You're a hotel full of guests

. 2 min read

One of the absolute best awesome killer perks of being in a relationship with my partner is that I don't have to read all the literature in the world to find the good ones - he finds them first and then tells me about them. He read Ayn Rand first, recommended her to me, I read Atlas Shrugged, and it changed my life. He read everything by Otto Rank, told me the best bits, and I got inspired to write The Pendulum. He's read so much more Nietzsche than me, and the other day he told me about Nietzsche's competing drives paradigm.

Mind. Blown.

According to the competing drives paradigm, your psyche is nothing more and nothing less than a set of drives that take turns in being in control of your mind. Whichever is in control at any given moment depends on chance and whether the other drives allow that one drive to dominate.

You can think of the paradigm like this: you're a hotel, and the drives are the guests that live there. If one guest starts to wreak havoc on the corridors, disturbing the peace of the other guests, the others can let him do it, join him, lock him in his room, or kick him out. The hotel might even invite a new guest to restore order.

So whatever drives you have, they are the guests in the hotel that is "you." Your drives may include working, eating, procreating, creating a legacy, drinking, smoking... whatever you feel desire towards do on any level, be it a carnal desire or a more noble endeavor; both positive and negative drives. They all want to be the dominant drive, the one that subjects all the others to its infinite tyranny. Usually the drives are kept under control by a delicate sense democracy - knowing that if one acted up, the others would retaliate.

But perhaps you'd like to kick one drive out of your hotel; for example, you'd like to quit drinking alcohol. What do you do? Nietzsche has six ways, of which, these three are my favorites and ones I've tried:

  1. Let the drive you want to kick out have its time for a moment. Let it bang the hotel walls with a hammer until it goes too far, meaning: give in to the drive so completely that you get disgusted by it, meaning: drink all the alcohol you want and more one night, and let the hangover traumatize you to the point of losing interest to drinking altogether.
  2. Bring a new guest to the hotel and let it make a scene, meaning: pick up a new habit or ritual or routine and give into that completely. For example, let yourself eat all the ice cream you want just to distract yourself from drinking.
  3. Lock all the guests to their rooms, meaning: make your life as stoic and structured as you can, leaving no room for any one drive to dominate. Plan every minute of your day. Subject your drives to the tyranny of the hotel rules.

You can also

4. Kick all the guests out, meaning: go live in a monastery where no drive can flourish.

And if you don't want to completely extinguish a drive, just control it so you get it out of your system and can focus on other things as well, you can

5. Give the drive some attention one day a week to keep it happy and silent on the other six days, for example: on Saturdays only, drink as much as you want.

How freaking awesome is this?!

This is such an elegant and practical allegory that I can't help but feel disgusted by Nietzsche's superior intelligence.