I tell myself I am better than most because I do not spend hours each day watching viral cat videos.
Yes, I’m the guy who is always busy. There is always a project to plan, start, or finish. I am busy at work and busy at home. I always have a list. Mostly my list is written. Many times, the list is on the back of an envelope or an old receipt that I found on my dresser. At work I’ve created an Excel checklist ranking activities as daily, weekly, and monthly, so I know where to focus each day.
A written list is proof that I have a lot to do.
Checking items off the list confirms that I am getting stuff done. Plus, there are all of those positive endorphins generated when I check a task off the list. And yes, I will even write something on the list that I have just done, so that I can check it off.
Recently, I am realizing that being busy is a defensive position. After all, if I am busy, then I can be excused from whatever someone else wants me to do. And even better, I do not have to say NO. I just say that I am too busy. And my record of accomplishments, mostly small, continues to grow.
Busy is good, busy as a defensive position, is not so good.
It appears to me that I do not know how to slow down. And if I do attempt to take a few minutes here or there to slow down, then guilt pops up. I think, “how can I just sit here and watch the birds at the feeders when I have so much to do?” This guilt then pushes me so even if I resist getting up and going to the next project, I cannot enjoy the few moments of downtime.
Ok, so it really is that I do not let myself enjoy the downtime.
My depression now takes over and tosses out unhelpful thinking. This leads to all-or-nothing thinking. If I do not get up now and start weeding the flower bed, IT WILL NEVER GET DONE. And there I am. If I sit, the guilt rains down. If I get up, then I have given in to my depression.
I forget that there is another option, to change my attitude towards the feeling.
If I change my attitude towards taking me time, then guilt does not appear. And if I change my attitude about weeding the garden, things become more relaxed. I can remind myself that the garden is not going anywhere, and the weeds will still be there ten minutes from now. I must remember that all-or-nothing thing is at play.
And I can remind myself that self-care, me time, is an essential part of my daily maintenance.
I fill my day with anything and everything, so I do not have to be alone with myself. If I have a to-do list, I can grab that and go instead of taking a few minutes for myself. Even as I sit here on the porch, in the early morning, watching the birds at the feeders, I feel I should be doing something more. And even if I include watching the squirrels on the ground and the rabbit by the forsythia, I am still being a slack you know what for not getting to whatever the next thing is on my list.
Before I sat down to write, I filled the back porch bird feeder and turned on the sprinkler for the vegetable garden.
I cannot even write without feeling like there is something else I must be doing. This changing my attitude about events is not going so well. It should be easy to see that the yard will still be there ten minutes from now. And writing is my therapy. I work out so many issues by writing them out. Somehow, my mind finally gets to the emotion I am feeling, and then I can begin to see other perspectives.
Some of these ideas about my attitude have not been resolved yet.
And others I return to from time to time, checking in with them to see if things are Ok. This includes, recently, my issues with road rage. I think this was time #5 of me writing out my thoughts about my continued problem with other drivers and their selfish, uncaring attitudes.
It seems that other drivers must think that the road and their driving on it are all about them.
But I think the road and my driving on it is all about me. So, we start the whole process at an impasse. When I am the bigger person, I easily adjust my attitude about another’s driving and may say to myself, “Wow, that was a very unsafe move on their part.” Thus, I keep from internalizing the feelings associated with their driving, and just let them go.
And I do not bring to work or home all that frustration and anger over what another driver was doing.
So, why can I not apply the same detached attitude about sitting on the porch for ten minutes? Part of being detached may be that I am already doing something, i.e., driving. This takes out the guilt for a moment and lets me get to the real issue, which again is my attitude toward the other driver.
Well, that’s enough time for myself, because I need to turn off the garden sprinkler, get my shower, empty the dishwasher, and pack my lunch.