Effective Reinforcements (26/30)
A useful mental manuever
When wars are being fought within your mind, it’s crucial to have "effective reinforcements" to be able to call upon. These reinforcements are mental constructs which serve to reliably shift the balance of power toward the side that is ultimately best for you.
This just occurred to me after having spent the better part of thirty minutes engaged in an internal conflict around writing this post. Every fiber of my being is fighting for me to go to sleep immediately, which is to be expected. The past five days have included a long hike in a national park, constant panic about a business catastrophe, whitewater rafting, unexpected resolution of the business catastrophe, a music festival, staying up late to write about observations from said festival, and thirty-six holes of golf. I have absolutely no fuel of any kind left in the tank.
All this is to say that the ‘go to sleep’ side was winning by a landslide. My mind was coming up with all kinds of rationalizations, both reasonable and otherwise, as to why I should skip tonight’s post. The ‘stay up and write’ side was thoroughly outmatched and seemed ready to concede — that is, until I brought in the reinforcements.
In this case the reinforcements were my imagination of what it would feel like to wake up tomorrow having failed this challenge only four days from the finish. This was the trump card. Once I imagined that feeling, there was no chance I was going to sleep without publishing something.
I didn’t do this consciously or intentionally. It just happened. But imagine being able to do this on purpose! If you could anticipate internal conflicts that were likely to arise and identify effective reinforcements to call upon, you would be operating from a position of enormous strength. Upon reflection, it seems that there are many practical examples of effective reinforcements. A big one that comes to mind is having strong, uncompromising principles in the face of an ethical battle.
The complexity of our internal world makes clever mental strategies like this useful for situations where we’re facing ambiuity or just flat out getting in our own way. This strategy in particular is worth exploring further.