or: “it’s turtles all the way down“
23 minute read by Mark Manson
“Self-awareness is like great sex: everyone thinks they have a ton of it, but in reality no one knows what the fuck they’re doing.
The fact is that the majority of our thoughts and actions are on autopilot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. Our habits, routines, impulses, and reactions carry us through our lives so we don’t have to stop and think about it every time we wipe our ass or start a car.
The problem is when we’re on autopilot for so long that we forget we’re on autopilot. Because when we’re not even aware of our own habits, routines, impulses, and reactions, then we no longer control them; they control us. Whereas a person with self-awareness is able to exercise a little meta-cognition and say, “Hmm… every time my sister calls me and asks for money, I end up drinking a lot of vodka. That might not be a coincidence,” a person without self-awareness just hits the bottle and doesn’t look back.
Below are three levels of self-awareness along with a caveat. Why three levels? Who the fuck knows? Just go with it.
LEVEL 1 – WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?
There’s a lot of pain and suckage in life. Over the last 30 days, how many times have you:
– Struggled with a relationship with someone close to you?
– Felt lonely, isolated or unheard?
– Felt unproductive or lost on what you should do?
– Been underslept, under-fed, low energy, or unhealthy?
– Stressed about work or finances?
– Uncertain about your future?
– Been physically hurt, ill, or debilitated?
Chances are if you add all of those up, you’re going to be pretty close to 30 out of the last 30 days. That’s a lot of suckage!
We avoid pain through distraction. We transport our minds to some other time or place or world, where it can be safe and insulated from the pain of day-to-day life. We stare at our phones, we obsess about the past or our potential futures, make plans we’ll never keep, or simply try to forget. We eat, drink, and fuck ourselves into numbness to dull the reality of our problems. We use books, movies, games, and music to carry us to another world where no pain exists, and everything always feels easy and good and right.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with distraction. We all need some sort of diversion to keep us sane and happy.
The key is that we need to be aware of our distractions.
Put another way, we need to make sure that we’re choosing our distractions and our distractions aren’t choosing us. We’re the ones opting into the distraction, rather than simply being unable to opt out of distraction. We need to know when we’re checking out. Our distraction needs to be planned and moderated in bite-sized chunks. We can’t binge on distraction.