Quelling Anxiety, Letting Go of Perfection

 

Imagine your neighbor upstairs left the water running over a holiday weekend and flooded your apartment. The damage is major, and you need to move out and into a smaller apartment with your two dogs, two kids and husband, for four and a half months. Imagine the babysitter you hired to help with your kids the week of the move canceled on you and you cannot find a replacement. Imagine your moving date is fast approaching and you are still negotiating the lease for your rental, coordinating with movers, fighting with your contractor and waiting to hear if insurance will reimburse you in full for your repairs. You are not packed at all for your move, let alone for your upcoming trip for Thanksgiving. Yes, you are going away right before this major move. Imagine the stress, anxiety and panic you feel, especially if you are the type that is super organized. I am talking about an uberorganized person, the type who color-codes everything and loves to make lists. How are you going to pack everything?

If you can imagine all of this, you have taken one step into my world, because I am describing my life right now. My anxiety was so intense that I couldn’t handle it. All of the sudden I realized that there was no way I was going to get all of my packing done, and a feeling of calm overcame me. A perfectionist faced with certain imperfection has no choice but to let go and laugh at the absurdity of the situation. I know that the movers will come, and I will move. I don’t expect the process to be smooth or easy, but I know it will get done. There are many different ways to move, and throwing stuff into poorly labeled boxes is one way that I will be getting to know well.

Sometimes you need to let go of perfection.

Stating the Obvious: How to Overcome Hurdles

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What I am about to write might seem obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be said. Let’s say you have trouble getting started on a blog post, getting it together to go to the gym or getting ready to go to bed, which is my problem. What do you do?

The first step is to identify the hurdle you are facing. With blogging, the hurdle could be as simple as being lazy about turning on your computer or setting up your laptop. Once you identify your hurdle, you can take steps to overcome it. If your hurdle is getting your computer ready, you can set it up a couple of hours before you want to write or the night before, so you have no excuses and nothing to slow you down.

With exercising, the hurdle could be not wanting to change from street clothing to exercise clothing. You might be perfectly willing to exercise or interested in exercising, but too tired to make the transition. Once you identify your hurdle, you can take steps to overcome it. If you know you have trouble shifting gears to get ready for the gym, you can take steps to smooth the transition. You can set your exercise clothing and sneakers out and pack your bag for the gym in advance. When the time comes for you to exercise, you will have fewer hurdles to prevent you from going, since everything is already set up and ready.

My personal hurdle might seem absurd. I have trouble getting ready for bed. When it is close to bedtime, I find myself falling asleep in my clothing on my bed or on the couch. I eventually get up and get ready for bed, but I stay up much later than I should—and for no good reason. What is holding me back from getting ready for bed? I am tired at the end of the day, and the steps I need to take to get ready for bed seem daunting to me, so I delay. You might be wondering what I do to get ready, but I can assure you it is nothing unusual. I change into my pajamas, floss and brush my teeth, take my vitamins, use eye drops and apply lip balm.

My hurdle is my process for getting ready for bed, which I consider lengthy, especially when I am tired. The solution to my problem is obvious, yet I’ve been struggling to get myself to bed for at least ten years. The solution is to do as much as I can before bedtime so that my bedtime ritual is simpler and shorter. I can put my pajamas on earlier in the evening and take my vitamins with dinner. As soon as I am done eating for the night, I can floss and brush my teeth. That will leave me only needing to use my eye drops and apply lip balm right before bed. That doesn’t seem so bad.

Sometimes it helps to state the obvious.