More on why trying is bad

My cliff notes for “There is no try“, an especially closely-related follow up to the last post in this series:

When we are conscious of trying, the possibility of failure is implicit, and thus more likely than when instead we are in a mode where we’re simply going about our work, doing the most likely successful approach before we move on to the next most likely if necessary.

When we fail, the ability to say “well, I tried” is an excuse; being in “try” mode pre-determines that excuse will be within easy reach. When you are trying, doubt is on the table.

And ironically, again when failure is an option because trying may not work out, we can wear ourselves out focusing on the very hard work of not failing — instead of simply doing what success requires. This is like a person “trying sprint up and down a soccer field as much as they can, rather than the playing soccer”.

“I am trying X” is a answer to the question “What are you doing?” A better answer is a description of your specific action steps, or simply “I am doing X”.

Beware of faking it until you make it: If your dishonest answer to the question is “I’m doing”, then “I’m trying… but don’t know how” may serve you better in that situation. In this situation, it can be useful to reframe the question: If you’re trying to solve a big problem X that you’re barely able to grasp how to tackle, perhaps you can instead be doing the first small activity you’ve thought of that you hope will take you in a production direction. Label your actions with granularity.

Spending a few weeks refusing to use the word “try” is useful exercise to shift into this mindset. Force yourself to substitute the concrete actions you are taking, instead.

This post is part of the thread: Replacing Guilt Cliffs Notes – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

Examine your worst fears

My cliff notes for “Come to your terms“:

Facing fears can be seem so difficult for some that they think it is impossible, so this exercise isn’t for everyone, but here it is:

If you encounter a fear of something so terrible you panic to think it, breath deeply and face it.

Come to terms with the worst, with the unthinkable. Imagine painful possibilities. Face them, and know them.Visualize them. Don’t downplay, excuse, plan to mitigate, or tolerify the possibility, just consider it fully.

If you truly pre-accepted worst case scenarios that are in the realm of possibility — Might you die? Might a loved one? — then you can let go of the fear and anxiety that are present now, and go on functioning more fully without them weighing you down. And, if that possible bad outcome does come to pass, your freak out reaction will be lessened, because you will have already accepted it.

Fears control us. They cause us to avoid thinking in certain directions, let alone dealing with things as they are. Our worst fears can cause us to hold back — paradoxically diminishing our ability to avert our them.

Fully examining the negative outcomes saps the terror and removes its weight. If the ultimate price of your actions could be terrible if things don’t go your way, fully consider what that would be like, accept it, and decide to embark down that path having made this choice in spite of the fear. This saps the fear, and allows you to re-exert your control to steer towards a brighter future the best you can.

This post is part of the thread: Replacing Guilt Cliffs Notes – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.