Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yes, I Can!

Until today*, I couldn't. "I can't" was my motto and my life story. That's why I became a professional slacker in the first place. Then I realized for the first time where I got it: from the extreme difficulty I had in learning how to tie my shoes when I was three. Eventually I learned to tie my shoes, but "I can't" never left me. But then a magical thing occurred: my awareness cured my problem! I had just proved a psychological principle I was previously skeptical of: full awareness of your problem (such as my belief in my incompetence) leads to overcoming your problem. Sometimes this occurs spontaneously. This is what just happened to me: a 40-year brainlock suddenly released. Before, I couldn't because I believed I couldn't. Now, I can!

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:
  1. Whistling.
  2. Snapping my fingers, especially on the left hand.
  3. Tie a necktie.
  4. How to speak French.
Also, I'm going to finish at least Donkey Kong 64 and Final Fantasy VII, and I'm going to start exercising regularly (and my mother's offering to help me with that).

Furthermore, I have other, later desires and ambitions that I feel I am now able to achieve now that "I can":
  1. Publish a novel (first, Bad Company).
  2. Learn how to draw comics.
  3. Publish my comics (namely Spanner).
  4. Record a rock album (now that FAWM proved so successful for me).
  5. Make money off my projects.
  6. 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.

Back to The Space Helmet Show...

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