The Deadly Cocktail – Distraction, Hesitation, & Apathy (and its Antidote)

How Our Modern World Fosters These Mental States and The Antidote to Their Poisonous Influence

I begin my day with an alarm that only shuts off if I take a photo of my iPad with the screen paused at the beginning of this ab workout. Then I get to it.

But that’s not entirely true cause sometimes I am in my head contemplating climbing back under the covers. I sit on my grey carpet engaged in a useless dialogue of hesitation.

I have tasks to get done, and I am going to eventually get them done, but this dialogue just prolongs the time to get started.

This is hesitation and it is the enemy of action.

Hesitation is one thing but apathy is a whole other beast.

Apathy is a feeling of hopelessness. A hopelessness that bleeds into your life, infecting you with a bleak, melancholic outlook on your future. A state of apathy lasts longer than a feeling of hesitation.

However, if you get used to hesitating, it can lead to apathy.

It’s best to avoid hesitating in its entirety as that nips a potential state of apathy in the bud. The 3 principles that have helped me are:

  • Using my rational mind to override my emotional mind
  • Guarding my attention
  • Knowing that once I start, I usually feel much better

In order to properly apply these principles, we need to know the enemy that fosters states of hesitation and apathy. This enemy is pervasive and inescapable to an extent. If we are to win the battle, we have to know its strategies.

Modernity is the Enemy

We are living in an era that is rich with distraction.

And being distracted leads to hesitation which leads to apathy.

The world is full of problems to solve.

The one way to NOT solve them is by tweeting and arguing about it behind a screen. I’m sure you’ve heard of the moniker of being an “internet warrior.” It’s totally fine to be one if your online presence translates into real-life impact. What’s not okay is hiding behind a screen only to find that your triggered arguments on social media did not accomplish anything at all.

Social media has created an opportunity for everyone to participate in discourse within the comfort of their home.

Back in the old days, you had to put on your slacks, and tophat, and smoke your pipe on the way to the town square. Participatory culture has always existed. Now it is amplified because everyone with an internet connection can engage.

The participatory culture phenomenon provides the illusion that one is actually making a difference by sending out a tweet. Polarizing issues that the media perpetuates leads to internet warriors on both sides of the argument fighting for their cause. The problem is that the war is online and therefore, merely serves as a distraction.

By definition, being distracted means focusing on the meaningless. Tweeting about an issue and problem you want to solve is hesitation if your actions do not reflect the solution. And since our phones are with us all the time, hesitation is always an arm’s length away, and apathetic stagnation is soon to follow

Practice what you tweet.

The Antidote to Hesitation: Using your rational mind to override your emotional mind

Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman coined a term I can’t erase from my mind. The term is limbic friction.

It’s the feeling I feel as I sit on my warm n’ fuzzy carpet half asleep with the workout video giving me the death stare. We’ve all felt that limbic friction before. It’s like our emotional body saying no to the task we don’t want to do because it’s uncomfortable.

Humans seek pleasure and avoid pain. This is all governed by our limbic system – the most ancient mammalian system there is. Literally, all mammals have this system embedded in their neurobiology.

When I said that limbic friction cannot be erased from my mind, I mean it literally – there is no escaping our nature.

But there is a way to override our nature.

When your emotions say no, tell them to shut the f*** up and go do the thing anyway. It also works in pursuit of cheap pleasure – when you want that third slice of cake, say no to your limbic system and reap the delayed rewards of self-control.

Surprisingly, the part of our brain that is responsible for self-control is the most recent in terms of our evolutionary history. It’s called the pre-frontal cortex (PFC). The science is clear: when this part of our brain is damaged, our self-control wanes. We also see a lack of self-control in adolescents because that part of the brain isn’t fully developed in humans until around the age of 25.

Become friends with your PFC, and be thankful it is functioning to steer you away from that which keeps you distracted, hesitating, and apathetic.

The Antidote to Distraction: Guarding Your Attention

This is how I do it:

Disable all notifications that are not absolutely necessary.

  • One’s that elicit cheap dopamine (likes, comments, etc.)
  • Distracting Emails

Avoid picking up your phone when you wake up.

  • This puts you in a state of distraction from the get-go. And by now you should understand what distraction leads to.

Get started on doing the uncomfortable.

The Antidote to Apathy: Just Start Doing

Every time I start the ab workout, the limbic friction fades without fail.

I realize that all the meaningless hesitation going on was just an illusion. My emotions were keeping me safe. But nothing worthwhile is found in the comfort zone.

After my workout is done, I am ready for more of what I have to do and less of what I feel like doing. To be honest, the more I practice just starting what I have to do, what I feel like doing merges with what I have to do.

It is no longer that difficult to push through the limbic friction with my rational mind. When you feel the limbic friction fading on something you once thought difficult, that’s indicative of the apathetic poison wearing off.

Amplification of Courage, Hope, and High Consciousness

I can’t find a royalty photo of Dr. David Hawkins’ Map of Consciousness and I am feeling considerable limbic friction to create my own version. Hopefully, you get the picture. If not, I’m not your best friend, google images is.

Drinking this antidote changes your trajectory of consciousness.

If anxiety and apathy are at the negative ends of consciousness. Courage and hope nudge you in the positive direction. According to Hawkins, courage is at the interface between negative and positive states of consciousness.

By just getting started on your purpose, you being to taste positive states of consciousness. Your apathy slowly morphs into courage. Once you gain a taste of the positive, you begin to realize that life is infinitely beautiful.

It’s not easy to lift yourself out of the depths of negative states like apathy.

This is because states of consciousness amplify unto themselves – If you’re feeling apathetic, you’re thinking apathetically, and this results in being apathetic.

It takes willpower to drink the proverbial antidote I described in this post.

But once you take a sip of that sweet nectar, I guarantee that your apathy will turn into unrelenting faith.

Until next time,
#sparkperception

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