I just had the best idea! I wrote this at 10 PM last night, while in the middle of something else. Why not take a day traditionally associated with bad luck and use it as reverse psychology? I’ll get to what I mean after a brief digression.
I learned about the supposed Mayan prophecy about 2012 when I was around 10 years old. It freaked me out. I mean, it really freaked me out. I hate to admit this, as a university-educated person, but I didn’t really breathe a sigh of relief until after the date had passed. Okay, the Mayans evidently couldn’t predict the end of their own society, so how could they predict anything else? What we know rationally doesn’t always manage to burrow its way down into the core of our irrational legacy as humans. We’re swinging back in the direction of superstition, anyway, having reached a place in which we are rejecting the very concept of expertise. We want to go with what works for us, and we can generally find a blogger, celebrity, or news source to support what we like to hear. Myself included; nobody is immune to cognitive bias. That’s why I can still spook myself by thinking about Nostradamus, even though I have a history degree.
Back to my Friday the 13th thing. What if we used this “unlucky” day as a sort of backup excuse? What if we finally turned the ignition on something we’ve been hesitating to do, knowing that we have something totally obvious to blame if it doesn’t work out?
“Of course I didn’t get the job – it was Friday the 13th – but I figured I’d send in my résumé anyway.”
“Of course I didn’t finish clearing that square foot of space. What would you expect? It was Friday the 13th!”
“I knew it was going to be a bad day even before I finally looked at all my accounts and totaled my outstanding credit card debt. Screw Friday the 13th, I need me a cookie.”
“Friday the 13th is the worst. All I did all night was go through a stack of mail.”
I have an email relating to a possible new project hanging around in my inbox. I have a tendency of hesitating and delaying on this sort of thing until the deadline passes, which is a way of dealing with uncertainty. It’s like having leftovers you’re not sure about, and waiting another few days until they grow visible mold just to confirm. The worst that will happen with an inquiry email is that it doesn’t pan out, which is much less scary than some of the stuff I’ve found in my fridge. Ah, but gross expired food is predictable in a way that human communication is not.
Unfinished tasks are a major drain on mental bandwidth. When it’s something important but not urgent, it can also be an emotional drain. It is not fun to have to admit that you’ve let yourself down – again. All the talk about self-esteem that is going around in our culture, and it really comes from one thing: keeping promises to yourself. Knowing you can trust yourself. Living up to your own standards, according to your own value system. Not keeping promises to yourself is a sure path to depression and low self-worth. The ability to do it, to set a goal and go after it, is a super power. I can write an email! I can pick up the phone and make appointments, even when they’re scary! I can clean out my fridge! I can face the truth about my retirement account balance/credit cards/weight/blood glucose/cholesterol/blood pressure/whatever! Whatever is the thing I dread the most, that’s the thing I should do. Face it in the clear light of day. Tackle it, seize it, dominate it, and throw it out the window.
We can’t let anxiety rule our lives. We can’t walk around with little gray clouds hanging over our heads, sprinkling thoughts of all the things we haven’t done. We can’t think of ourselves as failures. Please, please, not that. Failure should be a minor thing that happens a thousand times a day as part of the learning process toward pursuing something new. We can’t believe in bad luck, because that’s a way of getting suckered by fatalism. No matter what life throws at us, we have the power to determine everything else. I determine my attitude, my response, my words, my actions, and my personal environment. When “bad luck” comes my way, I deal with it, adapt if necessary, and proceed with my plan. Plan A? Plan B? I know more than one alphabet, so bring it on.
All right. Let’s make the least out of this day. Whatever is that dreaded task, let’s confront the fact that it doesn’t really matter what we do, because we were procrastinating anyway, so if we screw it up, it’s about the same either way. If it’s unpleasant, better to do it today and not have to think about it on Saturday. If it feels all tingly and loaded with mysteriously powerful potential, maybe it is fate?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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