Protecting your work

You wake up in the morning; for no reason at all, you’re upset. Nothing bad happened yesterday or last night, but you’re still feeling angry. Is it free floating anger, or is a sign of some deep, lasting discontentment. You don’t know. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is staying true to the course. Keeping your habits and your work going. You get up, you do what you need to do. You read. You write. You meditate. You exercise. You pay the anger no heed.

Often, the appropriate reaction to a negative emotion is to ignore it. It’s like handling a child’s temper tantrum. Once the child is safe, you left him to cry, whine, scream, and yell, all the while you go on about your business. Left to its own, the tantrum will dissipate once the child realizes he’s not getting anything. There are, of course, times when no matter what, the anger won’t go away. It sits in the back of your mind, festering. When that happens, you do need to sit down, reflect on the situation, and decide what to do. This is only after you’ve done your work. (Bear in mind, if your anger is preventing you from doing your work, or your anger is about your work, then it might be prudent to take action on the situation now. Ignoring stuck tires won’t free them.).
The point of this is to protect your work (or your habits). A key to building habits and doing good work is consistency. Showing up, regardless of how you feel. Giving your best even though you feel your worst. The work you need to do, the habits you want to build, should be done regardless of whatever fleeting emotions you feel. An excellent book, called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield goes into much greater detail on this subject, but his message is the one I’m echoing here: do your work.

The only way to achieve is through showing, through consistency. Weathering the negative emotions will help anchor you for the inevitable upswing.

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