Sunday, April 11, 2010

Overcoming "Demand Resistance"

There are two ways in which I have previously overcome demand resistance. I mean, clearly, I show up to work at the time required of me, and do what I am supposed to do; and when I was running seriously I got up at five-thirty every day, whether or not I wanted to, to run three miles. Both of these were things that are good for me, and that are necessary in order to turn me into someone I want to be: namely, a good employee, and a runner.

The first one is a little bit easier: however demand resistant I am, in order to have a job I have to show up on time and do it. And honestly, the fact that I really like my job is the main motivation there. I used to have a job I didn't like, and, while I showed up, I didn't exactly do awesome work. Sometimes I didn't do any. My job at the Science Center, however, is so much freaking fun that even if I'm having a totally crappy day, showing up to work puts me in a better mood. I enjoy it.
It also helps that the job is sort of on my own time. I mean, the schools are the ones who book the dates and time, but I have a calendar that shows my programs months in advance, and I have the right to cancel if everything I need to do my job well isn't supplied. I am solely in charge of how I present my material, and what needs to be done organizationally speaking. The job is flexible and the structure is designed to help me, the employee.
So, in situation 1, I enjoy the process of the work I do, including the details, and I am in charge of organizing my own time and my material.

Situation 2 is a little more interesting. The desire to get in shape can only get me to the gym for about three weeks at a time, and then I quit because it's boring and I hate feeling like I have to go. What got me running successfully was this:
At the time, I was going through a breakup with Ex-boyfriend #6, and I was also experiencing a bit of a depression. I was sleeping with my hands clenched in fists, and sometimes I would wake up to my alarm and start crying before I had even started my day. Feeling crappy about the way I looked wasn't going to get me to exercise--I felt crappy about everything, and the only thing it motivated me to do was to act like a bitch, and feel crappier.
I started running because it was the one thing I could do that made me feel better and made my brain shut up. For half an hour, I could go outside and look at the trees and the canal that ran past my apartment, and something about my body in motion made my brain keep going, too. Even if I had a sad thought, I was going too fast to hang on to it. Even if I woke up feeling bad enough to cry, all I had to do was put on my sneakers and I knew it would help, at least a little bit. And the endorphins definitely helped. I didn't run solely because of the results that would come from running--I ran because I liked running.
So, in situation 2, I learned to enjoy the process of exercising as well as the results, and it made me feel like I could control at least one thing, even if everything else totally sucked.

So, in order to overcome my demand resistance, I have to find a way to enjoy the process of whatever it is I'm doing, and find a way that it gives me some control over an area of my life.

Sometimes that's really hard. Sometimes running absolutely blows, and you make it halfway through your run before you start trying to suck wind only down your left bronchial tube because your right side has a cramp that makes you want to scream every time you breathe, and you curse the Chinese takeout you had the night before. Sometimes you have to stop and walk.
And sometimes, even at a job you love, your very first outreach by yourself requires you to walk cold into a classroom full of nothing but sixth- and seventh-grade girls--the very subset of the school-aged child population you would have given a kidney to avoid forever--and then go back for seven weeks straight while they catfight each other and stomp all over you and your liquid nitrogen demos. Sometimes you go home from work and eat a carton of cookie dough ice cream and turn on House until you forget your leper-souled existence.
But most of the time, running is exhilarating, especially in March in Phoenix in the mornings when the moon is still out and the cacti are blooming. And most of the time, there is nothing more fun than showing up to a classroom with a portable planetarium and telling some very excited children all about Perseus and Andromeda and how he defeated the sea monster using Medusa's severed head, and how all of it was preserved in the stars for us to remember forever. And most of the time is good enough for me.

That said, yesterday I wrote three more paragraphs of the hardest part of the story I'm working on, and I meditated for ten minutes before I went to bed. The paragraphs were pretty good; the meditation was atrocious, but, hey, sometimes it's like that.

1 comment:

  1. I like this blog and hope you'll continue to understand your demand resistance and work on it. It's a challenge!

    I was 45 before I was introduced to the notion that I was demand resistant and it was pretty seriously entrenched by then! I'm now 50 and am just now starting to work much harder on sorting my true "wants" from the "shoulds", "musts" and "have tos" that everything feels like. It's daunting. I'm hoping to blog about this aspect of my journey this week which is why I found your blog on the subject in a random google search.

    ps - I'm running my first marathon on Sunday - I, too, figured out that I actually wanted to get up at 5:30 to run and haven't resisted that activity for 3 years!