things don’t. The thing is that the other person doesn’t know yet. Their experiences differ, their intelligence is different, their everything is… just not you. Whatever you recommend as their beginning might just be 100% exactly what they need, or it might be a complete miss. But whatever they learned from your advice is valuable to them. If they hit a miss, they know “OK, so this doesn’t work.” If this doesn’t work, then they need to take a different approach. The one obstacle right in front of them might just have become so huge that they turn away and leave the forest or it might have woken up their inner warrior. “Wait? That tree I can’t chop down? I am going to cut that tree into bits, and if it’s the last thing that I’m doing!”
Your recommendation might go either way, after all, it is not you who walks their way - they have to. But remember, just because you chop down those trees easily, doesn’t mean they chop them down as easily.
Dullness. If you think about experiences, be them personal, work related, spiritual, whatever. Whatever we focus on, means we defocus on other things. When we defocus on our body and focus on the mind, the mind becomes stronger and the body weakens. You can’t have one cake and eat it too. If you put in a lot of energy and effort into improving one thing, over time, some other area where you built up a lot of momentum and know-how, will deteriorate. If I focus on meditation for an entire year, I become pretty good at it. If I then go ahead and focus on martial arts for a year, I get better at that, but I also miss out some of the things in the meditation area. You see again this is about balance. Of course you can focus on both, but then it will take you longer to become the best you can be at both. If you want to become the best at one thing, then you have to let go of the other.
Do you see how all of this is not so easy after all? You don’t just become a runner, you don’t just become a programmer, you don’t just eat healthy, you don’t just period.
Beliefs, boundaries, believed boundaries. What is so hard about change is that boundaries exist. You built them or other people built them for you. Experience tells us that there is a set border that is “normal”. Whatever normality may mean to you. You might think that you need to dress clean. If that’s your thing, then you dress neatly every day so that you are “normal”. See, other people wear rags, punk, and they still feel pretty confident about themselves. They don’t have that border, it is easy for them to go in rags, because that’s just what they do. That doesn’t mean that came easily. Beliefs had to be removed before. Maybe the belief that ones value can be judged by outer looks. Maybe the belief that one has to dress neatly to look neat for other people. Do you get my point? Maybe you were the same when you were younger. There were things you believed once were true, but then later realized that it’s just some rubbish society has taught you.
Let me take you for a spin. Soap. Do you use soap? What kinds of soap do you use? You use hand soap, I guess. But do you also use hair conditioner? Do you use shower gel? Why the fuck do you buy three different products for one and the same purpose?
That does something to you, doesn’t it? Did it ever occur to you that you could use “hand” soap to clean your hair? Why not? Who made you believe that soap is for hands only? Was it society? Was it some sort of nifty marketing? Do I need to be any more clear about this? We believe certain things are true, when in reality they’re not; or maybe they are, who knows. Reality is what you make of it. Where you see an inviolable insurmountable wall, I might not even see a line on the floor.
I might be like: “What’s your problem, dude? Why don’t you just do it?” Because it’s not just, it is never … just.