Does your day have you stymied? Are you exhausted before it begins? Maybe you woke up in a blue funk. Or have tons to do but no motivation to tackle it. Maybe you review your list and find it overwhelming, or so underwhelming it bores you to death. Perhaps life is a mess and you are desperate to make it through just one more day. On such a day, self-talk becomes morose and only drags you deeper. What to do?
Sitting there feeling sorry for yourself won’t break the spell; it reinforces it. Calling a friend to commiserate helps you feel better, but doesn’t move you forward. This is the point at which many succumb to sleeping, or reach for an addiction to distract themselves from discomfort. Yet if you bravely seek to break the addiction barrier, or overcome depression which is reinforced by a sense of worthlessness, or are simply fed up with struggling to overcome inertia, try something new.
Pick up a dish.
On this Thanksgiving day, the task facing us was overwhelming. Thanksgiving dinner was completed leaving everyone full and sleepy. Family members mysteriously disappeared with “important things to do” leaving Mom and me to clean up. She sighed, scooted back her chair to cross her legs, and lit up a cigarette. My gaze followed hers as she scanned the damage. Twelve years old, I could think of better things to do on a holiday but had no handy excuse that she would buy into.
Where to begin? Every inch of counter top was covered with dirty dishes. The sink was overfilled. Our holiday china needed replaced high up in the cupboard. The refrigerator was already stuffed and we needed to cram in yet more.
“Mom, what do you want me to do first?”
She shook her head, studying her cigarette. After a moment’s reflection, she suddenly suggested, as if divinely inspired. “Let’s each just pick up a dish.”
“What do you mean?”
“We will each pick up a dish and take it where it needs to go. That will lead to picking up another dish. If we keep picking up the next dish, we will eventually get it all done.”
How silly! I grabbed a plate and headed to the sink. To make room, I stacked cooking pans over on the stove. Before stacking them I needed to pour in water to soak off the debris. To get to the faucet, I gathered drinking glasses and silverware from the sink. The silverware was tossed into the soaking cook pots. Glasses went on the only open spot I could find, the window sill. I poured in fresh dishwater and added the plate. Then another plate and cup. Soon I was filling the dish rack with clean dishes, making countertop room for more. Next we knew, the kitchen was clean, dishes stored, and all was in order.
This works if you use it – guaranteed!
It works! Pick up a dish. I’ve followed this advice for many an overwhelming day at home or work. When I pick up one dish to wash, one phone call to make, one bill to pay, one conversation that needs to happen, one item to handle, one folder to file, one email to respond to, one client to call, I overcome inertia and propel my energy forward. This avoids the usual agony of anticipating an overwhelming burden of things to do. Anyone can take just one step forward. Once you do, that momentum moves you to the next project.
As I follow this strategy, I accomplish more in less time. It removes my “attachment” to what needs to be done or how long it will take, shifting my action into a steady flow. Once in the flow, I relax and go along for the ride. Somewhere along the line I look with amazement at how much I’ve accomplished. This works with your computer or paperwork at the office, cleaning your car, children’s rooms, garage purging, and spring housecleaning (if anyone out there does this anymore?)
Create a new habit of accomplishment and overcome emotional passivity.
On a rough emotional day you may only complete two things, (and one of them might be reading an encouraging article online), but at the end of the day, that’s something to feel good about. Over a series of days, you can complete a significant number of tasks, leading you to feel better about yourself. Now when you take time to relax, you won’t feel guilty. You will have taken back some of your own power. You have created a personal history of achievement instead of a sense of worthlessness. No one else can do this for you. Do it for yourself. Do it to set an example for your children. Do it because you are worth the effort. In time, it won’t be an effort anymore – it will have become a new habit of accomplishment.
Don’t think about this too much.
Take the action. Don’t analyze it in light of advice you’ve heard on time management or organization. I’ve taught those classes; they have a proper place when working within organizations. Here, I’m talking about personal achievement in the privacy of your own relationships, office, garage, kitchen, or work space. Overcoming physical, mental, and emotional hurdles increases self-esteem and helps you feel strong. Be sure to listen to your inner dialogue throughout the day, weeding out negatives. Read Self Talk rules my day – we will be addressing more ideas on this subject in upcoming posts.
One more thought – this article is focused on breaking loose from morose. There are days when “action” isn’t the answer. Sometimes the wise thing to do is allow yourself to take a guilt-free nap, go on a walk, read a good book, watch a movie, or hang with a friend, disconnecting from the “shoulds” of life. That is another article!
My last piece of advice? Somewhere among the “dishes” you pick up, fill one with yummy ice cream, treat yourself to a reward, or toast yourself in the mirror. You’ve earned it.
Not sure how to take new action?
You’ll want to read You Gotta Act Differently to Get New Results.
Next Post: 15 Steps to Confident, Assertive Living.
Coming up: A series of posts with practical steps to address life issues.
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Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.
Ellie Note: Any Video’s inserted below this article are advertisements by WordPress which support their free blogs, and I have no control over what they choose. They do not represent me or my works. Thanks!