All effort, no results: Foundation work for self-improvement

It sometimes seems like the progress that we put in, the work, the input, can be steady, steady like a ramp, increasing intensity.
So we do our repetitions, we put in the daily work, and, of course, nothing in life is completely steady and smooth, nothing is a straight line, but we can really be contributing steady effort, putting in our daily habits, our daily work, repetition, repetition, repetition.
So the input just keeps going up.
But then the output: flat.
Sometimes we can just be putting in day after day, repetition after repetition, of the work, and just be getting nothing coming out, just plateau, just flat, everything staying the same.
But what I’ve long noticed is this pattern that I like to think of like a staircase, so that you- the feeling is like this flat plateau of continuing, steady state, nothing appears to be changing, and then there’s a jump up to a new level, like suddenly I can find myself in a different mindset, and I’m not sure exactly how I got there.
It really feels like a jump.
It’s like jumping up to a new level.
And so that’s why I like to think of it like a staircase.
So you’re going down, you’re going along the flat part, and then you find yourself on the next step.
And then back to another plateau, things seem to not be changing at all, and then suddenly jump to the new level.
It seems to be something about the way our minds work that we sort of have a frame of a mindset, and then that frame will jump to a new frame that then becomes the steady frame, and then jump to the new one.
So I find this useful to remember when I’m putting in work and nothing seems to be coming out, that the input just keeps piling up, but the output, flat.
I like to remember that that input is not going nowhere.
Even though it appears- what’s coming out appears to be I’m going nowhere, flat plateau, the seeds of the next jump are being planted and are growing.
The next jump to the next level is being prepared, and it’s happening beneath the surface, so that if we continue to put in that effort, then at some point there will be a jump to the new level.
So it really is easy to seem like that work does nothing, because nothing happens, then oh, I’ve suddenly changed.
It doesn’t always seem to exactly correspond to the effort that was put in.
And yet, we can see the same thing happening in the opposite direction.
If we take many bad actions, make many bad decisions, and fill our days with repetitions of bad things, we can still often seem to be carrying along, oh, nothing’s getting worse, everything’s fine, and then we suddenly find ourselves jump down to a lower level, where everything suddenly seems to be a little bit worse.
We find ourselves in this slightly worse position.
So just like it’s possible to go up the staircase, it’s also possible to go down the staircase.
So this is- I don’t know why this is, exactly.
I don’t know why.
But it seems to perhaps be connected with how we- our minds like to construct a sort of state for us, to sort of imagine ourselves being in a certain state, a certain mindset, and we are in that mindset, we’re in that state, and there are pressures pushing to adjust the state, but we hold on to it, we hold on to it, and there’s pressures below the surface, pushing on that mindset, and then at some point, those pressures under the surface tip past the tipping point, it’s over the edge, and that mindset is no longer sustainable, and we find this- we go into that state of flux and chaos, switch into the new mindset, and then reestablish a new set of order, a new state, based on those new conditions.
We try to maintain that state until the forces underneath push on it, make it unstable, and then we pop into the new condition.
So work inside, below the surface, we keep working in this steady improvement, steady repetition, keep doing good things and pushing towards good things, knowing that we will reassemble ourselves.
After periods where nothing seems to change, we will gradually, in these little jumps these little steps, reassemble ourselves into a new being, a new state, based on the new conditions that we’re creating for ourselves as we, hopefully, climb- if not descend, hopefully we will climb the staircase and keep building this new state towards- closer and closer, keep reassembling ourselves in a new state that is closer and closer to what we see as the good.

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