Sat down this morning to have breakfast. I’ve been working my way through a stack of recent, and not-so-recent, issues of my landlady’s TIME magazines, because my books are in storage and I haven’t gotten new subscriptions to my favorite mags yet, although if I get any more cheap offers I will. 🙂 Anyway, I enjoy reading while I eat, so TIME it is for the mo’.
In the 9/17/12 issue is an article by Dr. Mehmet Oz called “Goal Power”. In the last column of that article, I read this sentence:
The National Institute of Mental Health published a revealing article in 2010 on the phenomenon known as emotional inertia — a sort of fixed state of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety or other condition that rarely seems to change even in the face of circumstances that warrant change.
Inertia like, say, refinancing the house every few years to, in part, pay off the credit card debt that just kept coming back no matter how often I pledged that this was it, the plastic money was getting wrapped in paper and tape and stuffed in the bottom of my purse because this time I was serious. Only in an emergency, yessiree, otherwise no more plastic for me. Which lasted only until the Next Shiny Thing — or an accumulation of Shiny Things — came along.
Like continuing to talk as if I was serious about making a living as a freelancer when it was patently obvious I didn’t have a clue about running my own business…even when my overhead consisted of a paid-for massage table (oooooh, shiny…) or a computer and a handful of red pencils.
Like joining a networking group to build my business when I was clueless (see previous paragraph).
Like not starting a job search until I was a mere four to six months away from a gigantic financial disaster.
Like not being proactive about said job search because I’d convinced myself years ago that I didn’t interview well, that no one would take me seriously because I’d abandoned a perfectly good job to go freelance, that I’d lose out because I was overweight.
Like not preparing for my move when I lost the house, because I simply could not conceive of any way a just universe would let it happen. Because there would be, had to be, a way for me to keep my house and my cats and meet my obligations and lead a happy and productive life and dammit I was going to hang on until it found me.
Like not trying harder, sooner, to find a rescue organization that might be willing to foster my cats and give me a shot at getting them back when I got back on my feet again, because see above paragraph.
And yet… My view of life was red flags as far as the eye could see, and there I sat, mind circling itself like a hamster on a wheel and to even less purpose: I mean, at least the hamster gets exercise.
I now direct your attention to a couple of sentences following hard on the heels of the one quoted above.
“…investigators found that when the need to act was most pressing, subjects dug into their habitual moods more than ever. The urgency paradoxically pushed them to cling more closely to the thing they knew, even if it was bad and unhealthy.”
You know that bit near the beginning of A Charlie Brown Christmas when Charlie Brown goes to visit Lucy at her psychiatrist booth? And he tells her he just can’t seem to get into the Christmas spirit, and she starts listing fears to see if one of them clicks with him? On she goes, until:
“Maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?”
“What’s pantophobia?” Charlie Brown asks.
“The fear of everything,” Lucy replies.
“THAT’S IT!!!!!” shouts Charlie Brown with enough force to send Lucy flying.
Reading about emotional inertia was a “THAT’S IT!!!!” moment for me. Hell, I’m pretty sure I described my situation and lack of action as inertia more than once, just based on the common rendering of Newton’s First Law of Motion: A body in motion will tend to remain in motion; a body at rest will tend to remain at rest.
But not all rest is good or comfortable or useful or offers the chance for future progress.
I was at rest.
Now I am in motion.
I plan to remain in motion, even if I’m only moving one step at a time.