Preempting distractability before you get to work

Sometimes the best thing about a drill is awareness, I am now doing a drill. Feeling an emotion normally means possible distraction. But feeling an emotion as part of an exercise neutralizes and objectifies it.

So it occurred to me that one way to preempt wasted hours daydreaming about past upsets is to invoke them intentionally and systematically before getting to work. Here’s the drill:

Peaks and valleys rundown

Bring the following emotional hotspots to full emotional presence, i.e., until you feel sufficiently stabbed by each:

  1. Worst past injury. Find something to get really angry about. That motherfucker! Now find an even more painful one. (Stab!) And the most painful early one. (Stab!)
  2. Worst future dream failure. Now find your most precious fucked dream—the future you want most. Get scared and sad that every day you might be fucking your chances. (Stab!) Find another dream. Consider that you’re also fucking that one up. (Stab!)
  3. Worst future necessity failure. Find the thing you are most worried about not getting—the thing that, if you don’t get it, will make you sick with grief. Something you really need, whose lack would most hurt your death-bed self in its Final and Life Defining Judgment. (Stab!)
  4. Best future accomplishment. Find something to get really hopeful about getting—the thing that, if you get it, will make you so happy and grateful. Consider that you might not. (Stab!)
  5. Best past accomplishments. Find the happiest toddler memory. (Stab!) The happiest childhood memory. (Stab!) The happiest sex-awakening accomplishment. (Stab!) The happiest early teen accomplishment (9 – 12). (Stab!) The happiest mid teen (13–15) accomplishment. (Stab!) 16 gets its own. (Stab!) The happiest big man on high school campus accomplishment. (Stab!) The happiest college accomplishment. (Stab!) The happiest romantic accomplishment. (Stab!)

Now you have completed your emotional stretching exercise. Each memory brought its own poignant stabbing-like pain. You have opened to and accepted all of these stabbings. Acknowledge right now that strolling down emotional hotspot lane again, during your sacred writing time, would be a decision to masturbate rather than be happy.

Send compassion to all the people whose lives have been ruined by their compulsion to ruminate over past pain. Send thanks to Hru, God of Synchronicity, that you have found this drill and can now write without debilitating rumination compulsion.