Tag Archives: self care

I hate accountability

… because it works! Yesterday I was ready to read a large number of National Poetry Month contributions, when I realised I had made my foolish resolution: to work both on #NaPoWriMo, and my unfinished November project. It was immediately clear to me that I had to get some work done first, and could use poetry as a reward.

So grudgingly and reluctantly I went upstairs to check on my Piles of Doom. I realised exchange a nice plan (poetry) for a wise plan (administration) didn’t feel that good yet. The sun was calling me, and I wanted to go outside. So I decided to combine my plan and my urge: I took my administration to my son’s room, opened a window, sat down with the sun on my back, and started working. Here’s proof:

IMG_20180403_125709

Doesn’t that look like I’m really organised? 🙂 🙂 🙂 I shan’t bore you with why this project is such a big deal for me. It took me a while to discover it, and it feels rather private. Let’s just summarise it as: it ticks all the wrong boxes.

So I need my own advice to get it done. And, if I’m honest, some help from someone who helps me dig deeper in myself than where I’m willing to go on my own. When I look back at yesterday, I realise that I applied different tactics:

  • accountability
  • eat the frog (doing the thing you’re most likely to procrastinate on first)
  • rewards
  • making things more fun (did I not write a blog post about that yet? It really works!)

And I’m doing the same today. I listen to my own advice. So I read a bit of poetry before I started my day, to recover from the morning rush hour – self care. Then I decided that it was more important to me to report on my progress, than to follow the #NaPoWriMo prompt. (An easy choice, since ‘description’ is not my thing and that takes the fun out of it, and I wrote too many poems on day 2) – values to the rescue. Next, I made myself accountable on Facebook for eating a frog (making invoices). That helped me to get those done before writing this post.

I think I deserve a bit of poetry reading after writing this post, so that will be my next step. After that: more invoices. After those: publish my poem for day 4 and share it. Or take a break first. Saving the best for last 😉

If you happen to follow any of my links and wonder why they lead to a different Procrastination Coach site… Yeah, long story. Basically that’s my official one, and I want it to look good (spelling, grammar, lay-out). This is my old blog, which I treat as a playground: the motto is ‘done is better than perfect’. I write straight form the heart and don’t edit much. A quick spell check is often all I do.

Guess on which of my sites I’m spending the most time… 🙂

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An inner critic might never be satisfied

It looks like yesterday’s ‘meh’ was a sign of me getting ill. I have a sore throat, a head ache, a cold sweat when I move, annoying things like that. Yet, I worked for an hour on my project, even though I’d given myself sick leave. You’d think that made my inner critic cheer and clap and admire me determination. Not at all.

Somewhere in me it’s grumpin’, complaining how that chore I started isn’t fully under control yet. Moaning that I worked too hard and didn’t stick to my planned time box or boundaries.

I’ve written a post called done is more fun than perfect. My inner critic doesn’t agree. It just always finds fault with me, no matter what I do…

Actually, that’s not entirely true. If I had read my own post before I started working on my project, I probably would have stopped sooner. Not when EVERYTHING is done (my usual, unspoken goal), but when I noticed it was draggin’ me down.

If I had stopped in time, I would be proud now about what I got done. I would be giving myself credit for working when I’m not feeling well. And applauding myself for stopping in time.

Instead, there’s moaning and complaining and telling me off going on. My inner critic always knows how to find me when I’m off balance… and is not likely to retreat voluntarily.

In a minute I will run a hot bath. I’ll take my cold, my headache, my inner critic and a good book with me. I’ll soak (everything except for the book), and float in warm comfort for as long as I feel like it.

Obviously, my inner critic doesn’t think I deserve a bath. Truth be told, I don’t think my inner critic deserves a bath. Yet I’ll take it with me, and it can see where it goes from there. I’m just not going to fight. It can leave whenever it wants to.

And I’ll not wait for it to compliment me that I got #NaBloPoMo day 21 done 😉

The difference between have-to and want-to

After meeting up with my friend yesterday I realised: I want a day off. When I wrote values to the rescue, taking a day off still felt a like “I need it, so I HAVE to do it”. Which set off the automatic response I’ve described in the horse shoe of have-to: “I don’t want to“. I needed a day off, but didn’t want one…

Some time to make me feel good
Because I was snooping around on Facebook and blogs, I realised I felt the need for connection. So I phoned a friend and we met. After that, I had planned to get some work done. I didn’t want a full day off, remember? Just some time to make me feel good.

Throwing things away for fun
Earlier that day I had had the weirdest experience. In the decluttering group, the prompt was to throw away something. At first I looked at it as ‘not my thing’. I had decided I needed fun today, and how much fun is it to throw something away? Then I realised I actually liked the thought of throwing things away. I was in an angry mood, p*ssed off that I was tired and had to adjust my plans Throwing stuff away was perfect for that feeling of anger. Mind you: the thing I chose had been on my to-do list for ages. It just never had priority, and I never had the energy. Now it was exactly what I needed. It had changed from something I felt I SHOULD do, in something I WANTED to do. Look at these before and after pictures:
Before, part 1
After part 1
I threw away a number of too small totally worn children’s shoes, and it felt great. They were just taking up space and nagging at my brain. I also threw away my once favourite red suede boots. I was sad to throw those away, but they weren’t wearable any more. I only kept them because they were my favourite shoes ever and I liked how they looked. It’s amazing what’s possible when you ditch resistance – throwing away things turned into fun!

Have to becomes want to
Back to my idea of getting things done. Meeting up with my friend worked really well. We talked, ate lunch and had fun. I stepped out of my stress zone. When I came home, it dawned upon me: I WANTED a day off. There was no good reason to wait until tomorrow, when I’d have exhaustion as a great excuse. I might as well take one now, and maybe get my things done tomorrow. Taking a day off had changed from ‘I have to’ into ‘I want to’. That felt so much better!

How to feel what I want
I’m guessing meditation could have had the same effect as meeting up with my friend: taking me out of my stress zone and reconnecting me with what I wanted.
I have known about the difference effect of ‘I have to’ versus ‘I want to’ for a long time. I knew how to substitute the words for each other (I have to → oh no, I have to want this → I want to). Today I realised that I have to search for I want to in a different place. Before I can feel what I want, I need to make room for my feelings.

I have too many inner people running the show otherwise.

I got a strange reward for taking my day off. Around dinner time a potential disastrous fight was developing in my household. I had patience, energy and clarity to deal with all the angry people (including my worried self). I stayed calm, took people apart, talked to one, then the other, and after everyone calmed down we had a nice evening together. I was SO relieved, and SO proud of myself for being able to do that. I know for sure that couldn’t have done it without my day off.

My brain is being mean to me

Dear diary,

My brain is being mean to me. It’s not fair.

I was doing really well, working on my November project. I still don’t know where some of my administration is hiding. So I was searching for it, organising stuff in the meanwhile.

I was creating good results, sorting papers for the recycling bin, freeing up a box to put assorted old stuff in. But my brain started whispering: it’s not good enough. You’re supposed to work directly on your planned result. This is a distraction. You’re giving in to scope creep

So I told myself: No. Look how good this will feel. I’m saying goodbye to an old project, which is quite a big step. The papers will leave the house and that creates space. I’m saying goodbye emotionally too, that will create space on my mind. Really, I’m on the right track.

Then my brain whispered more loudly: look at what you’re doing. You’re making small piles of stuff you don’t know where to put. You’re not sticking to your planned result. You’re not sticking to your method. You’re doing a bad job. You’re stupid.

I felt the tension in my shoulders rise and decided to quit after 15 minutes, the maximum that I had set for this round (hoping to do more than one round today). This was sticking to my method, but my brain didn’t care about that.

It got louder and louder: Look at that mess! This isn’t right! Work a bit longer in this, so you’ll reach some satisfaction. If you can’t put those papers away, do more of the easy bits. Find yourself papers you CAN sort and put in the right place. Go to the recycling bin with those papers that can leave the house. Try to… It was frantically ordering me to do anything but take a break now. Go get RESULTS! Make yourself feel GOOD!

Like I wrote before: old patterns don’t die easily, if ever. But I’m learning how to cope with them. So I decided to step away and do some thinking. Who was running the show at the moment?

I encountered some familiar company:
1) My inner schoolmaster: demanding I’ll do too much. Of course this is not how it puts it: please do too much. Instead, it will tell me this isn’t enough yet. “You should do more.” Activiting the other side of my horse shoe: the part that says “I’m not sure I want to”. This part is not strong enough to resist, and let me inner adult do the talking. It means I’ll probably give in to the demands, because otherwise I face criticism.

One way I recognise my inner schoolmaster is when I feel overwhelmed, pressured and a failing. The schoolmaster thinks I have no right to boundaries, I just have to do my job.

2) My inner critic lies in wait, ready to take over if I lean towards not giving into the schoolmaster. Or when I don’t (surprise!). If I decide to take that break, it will claim I’m lazy or unfit for needing one in the first place. If I don’t take a break, it will tell me I’m stupid for doing too much.

One way I recognise my inner critic is because it calls me names and exaggerates: stupid, fail, twat, bad, lazy…

The message of my inner schoolmaster is that I don’t do enough. The message of my inner critic is that I’m no good.

Dear diary,
My brain is mean to me, but I’m not going to be a meany to it in return. There was a time when these patterns were helpful to me, they were part of my survival kit. But now I want to break free (*insert Queen song*). I wonder how I can picture that?

I’ll file a complaint against the schoolmaster, with legal terms and small print any many things that will keep it busy while I go out for a walk and a coffee. I’ll ask my inner critic to make an inventory of all the bad things it calls me, and sort them on how many times they are used AND alphabetical order.

While they are busy, I’ll enjoy a bit of fresh air and sunshine, a small chat with the waiter who brings me coffee, perhaps read a nice book… Self care.

Me and my inner adult are running this show!

Blessed are those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. It’s wonderful if you can organise, declutter and work without distracting voices in your own head. I’m not schizophrenic (in case you wonder) I’ve just learned to tune in to my self talk and see where it’s getting me. When my self talk brings me down, I try to realise that and change it.

A pat on the back can be helpful against your inner critic, if you manage to mean what you say. My pats on the back for today are:
– After a lousy morning, I took a break before I started. I listened to my needs.
– I started working on my project without resistance.
– I listened to my body when it told me to stop.
– Managed to not listen to the voice that urged me to do more, more, more!
– I took the time to find out what’s going on inside of me and learn from it.
– Changing patterns takes an effort. A pat on the back for being dedicated.

I’ll add some visual proof to show how out of line my brain gets. These were the ‘piles’ that caused all that stress:
Mini piles

I could have told myself they weren’t that scary, but my brain wouldn’t have believed it. This half mocking dead serious dear diary post, did help. And it got me #NaBloPOMo done for today. And if anyone wonders why I’m sharing such private stuff: I hope it can help other people.