'if we had answers to all our questions, questions would no longer exist.'

A quote from Elmine Wijnia today.

Thing is: our mind loves to solve problems. I think it is addicted to “solving problems” and would be bored to death when there is nothing left to solve. Second: I think we like to think we are in control. Being in control is a safe place to be.

And do not get me wrong. This whole addiction has lead to the microwave, the washing machine and all other fun stuff that makes my life easy. It helps us finding solutions for problems and gets us out of situations we do not like. (This is the constructive side.) On the downside, it helps us get stuck or into shit as well.

If there is no problem to solve, we will create one: “Why did it happen like this?” “I still did not hear from ‘A’. Does he/she still like me?” “Did I say or do something wrong?” etcetera. If we feel unsafe, we will try to create a safe place by finding explenations. “It happened so and so because this and that”.

At age 37 I am slowly learning what it means to unwind this process. I have the tendency to make things more complicated than necessary and get stuck in self created mindfucks (re: Robert Anton Wilson) that slow me down, send me down a path I would very likely not choose when I stay at my core values or even paralyze me.

In the Essence training there is one part where you are ‘reminded’ that “the universe applauds actions, not thoughts” stating in my opinion that no matter how much time you spend thinking about stuff, nothing happens until you try and do it.

This Tuesday I got a clear insight regarding my own process of self-criticism. (Heavily connected to “why did I do this / why did I do that”.) Going over and over my own mistakes is a waste of time and processing power. In most cases it is not constructive, but just a process of non-productive negative self reflection. I compared the process to what coaches of professional swimmers do: they record every track and then look at the points that require improvement.

Criticism is great if it is presented in chunks you can deal with and the possible improvements within the scope of what you can achieve now.

Coming back to the coach, the swimmer and constructive self criticism: you can spend the whole day looking at one track and find all the things that are “wrong”. But instead of re-running the tape over and over all day long and discovering even more fuckups every replay, you can also run the tape just once, pick just one aspect of many that needs improvement and get back in the water it until you completely get that part.

(Self) Reflection time is expensive. It takes a lot of processing power in our head to replay the tapes and at the end of the day produces close to nothing new or useful.

Getting back to our addiction to problem solving. We “need” answers. That is why cliff-hangers in stories are so effective. End the story at a crucial point and we will hang on until we know how it ends. Let the lead character make a strange move and we will hang on until we know why he/she made that move. And if you ever wondered: “For @#% sake: why did I stayed to watch the end of this sucky movie?”, there you have it.

The question is: do we really need to know the answer to every question, or is that just our addiction speaking?

There is another aspect to this: our self-expection. In the worst case we have to be “perfect”. When we “fail” we usually get stuck in the process as described before.

One of my traps is that “I want to have it all”. I get jealous when someone else succeeds in areas I am interested to move into. It can even stop me before I begin. I can have strong emotions of shortcoming when I am “reminded” that I “missed oppertunities” or do not get the most out of my own talents compared to others in my field. “I could have been so much more today.”

So the second question is: is it important for me to know the answer, or is the question just another mindfuck?

Some questions have no answer. Especially when they deal with our selves. We usually just try to find a soothing answer to our own feelings of shortcoming or whatever plays a “grand role” in our lives at that moment.
Some questions do have answers. They deal with facts, cases you can reproduce, and the tangible world.

I find that cutting back on questions and letting go of the “controlling part” is making my life easier every day. The days I am in “action” modus I am clear, focused, relaxed and fun loving. The days that I am in “thinking” modus trying to second guess stuff I am closed, unfocused, insecure, unclear, retracted.

The biggest shift I made in the past year is to simply “Do what is required”. If a house needs to be build, I build a house, stone by stone. For someone like me, with strong tendecies to make things more complicated than required this is very helpful.

Recently added to “Do what is required” is “Improve one thing at the time”. Get good at preparing meat. When satisfied: move to patatoes or vegetables.

I hope to move to the field where my personal addiction to problem solving is aimed more and more at solving problems in the constructive area, at taking action and build stuff, build relationships, build a peaceful and loving state of mind. Where solutions are created instead of even more problems to trouble the mind. Then every question is the path to even more solutions and a clear mind. Which is a fun area to live and a fun dream to have and put into practice.

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3 comments

  1. Excellent thinking, Peter. Glad to have inspired you to write this 🙂

  2. @Elmine: thanks. Some recent stuff just merged together. (And I had some idle time on my hands 🙂

  3. nice thoughts on double loop learning and deutero learning (knowing when to employ which process), very thought provoking.

    this helps me a lot at this moment! Thanks

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