Your Fears Can Be Your Strengths

Posted by Jaye Ward on

This isn't some lame trick to use in an interview.

(ex. "my weakness is I care too much").

Ever since I listened to the Art of Manliness Podcast, episode 553 "How to Become Indistractable", I have had a lot on my mind in reference to social media addiction and excessive cell phone use.

In the episode, the guest, Nir Eyal, outlines what he believes is the reason for everyone to be so attached to their mobile devices. This guy does have some authority on this topic because he literally wrote the book on how to get people hooked on services, called "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products". Many startups have adopted his strategy and have achieved some amount of success with it as a result. The most interesting aspect of his plan, is that to make a habit forming product you need the result of using a service to quell some sort of discomfort.

The examples he outlined was: When we're feeling lonely, we go on Facebook. When we're feeling unsure, we google it. There were more but those two have stuck out to me. Personally I feel as if I use Reddit in public to avoid social interaction.

Another point he made was that we are not so much pleasure seeking as we are pain avoiding.

But this really got me thinking about what my "discomfort triggers" were.

I think boredom has to be a major one. Boredom without distraction can lead you into some very dark thoughts. I believe part of the reason man even invented the economy was because he was bored. Part of the reason why we stick with it is we are running away from discomforts.

So what are my personal discomforts?

Existential Crises

For me a major one is existential questions. Why are we alive? Why are we here? What if this is all a simulation? I feel most people don't even consider these questions because they are so caught up in the 9 to 5 with kids and wives (intentional rhyme). Do some people genuinely just not care? That probably scares me more than those existential questions but It's possible I could be wrong. I mean, part of the reason whole fields of science exists is to understand how the world works. One experiment that comes to mind is Higgs Boson Particle experiments at CERN. It cost 4456.59 Million USD just for the materials to construct.

So maybe I'm not alone in questioning why we are here. But It also does concern me why it's not common for people to bring it up. Oh yeah, that's right, discomfort. What do we do with discomfort? Try to work past it. I could google possible explanations but I'm not interested in religious reasoning, I've heard it all before. Plus after I heard this idea I'm scared I'm running away too easily.

Time

I am constantly aware of the clock. How much time did I just waste doing this thing? I won't be able to do this thing because the previous thing will take so much time. What time is it now? How much time do I have before work? How much time do I have left alive? Time. Time. Time. I used to wear a wristwatch but I became too obsessed with watching it, counting the minutes I was wasting at work when I could have been at home doing nothing or working on something meaningful.

One thing that keeps me grounded was realizing time is money. We've all heard it before, mostly to explain why you need to do a job quickly. The more time you waste, the more money you waste. But what people don't realize about this is that time and money are exchangeable. You can pay money to save time (take your car to a mechanic and have them fix it) or you spend time and save money (fix the car yourself). Labor costs exist for the sole reason that money only has value because time is non-reversible and life is finite.

When I realized this, my mind was blown out of my ass. Money has value because time is short. And because time is short, we have to do things that really matter and add value to our life. Knowing this is the second step of twelve step streaming addiction program.

Uncertainty about the Future

I have big plans in my future. I absolute could never see myself living until 30, working just to survive. That would absolutely kill my will to live. I have to have purpose. One of the things I've completely latched myself onto is this, Rotten Mind. I find purpose in this.

What scares me is the possible negative outcomes. It's strange how those are much larger than the positive possible outcomes.

This could all crash and burn. I could get fired from my job and as a result lose everything I've worked for. Without my car I won't be able to see the people I care about. My girlfriend is a major part of my life, and while I would survive without her, living would be very bleak for a long while. I would not be okay. She means a lot to me.

Maybe I am a hypochondriac and overly anxious but I have found a way to turn this into a positive. I am almost never under prepared for anything. Before I would play shows live I would check all of my equipment, have backup cables, force my band mates to play songs 100s of times, etc. My anxiousness (no, not my anxiety. I don't have anxiety, I'm just an anxious person) is almost a super power in this sense. One thing that it holds me back from is actually doing. I just know that after do that little push to start whatever it is, I can go full force into and get going.

The Moral: Spin It Around

My fear of existence puts me on a pursuit of knowledge to calm it. My fear of time makes me hyper aware of my tasks and able to discern what is really valuable. My fear of the future makes me a hyper-preparer.

My advice to you, is to stop picking up a distraction at a moments notice and when you have the urge, really think about why you have this urge. Once you're sure of a trigger, try to find a way to spin it around and use it to fuel you. I'm sure this won't work with every problem under the sun, but it's a starting point.

If I were to succumb to my anxiousness nothing would ever be done in my life and you wouldn't be reading this. Rotten Mind isn't just about designing cool graphics. For me, I'm fighting fear. Unfortunately this means my life is going to be scary for a while, but at least I'll grow from it.

Take the scary way home, do what most people won't do.

- Jaye

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