It’s time to say no to autopilot “shoulds”. If I can rephrase the “should” thoughts into “could” thoughts, I will open up my options and can see the “suggestion” in light of my existing priorities.
“Shoulds are hard to eradicate, since their origin and function is actually adaptive. They are simple rules to live by that have worked in the past. They are templates for survival that you can access quickly in times of stress. The problem is that they become so automatic that you don’t have time to analyze them, and so rigid that you can’t modify them to fit changing situations.”
— Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of your Moods & Your Life — by McKay, Davis and Fanning, p. 19
I have finite time and emotional energy. Why waste them on autopilot when I have all this freedom to choose?!
So, I did a big thing this weekend. I got my hair shorted. Big time.
This is the shortest my hair has ever been. Likely since birth or shortly after. I am happy. It’s only been a day, but it’s just so freeing. Slowly but surely, change is happening. Choosing alternate paths. Trial and error. It is good.
You see, I’ve been really working, for the past year or so, on doing the hard things. I’ve made some pretty significant changes in how and where I do a large part of my life. I started experimenting with being super honest about my views and beliefs, and I pulled up stakes, and after 10 years, started a new job. These have been exceptionally difficult, and overwhelmingly healthy things for me to do.
There has been one place, however, that I have just been unable to make any progress. My physical health. Let’s face it, I’m past my P.Y.T. years. And the way fitness and health is so frequently portrayed, it’s all about how you look (flat abs, thigh gap, big boobs, round butt — on and on ad nauseum). I know for a fact that even if I devoted all of my free time to diet and exercise, I would not reclaim my youth, and I would not look 20 years old again. I accept that I am the age that I am. It doesn’t really bother me. And since I have had a kid, and carried a lot of excess weight for a long time, even with significant weight loss, I would not return to pre-fat form without assistance of some kind of surgery.
So, I’ve just about given up on trying to do anything. I’ve been in an all-or-nothing sort of place. Once I’m locked down on an issue like this, it’s near impossible to push me into action.
However, I have also known that there would come a time when I would change my mind. That someday, my desire for longevity (I have a 9yo that I want to see grow up and become independent) would push my brain to find another path — another way of thinking that would free me from the trap of “if I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all”. I need hope. I need to have a goal that I can see is actually achievable. Something that I, in my future, could actually attain. Something that would be genuinely worth hard work and different choices.
In comes Beth and her wisdom. In essence, she has put the idea of fitness into a perspective that I have always believed. Form follows function. I deeply respect usefulness. Functionality. I couldn’t give a crap what something looks like if it does the job well. Seriously. Somehow, I hadn’t made the transition in my thought process to myself in the realm of physical fitness. Midway through her post she asks,
“What are you building? Do you want to be able to run and jump and play with your children – your grandchildren? Do you want to be able to work a construction job? Are you planning on competing in any specific sport? Do you have a sport that you love so much you want to condition your body for that? Why are you building your body at all? Then I suggest the most CRAZY notion: …what if you let that dictate what your body looks like?”
I almost started crying. You mean I can pick something ELSE, something FUNCTIONAL, that I want to be/do that doesn’t depend on a completely muffin-free top and flat abs (that I know are impossible with this body of mine without surgical intervention)?? I can totally skip the magazine-photo-clipping-vision-board stage of this and just pick some thing I want to be capable of, and work towards THAT?!?
“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.
It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”
I’m really sick of feeling like a victim. Feeling anxious all the time. Brain cranking, looking for where the next spinning plate will drop in the desperate hope of catching it in time. It’s exhausting.
There is a lot still shifting in my mental architecture. In some ways, I feel like I’m having a second adolescence — which was complicated enough the first time around. Ugh. I just turned 44. (Right? Um, yeah. 2015 takeaway…yeah. 44. *smh*) There are some “finally growing up” feelings going on, but it’s more about shedding my inherited assumptions of how life works — and testing for myself — than rebelling against the “Ps” (which I never actually did…). This time it’s a lot scarier.
What am I so damned afraid of?
Letting go and the world falls apart and it’s all my fault
Making “wrong” choices
Being a disappointment
Being vulnerable to attack
Being seen as unintelligent and a fraud
Some wise things that people have said to me recently, that I want to just engrave on my brain for this season in my life:
“Won’t know until you try.”
“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.”
“What is the worst that can happen?”
This last one I think is the most important for me to take the time to honestly answer. I need to really verbalize the “worst case scenario”. I think I’ve been robbing myself of great options on a regular basis by ruling them out because of the “dread lurk”. It’s sort of the ominous Dread Pirate Roberts of my brain. “Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” If I’m ever going to get out in front of this Dread, I need to start pushing all the way through the “What if…?” options. If I keep skipping all the good things for fear of some sort of hidden “cost” that must be paid, I’m never going to move. I’ll continue my life just frozen. Locked in my own head, second-guessing every thought, only moving when I must.
The reason I’m writing is it’s time to start using my voice. I haven’t written here in a while. I have another blog where I just spew words that I don’t worry about worry less about offending the majority of my family and friends. But I’m getting tired of that kind of filtering.
Tonight I’m just going to talk a bit about one of the struggles I have as a recovering perfectionist. When it comes to setting goals, I have had this all or nothing sort of view. If I want to lose X pounds, then I need my action plan where I follow these 10 rules. Or I will always this… Or I will never that… Listening to the book today, Brene wrote about how you can tell whether someone is really going to succeed at change. You can hear it in their language. They say things about progress. Moving toward a goal. Taking small steps in a direction. Not images of perfection. Not still life. Movement from here towards there.
And that really resonated with me. In an attempt to MAKE myself exercise, I signed up for a 100-Day challenge on Instagram (a social media tool I do not use) and picked a topic that would in theory force me into doing something I feel I should be doing on a regular basis, for long enough time that I will somehow have TRICKED myself into succeeding. (See previous post).
Did it work? Ha!
Look, I have some dreams. I have these yearnings to be doing something new or something different in my life. When I get these flashes of desire, I often follow them up with the mental rush of excitement and visioning all the ways it will change me, and then drown in the backwash of all the nay-saying about how change won’t work and I’ll never be what I saw in the vision. It’s a painful cycle and it kept me trapped for a long time.
Lately, though, I’m finding a bit of calm. I’m gaining confidence that small action works. I’m learning that getting “present” in the moment, taking stock of my surroundings, and looking for what area in my life I can put a little effort into, and then JUST DOING IT, is actually making a difference. Can I write an exciting, life-altering, viral-share-worthy “10 Top Tips for Toning your Tummy” blog post as a result? Nope. And you know what? I don’t care. Really. Don’t.
I want to write. I want to be who I am. I want to have a conversation or two or a hundred that make a difference in the world around me. So here I write. Just me being me – using my talking voice (Thanks Micah for that nudge!) Funny thing about that. There is no rule book about how to be Lundie. And that’s pretty damned ok.
It seemed like a fun way to motivate myself to move SOMETHING without having to commit to any kind of static workout routine or exercise program. Who knows what 100 days of moving will do. I haven’t even necessarily committed to it being my BODY that is moving, but that seems like the likeliest place to start.
I think it was my first grade teacher, Mr. Boyson, who first introduced me to the joyful realization of the double meaning of “March Fourth (Forth!)” Since that day, I have always giggled inside when someone says the date, and picture them with a sword in hand, raised for battle!
May today be your day to go forward and conquer all that you have in front of you!
This week’s recurring topic seems to be “What makes a person a ‘friend’?”. Just because someone has had the “friend” designation in the past, it does not mean they automatically keep the title for life. “A friend from High School” may not just identify when we became friends, but it could also indicate the lifespan of the friendship.
In my book, a friend:
asks you how you are doing, then they actually wait and listen for your answer!!
says “hey” once in a while, just ’cause
casually interacts with you via social media (if they partake), no drama needed
doesn’t think of you as a “one stop pep talk” and then go back to their “real life” when they feel better
The old saying, “The only way to have a friend is to be one”, rings more and more true with me. Friendship is a two-way street. I am under no obligation to be a friend to “needy” people. (Please note: “Needy people” are quite different than people who need a friend.) Needy people don’t recognize that genuine friends (those who listen, support, and love) might actually want a friend in return.
While I don’t want to be too “transaction-al” in friendship, I am closing up the 24/7 friendship pit-stop for those who show up, take my time and emotional energy, and then disappear again.
Guess I’d better spend some time considering whether I treat anyone in my life that way too…that would really suck!
Being wrong is not the worst thing in the world. The more quickly I come to terms with it, and admit it (to myself, and to whomever else is involved), the less pain involved.
I am trustworthy enough to care for myself. Things greatly improve when I do the things my heart and soul are begging me to do. When I do, I build trust and peace follows.
Healthy boundaries take work, but they set you free.
How I Want to Live in 2015
I want to build on the things I learned in 2014.
I’m trying actively to NOT make resolutions, or to use drummed up will-power to make huge changes in my lifechanges triggered by panic, or based in fear. Real change only sticks with me if it weathers all moods. And I can’t make the change until I’m good and ready. I’m pretty darned stubborn.
I want to discover my alternative to churning up resolve and attacking things I need to change in my life. My life doesn’t have to be that hard. Fighting myself is counter-productive. This year is going to be about figuring out how to stop that fight.
1/4/15 10:30am – Edited: I woke this morning with the thought that this post wasn’t quite right. It’s not about will-power as the mechanism, but fear. I refuse now to make knee-jerk changes based on fear.