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The Illusion of Being Stuck

You think that being stuck is a permanent state, and this is the pattern you go through every time:

  • You encounter a new challenge.

  • Your brain resists it.  你的大脑会抗拒它。

  • It hasn't been trained to handle discomfort effectively.

  • You revert to what's comfortable and familiar.

  • You shut yourself off from potential growth and enlightenment.

  • You feel stuck, unfulfilled and unhappy.

When you face the challenge of feeling stagnant in your career, in your personal life, nothing seems to help you progress.

You feel not just stuck, but regressing.

The worst part of it was that in some strange way, it also feels “comfortable” being stuck.
最糟糕的是,以某种奇怪的方式,被卡住的感觉也很 "舒服"。

I’m sure you have that feeling, because we are wired the same way, and so do I.

I wanted to understand why we are so resistant to change, to discomfort. Why is it that it’s easier for us to stay in situations we don’t like while we know damn well it’s not the right path.

Why is change hard? Why makes hard things hard?

Well, I got some answers while reading a research paper from computational neurobiologist Andrew Gallimore. I finally got a better understanding of how our brain constructs reality, how it cheats us by wanting to save energy, and how we can hack it.
在阅读计算神经生物学家安德鲁-加利莫尔(Andrew Gallimore)的一篇研究论文时,我得到了一些答案。我终于更好地理解了我们的大脑是如何构建现实的,它是如何为了节省能量而欺骗我们的,以及我们如何才能黑掉它。

1. Understanding Our Brain: A Reality-Building Machine

I won’t bore you with the very technical research paper filled with complicated words and never ending sentences. Here’s a breakdown for you:

Central to this process are the cortical columns, functional units within the cerebral cortex that orchestrate your perception of the world.

Source: https://alieninsect.substack.com/p/switching-the-reality-channel

These columns evaluate sensory information against your brain's existing models, determining "True" or "False" signals to guide your reactions and beliefs.
这些柱子会根据大脑的现有模型评估感官信息,确定 "真 "或 "假 "信号,从而引导你的反应和信念。

To put this even simpler, They work like little decision-makers in the outer layer of the brain, sorting through what we see and feel.

They check this information against what the brain already knows, deciding if it matches ("True") or doesn't match ("False"). This helps you figure out how to react and what to believe.

Here's the problem: Your brain and its cortical columns are designed to conserve energy at all costs.

This means they're constantly seeking "True" statements, those that align with what you already know and believe.
这意味着他们在不断寻找 "真实 "的陈述,那些与你已经知道和相信的一致的陈述。

Why? Because processing familiar information requires less energy than assimilating new data.

This is precisely why staying in your comfort zones feels so... comfortable.

It's not just inertia; it's a battle against a highly efficient computer in your head, always seeking stability over the chaos of change.

Your gut might scream for a shift, but you’re up against your brain's design, which chooses energy conservation over everything else.

2. The Mannequin Misidentification: A Cortex in Action

Ok ben, that sounds cool and I get the theory. But how does this actualise, and how is it shaping my reality?

Here’s an example: 这里有一个例子:

Imagine walking down a street, your eyes catch what appears to be a figure standing in a shop window.

Your brain utilizes past data, and quickly categorizes this figure as a man—a "True" response rooted in familiarity.
你的大脑会利用过去的数据,迅速将这个人物归类为男性--一种基于熟悉的 "真实 "反应。

You continue to walk closer, until something happens.. you realize that the figure is not a person, but in fact a mannequin.

This unexpected twist sends a "False" signal to your brain, specifically to those cortical columns tasked with visual processing.
这一意想不到的转折向你的大脑,特别是负责视觉处理的皮层柱发送了一个 "错误 "信号。

Faced with this new information, your brain recalibrates, updating your reality from a man to a mannequin.

3. Embracing the Science of Uncomfortability
3.拥抱 "不舒适 "科学

So there we have it.

The path to growth is through embracing "False" signals—those challenging, unfamiliar experiences that demand our brain to adjust and grow.
成长之路在于接受 "假 "信号--那些具有挑战性的、陌生的、需要我们的大脑进行调整和成长的经历。

This process isn't just about acquiring new information; it's about fundamentally reshaping our perception and interaction with the world around us.

It’s about changing reality; literally asking your cortex to re-evaluate your current reality, and change it.

That’s why it feels so hard.

That’s why it feels so wierdly good to stay stuck.

So, what are some steps to hack this?

4. Recognizing the State of "Brain Automation"
4.认识 "大脑自动化 "的现状

Well, first, you need to understand when you're stuck in "brain automation".
首先,你需要了解自己何时陷入了 "大脑自动化"。

I’m sure you know this feeling very well.

You’re in that state when you go through your daily routines without much thought or variation.

You wake up, get dressed, get coffee at the same spot, order the same drink.

Tasks and activities feel mundane, and you're not engaged or stimulated by what you're doing.

You are bored.  你很无聊。

You wake up every morning saying “ok here we go, another day doing the same thing until I get to go to sleep again. Let’s just get through it with as many distractions as possible.”

Nothing seems to make you feel alive. You are just in automation mode.

Activities that used to hold your attention don’t mean anything anymore.

5. Breaking Through with Challenging Thoughts

Now that you recognize the signs of "brain automation," the next step isn't just about what you do; it's about how you think.
既然你已经意识到了 "大脑自动化 "的迹象,那么下一步就不仅仅是你做了什么,而是你如何思考了。

Changing your actions without changing your thoughts is like repainting your car when it needs a new engine. Sure, it will look good on the outside, it still won’t run though.

So do this: Ask why, and don’t judge.

“Why” is such a short but powerful question that can almost always be used successively until the truth is met:
"为什么 "是一个如此简短而有力的问题,几乎可以连续使用,直到找到真相:

I feel stuck in my career? Why?

Because I don’t like what I do. Why?

...Because it doesn't challenge me or align with my values. Why?

…Because I settled into a role that was available rather than pursuing what genuinely interests me. Why?

…Because I fear the uncertainty of change and the possibility of failure. Why?

…Because past experiences have conditioned me to prioritize security over fulfillment. Why?

…Because I internalized the belief that success is defined by stability rather than personal satisfaction and growth.”

Take this and keep asking the same question. You’ll get to the root of it soon enough.

In this instance, your feeling of being stuck is less about the external circumstances and more about internal barriers—fears, beliefs, and assumptions that keep you tethered to the familiar, however unsatisfying it may be.

6. No, but really.. how do I get unstuck?

Listen. True transformation begins when you push beyond the boundaries of what you know and where you’re comfortable. The shift needs to happen in your head, but also physically.

You need to consciously and repetitively seek out "False" signals and embrace the discomfort they bring. You need to construct a new reality.
你需要有意识地反复寻找 "错误 "信号,并接受它们带来的不适。你需要构建一个新的现实。

In plain, simple terms, you need to: do the uncomfortable thing.

Here are a few of the things I have had to do last week alone that finally led me to break out of my cycle:

  • I impulssively bought a plane ticket to Panama, to change my enviroment, create some space for me to:

  • Sit with my feelings for the first time in years, and finally stop supressing them. I cried. Haven’t done that in years.

  • I had the uncomfortable conversation with my business partner to tell them I no longer have passion for it and am leaving them the decision to continue or quit.

  • I made the decision to get a therapist and seek help to access past trauma that I’ve burried deep down.

  • I replied "I don't know" when asked about something I was unsure of, rather than trying to appear confident. I felt stupid that instant, but I actually learned something and ended up having a meaninful conversation.
    当被问及我不确定的事情时,我回答说 "我不知道",而不是试图表现出自信。那一瞬间我觉得自己很蠢,但实际上我学到了一些东西,最后还进行了一次有意义的对话。

  • I forced myself to talk to strangers every single day. Oh, and talking happened to be in Spanish, for which my vocabulary consisted of a total of 40 words or so.
    我每天都强迫自己与陌生人交谈。对了,聊天的时候碰巧用的是西班牙语,而我的词汇量总共只有 40 个单词左右。

These things were uncomfortable. These things were all dreadful for me. They are supposed to be.

They are hard, they are counter-intuitive, and they are painful.

But if you don’t do them, you are letting your cortex run on auto-pilot, validating a “true” statement that will feel comfortable.
但如果你不这样做,你就会让大脑皮层自动运行,验证一个 "真实 "的陈述,让自己感觉舒服。

Yes, in the immediate short term, it feels better.

But you are reinforcing your mind into shaping the wrong reality.

Do that long enough, and you will soon be living in a world that is not yours.

You’ll have a job you hate, relationships that don’t support you, a deep lack of purpose, numbing yourself to the world around you until you become nothing more than a ghost, aimlessly drifting through a suffocating and meaningless existence.

Waking up to it 10 years later will be very painful.
10 年后醒悟过来,会非常痛苦。

So Wake up. Challenge yourself. Engineer your existence and break free.