guardians_song (guardians_song) wrote,

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Commentary about motivation, (de)sensitization, and attention:

I think there is too much emphasis on feeling motivated about doing something as opposed to just doing it, in both directions - being really enthusiastic about doing something and yet never quite showing up to do the work is ranked as higher than thoroughly not giving a damn about something and performing the required tasks regardless. There is not enough emphasis on it actually being possible to do something while not being inspired to do it. I'd suspect shifting the emphasis might cut down the amount of creativity in modern culture, but would do wonders to cut the levels of crippling ADHD.

I had this epiphany while dosed to the gills on caffeine a week-and-a-half ago, mind, and am still bumbling through putting it into practice and seeing if it works - but making the mechanical decision to do things without the spirit moving me to do them is leading me to accomplish slightly more. (Given how little I'm accomplishing with this ongoing change, the answer to "Wait, how little were you doing before?" is "Don't ask".)

I place the blame both on liberal self-help culture, which insists that you should only do the things you're happy about doing (or you'll become a mindless, joyless drone, if you're not one already), and conservative moral-purity culture, which insists that you should be always overjoyed about whatever you're doing (or you'll become an entitled, selfish brat, if you're not one already). Both refuse to admit that, yes, sometimes you can and should do things that in no way make you happy!

On the flipside, people are also often lectured about how they have no right to feel unhappy over criticism and/or their own poor performance, and how they should just be delighted to be corrected. To be crude about it, I think the only circumstances under which one should be purely happy about being reprimanded and punished are agreed-upon scenarios between two consenting adults, and those only because, if one isn't happy, one can safeword out. Criticism hurts! Failure hurts! And I don't think there should be anything wrong about admitting that. It should be emphasized that one should be grateful for constructive criticism despite the sting, not that one should just be absolutely overjoyed at all times and anyone who thinks otherwise is an miserable failure who needs to Toughen Up.

And why do I say this? Because desensitization is not guaranteed to work on only one emotion, and one can, in fact, lose a fat lot of one's enthusiasm over something because one's ~too tough~ to give a damn about it.

I am trying to recover from said side effect of desensitization, and I desperately wish I had been told that it was all right for me to feel crushed over failure and continue to feel crushed, rather than that I should just magically make the feelings of being crushed vanish within a predetermined interval of time and get all ~GUNG-HO ENTHUSIASTIC!~ about the subject again.

Obviously the ideal course is enthusiasm married to action, but the emphasis on enthusiasm alone and the denigration of action-without-enthusiasm is a serious mistake. (And I am deadly serious about the ADHD, because I think a lot of my attention-deficit symptoms are the result of being taught culturally and personally that lack of enthusiasm is an excuse for inaction and enthusiasm is a sufficient justification for any action. This is related to the "rejecting [someone] as a role model" rant I posted a day or two ago, by the way.)

Now, of course, I could be so fussed over this because of predispositions to executive functioning difficulties (incidentally, the "Road Trip Without A Map" example story is one horrifying microcosm of almost every plan my family has ever made...), attention-span issues, or Asperger's tendencies, and this only looks like a widespread cultural problem to me because it affects my mindset disproportionately. It could be that these ideals bounce right off of most people, and that only a few rare dolts like me find themselves up a creek and hastily trying to fashion nearby pieces of driftwood into a paddle. Or it could be that the solution is obvious, and that I only caught on now because I'm a bit retarded in the more holistic areas of functioning.

But, for me, these attitudes are screwed-up and dangerous, and I think I will benefit from realizing that actions do outweigh intentions AND that intentions are outweighed by actions. (I said that both ways because, contrary to active-over-passive gospel, the two versions emphasize different things and both have their own value.) And so I'll state it on Dreamwidth/LiveJournal and get it out of my system, because someone needs to say it and I don't see anyone else doing so.

This entry is mirrored at Comment wherever you like. Just remind me to get off the internet and do my homework.
Tags: rant, real life
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