We all know the situation when you are getting stuck at something. And you know what I mean. You just don’t make progress towards the goal you are having in spite of you putting your best effort into the situation at hand. And it is effing frustrating the sheeze out of us. And in these situations it is easy to conclude that you are too stupid, the task too hard and everything is rigged against you. And my conclusion to this is: exactly.
My point is that all these subjective feelings of you thinking that you are insufficient, that the stakes are against you and that everything being overwhelming is also true on an objective level. Because if there wasn’t objective truth to these feelings, you would not be getting stuck in the first place. Because getting stuck is not something that happens inside of you, but by confronting the objective world and this very confrontation brings you to a halt.
Now, if we assume this to be true, then there is something outside of us that seeks our attention and interest. We do not have to spiral into self-reflection and -destruction but instead there is something we can direct our attention to that is not subject to inner relativism but much rather constitutes an objective obstacle.
To put forward an example: Your code is not working for days now. So on one hand, you can cry about your stupidity to write non-functional code, and yes, this also has its place. However, it also hints that there is hidden knowledge lurking right in front of you that must be the reason for your malfunctioning code. Maybe you misread the documentation of a function (you should change your habits when consuming documentation), maybe your pen-and-paper theory is wrong (you need to study more), or you made a hard to catch typo (maybe use a different font or editor). But these are no entirely subjective shortcomings of you, but real world external obstacles put in front of you. I really need help to formulate this less stupidly.
Also, once the problem is solved there usually has been a moment where your thinking, your behavior or point of view changed as demanded by the problem and this literally also constitutes an objective change in you as a person. And please, don’t underestimate this. I think the conclusion that we ‘just were stupid’, is absolutely right. However, the fact that we are not stuck on this very thing anymore means we in fact got less stupid. And this is no trivial observation, since it usually is hidden with guilt of not understanding sooner, getting done faster or not getting stuck in the first place.
I think, we can also play through this line of thought on many levels. Take the coding example as a very low-level one. Then maybe put the code into our current specific research goal. We put that into perspective with writing our next publication and that maybe with our goals for the thesis. But let’s not stop there. Maybe we have some shared goals with our spouses or other long term goals. If I am not mistaken, Buddhism put the cherry on top by putting us into this Samsara process until we can leave into nirvana. So, one could see this as the highest abstraction of my thought process. We are confronted with Samsara until we have overcome basically all imaginable objective obstacles and we can leave into nirvana.
Now, to get a little meta, we might be interpreting this as an objective mechanism of the universe telling us what to do and how to grow. In ourselves this inner drive manifests to do the things we want to do and this process of getting stuck is the universe telling us exactly, truthfully and objectively what we need to do to accomplish these things. Although this seems very detached from our daily lives, I think we can still find this in every task we have to finish and when we have a hard time doing so.
As you see from my meandering around, it is very hard for me to precisely convey the thought I have in my mind. I want it to be more than some abstract non-sense that you find one motivational postcards. I don’t know. Now I feel sorry for wasting my time and possibly yours.