Wednesday 9 November 2011
Change and willpower
I was intrigued to read Leslee’s post this week about a new book on Willpower.
Oh god, willpower – I don't have much! I think I know why. I can flash back all too easily to the passionately wilful, screaming toddler I once was, the fierce rejection she met from her carers, the repeated warnings that they would abandon her; submit her will to theirs, or men in white coats would come and take her to the well-known insane asylum just outside the city where they lived! She did. She went very quiet and her will got lost. No will: no willpower. Of all the things that long ago went missing, it’s perhaps the one I’ve found it hardest to recuperate – my lifelong burden a bottomless inertia that must be struggled against every day. I know what I’d like to strive for, but lack the energy: this has so often been the story. Passive resistance, endurance: I’m good at those. Goal-setting and sustained positive effort: no.
I’m so scared and anxious and distracted since I decided to leave my job. Mobilising the energy and direction required to make anything positive of this decision feels so very far beyond me. Knowing it is really, this time, a question of sink or swim does not seem to be enough. Anything that might help deserves a look, so perhaps this is a book I need to buy, along with Switch, which Dorothee linked to and which I already ordered. Or is reading a book about it more of a substitute for action than a spur to action?
As I write, at lunchtime, there's a student demonstration taking place in central London, against the recent huge rises in university tuition fees. Helicopters circle endlessly overhead and we learn that streets are lined with police in riot gear and armed with plastic bullets. In these times, it's even harder, and even more crucial, to be strong and clear and in full possession of potential strengths. We must not let ourselves be crushed. Not by an increasingly repressive state and not by our own demons. Every time a rebellious soul succombs to despair, the forces of repression have won, without firing a single plastic bullet. Sigh. I'm getting too old for such thoughts. I know: you're never too old for such thoughts.