The catalyst was a book. The author is Debbie Ford, a self-help author of distinctly New Age leanings and a heavy Jungian influence. Her major subject is the psychological "shadow" as Jung described it; outside her books, she does "shadow work" in workshops. For the last several years, I'd been finding copies of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers practically every time I go to a thrift store. I picked up a copy, but I didn't really get all that much out of it. Then I found the sequel, The Secret of the Shadow, on one of my mother's living room tables, so I started reading. Then I borrowed it from her and took it home with me so I could read the whole thing. And something happened right as I was reading it. One of my "stories" — the "I can't" one — came into consciousness, origin and all. All of a sudden, it lost its power over me.
Until then, I couldn't. Because I had such trouble learning to tie my shoes that I constantly wailed "I can't!", I had in effect decided to be an incompetent learner. Things that I would later "can't" do include whistling, snapping my fingers, tying a necktie, learning foreign languages, finishing a videogame, getting a girlfriend, or being able to successfully have sex. Those and a whole lot more. And, of course, procrastination became the bane of my life.
I thought my problem was paralysis of the will. It was. But I couldn't solve the problem directly; my will was locked some other way. What locked it, it turns out, was a self-affirmation loop repeating the message, "I can't!" As long as I remained unaware of the loop's true nature and origin, my will remained locked no matter what I did to try to unlock it. But when the full awareness of the origin of my lifelong problem fully dawned on me, the lock on my will released suddenly, before I even became aware of it. The gap between motivation and achievement vanished in an instant. Now I'm free to achieve what I want!
In a related issue I'm working on, I always considered myself a reject. Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I scare women away because I'm weird. It took decades before it dawned on me that I am, in fact, quite beautiful. Not merely handsome, but downright beautiful. And yet, even though the mirror shows my pretty face to me every time I look in it, I'm still wedded to the notion that I'm undesirable, to the point of ignoring all the women who can't keep their eyes off me. At least I know what to do about this problem now.
I eventually learned to tie my shoes before I turned five. I learned how to ride a bike and put together model cars, too. But I still have unfinished business from my childhood. So now that "I can," I'm going to make sure I learn these once and for all:
- Snapping my fingers, especially on the left hand.
- Tie a necktie.
- How to speak French.
Furthermore, I have other, later desires and ambitions that I feel I am now able to achieve now that "I can":
- Publish a novel (first, Bad Company).
- Learn how to draw comics.
- Publish my comics (namely Spanner).
- Record a rock album (now that FAWM proved so successful for me).
- Make money off my projects.
- Become as famous as I am beautiful.
After 40 years of suffering, procrastination, and "I can't", I've finally made a major breakthrough. For the first time in my life, I can say to the world, "Yes, I can!" — and believe it! Now to start doing...
*The 13th. I wrote the original draft of this entry longhand on scratch paper while I was in the middle of reading The Secret of the Shadow. I didn't get online to write it till it was almost midnight, so this was technically posted the next day.
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