#68: Digging ourselves out of the Underworld of our mind
Some thoughts on Gods and Monsters, procrastination, and the future
Here we are, my friends. Welcome to Monday, May 23rd 2022. It’s incredibly hard to put into words what is happening all around us, but we must try. If we don’t — if we keep inside what is bothering us — then this emotional force: what humans have personified through the ages in Gods, or Monsters — well, it will just grow bigger and bigger and bigger. And then, one day, the force will snowball into an avalanche. Poseidon will shake the earth. The sea will storm. Hades and Persephone will greet you in the Underworld.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t need to allow our dark emotions to turn into evil Gods or Monsters. We can choose to instead create beautiful chocolate hills (see the above image).
We create chocolate hills by making the invisible visible. By sharing our darkness with the people we care about, and the people who care about us. You see, Gods and Monsters thrive in the darkness and crumble in the light. It is only in the light that we can face our darkness, our “shadow,” as coined by psychiatrist Carl Jung, in order to slowly start to dig ourselves out of the Underworld of our minds.
I want to share with you one of my dark spots. I’m not going to go too deep into my Underworld —at least not yet, not in this post—but instead, I’ll share a blemish with you. Something that I think will resonate given how hyperconnected all of us are.
Today, as I started to write this post, my default behavior was to open Curius, the bookmarking app I use to save articles from the web, and to start to read the articles in my queue. I had all of these great ideas, like I remembered a few articles I saved about decentralization. I also remembered my encounter at a coffee shop yesterday with a really interesting stranger —a cognitive scientist who studies the harms of centralized power in social systems.
Brilliant! I thought this would make for a really great post.
But the problem is that I would have to read a few new articles. And that’s time consuming. That’s time taken away from writing —from productive output.
You may be thinking: wait a sec —I thought reading is a critical component of writing. You can’t have things to write about if you’re not reading new things.
You’re not wrong. Reading is an important input to writing, but the hunt for new readings can also be a trap that comes from a dark Monster. The Monster of “feeling not good enough.” Feeling like I don’t already have what I need to write a good post. Feeling like I need to go scour new territory and learn something new before I can start doing my work.
What I’m actually doing is this: I am procrastinating.
When I took the time to be thoughtful and to ask myself what resources I already have —right now, right here—to write a meaningful post, then I realized that it’s all literally all right here in Substack, in this wonderful archive of my past writing.
So I opened my archive and I noticed that several posts did better than others, as measured by number of likes. The surprising thing is that the posts that did well were not about decentralization or crypto or the future of work or other nerdy topics.
The posts that did the best were about “softer” topics like psychology, mindset, and self-reflection. They’re the posts where I shared personal stories, with the lessons that I learned about how to be more compassionate, gentle, and kind.
These are the posts I am referring to:
Upon self-reflection, I realized that these are the posts that are most authentically me. I’m on a journey to become a compassionate, gentle, and kind super achiever. I want to challenge the status quo that competitive elite status games are the path to success.
There’s no doubt that competitive elite status games were the North Star for high-achieving and ambitious people, like myself and probably many of you who are reading this. But the times are changing. We’re entering a Post-Covid era and we’re bringing with us a lot of baggage. The Monsters of our soul are screaming louder and louder. We need to finally get them under control so they don’t spread destruction in our New Normal.
Once you see the Monster in yourself —the voice that makes you believe that you are not good enough and you need to get external validation —you can’t unsee it. It’s no longer “my” monster, or “your” monster, but instead “our” monster. It’s the collective consciousness monster that comes with being a human being.
I shared today in a Mental Health Check-in that I hosted with Ness Labs, a lovely online community that has helped me weather the pandemic storm, that I feel as if I am moving slower than the people around me. It’s unnerving. I often wonder if I am doing something wrong, if I am missing out, if I am becoming lazy. But then I hear people share that they are struggling with moving too fast. It’s exhausting. They wonder if they’re in the right job. In the right career.
We’re in a time of great change. Tectonic level change. And I wonder what our future will be like. What will a world of people in work transition look like?
I have some guesses.
I suspect that societally we will redefine our definition of lazy and productive. When you start to work less, you realize just how much busy work you were doing before— draining tasks that give you the illusion of productivity. I also suspect that we will become less competitive and more collaborative. When you start to work less, you realize how similar you actually are to other people and you no longer see others as enemies who are fighting over a fixed piece of pie. Your scope of compassion and kindness expands and you want to work together with people, not against people. Ultimately, I suspect that we will experience some mind-bending science-fiction level progress.
I wish you all the courage to face your monsters and to spread love. ❤️ Be well, my friends.