I have been inspired to purge the distractions from my life. My phone has been reduced to utilities, apps required for work, Spotify, and Audible. Time to focus.
In my journey of self improvement and growth I am noticing a tendency to want to pin _all_ issues onto a single source as the problem. And then simply removing that problem fixes _all_ things. This is not really how it works.
The latest was pinning depression/anxiety/etc entirely on video games. Removing games was the answer, and for a little while I did feel better, but all of those things came back. I realize that I was trying to shoe-horn everything into a perceived video game addiction when the reality was the video games were a symptom and a distraction of and from other issues. Nothing is black and white and there is much to untangle. There is a path though.
I had a great conversation over the weekend about work ethic. We have a couple of friends who both were headed towards success in their art, and while one is really breaking out and realizing that success, the other is not. And the reason being, their work ethic. One of them put the work in, the other did not.
I realize that I am more like the latter. I am not putting the work into myself, my art, my relationships, and that is a major driver in my overall mental and physical health. Video games, movies, books, are great distractions from reality but at the end of the day if I am not putting in the work to realize my potential then I am never going to be the person I want to be. And the cycle will continue.
Assume good intent.
I have been reading a lot about video game addiction. I have also been mindful of myself and the effects of removing video games from my life. Video games is a nasty business. There is a lot of psychology around how to keep a player engaged that is downright disgusting. As I was reading I started to realize though, that this is not what was keeping me playing. My addiction is less to do with developers and their sneaky strategies and skinner boxes and all of that, but more, I think, it is all about disassociation. I do not handle stressful situations well, and have an unchecked anxiety which makes things worse.
Disassociation can be regarded as a coping or defense mechanism in seeking to mitigate or tolerate stress. I tend to “shut down” during stressful events. Like, when dealing with people and arguing, or if something “major” happens in life. Well, not always, sometimes I am on and it’s ok, but more often I shut down. I will forget conversations and details, and will really just not be there mentally. In the last few years I have noticed that during states of high anxiety or stress that I had a powerful urge to go play video games. I thought maybe video games replaced cigarettes for me, as there may be a correlation of when I stopped smoking to when i started gaming more heavily, but really I think there was a lot going on in my life and around me that was stressful and difficult. My way of coping was to escape and simply not deal with anything.
Some games were addicting, sure. I spent too much time with a few, definitely. But overall, it was simply me not wanting to face reality, ever. Gaming is just the easy way to ignore it all. I disappeared into gaming when my wife was sick, when her family was falling apart, when shit got bad with my family, when my work life got very bad, when our lifestyle got very bad, and so on. It was my coping mechanism.
It is insanely freeing to be rid of the games. I feel a bit more connected and calm overall. I have had some high stress high anxiety events recently and feel that I handled them a little bit better than normal. I have shied away from dealing with things and life for long enough. It’s only been like 3 weeks but it feels good man. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I feel I can actually start to fix things in my life.
I noticed I do this thing.
I have this urge to create, and then, in order to fulfill the urge, I must buy a new sketchbook. Or new pens. New paints. Something has to change. This change will then be the trigger that will cause me to draw all the time, to finish a painting, tile the kitchen, write a blog post, whatever. I do this, and have done this, for as long as I can remember.
Yesterday I had a strong urge to write blog content. I want to blog more. I want to create website content for my website(s). BUT! In order to do that I need a whole new website! Before I could create, I need a new domain (ahem, roymisc.com). Now I am not encumbered by the weight and legacy of my existing website (cough roylindauer.com cough). I am free to, create! But what about the last time I did that? My current site was the result of this same cycle. I got it just right, so I could create content… Oh no.
Each time it is the same. This is the turning point. This action will be the change I need to fulfill my destiny and take my place as a content creator/artist/photographer/whatever. And every time I don’t create with this new sketchbook, or new site, or new pens, they become a burden and reminder of me failing. It’s mad. I can recognize the behavior now.
One very positive thing I have noticed in this, is that the urge to create is powerful. It exists! There are, however, some hangups and obstacles in my way (or perceived to be in my way) that must be dealt with. Now I guess I need to figure out what those obstacles are, and then how to deal with them.
“While washing dishes, wash each piece relaxingly, as though each bowl is an object of contemplation. Consider each plate as sacred. Follow your breath to prevent your mind from straying. Do not try to hurry to get the job over with. Consider washing the dishes the most important thing in life. Washing the dishes is meditation. If you cannot wash the dishes in mindfulness, neither can you meditate while sitting in silence.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh