DO This: Examine a minor fear with data and contemplation

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DeepGreenCrystals is all about waking up and discovering your authentic self.  A big part of this task is facing the deep rooted stories that hold us back.  Any story which is impeding growth should be examined under the harsh light of data and contemplation against the yardstick of authenticity and “does it still serve me?”  Recover your grit,  15 minutes of Honesty  and Stop Multitasking are exercises which resulted from a moment of clarity that turned into a useful contemplation and data collection tool.

Despite thinking and writing about authenticity nearly every day, I found another example of bad storytelling holding me back this morning while doing Morning Pages.  How I noticed it and what I did about it is generalizable across many circumstances, so here comes another post.

Every now and then when doing something, I notice a slight tingling feeling in the back of my head.  Or a non-specific feeling of unease.  Sometimes it is a shallow slight feeling of dread.  Not sword of Damocles threatening, but a hint of impending doom, a minor fear.  Many times the source of the fear never becomes clear.  Often times, when the source is revealed, the fear is so minor that my rational mind just sets it aside as irrelevant.  My rational mind has become very good at suppressing/denying minor fears.   Save the energy for the big things right?  But this background noise still saps energy and creates a cloud that makes authentic operation much more difficult.  When the big things do come you are starting from a cloudy drained state rather than a rested strong one.  Facing down minor fears and getting beyond them is the only way to lower the background noise and start to clear the fog.

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This morning, the tingle started right as I sat down to write.  The tingle had been there for a couple of days, but today I decided to try to figure it out.  I stopped writing and I stared at the small journal with wide ruled pages it, turning the feeling over in my mind.  What am I doing?  Morning Pages, 750 words.  Three pages in the journal.  Why?  Because I am a more authentic person when I do Morning Pages.  I am start the day out with a success by doing Morning Pages.  Am I really doing Morning Pages?  Maybe not.  Three pages in this small, wide ruled journal is probably not really 750 words.  Ah, there it is.  The Flinch.  The Fear.

I have been congratulating myself on doing Morning Pages fairly regularly, but I was uneasy about accepting the praise because something felt inauthentic about it.  Three pages is a shortcut to 750 words.  That is three pages of 8.5×11 college ruled paper (30 lines per page), about 250 words per page.  Here I was writing in a smaller journal with wider lines (25 lines per page).  My rational mind knew there was likely something off, but with all the praise and compliments coming in daily, why rock the boat?  Could my monkey mind be taking a shortcut to get the reward while doing less actual work (avoiding pain)?  That disconnect could be the source of the tingle.  So I went back and counted the actual number of words on each of the previous six journal pages.  The average was 160 words per page.  Bingo!  Three pages in this journal was 480 words (35% less than the 750 goal).

The minor fear uncovered here was “Morning Pages are hard to be successful at, so lets lower the bar.”  So the story in my head was “You are a great success with Morning Pages”, but my monkey mind had cut the work by 35% through obfuscation (maybe even weasel words) in an effort to reach the goal with as little effort as possible.  The true story is “You are great at completing 65% of your Morning Pages goal every day.”  I can’t fault the monkey.  He is doing his job.  He is keeping me alive by avoiding pain and achieving goals with as little effort as possible.  It is not his fault.  The monkey was afraid of failure and hard work, so he lowered the bar.  Creative and smart actually.

Now, armed with the DATA, my rational mind can contemplate the question of  “does the story serve me?”  Do I want to continue with the Monkey’s tactic of lowering the bar, or do I value the benefits derived from the greater effort?  The monkey says “3 pages = success” when the truth is “5 pages = success”.  One word in the story changes and authenticity is restored!  Yes, I want authenticity, so I am going with “5 pages = success”.  The monkey will likely still try to do his job to avoid pain, but now I am making a conscience decision to tilt the story toward my conscious mind’s goal.  I faced the fear, disrobed it, and am moving forward with a revised story.  I know exactly where the bug in the program is and how to fix it.

One down, hundreds to go.   This process of examining a minor fear created by the monkey, getting to the bottom of it, reframing the story to one the rational mind wrote can be used any time you come across a fear.  Try it for yourself.  Let me know how it goes.


Also published on Medium.

3 thoughts on “DO This: Examine a minor fear with data and contemplation”

  1. “Does the story serve me?” — question plastered grins to our faces as we picture your “self” speaking to your “monkey mind” . #fierce

  2. Morning Pages. Uh-huh. I do them to, and am always wondering, am I writing too little, am I writing too much. I use these great Muji notebooks. But the ruled ones seem a little cramped for my handwriting and the unruled a bit of a cheat and a little wilder and harder to read. I’m still using the ruled ones because I got a couple of five packs and still have 5 left.

    Still, I have the same question running through my head, because I usually use skip a line after each paragraph, so four or five a page. Today I felt guilty and didn’t skip lines. So now you got me paranoid and I counted. Today’s around 350 a page (I counted 10 lines and then averaged) so that gives me a 1050 a day. Go me! Not slouching. Most days skipping lines after the paragraph? 750! Ok!! Still good.

    But here’s the thing, I know in the Artist’s Way, she never tells you how many words to write (tell me if I’m wrong). Because I looked really hard, because I don’t want to do it wrong, so I think it’s not there.

    And that’s the monkey mind at work, making you earn every little bit of credit and reward, and then making you go back and count up the words and take it back for any minor infraction. I want my monkey mind to lighten up. Sometimes the pages don’t get finished. Sometimes I skip a day by mistake.
    I’m going to direct my monkey mind to give me more credit and protect me more from pain.

    😉 See you in the morning pages!
    -Morgan

    1. Ha! The monkey is funny isn’t it? Well for me I had been telling myself 750 words not three pages was authentic. I don’t think she says words in the artists way but instead pages. I don’t think the absolute volume is he point. The point is intellectual honesty. At least for me. I want to commit to something and do it. I don’t want to allow the monkey a slacker way out. If you use the same notebook all the time and your goal is three pages then fine. But don’t change to a smaller notebook and keep three pages and think you are doing the same thing. That is not honest. That is not authentic. My Point to run the numbers was to double check my monkey against my pre frontal cortex and at least be honest. That worked.

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