While there’s something to be said for playing life safely, when the opportunity strikes, jump up on life’s stage! Get outside your comfort zone! Even for just a minute. The experience will probably be uncomfortable, you might need to push through fatigue, or embarrass yourself. You might step in spilled beer, get bumped into harmlessly, or get your picture taken. You also might not get the best shot. That’s still better than no shot whatsoever!
A useful idea in overcoming mental anxiety is the mind palace. Let it be a comfortable structure, holding the sum of all of your acquired knowledge, where people may decorate and reside in their own room. These perceptions of people could be close family, good friends, single-serving friends, inspirational figures, imaginary characters, or sworn enemies. You make the house rules and you’re the landlord. Shouldn’t the first rule be forbidding enemies from attempting mental trespassing?
“You’re still here?” People will get under your skin no matter what you do, or how many barriers you put up. They’ll try to find a way to break you down to your core. To manipulate you. They’ll try to break into your mind palace to destroy it. That’s unless you know yourself and have removed false elements of your personality that you can’t completely own. The insecure bits that might leave you feeling vulnerable.
The hardest thing you can do is be yourself. When you forgo your group’s identity, your duty becomes protecting you and yours rather than relying on others. You have to be ready to defend yourself against those who take potshots at your newly solidified identity. Let’s expand from a specific example: about three hundred people have illegitimately attempted to break into this website within the last ten days and you know what? They failed miserably!
When I go to write something, unless it’s technical documentation, I’ll start with a loose plan on what I want to write and improvise the rest. That’s how I drive as well. Detours are cool unless I’m in a hurry, so along with reading more, I’m more actively worldbuilding as I consume content. It’s all about adding to the mind palace collage, after all.
I was unhappy. To reference Csikszentmihalyi‘s Flow Model, I’d fallen from flow at work and into constant anxiety with destructive apathy. The mental challenge was gone. My brain was rotting away. I know myself well enough to know that this leads to bad behavior. Friday morning exploded. The details of the catalytic moment could have one thousand variations. It was at this spot, before I took this photograph, that I realized something needed to change. The four-hour float tank session I’d scheduled for the next morning couldn’t have been better scheduled to help me figure out what I needed to do.