In a discussion at a group meetup I defined post rationalism as “rationalism but constrained by vibes”. What I’m trying to get at is that it even if you have a somewhat coherent model of “what to do” (system 1) it isn’t always easy cajoling one’s internal machinery (system 2) to do it. For me this disconnect seems to have lead to burnout.
It seems like the longer these systems live in conflict the harder it is to get oneself to do stuff that system one suggest one wants to do. Yeah I *should* eat better, do more exercise, write that blog post, check the mail etc (system 1) but I don’t want (system 2). The consequences/stakes of “not doing X” needs to be stronger and stronger to induce a response and eventually seems meaningless. Before long summoning the “spoons/dopamine” to get up and make a microwavable meal seems out of reach.
There are a decent number of writings on this that seems to address this (Replacing Guilt series, or Meaningness) but somehow they just don’t really seem to do it for me but might be worth a try if you feel this way.
I’m not really sure what my approach is. I guess to start I’ve become more ok with just failing and not pushing myself. If I’m not feeling the best then I’ll just not force myself to go out. I stopped going to EA meetups for around half a year and have made an effort to engage less. I’m not sure this is the best approach as it seems to just build a bunch of fake barriers to doing this. “Well I don’t feel completely perfect so I’m just not going to try [low effort thing]” isn’t the best thing. This sometimes makes me feel like I’m in some sort of vetocracy hell where before I can do a thing I have to make “environmental impact assessments for the 10 different ways I can overextend”. This seems to raise the already hard bar to clear to do stuff higher.
My desires seem to shift from “do rewarding stuff” to “rewarding stuff is hard so minimize suffering”. I feel the need to avoid any type of potential psychic pain even if it’s unlikely or offset by minimizing another pain or is something rewarding. This has a very deontological feel to it. I feel like one of those negative utilitarians people who are like “well it could result in great things but it’s going to require [making 5 awkward phone calls] so meh”.
I don’t know what the answer is here. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy strategy seems the closest to reasonable. That being committing to and doing things that stretch one’s boundaries without trigging trauma/burnout and slowly expanding what one can do. Problems with this: boundaries are fuzzy, commitment and action can be temporally separate (leading to flaking or excessive load), this is going to take too long and I’m likely to flake before it succeeds.
I’m going to end the post here before it gets too long and disordered and save that for another post.