How I Stopped Feeling Run Down

My wife used to say to me, “you’re always saying you feel run down!” … whenever I told her I was feeling run down, which it appears, was about 3 times a week for a very long time. Usually this run down feeling was after I’d been on the computer for too long without a break, so though there was a clear cause, I read something one day that made me think there may be more to it than that:

“Always say, ‘I feel great.’ Never let thoughts of weakness enter consciousness.”  Mary Burmeister

This made me realise that I was doing exactly that – every time I said, “I’m feeling run down”, I was flooding my consciousness with this weak thought. I wondered if maybe it was my old friend ‘habit energy’ at work again. That the habit of saying it was making it more real, and that it was a habit I’d picked up from someone, somewhere in my past and just kept repeating.

So about a month before Christmas I stopped saying “I’m feeling run down,” and shortly afterwards, I stopped feeling it. I started to think, “I feel great!” more, and I started to feel that too.

Do I still feel bad after using the computer too much? Yes, but I know that the reason is simply that I’ve used the computer too much, and that this didn’t need to turn me into a run-down person, just a person that needs to manage his computer use better!

So to stop feeling run down, it seems I just had to stop saying it, and start to say the the positive opposite instead. It looks like it was just a bad habit I picked up or inherited along the way.

“Creas lo que crees” – You create what you believe (Spanish proverb).


5 thoughts on “How I Stopped Feeling Run Down

  1. I was running late yesterday morning, rushing around the house trying to collect my things and get out the door. I hate having to rush, I kept telling myself. Why was my life so frustrating?

    While I was speed-brushing my teeth, my wife reminded me I had to call the rental agency that day to see about the CDs we had left in our rental car over the weekend. Great, I thought. Forty minutes on the Hertz phone tree. Phone trees are so frustrating.

    I finally got down to the garage, only to find out that in my mad rush I’d forgotten the special key that opens up the gate to exit the garage. Why does this place make us carry around these extra keys? I thought. That’s so frustrating.

    I dashed back upstairs to our condo and grabbed the gate key, mumbling a goodbye to my wife that was more of a growl than a goodbye.

    Out on the road, mile 2 of my 60 mile commute, I glanced at the clock. Hmmm. I was actually not that late. And even if I had been, what would have been the consequences? Nothing. No one was waiting for me at the door of the college holding a stopwatch. The only stopwatch was the one I had conjured up in my own mind. And by repeatedly telling myself how frustrated I was, I had conjured up a bunch of pointless frustration.

    I moved over to the slow lane and put the car on cruise control. I took a deep breath. I’m going to do better tomorrow, I exhaled.


  2. Hi Ben,

    Interesting new blog. Hope it goes well for you. I read a very interesting new book last year about changing habits by a bloke called Duhigg:

    Well worth a read if you like that sort of thing. I found him via an article in the NYTimes, and then he wrote some more, all fascinating:



    1. Great articles. Here’s a quote from the NYTimes book review that resonated with me:

      “There is another type of habitual behavior that involves more cognitive activity, namely people’s interpretation of a situation according to what it means for them and how it fits into the narratives they tell themselves. These behaviors are habitual in the sense that people have chronic ways of interpreting the world.”

      This nicely connects to Ben’s point because he asked himself whether he wanted “being run down” to be part of his narrative.


    2. Hi Matthew, great to hear from you! The book looks fascinating, as are the articles – it’s scary just how much we are manipulated by big companies! I’ve started wondering what my consumer-trained habits are now! Thanks for the links.


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