As I posted about last week, I moved this weekend. So many boxes, bags, cases and tape!
The move was scheduled 9am on Sunday. It was Sat. night. I still have packing to do... but my friend texts me, asking to meet up.
To say I was anxious would be a tremendous understatement. All that day, I was racked this thoughts of how much more I had to do, then the cleaning, the garbage collecting - and oh, dont forget the unpacking once Phase 1 is complete.
I was future projecting like crazy, the my future was covered in cardboard and tape.
So part of me wanted to jump to run and meet my friend. But I stopped. I pictured myself trying to sip wine and have fun. Was this possible tonight? Where would my mind be? What did I really want?
I couldn't feel like I would be fun to be around, not tonight, not when my head was already deep into my task list.
So I declined, and I totally miss her, and kinda wish I went. But you know, I'm pretty proud I was able to "say no" for my own sanity.
I took that night to finish up more packing, and made plans with my friend for next weekend.
Sometimes saying "no" is needed. But its through honestly looking at my own needs that I was able to. Getting wine with a friend isn't a "to do" list item. It's a want to do. So that means knowing what I want, something that can be tricky when compulsion sets in.
I think the more I say "no" or "yes" rather than just "doing" it all, the more the boundaries of my self are formed. Getting to what I want, my walls, my needs, my own self is packed up in a box, ready to move into a future.
I am moving, which is a total nightmare situation for anyone with even a hint of anxiety. I've hired movers, but its up to me to pack up everything in my apartment. I started last week, and have felt that I just want it to be done. Over. Taken care of. Controlled.
It's hard to go out, go to yoga, or even go to work when all I can think of is my "to pack" list. I can't really pack everything until the day before, but I've started on what I can. This makes my worry manageable. "Look!" I can tell my task master mind "I've got the whole living room packed! Only the closet to go!"
But then there is the other problem - Living with the boxes.
They are piled all around my place. The walls are bare. It feels cluttered, claustrophobic and messy. I want the boxes out, unpacked in my new place! I try to keep the boxes neat, but there is no disguising the fact that this is a place in transition.
I just have to live with the mess, exist with the box piles. The alternative was to save ALL my packing for the day before, something my "To Do", results driven personality would never tolerate.
So I am living in the mess. Trying to be ok with "unfinished". Calming myself with the impermanence of this "boxy" state. Everything is changing, and this mess is a part of that. Transition is all there really ever is anyway. 2 more days in this space, 2 days of a unresolved mess.
And if I can use this as a opportunity to be OK with things that are cluttered, and messy? I have a whole life to enjoy a little less anxiety.
In the past few posts, I've talked a lot about how I'm trying to control my life, my future and my relationships. No surprise- it doesn't go well!
Life is unpredictable, but there is one thing we can all control. Our reaction.
When my boyfriend drop a plate and breaks it, I can have many reactions all of which give a different emotion. I can be mad that my plate is broken. I can be sad that he feels bad about being clumsy. Or I can be happy that he was even trying to do the dishes in the first place.
I can't stop him from dropping the plate, but I can control my mind- if i make an effort!
We all have "go to" emotional habits, whether its anger, worry or sadness. Sometimes it seems like there is only one way to feel in any circumstance. Other people and our lives "make" us anxious, angry or sad.
Well that's just not true! It's the reaction, and it tricks us if we let it happen unaware.
This isn't to say there isn't a "easy" reaction. But if the easy reaction is harmful or negative, isn't it worth a little self awareness and mental disiciple to try to change our "go to" emotion?
I think so. I would rather pause and watch the plate hit the floor, knowing it will break. Nothing I can do now. What's done is done. Broken or not, I don't have to be anxious, sad or angry. The plate and my boyfriend don't control my mind - I do.
The plate may be in pieces, but my mind doesn't have to be!
They said it would snow. Everyone at work was a buzz about the storm. But the best weather experts only could give educated guesses really. They used their knowledge, their insight, and the science tools to give a forecast. But in the end, no one can say the exact number of inches that would accumulate on my front steps.
I was anxious, like many when a "blizzard" is predicted. How would it change my day? My boyfriend's day? My dogs day? My routines, my daily life, would be altered. And I couldn't know by how much exactly.
I was focused on the day of the storm, worried about the impending weather. But in the end, how is this different that everyday life?
Events happen. We can't predict them, not really. We use out tools, our minds, our learning to assess. But we can never tell the inches of trouble that life piles at our doorstep until we step outside.
How we cope with the unknown, the storms and the predictions, determines how anxious our lives are. I ask myself - am I trying to shovel away the blizzard before it even hits? Am I worrying about snowflakes falling that are unknowable, and uncontrollable? Wouldn't it be a better way to live to try to accept what can't be predicted. Maybe then I can just enjoy my snow day.
What is strength? I used to think it was about showing a solid front, having it all together without any cracks of doubt or fear.
But that doesn't seem to be possible! So can I redefine strength as something more useful to my life, and more conducive to my mental state?
I am thinking about self discipline -strength of the mind. I was to challenge myself to make thoughtful and disciplined choices, rather than acting out of habit or fear.
Example- sometimes when I do yoga at home, I get distracted by obsessions. For example, staring down at my bare toes is torture. All I can see is cracked nail polish, callouses that need a good go with the pumice stone.
When it got back, I used to stop my routine to give into my anxiety. I would re-paint my toes right then, or grab the pumice for a quick file. Why couldn't it wait? It could - I just didn't discipline my behavior, I didn't focus my mind of what was important in the moment. I lost my flow.
Now, I stop myself. It's hard! The thought to give in to the anxiety habit is so strong. But when I don't give in, when I stay present and focused, I prove that I am stronger.
This can happen any time distraction exists- which is pretty much always. How I deal with the triggering bombardment is the key. Staying focused in my mental world, and making the choice to keep on my given task is a kind of strength that can be cultivated. Its the kind of strength that cab that get me though my yoga, and my whole day with a lot less scattered behavior.
Being afraid to fail can cause paralysis if the standards for success are so high, or the inner critics are too harsh. This happens to me a lot - I run down all the possible failures, and risking new choices starts to look scary. Or, I internally berate myself a tiny messed up moment.
I found this great article in Psychology Today Blogs on Fear of Failure. It shows a list of internal dialog that can be used to replace the harsh critic that so often shows up when I do something "wrong" or even when I am taking a risk that could lead to failure. Check it out:
Let's see if any of the following twenty coping statements could help you.
1. I didn't fail, my behavior failed
2. I can learn from my failure
3. I can be challenged by my failure
4. I can try harder
5. Maybe it wasn't a failure
6. I can focus on other behaviors that will succeed
7. I can focus on what I can control
8. It wasn't essential to succeed at that
9. There were some behaviors that did pay off
10. Everyone fails at something
11. Maybe no one noticed
12. Did I have the right goal?
13. Failure is not fatal
14. Were my standards too high?
15. Did I do better than before?
16. I can still do everything I always did, even though this failed
17. Failing at something means I tried. Not trying is worse.
18. I've just begun
19. Tomorrow is another success
20. Tomorrow is today
Think about something you are worried about. Perhaps you are worried that you won't do well on a test, or that someone might not like you, or that you might lose some money, or...whatever. Then go through the coping ideas listed above and think about how you could use these.
Remember, Ralph Waldo Emerson said ""Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble."
438FK6B4SGEK - This is a code to get me listed in Technorati :)
Sometimes it seems easier to just be a island. Alone in a vast sea, with no attachments, no bridges that could collapse in a heavy storm.
Having OCPD makes relationships so hard, because I cut myself so little slack, and fail to see how my own anxiety impacts others. It doesn't seem worth the drama and pain of "letting down" those I care about. And no one else can ever live up to my standards of perfection - they inevitably let me down as well.
How can I be ok with this? How do I not shrink away, live on my own little island with no one to hurt and critique but myself?
Because "Island" living- alone and controlled - isn't fun. It isn't living at all. What kind of life story is isolation?
Think about it - what makes a movie good? Drama! Relationships! Heartbreak! and yes... failure. If my life was a movie, what kind do I want it to be? Even in "Castaway", Tom Hanks took some risks to get back to love! Yes- he could have drowned but going off his island. But he was going crazy alone, and he was desperate for connection. In the end, his choice was: be safe or sane. I've tried being safe.
As scary as it is, I have the power to plunge in and write my own script. Yes, drama issues. But I only get one life to play with, one chance to get off my lonely island of anxiety.
I'm building my lifeboat to get back to the drama. All I can do is hope the sea stays calm.