Note to self: how to live with a slouchy potato

There’s something I must confess. I have a secret alter ego. Every now and then, the creative and passionate human being that I normally am turns into a slouchy potato. This doesn’t happen very often, but enough to become a nuisance.

Slouchy potato doesn’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, and doesn’t feel like falling asleep at night. Slouchy potato finds it super hard to concentrate, and does only the minimum work it can get by with. Slouchy potato is always tired and doesn’t see much purpose in doing anything at all. Slouchy potato gets irritated at every possible inconvenience.

It’s not easy to live with a slouchy potato in my head

It’s also not easy to get rid of one. If you try to outreason it, slouchy potato will push back against each of your arguments with a simple ‘But why?’, until you surrender and confess that all goals are arbitrary and therefore meaningless. Slouchy potato has a tiny potato brain, and won’t reason along with you no matter how hard you try.

You might think a better strategy would be to shame yourself into action. This gives precisely the opposite effect. Slouchy potato loves your shame, guilt, and feelings of unworthiness, and uses them as a proof that all your efforts are doomed to fail so why even bother.

Another option I tried is to pretend the potato isn’t there. If you drink one more coffee (or three), and push yourself really hard, you can get everything done despite the overall grogginess. Unfortunately, the moment you loosen your grip and try to relax just for a little while, slouchy potato will grasp hold of you with even more power than before.

I used to struggle with slouchy potato for months on end. I tried all three of these approaches, with little effect. Once the potato was gone, I would wonder what the heck had just happened. There are so many exciting things to do in life, how could I have thought otherwise? Then slouchy potato would appear out of nowhere again, and I would find myself back in the same rabbit hole.

With time I learned there is only one effective strategy to deal with the slouchy potato.

Just accept there’s a slouchy potato in your life right now, and keep doing your thing

Don’t fight it. Don’t resist it. Invite the slouchy potato to your living room and let it lay down on the couch. Give him another cup of coffee (slouchy potato loves coffee!). Try to look at it not with anger, guilt, or shame, but with curiosity. Wow, so a slouchy potato just moved in to my house. Where could it be coming from? I’m wondering what it needs?

At the same time, pick one or two things that are most important, and keep doing them no matter what. Slouchy potato will complain that this is too hard and tiresome. Let it complain. Slouchy potato will feel too tired, just put in the minimum possible amount of effort you’re comfortable with. Slouchy potato will keep asking why you even bother, tell it you’re doing this thing for its own fucking sake, and keep doing it anyway.

Slouchy potato feeds on resistance

If you don’t give it any, it will get bored and go somewhere else. This is easier said than done, as everyone would rather feel passionate, energetic, and well-rested rather than dull, apathetic, and tired. But the more comfortable I became with a slouchy potato bossing around in my life, the shorter and less frequent are his visits.

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