Make a fair deal with yourself
Focus or check email, study or reply to a message, exercise or watch videos. It's easy to be conflicted these days.
There are many websites and apps that are extremely well optimized for our basic impulses. The rational part of us almost constantly has to control and subdue the emotional, reflexive part.
It's not easy, so we fail sometimes.
What if this inner conflict could be avoided? What if we formed a pact with ourselves? What if instead of inner conflict, we would have inner concord?
The strategy of domination
The first strategy of eradicating inner conflict is dominion. The rational level you commands the emotional you. The higher level dominates the lower level.
This strategy can and does break, however, without utmost commitment.
Suppose you have a rule:
I don't eat sweets after 6pm.
Then you're at a party and after a couple hours. After 2 beers, your will breaks and you binge eat a box of cookies.
Discipline, making hard choices, pushing through, working long and hard,... They take a toll. The emotional side is suppressed, and suppressed, and suppressed, until a crack appears in the links of the chains that bind it and it goes on a rampage.
Dominion can work, but the downside is when we break, we tend to break hard. When our will buckles, what remains of the domination?
Suddenly, there's a vacuum. And so we eat all the sweets or spend 4 hours on YouTube.
The strategy of alignment of the emotional you with the rational you
The alternative is negotiating boundaries with yourself.
Rational you: I need to get this done.
Emotional you: I need to check social NOW.
R: Okay, how about this: every 2 hours you get 10 min on social media.
E: 1 hour.
R: Fine. But for 50 min, we'll do anything else except going on social, checking email, or the news. OK?
E: Alright... But I get my 10 min.
R: You sure do.
This is an example of alignment that I actually use in my daily life.
If your emotional side is attached to an activity dangerous in excess, with the strategy of alignment, the emotional you will be less likely to rampage. It knows that it will have its fun, at a specific point in the future. So it cooperates.
What would be fair?
The fact is that both our rational side and our emotional side have their strengths. Suppressing one or the other is bound to cause trouble.
Another fact is that we have to impose limits on ourselves more than ever. External boundaries have been largely removed by private companies and the Internet. If we wanted to, we could be entertained until we'd die.
We need our own internal limits. And a good way to make sure they work is making them fair for ourselves.
Every hour, I can use 10 min for social media. One day a week, I can eat anything I want (aka cheat day). I get to relax and enjoy anything I do, when I put 4 hours of quality work.
Fair and square.
We like when others are fair to us. Why should we not be fair to ourselves?
And if we strike a deal that doesn't work out this week, we can always renegotiate it for the next week.
What would a fair deal between your emotional you and your rational you look like?