“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
– Generally attributed to Albert Einstein (however, it’s unlikely that he actually said it).
I know, from all too much experience, that this statement is completely true. The definition of insanity IS, without a doubt, repeating the same thing again and again, but hoping for different results.
How do I know this to be true? I can offer multiple examples from my own life experience.
To say that I have struggled with my weight all my life is probably an understatement.
I have always been heavyset, ranging anywhere from about 20 to 80 pounds overweight. I have a rather large gut, and that’s where the majority of the excess weight lives on my body.
Yes, some of my mass is muscle. But I am still noticeably chunky.
I have made multiple attempts over the years to diet (both sustainable and unsustainable options); exercise (cardio, weight training, fencing); I’ve cut out soda entirely, and both sugar and carbs from time to time.
I lose, I gain. Weight comes off, weight goes back on. New approach but same basic outline, or a slight variation on previous themes. Try, try again…same result.
Yes, I am considering other, more drastic options. My health is not awful, apart from the weight, but it still has a negative impact on me both physically and mentally.
The point is, my constant struggle with my body is one aspect of the definition of insanity — same thing again and again, unsurprisingly same results.
This one is a tad more complex, as every job is different.
However, I never manage to land anywhere that I might desire to stay for good.
With one exception, I have never managed to hold down a job for more than two or three years. Sometimes I get bored with my duties, other times being underpaid gets old, and sometimes I manage to screw up or sabotage myself.
It doesn’t help that I am not a good drone in a massive corporate situation, nor a fan of being paid less than my worth in a small business environment.
The other, larger elephant in the room, frankly, is that I most want to make my living from my writing. Currently, this is what I am working on — but out of fear, and the usual issues surrounding finances, I am still hedging my bets and dropping resumes.
Maybe this time I’ll manifest that perfect office management gig that still lets me write when not doing work duties, AND pays a decent salary.
(Can you FEEL the skepticism inherent in the previous sentence? It’s a bit much.)
Making money from writing
First, it began with regular blogging. Maybe enough word-of-mouth among my friends would get me exposure, and earn me some money.
After some research, I tried using affiliate links. As of this month, I have declared THAT a total bust, and am ceasing infecting my blog with it.
The last couple of books I released, I tried some promotions (without paying a ton of money to make them happen). They didn’t boost sales noticeably.
This one, however, DOES have a new element that is not a repeat of previous attempts. Blogging here on Medium is building a broader audience, AND allowing me to improve my craft. This is a work in progress, but so far I am liking it.
There are other things that I tend to try, repeat, try again, repeat. I suspect that this is actually a part of human nature overall.
Yet I know that the answer to all of these is to make a fundamental shift of my mindset. So, so much easier said than done.
Mindfulness and mindset shifting
Mindfulness is becoming aware of what you are thinking and what and how you are feeling. With that awareness, you can influence both, as well as the actions and intent behind the actions that you take.
I have been working on better mindfulness for some time now. The trouble with this is that what it really requires to be effective is a fundamental shift in mindset.
What does that even mean? If like me, you are in a struggle with self-doubt, uncertainty, depression, or any other negative mindsets, this requires a total and complete shift. You can’t just go partway into altering the how of your thinking or the how and what of your feelings (or only work on feelings but not thinking or thinking but not feelings), it requires a fundamental change.
This, too, falls under the definition of insanity. You can recognize that mindfulness matters. When you become more aware, you can work on influencing and controlling your thoughts and feelings better.
The trick to this, however, is that you can’t just partly do it. You can’t just be mindful of what you are thinking and feeling — you need to change it if it’s not what you need it to be. No matter whether you have become aware of what you are thinking and what and how you are feeling — if your mindset is negative, or otherwise not as you would prefer it, you have to take action and change it.
I can be more aware until the cows come home. It does me little good if I don’t take action with it.
If I’m still struggling with the brain weasels and their less-than-complimentary messages, it won’t go very far towards the necessary mindset shift required to avoid the insanity and work with something new and different.
How do I shift my mindset and avoid the insanity?
I’m not entirely sure what the answer to this question is. That’s part of what I am seeking out now.
To do this I am currently using a couple of different tools in concert. These include:
· Meditation. I am meditating daily. This does help.
· Self-talk. I recorded some affirmations that I listen to daily.
· Exercise. Getting more exercise creates flow.
· Blogging. Writing this stuff down and putting it out there adds some useful accountability.
Part of the problem is that I have worked with this before, so am I just falling back on defined insanity? That will depend entirely on me. If I can shift my mindset from negatives to positives, I can do this. When I recognize how I am thinking and feeling, it’s up to me to change it if it’s not how I desire for it to be.
I’ve done it before. So it should be entirely possible to do it again.
This is hard, not going to lie to you. But I believe that doesn’t lessen how worthwhile it is. Do you know what else is worthwhile and deserving? Me.
FYI — you are also worthwhile and deserving. You and I are not failures, or screw-ups, or insane, for that matter. We can learn from mistakes, missteps, and other misadventures. I am not my past, and neither are you.
Deep breath. Dive back in. Thanks for taking this strange trip to (and hopefully past) insanity with me. Let’s show ’em what we got, change our mindsets, then find and/or create some kickass lives.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter — so keep working on any changes you wish to create.