Quick Takes:

  • We all face an undesirable – and inevitable – situation
  • No matter how bad it is or how much we’d rather it not occur, it’s going to happen anyway
  • Therefore, we need to accelerate the inevitable and incorporate the momentary speedbump into our plans
  • Rather than thrashing around and causing mental anguish, incorporate it into your reality

Accelerate the inevitable. Article done – mic drop.

If only it were that easy, but as we all know, it’s not. And what is “it”, you ask? Well, it’s the thing you’re trying to avoid. It’s the part of your life that causes you to lose focus whenever you glance at it. It’s the mental pressure you put on yourself even though an undesirable outcome is unavoidable.

We’ve all faced it. In fact, we’re all facing it now, in one capacity or another. It could surround money, success, relationships, social status, or all four. Often times, it is all four. And no, I don’t mean to allude to a situation where we confidently move in the direction of our goals so that we generate money, success, status, and love. What I mean is that we’re all facing something negative in regards to the above categories. 

It’s the feeling of fear when we think about losing money. It’s the pit in the bottom of our stomach that deepens when we lose a special relationship. It’s the cold sweats that wake us in the middle of the night when we realize we might not be as successful as we once thought. Basically, it sucks. And even more basic, it’s an innate human nature to feel all of these things.

You see, we’re animals. No way around it. And although we think of ourselves as semi-omnipotent beings, we have animalistic tendencies. And also, because we are arguably semi-omnipotent from the perspective of an ant, we have enough intelligence to confuse those animal desires.

Therefore, a loss of income can be perceived as a life or death situation. Losing out on a relationship may feel like we’ve been excommunicated from a tribe to fend for ourselves. Missing success is internally synonymous with failing to provide for our community.

Ok, so, what the hell does this all mean? Who fucking cares, right? (Woah, he said the F-word, and on a self-improvement blog!). Wrong. and for good measure: Fuck.

It matters because whenever we’re faced with adversity, our bodies switch to fight-or-flight mode. Our physiological makeup causes us to try and avoid the pain at all costs. But when the pain is inevitable, trying to avoid it is a strategy doomed for failure. In fact, when we try to prolong the inescapable, it actually increases our pain and overall anguish in the short-term. Here, I’ll explain:

Reality Distortion Field

Steve Jobs was said to have a reality distortion field. Meaning, that whenever someone told him something couldn’t be done, his view of reality told him otherwise, and he pushed people to meet absurd deadlines and launch world-changing products. So too do we have a reality distortion field. Except for you and I, it normally works against us.

Let me speak in semi-hypotheticals that are a little too close for comfort. Losing money is inevitable. No matter what you do there will come a time when you have to dip into your reserve funds more than you’d like. And when you’re growing a business, this is more the norm than it is the exception. Fierce competition, lawyer fees, supplier demands, and customer requests all work to deplete your energy and your cash flow.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re hit with a bill north of $3,000. I know I know, I’m sure there are a lot of successful people reading this blog that would bat an eye at $3k. Well, add a zero to that number and continue following along. With a bootstrapped business that’s based entirely on cash flow, an unsuspecting invoice in the thousands really hurts, both financially and mentally.

Now, there are two options: pay the bill and move on with your life or thrash around for two weeks trying to get out of the bill, and then eventually pay it – begrudgingly.

This is where the reality distortion field comes into play. When we’re served with the initial news that we won’t be hitting our financial goals for the month, our world crashes around us. Life as we know it ends and we lament our situation, causing unnecessary stress and mental pressure. We call our confidants and business partners and bad mouth everything and everyone, all the while considering shirking the obligation.

And then what happens? You pout and cry, and then pay the bill anyway. And then…life goes on as normal. It didn’t end. You weren’t kicked out of your tribe and you didn’t starve to death. In fact, you’re probably better off than before, seeing as you’ve had a learning experience that you can apply to future situations and scenarios.

You see, when we stress about the future, money or otherwise, we distort our perception of reality and convince ourselves that our outlook is bleak. $3k??? well, I better shut down the business. Time to move back in with my parents. And then we bite the bullet and pay the bill, and the future never becomes as bad as we thought it’d be.

And after the bullet is bitten and we face our distorted fears, our reality distorts again and we internalize our new life situation as normal and move on, well…normally. Within a week of paying that bill or breaking up with that person or missing that promotion, our new reality sets in and we continue pursuing our goals as if our new situation had always been our situation.

When we delay the inevitable we effectively distort our reality twice over: once toward the negative, and then once more back toward the ordinary. So what’s the point of delaying the inescapable if we’re going to come out on the other side just fine? The only purpose is to increase our mental anguish, and that’s it.

Money’s Just Paper, After All

At the end of the day, we’re all animals, and we’re all going to die. So morbid! But also so true. And when you start to think of your life as a finite thing, little negatives like money problems or relationship issues are put into perspective. It was actually a practice of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius: calling things what they really are. Choosing not to distort reality toward the grotesque.

Money is paper. It’s only given value because we all buy into the fact that it has value. If we all, at once, decided to treat dollar bills the same as computer paper, it would be worthless. So why are we freaking out? I don’t cry when I throw away pages from my notebook.

I know I know, but money is valuable. When we lose money we lose out on the ability to buy nice things and have opulent experiences. But take that same leaf out of Marcus Aurelius’s book. He referred to fancy steaks dead animal meat. He called his golden chalice a water container.

Because not only do our fears distort our expectation of the future, but our current reality is distorted by societal indoctrination. So, when we face adversity, we have such an erroneous view of its potential impact that it causes us to cry chicken little – the sky is falling. But it’s not. The sky will be there long after you or I, my friend.

The point I’m making is that we’re all going to falter. We’re all going to face drawback and we’re all going to get punched in the face every now and again. But remember: nothing is ever as bad or as good as you expect. 

So, choose to see your reality with clarity – true clarity. When you can do this and accelerate the inevitable, your mental fortitude increases, your reverence for life grows, and your current happiness shoots through the roof. Not a bad way to live, no?