Thursday, August 6, 2015

Uninhibited Fancy Feet

Helpful context: Tortoise Skills page, Effective Rest Days, Inhibition: Game Plan, Tortoise Report 3: Empathy

I was thinking about ways to trick my brain into being more like it is on a rest day, even though there’s specific work I plan to do today, when I noticed a feeling of "not being allowed to do that". I inferred that I must have just wanted something and shut down the wanting without even being aware of it. So I examined my recent memory, and found a desire to get a pedicure. (That counts as “noticing an impulse”, at this stage, so I tapped my fingers together.)

My natural reaction was to wonder whether it makes sense for me to indulge the impulse, and why I shut it down to begin with. Why am I "not allowed" to get a pedicure? This isn't a new thing; I really like getting pedicures, but I hardly ever do it.

Money is one reason, but it's not sufficient to stop me getting the occasional pedicure just because. Doing things that make me happy is what having money is for. Even System 1 believes that at this point, so it's not where most of the "not allowed" is coming from.

Actually, I'm embarrassed about how beaten up my feet are from running. Although I’m not missing any toenails, the bottoms of my feet are covered in calluses and blisters. I’m averse to making the manicurist deal with them. (I note that this inhibition falls under “taking care of other people”, which I've hypothesized is the main kind of inhibition that wears me out.)

What does a manicurist experience when a runner comes in? If I imagine the situation from my own perspective, looking down from my chair, I simulate her with a disgusted look on her face, as though I've been terribly inconsiderate, coming to a nail salon with feet like that. She does her work as quickly as possible, with reluctance and resentment.

Empathy time (gosh, that one's turning out to be so useful!): If I imagine the situation from her perspective, looking at me and my feet, she thinks, "another runner," and goes about her business, doing as much as she can and not worrying about the rest, just like she does every time a runner comes in. Or anytime anyone comes in, really. It changes literally nothing in her routine.

If I try to color in the simulation with a specific emotion, it’s the one I'd feel in her position; something like "Her poor feet! I'm glad she came to me to have them cared for properly." When I offer that feeling to my brain with an interrogative tag, beside the “disgust/resentment” hypothesis, it clicks as a correctness feeling, while the other is rejected with a “that’s not the real world” feeling.

But back to inhibition: Even if she is disgusted and inconvenienced, I'm paying her to care for my feet. I never signed a contract saying I'd only bring in feet that are already in perfect condition.

This is not an inhibition I endorse. Getting a pedicure is a perfectly good way to help me into a more rest-day-like frame of mind. Decision:

1 comment:

CrabMan said...

>If I imagine the situation from my own perspective
>If I imagine the situation from her perspective

What exactly is the difference? I would like to learn how to do the 2nd thing too.