So often we create so much extra work for ourselves. In my last post I shared my recent experience with a relapse of anxiety. As the week came to an end I found my mind drifting ahead worrying about the future. In particular, I started focusing on the next major phase of my PhD thesis. Of course, thought and planning are part of the process but a thesis is also a very organic creation. It develops a life its own, determined by the demands of the subject. In my case, I have certain feelings about where my text, Homer’s Iliad, is leading me but I have been struggling to make sense of this in a way that clearly ties in to my original thesis on spectacle.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced, and continue to face, in writing this thesis is tackling the effects of fear and doubt. Fear paralyses the mind and so I find my thinking being locked into repetitive forms of questioning, struggling ‘to see the wood for the trees’. This paralysis quickly flows into other parts of the mind and body with undesirable results.
So, within the space of a day, with the help of Ophelia, I started to recognise what I was doing. With this awareness I refocused on the present, and reminded myself that I just need to continue doing what I’m already doing which has been working extremely well. Thinking about a PhD thesis in its totality isn’t that useful for the day to day writing. Rather, each day I go to the office and just focus on one thing, writing one section at a time.
Reconnecting with this mindset, and refocussing on what I know I can do, also had the effect of opening up my thinking considerably so that I was able to quickly recognise a new angle on my thesis. Before this has been a problem. But the problem was never there, it was just the creation of my fearful and worried mind.Without fear, it becomes a question of what I want to say – what point to I want to make about this? This is an opportunity – not a problem.