Well, today was going to be a return to some practical topics. I’d been working on a column about approaching people and being able to talk to strangers. I had all my notes wrapped up, I had the rough outline ready to go… and then, well, you know how to make the gods laugh, right?
I was somewhat amused when, as I was searching for one reference or another, I saw that Lifehacker ran a piece on talking to strangers. The timing was felicitous, the resources surprising and the comments… well the comments were about typical. Specifically, the genre of “not just no but hell no,” with the level of vehemence you would expect from a suggestion that, I dunno, people should try snorting ground up cockroaches or something.
Now what was interesting, to me, is how much people’s resistance to the idea that Talking To People Is Good, Actually came from a place of “I don’t like this, therefore it’s impossible and also bad.” And… honestly, it reminded me of so many people who actively resist concepts of hope and improvement and want to believe that life is pointless and “hope” is just “cope”. However, while that was an interesting germ of an idea for a piece, I had my plan. I had my notes. I was going to finally write this column about the structure of approaches so I could at least close the tabs in my research browser.
And then I watched ContraPoints’ latest video on the topic of envy. And one casual sentence that Natalie delivers, almost off-handedly, unlocked something in my brain:
“I wish more people could feel things without rushing to a ‘rational’ defense of the feeling.”
If there were ever a better description of what I see so very often in folks who struggle with making positive changes in their lives… well, I haven’t seen one yet. That set off a series of thoughts, observations and ideas and… well, look, universe, I can take a damn hint already. So the planned column got shelved for this one instead.
Because, if we’re all being honest, we’ve all had times when we’ve fought against doing things we know would likely make our lives better. We’ve all experienced that resistance to making changes, thrown up reason after reason why things wouldn’t work, and found “proof” after “proof” that the struggle was hopeless. But, as the saying goes: when God closes a door, you blow open a hole in the wall instead.
Sometimes the difference between success and failure isn’t about skill or having the right “technique”, it’s about knowing when to get out of your own damn way.
So let’s talk about why it can be so damn hard to make positive changes in your life… even when the status quo is making you miserable.