'High Agency' is a super power (3:41)

Transcription (edited for readability)

Mr. Prabhakar, I looked at your MRI, and that pain that you’ve been feeling over the last few months is sciatica. Now, keep in mind that this is a chronic issue. Any sort of relief you feel will only be short-term. You will be dealing with this for the rest of your life.

That was the analysis I got from an orthopedic surgeon back in 2016, when I was suffering from lower back pain. I wanted to record this podcast because I wanted to talk about what you do in these situations. When someone tells you something is impossible.

Prior to him answering that it was a chronic issue I asked: “how can I fix this? I mean, I’m only 26 years old, and I can’t stand for more than 10 minutes without having to sit down. There’s no way I want to spend my whole life suffering from this… so how can I fix it?” I was essentially told that I can’t fix it and that it’s a lifelong issue. When you hear something like that you should employ the “High Agency” mindset.

High Agency was coined by mathematical physicist Eric Weinstein to be the mindset where you hear that feedback and you accept it as not truth or fact but as a story. It’s a story that that person believes, but is not necessarily what is true. If you want to become a computer engineer but every school you’ve applied to has rejected you, you don’t give up. Instead, you go online and try to learn programming through online tutorials. You sign up for a boot camp. If no one will hire you, do unpaid internships. If you want to start a business but have no experience and a poor credit score, find a business partner or create a prototype and start a Kickstarter. And if your spine specialist says that you have sciatic pain for the rest of your life, and it’s not going to get any better, you spend two years researching and trying everything.

You start going to physical therapy, working on your core strength. You try ultrasound therapy, you try natural medicine. You change your diet because you’ve read that sugar increases inflammation in the body which can increase lower back pain. You try everything under the sun because you feel this is within your sphere of influence. Your experiments go so obscure that you even start replacing furniture in the house. And boom, changing your mattress is what fixes it.

I changed my mattress back in 2018. And since then, which has been now what two years, my back has been 100% back to normal. And just as a reminder, that solution only came after two years of feeling that the problem was my problem and not something that was just happening to me. Two years of questioning the initial story told to me. Two years of very little progress, which was difficult. And cultivating a High Agency mindset is difficult. But you’ll see that it’s very rewarding to know that: it doesn’t matter what tomorrow will bring, you can handle it. You will own it. To know that life and the world around you isn’t something that’s just happening to you. It’s something that you can mold, hack, manipulate, to live the life that you want to live. And the moment that you see that you can’t unsee it. Life will never be the same.