I have an overactive mind. It bites into any obsession it can find, looking for a new project to distract itself with. And then it judges itself, producing all kind of existential worries, like:

  • I am wasting my time in this life with irrelevant distractions.
  • Soon I will have no money and I will fail my own expectations of being successful.
  • The ideas I have are unoriginal and are already executed by others that can do a better job than I do.

I believe we all have an Achilles heel; an apparent weakness where we allow the mind to get under our skin.

This is mine: I love to learn new things. However, I abuse this love to keep the mind from staying focused and finishing things. I accumulate knowledge and understanding, but by the time I am ready to share what I have learned with others I have already redirected my focus to something new. I indignantly drop an old project to pick up a new one, leaving it half undone. And so my life fills up with loose ends. This causes me stress, because I do not like loose ends, even though I have a strong tendency to create them. The mind creates its own prison.

Here is what I have learned to break out of this prison. Insight is the tool we need.

1. Expose yourself

Become aware of your Achilles heel by reflecting on the following question:

What truly prevents me from adding value and contributing to other people’s lives?

This question will most likely get you to the core of your destructive tendencies. Keep digging deeper into your mind until you feel exposed and vulnerable, because you will most likely come up with stories to avoid revealing your apparent weakness to yourself.

2. Say no to it

Now, by exposing yourself, you have a choice:

Will I continue this pattern or end it right now?

Do not underestimate the power of a clear no. This should be all it takes, because when we understand fully what we say no to, we can summon the discipline and strength required to no longer do what we now know we should not be doing.

3. Follow your own advice

Finally, ask yourself:

What should I be doing instead?

Come up with your own advice and commit yourself to following it. For me, the mantra is simple: finish things and contribute. So whenever I feel like I am losing focus, I become aware of my Achilles heel. This allows me to find the strength and discipline to continue what I am working on. And to give back what I have learned. Like I am doing here.

Feel free to write to me about what you have uncovered. There is strength in being vulnerable and open. And by exposing what appear to be your deepest faults to someone else, it becomes easier disown this part of you that you no longer need in your life.