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Thread: Stuck in a rut

  1. #1
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    Default Stuck in a rut

    Hey all,

    I figured I'd come here to get some advice. I recently took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter in order to try and get some insight into my problem. I'm thinking that if I better understand myself (supposedly an ISTP), I can reach some sort of resolution.

    I'm in the second year of my master's program and I can honestly say that don't like it. The only part that I like about it is the mathematical modeling I need to do for my thesis (but that can get old, fast). Everything else I'm bored with and couldn't care less. Honestly, sometimes I wish that I would just fail something so I could get the point or move on with my life. That has been the story for my entire college career. I took a really cavalier attitude towards school but have always managed to do well which just prolonged this whole thing. I figured I'd just to go grad school. Why not? I had nothing else going for me.

    I've noticed myself becoming intensely pleasure-seeking. I have a tough time initiating work but if something is fun I don't have a problem doing it. I think this is because I'm bored to tears, restless and just frustrated with life. I drink a lot of coffee and alcohol but use them more as enhancements. My friend got me into drugs last summer but I managed to stop that when I moved out here (West) to go to school. That was an exciting summer.

    I just don't know what to do anymore. I'm always bored. I start new things which excites me for a while, then that excitement just fades away. Sorry if this is a bit disjointed. It's difficult for me to talk about these sorts of issues. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks,

    Paul

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    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    I had a friend/roommate who was ISTP. I gave him every bit of advice under the sun that would have helped me but it was rather useless for him because we had such different ways of thinking and what he really needed was a constant challenge. His solution was he took up rock climbing because it was a sport that continually challenged him no matter how much better he got at it. Last I heard, he was doing really well and still climbing up a storm. So I guess that is what I would suggest. Go find yourself an activity, hobby, or sport that pushes you to the max and that no matter how good you get, you can always get better.

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    I hear you on this. This is very much an I--P thing in general.

    (FWIW, it might be worth taking Personality Test Center - IPIP NEO five factor model of personality this to get a better metric on how your personality influences your behaviour).

    I think the core problem is that you are bored with what you are doing... seems obvious, right? But then the solution is almost as simple... find something less boring. What is it you enjoy doing? How do you distract yourself?

    If you answer that you tend to just do "nothing" and it really is "nothing" (as in, randomly surf, watch shows, mope), then you are likely one step beyond bored and into "burnt out". If that is the case, the first thing you need to do is stop drinking and having coffee. Both will worsen the effects you are feeling. If you find yourself with energy but nothing to do (even though you have things to do!), then it's time to take up excersizing. I'd also recommend doing this while taking some time off... more or less replacing your current schedule with a more energy-consuming no-thinking schedule. A monk's retreat with a lot more stair climbing, so to speak.

    Although your situation description helps, it's more important to hear how it is affecting you inside... How do you feel? What triggers emotional reactions, jitters? When you say you can't focus, what happens?

    And of course, a goal other than "just finishing" is very helpful. That might be the biggest problem, but not easily done.

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    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    I'd definitley have to agree with Kiddo- I pretty much live for rock climbing! I've been in college for way too long and can definitley understand boredom. A hobby of some type would be good for you!

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    I find myself in the second situation you describe: with energy but with "nothing" to do even though I can probably occupy myself all day, everyday for the next 2 weeks writing parts of my thesis. That doesn't happen though. Intellectually, I understand that I must write my thesis so I can get my Masters. I have a ton of valid reasons for doing this, one of them being that I need to finish so I can move on with my life.

    But, when it comes to actually doing some of the work, the minute I sit down I feel an incredible resistance. It's like I can't get past my own inertia. It frustrates me, it angers me and yet it doesn't change. So I do something else, like read news sites or surf the net. I guess I can't see the point of what I'm doing. Sure, I can finish, maybe get a "good" job and live my life like a normal person but will that make me happy? I need a lot of excitement and variety. I don't know if that clarified my feelings for you. If not, I'll elaborate.

    Maybe I should try searching around for some challenging activity and I'll try exercising as well. Though, I have to admit that my first reaction to these suggestions was skeptical what do I have to lose?

    Paul

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paladin View Post
    I find myself in the second situation you describe: with energy but with "nothing" to do even though I can probably occupy myself all day, everyday for the next 2 weeks writing parts of my thesis. That doesn't happen though. Intellectually, I understand that I must write my thesis so I can get my Masters. I have a ton of valid reasons for doing this, one of them being that I need to finish so I can move on with my life.

    But, when it comes to actually doing some of the work, the minute I sit down I feel an incredible resistance. It's like I can't get past my own inertia. It frustrates me, it angers me and yet it doesn't change. So I do something else, like read news sites or surf the net. I guess I can't see the point of what I'm doing. Sure, I can finish, maybe get a "good" job and live my life like a normal person but will that make me happy? I need a lot of excitement and variety. I don't know if that clarified my feelings for you. If not, I'll elaborate.

    Maybe I should try searching around for some challenging activity and I'll try exercising as well. Though, I have to admit that my first reaction to these suggestions was skeptical what do I have to lose?

    Paul
    What you say here is 100% support for getting a physical hobby.

    One of the major defining problems for Ps will be inertia. We don't have a sense of time, continuance or closure... so everything we do that must draw to an end seems large, meaningless and useless. We can rationalize it all we want... but it just won't happen.

    It happens to me all the time with my courses. All of a sudden I'll have a burst of energy. Same thing at work.

    The clear cut answer is to simply stop doing it. The more you push to do it, the worse the feedback is going to be. If you don't think you can push through and finish it (and 2 weeks of doing it seems like it'd be too long!), then you had better step away and replace your life with, essentially, a new one.

    You'll probably have an inertia problem there too. However, if you force yourself to do something, anything, else... really lose yourself in something else, you should be able to return to the thesis and work through it.

    That makes one assumption - you want to finish but literally can't bring yourself to do it. Escaping to come back to something you really can't stand doing... that's not going to work nearly as well. An example I have is about a hundred pounds of things I need to index and file. I swear that I'd let the world burn before I could do it. But it doesn't have to be the work itself that is interesting, just some fragment that you can focus on to finish. I get no benefit from filing, but I do get satisfaction in getting my assignments for my courses done and in.

    So, despite the rambling, my advice is;

    1) Drop everything you normally do, including the work.
    2) Do something entirely different than normal and be sure it includes a tiring amount of physical activity. Gym, whatever. Aerobic is best here.

    The two key things is that you take your mind off what you were working about and create a new pattern of doing things. Along with that, I'd change your diet to support the excersize (reduce meat and such, more carbs and a lot more fruit/vegetables) assuming you have a standard diet now.

    The reason excersize works is because it removes the jittery focus problems you have. By tiring your body out, you aren't as likely to have the same type of stress reactions.

    When I first tried this, roughly, it only took about 2 days for a rapid change in behaviour. It's really just about frame of mind. Excersize and pattern changing will help a lot for that. You want to avoid the work so that you don't revert in the middle of it.

    Right, and once you go back to your normal routine, integrate the early part of the previous routine, such as walking in the morning, before sitting down and working.

    As for the rest of your life... who cares? Push it out of your mind. Your only goal is to conquer the problem. If you don't, it'll be another problem that it transfers too. It'll be at work, in a relationship... whatever. You need to conquer the problem now, then open yourself up for variety. There is no later, only now. Change what you are doing, integrate the new changes into your life and just keep on doing it. When walking in the morning doesn't help, take up biking. Take biking trips. Hell, take up helicopter drops with only your bike. The variety exists now and it will then. But you'll need to finish tasks too. Right now you have only the task and none of the variety - a rut. Break yourself out and just keep going.

  7. #7
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paladin View Post
    Maybe I should try searching around for some challenging activity and I'll try exercising as well. Though, I have to admit that my first reaction to these suggestions was skeptical what do I have to lose?

    Paul
    Your from Wyoming? I went to Western in Rock Springs for my AA. I know they have a lot of rock climbing down there in Laramie and even competitions. It isn't just the physical activity but I can guarantee you that you will also find like minded people who can motivate and push you.

    It doesn't even have to be rock climbing, although I would highly suggest that, but you could also take up aviation which is another huge SP thing.

    Go Cowboys!

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    I am the Mom of an ISTP.

    When he gets to feeling the way you're describing, he finds something physical to do:
    skateboarding or punching bag mostly.

  9. #9

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    I am approaching the end of my master program an need a final push, myself. I have been in school 25/28 years of my life, and it gets tiresome at times.

    I think pt has given good advice.

    The only thing I can add (w/ the same caveats of it being based mainly on what has worked for me) is to think of phrases of the form, "I am now ____".

    If you are goofing, goof-off. Tell yourself, "I am now goofing off" and let whatever else is worrying you go.

    If you really need to do something, say, write your thesis, then tell yourself, "I am now writing my thesis", and repeat it till you actually writing your thesis.

    Sometimes, the corniest advice works best. I was incredibly surprised by how well this advice worked. The simple advice to "breathe deeply" does wonders for me too.

    It is all about being in the present moment, and being "mindful". Think about what you are doing now, not what you are NOT doing now (as in what you should be doing, would rather be doing, what you want to do in the future, what you did in the past, or whatever else). You control your mental state, by feeding your subconcious with info. about your present state (Probably don't want to confuse it). To achive flow, you need your subconsious working with you.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. You make it all sound so simple!

    I have been working out at the gym, lifting weights, and it has helped somewhat. I think I work out too sporadically for it to be of any real benefit so I think I'll try to workout more consistently.

    You know, most everything that was said here had crossed my mind in the past. Why I didn't act on my own advice, I can't be entirely sure. But, I think it may have something to do with living on my own. I lived a very sheltered and shielded life until I was 25 when I moved out to WY a year ago. I never had to do anything for myself until I started living on my own. It's gotten better but a lot of the time I feel like I suck at life and I think it's made me afraid to try new things even though I want to pretty badly.

    I was never given the chance to explore or do most things that kids do since there was such an emphasis on education at home. I remember my parents freaking out when I told them I wanted to play lacrosse in high school or that I was saving up to get a motorcycle when I was 18. I figured it wasn't worth the hassle to argue with them, plus I got to live at home no strings attached as long as I was in school, so I dropped those issues. So you can imagine how that sort of environment can leave one hobbled when he finally goes off into the real world. My mother didn't even believe I was moving out to WY until a week before it happened. I originally wanted to go to school in Alaska but my parents threw such a fit (They told me I would be miserable there and would be back in a month) that I made a more moderate choice for schooling and ended up in WY. Fortunately, I like the area I'm living in though I'm still not a big fan of my program Please don't misunderstand me, my parents were loving people, but that caring nature resulted in some poor choices.

    P.S. @Kiddo: I think the Cowboys are 4-1 now. They've had an awesome season!

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