There was something I was supposed to get done last night. I didn’t do it.

It’s a rare event but it does happen. I just couldn’t get motivated to do it. So I watched the Houston Astros shutout my beloved Yankees to end their season. Bummer. At that point, any inspiration I had left was gone. So I drank chardonnay, played Scrabble, and crashed.

Guess what happened next? Come on, guess. That’s OK, I’ll wait.

Have you guessed yet? Good.

I couldn’t sleep. I woke up in between every sleep cycle – they occur at roughly 45-minute intervals, in case you didn’t know – until finally around 3:30 AM I was wide awake. So I got up, went into the living room, and spent the next couple of hours doing what I should have done 7 or 8 hours before.

Then I went back to bed and slept fine until I woke up at 8 AM.

If you guessed right, all that means is that you’re like me. Disciplined. Driven. Passionate about your work. Someone who holds himself accountable above all else. Someone with a work ethic that’s been so drilled into you from such an early age that you lose sleep over it.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I screw off all the time. I really do. But only when I can legitimately get away with it. If work has to get done, then I have to do it. That’s my priority. It’s what I do. And try as my conscious mind might to get away without doing it, my subconscious won’t be fooled. Not for a second.

Do you know why that is? Your subconscious is your brain’s watchdog. It’s all-knowing and all-seeing. And it has all sorts of funny ways of letting you know that you’re not being true to yourself. That you’re living in denial. That you’re not doing what you know deep down you have to do.

When we talk about taking a good hard look in the mirror and dealing with what you see, that’s what we’re talking about. Looking deep into your subconscious. Your emotions. Your gut. Yourself.

In the simplistic but nevertheless profound words of mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Wherever You Go, There You Are.” Any good shrink will tell you that, on some level, we always know what we’re doing. Our subconscious mind watches over us, sees all, and lets us know when we’re screwing up.

There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness meditation these days. About observing and not judging. About being our genuine selves. About being present and in the moment. If you’re into that stuff, you’re into something good. Godspeed.

If not, at least do one thing. When you’re feeling out of sorts, anxious, restless, like something’s wrong and you don’t know what it is or why, something really is wrong. Use whatever method you use to shut down your thinking mind, be quiet, and listen to your feelings. Pay attention. The answers are there. The answers are always there.

(Image via Flickr michaelmelrose)