The quiet wheel gets the grease

Plenty of folk, when looking to make changes to their lives, badger themselves about it.

I’m not sure what the thinking is here.

Honestly, they probably haven’t given it much thought. It seems to make sense to yell at yourself until whatever part of you runs your habits starts to listen.

But it doesn’t work that way.

How does it really work?

A handy metaphor for it is to think of attention as having energy to it. When you place your attention on something – whether you’re appreciating it or snarling at it – you’re sending energy towards it.

Like a spotlight heating up whatever it illuminates.

This means the more you focus on the problem, the worse it gets.

Now, this is overly simplistic, sure. When it comes to the mind, every explanation is.

But it still works.

When it comes to your mind, the folk wisdom is wrong. The squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease. It just gets squeakier and squeakier.

With this spotlight metaphor, you might think the solution is to ignore your problems and they’ll go away. This will starve them of attention until everything is fine.

But I hope that you can see how ignoring something won’t work either. You can’t ignore a problem while also having the problem – at least some part of you will pay attention to it.

You do need to bring your awareness to things.

What you can control is the quality of that attention.

A gentle illumination beats a harsh heatlamp.

Calm attention, it turns out, starves your problems of their energy.

Of course, it takes discipline to focus on anything for a long time.

Especially to do it in a gentle way.

And doubly especially if it’s a problem – something you have an emotional investment in, I’m sure.

But you can learn how.

I’m not going to say it’ll be quick and easy, although it might be. More likely, you’ll spend months improving until it all clicks when you follow this program:

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