I'll show me.

readingI love to read. I really, really love reading. I can disappear into a storyline and not reappear until I've turned the last page with a sigh and put it down, grieving slightly for the loss of our time together.

If I've got a good story (or even a bad one, for that matter), entire hours and days can pass me by. I can be late for important events, stand people up, miss deadlines and more, all because I'm engrossed in what the pages of a book can hold. Seasons could change. Cities could fall. I wouldn't notice.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, because lately, I haven't been reading anything. Not because there's nothing to read (no such thing), but because I'm finding it difficult to read the textbooks I need to read, as opposed to the non-textbooks I want to read.

You could hand me literally anything else and I'd read it, pronto, and voraciously. A teen (okay, even tween) series about fantastical worlds? Yup. A cheesy Harlequin romance novel? You bet. Heck, I get excited to see a new bottle of shampoo I can review in the shower.

But the books I need to read? Not so much. Seriously, when I need to read something, it's like I'm paralyzed. You'd think I'm illiterate, especially because I'm not even reading the things I want to read, let alone the things I'm supposed to read.

See, when I should be reading something, I don't read at all. I writhe against the thing I need to do and, since I don't do what I should be doing, I punish myself for my bad behaviour by taking something else away. No reading something fun if you don't read your textbooks first. No dessert unless you finish your dinner. No going outside to play until you finish your chores.

[Tweet "Punishing yourself for bad behaviour?"]

Sound familiar?

Dunce

Those textbooks follow me around, because I bring them with me everywhere I go, to remind myself of what I should be doing. I create the guilt and I carry it, along with my albatross textbooks to add some weight to my baggage. Like I don't have enough, right?

Know what that does? It sure doesn't make me pick up those books and read them. It makes me resent them and resent reading. It makes me resent me, too.

Not only am I the heavy telling myself what to do (what little kid doesn't resent the parent who tells them "no dessert until you finish your dinner"?), but since I'm not doing what I should be doing, I'm also the reason I'm not getting to do what I want to be doing, too.

Added to all of that, it takes the joy out of something I love to do.

In effect, I take the joy out of something I love to do.

I lose, in more ways than one. I sure showed me. I built the fence around what I need to do, with me on the inside of it, and with what I love to do on the outside of it. I let the textbook readings become the boss of me, instead of the other way around. I'm a victim to the horrible, boring textbooks (just for the record, I don't even think they're boring. They're just textbooks and required and that's enough authority to turn me off.). Not a very empowering stance, really.

What can I do? Well, I can start with pretty much anything other than what I've been trying (it hasn't gotten me past chapter two, anyway). So, tonight, I'm going to read a book that isn't on my required reading list. Who knows, maybe reading something fun and engrossing will be just the spark I need to reignite my passion for reading. Instead of stopping at the barrier/punishment I created, I am going to go straight through it and see what's on the other side.

frost

Does this sound familiar? If textbooks don't oppress you, maybe it's cooking (have to cook versus love to cook), or maybe it's your job.

Do you have to stay somewhere you don't want to be, doing something you don't really want to do, until you reach some magical and arbitrary line in the sand that allows you to move on to what you do really want?

Do you build barriers and empower everything but yourself when it comes to making decisions about when you get what you want? What might you do differently? What might be possible on the other side?