Stop internal friction and do useful things


When many readers and friends communicate with me, they think that I have a manuscript, so they are surprised when they hear me say that I write it every Thursday. In fact, there is nothing to be surprised. Every Thursday I will shut myself in the study for a whole day, cut off all phone calls, WeChat, and emails, and write from noon to night until I finish writing.

Is this process hard? It’s actually quite hard. You need to spend several days in advance to collect and conceive topics, you need to consult a large amount of literature, you need to organize your own knowledge base, you need to build a logical chain, you need to test the validity of each argument, you need to overthrow yourself, and you need to question yourself …In general, it is a very troublesome process.

Although the final writing time is only 4-5 hours, the whole process plus the accumulated time may reach several times.

So, if you want to ask: is the writing process happy? To be honest, unhappy and painful.

But (the words are not finished yet), is this process really unhappy? Nor is it.

such as:

  • When collecting selected topics, I think “this topic is good, it should be able to help many friends who have the same trouble”, it will be very happy;
  • When constructing a logical chain, you can smoothly use your accumulated knowledge to explain a phenomenon in your life, and can stand the test, you will be very happy;
  • When organizing the knowledge base, organizing the scattered knowledge points into a system, allowing yourself to see the full picture from a higher dimension, it will be very happy;
  • Not to mention the sense of accomplishment and positive feedback in writing the article, and I am happier.

So, what do I want to say?

Most things are like this: When you do it, you will always face a lot of pain, pressure, troubles, and difficulties, which will consume a lot of energy; but conversely, when you achieve a certain stage and achieve a certain result, You can also get a lot of positive feedback, satisfaction, accomplishment, competence…

Moreover, this positive gain is often directly proportional to the previous effort-the brain will always dominate our interpretation of a thing through “comparison”. The more painful you are doing it, the more satisfied you will be when you are harvesting.

But what is the problem?

We are often intimidated by this kind of pain, pressure, trouble, and difficulty. When facing things, we hesitate and hesitate constantly, letting time pass by little by little.

When I finally have to do it, I often have lost the best time and the opportunity to get feedback from it and feel growth, but just “get it done.”

After finishing it, what it brings to you is often not a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction, but a sense of exhaustion: I finally finished it, and I really don’t want another time.

Over time, this will create a negative cycle: the more you are frightened by fear, the easier it is to stop and delay time, so the worse the results you make, the lower your positive feedback and the higher the negative feedback, the next time you will More easily frightened by fear…

This phenomenon is called internal friction.

Why do people have internal friction? The reason is very simple: because the brain has the need to save resources. Therefore, all things that need to consume resources to deal with, and at the same time it is difficult to get rewards in a short time, the brain is repelling.

This rejection, directly reflected in our psychological level, is all kinds of negative emotions. Among these negative emotions, the most obvious is fear.

What are you afraid of? There are nothing more than these three: direct threats, uncertainty, and doubts about self-worth.

Driven by fear, what are we inclined to? Tend to let the fear-causing problem disappear from our minds. Then, there are generally two strategies:

Either directly eliminate it through action, which is an action strategy; or, to do other things and distract yourself, thereby ignoring it, which is an avoidance strategy.

I am lack of mobility, what should I do? There are two types of people mentioned in the article: Action-oriented people tend to adopt action strategies to get rid of negative emotions by eliminating and reducing problems; on the contrary, state-oriented people tend to adopt avoidance strategies to eliminate negative emotions by diverting attention. , So as to temporarily get rid of worries about the problem.

What is the key here? Can the avoidance strategy help in solving the problem? Does not. It can only give you the illusion of “I got rid of it”, allowing you to continue living in this false sense of security.

This is the biggest problem with state orientation. State-oriented people think, I’m in a bad state now, so I’ll do something else first, and when the state is good, I will deal with it.

But actually, where does your “bad state” come from? It comes from the existence of the problem itself. As long as the problem remains there and has not changed, whenever you face it, you will always feel fear.

That is to say: You are just delaying the time to solve the problem indefinitely, and there is no slightest help to solve the problem itself.

Furthermore, why am I so tired every day? As mentioned in: What is the most important factor that causes our fatigue? It is the “unfinished things” in our minds.

Even if you divert your attention in various ways to prevent yourself from thinking about it, as long as the problem still exists, they will definitely form remnants in your mind, constantly occupying your background, gnawing your energy, and making you involuntary Distracted to think about it, so you feel exhausted and exhausted…

In this case, your state will only get worse and worse, let alone “wait to deal with it when the state is better”?

But in fact, are these fears real?

Most of the time, it is not.

The brain has an ability: keenly recognize and highlight threats in the environment. In the process of evolution, it is very useful, because it can always help us to discover possible threats in time and deal with environmental changes and dangers.

But it is precisely because of this that this function has become more and more sensitive. Once you face an unfamiliar situation, it will start. Then, it will focus on the dangerous, difficult, and unfamiliar details and enlarge them; on the contrary, it will reduce the simple, feasible, and gentle details as much as possible to “warn” the brain as much as possible.

Simply put, it is like a messenger who likes to exaggerate, adding fuel to the danger ahead, and then conveying it to the brain’s decision-making center. Originally it may only have a threat degree of 20%. After its processing, it may become 200%.

This is called “catastrophic imagination.”

The reason is very simple: in ancient times, you might die if you encounter a danger, but “no action” or “less action” will not kill you immediately. Therefore, the brain always tends to do nothing, act less, and do its best to protect itself.

Therefore, we will have all kinds of “irrational” characteristics. For example, we are less willing to suffer losses than gains. Even if the expected gain is greater than the loss, we will put “avoid loss” as the first priority-that is, “loss aversion”.

In the course of evolution, this is a very reasonable brain nature.

But in modern society, this situation does not apply. In modern civilization, threats and benefits have become more symmetrical: being in danger will at least not kill you, but inaction can easily miss the opportunity. Therefore, our advantage strategy is no longer “less action.”

But the brain doesn’t know this. It still fulfills its duties faithfully, constantly using “fear” to stop us and hold our feet.

In fact, most fears come from our imagination. What we fear is not the true appearance of the problems, but the shadows they project on our hearts, which are infinitely magnified by our past failure experiences and delusions.

In many cases, the reason why you do not act is not a real difficulty hindering you.

You are just being held back by your inner imagination.

You may find that this is actually the nature of our procrastination.

How to understand procrastination? In fact, there are two variables: the fear (resistance) that a thing brings to you, and the benefits (motivation) you can get from it. If motivation is greater than resistance, you will do it; otherwise, you will tend to procrastinate.

Psychologist Piers Steel proposed a “procrastination equation”. He uses a formula to express our drive to do something: drive = (expectation x value)/(distraction x delay). The higher the driving force, the less likely you are to procrastinate.

Here, “(expectation x value)/delay” is what we call “revenue”. Expectation represents your confidence in making it; value represents the reward it can bring you. The delay represents the time for the realization of this benefit. The longer the time, we tend to underestimate its value-this is called “time discounting.”

The “distraction” in the denominator represents the fear this incident brings us. Because of fear, we will adopt avoidance strategies to counter our negative emotions.

So, why are people always short-sighted? Because, for any thing, only when one of these three conditions is met, we tend to do it immediately:

1) This thing can be done quickly (very short delay);

2) The value of this event is huge enough to make up for your fear of it;

3) This matter is not difficult for you, you are 99.9% confident that you can do it well.

In short, it is “easy things.”

But in life, are there many such things? Not much. What are more things? There are certain difficulties, certain rewards, and it may not be done all at once. You need to constantly cheer yourself up, and constantly overcome psychological rejection and fear, to approach it step by step…

So, for everyone, procrastination is almost the norm.

So, is procrastination a totally bad thing? Actually not.

If you are very clear about how to do something and can rationally estimate its time, then put it before the deadline, make time for other things, and wait until the time is up to resolve it in one go. This is also possible.

This is called “active procrastination” , and I am a practitioner of active procrastination (so I never keep the manuscripts, I write them every Thursday).

But on the other hand, if you are just afraid of it, and have been afraid to face it, keep delaying it, neither reducing its uncertainty, nor trying to make other results, but also because of its remnants. Resource consumption in the background is completely negative.

In short: because of internal friction, the time you procrastinate is wasted, and you have not done any “useful things”-this is what we need to avoid and correct.

From this perspective, internal friction includes not only “fear of unresolved problems,” it also includes many other distracting thoughts and emotions.

such as:

Often immersed in regrets and regrets, thinking “It would be nice if I didn’t do that at the time.”

Troubled by past failures, lack of self-confidence, always thinking “Will I do it badly?” and dare not take the first step.

I am too demanding of myself, always feel that “the current ideas are not good enough,” and have been stuck in hesitation.

Intentionally or unconsciously criticize one’s own thoughts and behaviors, saying to oneself “a mature/good person shouldn’t be like this.”

I was angry because the development of the matter was out of control, thinking that “it shouldn’t be like this” and “why everything didn’t follow my heart.”

All in all, they all have one characteristic: they are immersed in their own “inner drama,” and they have been staying in place, not really solving the problem or advancing it.

Conversely, what constitutes “no internal friction”?

Simply put, it means thinking and acting in a direction that helps solve problems.

such as:

The problem is very big and difficult, so I will find a way to break it down into smaller steps.

When encountering situations that have never been in contact with before, think of ways to consult others and get more information.

Think about “what is the worst outcome”, prepare yourself mentally, and figure out your way out.

Think about other possibilities for the development of things, prepare backup and emergency plans (Plan B), and be prepared…

Although these behaviors may not directly help solve the problem, they are in the same direction, which is to try to make the problem less difficult, increase the possibility of overcoming it, and reduce the threat to yourself.

In short: stop internal friction and do “useful things.”

Don’t waste even a day, an hour, or a minute on meaningless inner dramas and mood swings, but try to make them play their value and help you overcome problems-no matter how tortuous or circuitous the process, you must Go in the direction of “useful”.

This is the determination I made for myself this year, and I will share it with everyone here for mutual encouragement.

Finally, a brief mention.

Some people may think that this statement “Don’t spend time on meaningless things” is a bit “utilitarian.” It seems that only work and study are serious things-in fact they are not.

Of course, you can freely control your time. Reading, resting, entertaining, and taking time off are all right, even if you are in a daze and do nothing, they are not a “waste of time.” why? Because you are acting “autonomously”, you are immersed in the “now”, and you are feeling every second of your life.

This is the best state, which is the state that gives you the most happiness.

But what is the biggest problem with internal friction? Not a waste of time, but:

It makes you “passively” involved in all kinds of negative emotions, causing your thinking to shift from the “now” to the “past” and “future”, resulting in a period of time becoming inferior and unable to bring you happiness sense.

To put it bluntly, the consequence of internal friction is not only to reduce our efficiency, but to make us less happy.

We will become constrained, looking forward and backward, panicking, and spending every second of our precious moments on “meaningless” mood swings.

On the one hand, we are consuming our energy in vain without any output;

On the other hand, we cannot experience the state of life. We are above “life”, unable to touch it, experience it, and enjoy it.

Therefore, to avoid internal friction, the most essential thing is to not reduce our quality of life and happiness, so that we can truly feel that our life is in our own hands.

This is the most important. It is also what we need to pursue.

So, what method can help us avoid internal friction as much as possible?

Share some practical tips, I hope to help you.

1. Be aware of your state

If you want to make a change, the first step is to understand your current situation and know what state you are in.

My most common approach is “third party perspective.” To put it simply, when I fall into emotions, such as anxiety, fear, anger, hesitation… At this time, I will let myself jump out, imagine seeing myself from the perspective of a third party, and reflect on:

  • What kind of emotion is “I” experiencing?
  • What is the cause of this emotion? Is it reasonable?
  • Does this state help to solve the problem? Does the state of affairs get better when “I” is like this?

This of course is not done overnight, it needs to be practiced slowly. You might as well write it on a post-it note and put it where you can see it to remind yourself:

Don’t be controlled by emotions, stop first and think about what I am doing.

Take your time, exercise it, internalize it, it is best to turn it into an instinct.

When you can examine yourself from this perspective, you have already achieved “not controlled by emotions”, and you have mastered the dominance of your brain.

2. Expanding the “toolbox” of thinking

In most cases, how does a problem make you fearful? It is because of your strangeness to it. You don’t know how to solve it, which will give rise to fear, anxiety, hesitation…

So in turn, how can this sense of strangeness be reduced? The most effective way is to accumulate some thinking tools that you can use and expand your “toolbox.”

What tool? Generally divided into two categories:

1) Experience in dealing with the same type of problem;

2) The thinking model to understand and cut into the problem.

The former is easy to understand. If you deal with the same type of problems a lot, you will accumulate a lot of relevant experience, making it easier to mobilize your “implicit self” to resist negative emotions.

But when you face some problems that have never been solved, what do you need to do? At this time, it is necessary to accumulate some mental models that can be used.

such as:

How to think about a strange field?

How to improve thinking ability and understand the essence of things? (One)

How to improve thinking ability and understand the essence of things? (two)

They may not be able to solve your problems immediately, but they will certainly give you more courage to face your fears when facing problems.

Therefore, in daily life, we must pay more attention to replay, accumulation and study.

On the one hand, I refine my successful practical experience and summarize it into a methodology;

On the other hand, take the learned and accumulated thinking models to test in reality, record the thoughts, feedback and effects in the process, and slowly fine-tune them until they can be used easily.

Herbert Simon said very well:

“The difference between an experienced decision maker and a novice is not something unpredictable, such as “inference” or “intuition.” If someone opens the skull of an experienced decision-maker and looks inside his brain, he will find that he has a variety of possible action plans for him to use; there is also a checklist that can make him think twice; he will also find that he has his own thinking Mechanisms, once there is a situation that needs to make a decision, he will wake up and consciously pay attention to these mechanisms. ”

3. Construct a rational perspective

As mentioned earlier, what is the source of internal friction? From the fear of the problem. And most of the fears come from our imagination.

But are these imaginations true? In most cases, it is not. Therefore, this is an extremely irrational thing:

You don’t know how difficult the problem is, you just imagine how difficult it is, so you stop.

It’s a shame, it’s a shame, it’s unnecessary.

Therefore, a practical and effective approach is to remind yourself to think when you have fear:

  • How much of my fear is real and how much is my imagination?
  • What is the origin and basis of these fears? Can I give the reason?

In most cases, you will find that the information you have about the problem is actually quite limited. Most of your feelings are actually given to you by your brain. You can’t tell the reason at all, you just feel that “it might get worse.”

So, try to change your perspective and tell yourself:

In this question, one part is true fear, and the other part (often a larger part) is unknown. So, what can I do to eliminate this unknown?

The best way to deal with uncertainty and fear is always action.

4. Break down, then act

Finally, share a simple enough and effective method:

1) Think about it: What is the first step to solve this problem? Don’t think about anything else, even if this first step is only 1%, just think about this step.

2) Do it.

Most of the time, as long as you do it with a “hot mind”, you will find that many of the difficulties are paper tigers. If you look scary and pierce through them, they will disappear.

Similarly, in many cases, there is no need to think too much or plan too much, just do it first, and then respond based on feedback and changes.

In fact, many things do not need to be fully and comprehensively planned. Instead, first prepare psychologically and carry out emergency plans, and then respond flexibly according to the situation. This may be a better strategy.

Remember a simple truth:

When you do it, you don’t feel fear.

You will devote yourself to it, disassemble it, deal with it, eliminate it, and finally get feedback and growth.

What does fear exist only in? Exist behind you. It is like a shadow, holding you firmly and restraining you.

Don’t be engulfed by the shadow, what you have to do is go forward.


Nothing hinders you, except yourself.

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