On forcing oneself to do stuff…

So I’ve been thinking about the term to ‘force yourself to do something’ and kind of reeling at the absurdity of it all. I mean how can you force yourself to do something? Somewhere in your head you have one version of yourself pushing another version of yourself to do something they don’t want to do? Presumably kicking and screaming? But they’re both you, right? Not just the one that’s doing the forcing, but also the one being forced. So you might as well say that you were, “trying to resist forcing yourself to do something”. That would be equally bunk, right? I mean it would make as much sense, and realistically is a feeling I’m more familiar with.

So both the forced and the forcer ‘you’ are component parts of you. You can’t just identify with one of them. Which makes me think a bit about free will and which parts of the mind are genetically encoded and whether the part of the brain that needs to be forced is somehow being characterised as base matter – like we used to think of the body as being – with the forcer being our animating spark of divine will trying to get the corpse-like flesh of the body moving in a useful direction – the lightning to our Frankenstein’s monster of lethargy? Wow, that was a long sentence.

So basically saying that you had to force yourself to do something is a bit like saying that a rock is in constant battle with itself about whether to sit there or whether to get up and go for a walk. I mean, realistically it just stays where it’s put because that’s what it does. Whether you do things or not isn’t about internal conflict, it’s surely just about following your dictates – either dictates to animate yourself or dictates not to do so.

So why does it sometimes seem such a bloody enormous battle to convince oneself to even start doing a piece of work? What kind of stupid fucking evolutionary process ends up with procrastination, paralysis and apparent indolence? I mean, what kind of creature does well in the world by sitting at home in front of a computer for three hours in the early evening trying to motivate itself to write something about set-top boxes?! Where’s the reproductive advantage there?!

Stupid bloody world that should make me be this way and then make me neurotic about it.

9 replies on “On forcing oneself to do stuff…”

Individual vs society? Excuse the appallingly cliched example, but the individual who stays in the cave is safe and warm, the tribe that gets out there and hunts food doesn’t starve during winter…

Freud’s main contribution to psychoanalysis, as far as I can tell from the sidelines, was the idea that what we perceive as the self is the reult of internal struggles between different modules. His description of the modules–id, ego, and superego–are now generally unregarded, but we still operate as a democracy of components. Part of us wants sex, part wants food, part wants safety, etc. The winner, the module that attracts our attention when we ignore the rest, is hopefully the most pressing at the time.

Has this ever been the feeling I’ve had lately. Forcing myself to start projects. ONce I get going it’s not a problem, but it’s the first kick in the butt that’s tough sometimes. I don’t want other people to do that to me, so why is it hard to get yourself going sometimes? Not enough caffenine? Too little sleep? Other things on your mind? Maybe we need a shock collar to wear and have some software that shocks us if we don’t get moving!!!

Oft times, I find that it is that the task has grown, in my subconcious, to vast proportions, an unmanageable job impossible to approach. Something I try is to distract myself with something else, then set a time to start the real task, sort of sneaking up on it. I’m still not great at it though.
Jay Gooby makes a good point that sometimes you are just mulling it over in your mind and not ready, but breaking it down and doing bits of it helps.

Question about “forcing oneself”. I had this struggle for many years. Can one force him/herself to do something they don’t want to do? i.e. To test ones limit…is it possible for a man to make himself commit a crime, even though he doesn’t want to (by doesn’t want to, this means that there is no reason, absolutely nothing to make him want to do it such as revenge or wealth)?

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