That’s A Lot of Lists

You Even Have Lists Of The Lists You Need To Make

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Recently, I’ve been noticing something about myself: the more I let things go, the more peace I feel about things. However, when I let myself get caught up in my own concerns, fears, expectations, and stressers, the worse I feel. For example, I can start a day thinking that I have to get everything on my to-do list done, or I can start my day without putting any expectations on myself at all. In the first scenario, I’m basing my worth on the things I can accomplish. In the second, however, I’m basing my worth on who I am as a person, instead of what I can or cannot get done.

Sounds a bit complicated, sure, and I’ll probably get into that whole thing a bit later. For now, however, that’s hardly my point. With everything that I’ve been learning about myself, and as much as I adore my systems of organization, as I stated before, I’ve been figuring out that I completely base my confidence on the things that I can do. I’ll start my day by considering ‘how much can I get done today?’ Nothing besides this matters to me. I won’t bother to feed myself because I’m too busy working, I spend 90% of my time forcing myself to get things done just because I feel like I need to, and if I get less than three-quarters of my list crossed off, I had an unsuccessful day.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work. Sometimes, in order to get things done, you have to do things regardless of whether or not you want to. That, of course, is the reality of the world. However, basing your entire life around this concept is hardly a way to live, and this is exactly what I’ve been doing.

I, not unlike a lot of people, considered myself only worth the sum of my successes and efforts. Growing up in a world where every adult tells you ‘if you don’t work hard you won’t get anywhere,’ I feel like this is a pretty common epidemic. After all, it can be easier to find your value within something more tangible than simply yourself.

After having a few good days, I started finding myself on edge again. My stress was rising, and I started feeling more depressed and inconfident. After feeling the relief of being somewhat okay waking up in the morning, this came as a rather upsetting fallback. Why was I feeling this way again? Recovery isn’t a linear process, not at all, but still, it was frustrating. I didn’t want to spend my time thinking about how useless I am compared to the rest of the world, I wanted to be okay.

So I started thinking: what changed? Is something so dramatically different in my external circumstances, forcing me to feel worse? No. Of course, like everything else comes down to, there had been a shift within myself. Instead of letting myself be okay with where I’m at, allowing myself to recover and take care of myself properly, I got caught up in all the things I thought I couldn’t do. I can’t get everything done. I’m trying to deal with depression, not stupid things like having a toothbrush that isn’t working anymore, and that started to make me feel so much lower than everyone else. Clearly, I couldn’t do anything.

But that’s wrong, because I am doing something. I’m learning to feed myself properly, learning to actually relax, struggling to deal with really intense issues and whatever else – and that’s a lot of things to all take on at once. Not to mention starting moving out of town and everything, because let me tell you, that’s a big process. So why did I stop believing it?

Because I started letting myself put expectations on myself. I started placing my value in not who I am, but what I can do, and how ‘successful’ I am.

So what am I doing about it? I’m forcing myself to stop for a week. No to do lists, no pressure besides things that absolutely have to be addressed, and no talking to people who are going to make me feel inadequate. Instead of spending the time trying to do as much as I can, I’ll spend the extra time taking moments out of my day to actively let go of the expectations I put myself. My theory is that this will not only give me a greater sense of peace within myself and my own life, but I’ll be able to get more things done happily, because I don’t feel forced or pressured into anything.

However, after two days of this experiment, I’ve found that I based my life so heavily on lists to tell me what to do at all times, that I have trouble figuring out what I could legitimately like to do without them. The consequences of an addiction, perhaps, or maybe I shouldn’t be scrapping my systems entirely. I created them for a purpose, after all.

Recently, I’ve been adapting the ‘focus’ method. Instead of trying to do everything at once, I’ll pick a certain project or goal, and work towards that. If I can get other things done on top of it, great. If not, no harm done. I’m not putting pressure on myself to get everything done in a day, realizing it takes time to accomplish large things in life, and that’s been working out really well.

Right now, of course, my focus is in moving out and setting up my new place. I’m also thinking about getting my full driving license, feeding myself and meal prep, writing, blogging, etc etc. But all of that falls behind housing. Focusing on one thing at a time helps me keep balance in my life, and makes everything so much less stressful. Having other projects or goals in the back of my mind, however, prevents me from being bored when there’s nothing I can do about my current focus at the moment.

What works for you guys? How do you keep yourself organized and stress free at the same time? Do you base your identity in your tasks? What hasn’t worked for you? Can always learn from each other, right?

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