They say that a behavior stays alive because it serves you in some way. AKA, If you’re eating the entire fridge, it might be because you actually hate your work and you’re trying to escape it any way you can, because YOU ARE TIRED AND YOU NEED A BREAK BUT YOU’RE TOO MUCH OF A GOOD GIRL TO GIVE YOURSELF ONE.
I think about this often. Like, while I have Downton Abbey reruns playing in the background, and the neighbors are downstairs having a toga party, I’m over here pondering why we do the shit we do. Because we do a lot of distressing shit, don’t we?
We stay in jobs we don’t like.
We say yes to things we aren’t excited about.
We don’t always try as hard as we could.
We work with clients we actually sorta kinda…despise?
We procrastinate starting the new website.
We spend our days doing things that are entirely forgettable.
We lose our lives to obligation.
We fail to make the change.
The common explanation is that we’re scared—wah, wah, wah, WAH. That we really want to try, but we’re crippled with fear—even though life could be better.
My theory is this: in some small, twisted way, these fuck magnets are making our lives better. They are serving us in some way, even if it’s not obvious, and even if it hurts us in other ways. What do you get out of doing this thumb-sucking work every day? You get to relax, for now, because life is frigging hard and you need a reprieve. What do you get out of doing the mundane client work you are SO over? You get to not have to really apply yourself. What do you get from letting other people tell you how to live your life? You get to not be responsible if things turn out badly. What do you get from not really trying as hard as you could? You get to maintain illusions about your own performance, never really finding out if you royally suck.
Contrary to appearances, we aren’t scared: we’re self-serving. Everybody does everything for selfish reasons, even if those things don’t appear to be helping. We all know the person who falls into alcoholism as a way to cope with their anxiety: drinking takes a lot away from them, but it gives them something, too. It gives them peace, even as it wages war.
So what are the things that you hate, actually giving you?
And, more importantly, how can you get that from another source, instead?
Finding out how to get your needs met is not just some self-help mumbo jumbo: it’s one of the most important business decisions you can make.