Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Three Minds

Back before Mindy and I got married, we had a couple pre-marital counseling sessions. At one point, the counselor asked me a question (I don’t remember what it was) and my response was “Sometimes I feel kind of schizophrenic.” He actually snapped at me angrily saying “Have you ever known someone with schizophrenia? It’s a horrible disease and you have no idea what it could possibly be like.” Needless to say, we never talked about why I feel “kind of schizophrenic,” so I've taken the last seven or eight years to figure it out for myself.

First off, I’m not claiming to have schizophrenia. The counselor was right in that it’s a horrible disease and most people don’t understand it. On the other hand, the general idea of someone with schizophrenia is that they have “multiple personalities,” and I do in fact feel that I've got three separate personalities that dictate what I care about.

1. Artistic/Entrepreneurial – Where I’m practicing guitar for hours, exploding with song ideas, and thinking up business ideas.
2. Testosterone Driven – Where I’m lifting weights and training for hours on end.
3. Educational/Strategic - Where I’m reading 20 books, inventing my own games, and making step by step plans for the next five years of my life.

These personalities don’t get along with each other. When one is present, the others go away. When I’m feeling artistic/entrepreneurial, lifting weights or reading a book is a begrudging chore. When I’m feeling testosterone driven I’ll spend hours and hours at the gym and forget I even own a guitar. When I’m feeling educational/strategic, I’ll stick my nose in a book and get annoyed if I have to do anything else. The problem is that progress requires consistency, and it’s very difficult to be consistent when you switch between loving and hating the same things several times a year.

Keep in mind, I didn't understand any of this about myself for a long time and as a result I found myself moving from one thing to the next and never finishing anything. One month I would want to start a band, the next month I'd want to go back to college, the next month I'd want to compete in ten Jiu Jitsu tournaments. It caused me to lose confidence in myself and my ability to follow through on anything. It left me wandering aimlessly.

But then something occurred to me. I realized that sometimes I hated certain music one month and loved it the next. Soon it became evident that there was a distinct correlation between the type of music I listened to and my current interests. I realized that my taste in music tended to predict when I would switch from one interest to another. Once I’d figured this out, I started tracking the changes, and soon I’d categorized my “personalities.” When I’m feeling artistic/entrepreneurial, I listen to blues, country, and indie rock. When I’m feeling testosterone driven it’s all heavy metal. When I’m feeling educational/strategic, I listen to podcasts and audio books.

The benefit to understanding this about myself is that I’m able to trick myself into consistency. If I've been listening to country, I know I’m feeling artistic/entrepreneurial and it’s going to be difficult to be consistent in the weight room. I trick myself into lifting by reminding myself that I’ll be more successful as a performer and personal trainer if I’m in shape and look good. If I’m listening to podcasts, I know I’m feeling educational/strategic so I’ll make sure to read books that will benefit my art, business, and fitness goals, in addition to putting the books down and going to the gym a couple times a week. If I’m listening to metal, I know I’m feeling testosterone driven, and I try to take an hour or two away from the gym to work on other things that are important to me. In the end it helps me stay relatively consist with all the things I care about, even if I feel like I don’t care about them at the moment. 

Schizophrenia? No. Crazy? Maybe. But I make it work the best I can.

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