Stories from a life in progress.

Lowering the bar

I have a poor tendency (yes, A poor tendency.  Only one thing I tend to do poorly.  Okay, maybe there are a few more than that.  What was I talking about?  Let me start over.)

I have a poor tendency to negate the credit I get for achievements, and I do it by means of an underhanded mental trick.  When I'm looking forward at something I haven't done yet, fear makes me feel like it must be VERY hard and I don't know how I will ever manage it.  After it's done, though, I look backwards and don't remember how difficult I thought it was going to be.  I don't really acknowledge it consciously, but I usually have an unconscious sense of "well, that was easier than I thought.  I guess I was wrong about it being hard."

That's dangerous territory for me.  Some people may take that experience and use it as good encouragement when they tackle the next "hard" thing, thinking "I bet this next thing won't be as difficult as I thought either."  Then they get on with doing it.

I look at the thing I just did and forget all of the effort I put into it, whether it was easy or hard or anything.  I simply negate everything I learned and any growth I experienced, and assume that task was so easy even a pathetic moron like me could do it.  But the NEXT thing, now, that one looks hard.  I don't know if I could do that.

I'm constantly lowering the bar on myself, retroactively.  I'm like a high jumper who clears a new height and immediately revises her memory of the event, imagining the bar was actually laying on the ground and a toddler could have jumped over it.  So I look ahead at the next bar with renewed fear and trepidation, not realizing that it is only a quarter inch higher than what I just cleared.

I perform this terrible double-think on nearly all of my achievements, especially the ones that really matter, like the ones that take me in the direction I dream of going in life.  My fear of going forward sneakily revises all of my past progress, so I'm always terrified of what's next and think that I will never be able to do it.

It's not helpful for making progress, this poor tendency of mine.

The worst thing is that it keeps me from getting to work.  I read advice from people who are successful at writing (which is what I want to be) and they so often say, work hard.  They intend it to be practical and encouraging advice, but it just makes me want to give up.  Because I have no idea what "hard work" is.  Everything I do is (retroactively) dead easy and capable of being completed by a pathetic moron like me.  If it's going to take HARD work to succeed, I don't have a chance.  I never do HARD stuff, I just jump over the bar while it's laying on the ground.

How to fix it?  Heck if I know.  I'm at step one, where I get words around the problem.  Is that a step forward?  Does it count?  Nah, it's just a blog post.  Any pathetic moron can write a blog.