Why I Need More Therapy
October 9, 2017
Thought I’d dust this post off and bring it back. I needed the reminder, perhaps you do, too.
One 15-minute conversation with my mother, and I know how I got this crazy.
She’s why I wake up in a cold sweat convinced that I have to organize my garage—right this second, at 2AM—even though it’s been an absolute shit show for the last six years. Why I need to clean my kitchen cabinets, and the upstairs office, and catch up on filing, and edit 2,000 pages of client manuscripts, and finish, not one, but three books, and get new tires for the Miata, and find the perfect T-shirt to wear with that sequined skirt now, NOW, NOW!!! Or die trying.
“Did you get the present I sent you?” Mom asks. It’s the beginning of May and my birthday is over a month away. Up to my eyeballs, this is the fourth time she’s rung this morning, and I’ve only picked up the phone because I’m convinced, what with her persistence, someone I love is dead.
A long pause. Because, WTF? Where’s the urgency in this? “I did. Thank you very much. It’s beautiful.”
“I got it in Turkey. At the Central Bazaar. Wasn’t sure who I’d give it to.” She’s breathless because the 30-year-old microwave she’s hauling out to the car, while we speak, weighs as much as my Denali backpack. Each summer Mom works at Teddy Roosevelt National Park, which is located five hours away. She’s got three weeks before she’s scheduled to drive there, but, by Golly, her Honda is fully loaded and ready to go. “I mailed everybody’s presents off while I was at the post office. Amir’s, Iman’s, your brother’s…. his kids. That way I’ve got that checked off the list.”
“But, Mom. Tim’s birthday is in January. Iman’s is at the end of November.”
She giggles. “I know. I’ll drop a card in the mail closer to the actual dates.”
“That’s just fucking weird, Ma. ”
She giggles again. “ I’ll be able to relax. I don’t want to have to worry about any of that stuff when I get back to Fargo in September.”
I’ve had to work on ways to manage my inherited all or nothing, emergency mindset. That sense that, if I don’t get it all done right this very instant, the world as we know it will come to a flaming end.
Fuel to that fire? Marrying Walt.
He’s the guy who wakes me up each day with a steaming cup of coffee and the news that, while I’ve been languishing in bed ‘til 5AM, he’s finished writing another book and rebuilt the pool filter.
I begin the day feeling waaaaayyyyyyy behind.
Not surprising, I attract a lot of clients with this very same problem. It’s sort of a boundary issue. You can’t say no to other people and their demands; you can’t manage your own time and energy; and you think that, in order to be loved, you have to be Wonder Woman and Martha Stewart all rolled into one. Only better looking.
Slow down, and someone will recognize what a worthless piece of shit you are.
Slow down, and you actually have to face your self. Or that big, pink elephant in the middle of the room.
It’s no wonder that I’ve had to develop a step-by-step process for myself to manage the compulsion to get every single thing I can think of done all at once. I’d like to share it with you.
- On Sunday morning write out your weekly to-do list in gory detail, even if it takes an entire ream of paper.
- Pull out (or create) your top 5 values list—the things in your life you value most. Mine are as follows:
-Fitness and health
-A rock-solid relationship with Walt
-Writing, my creative life
-A sense of peace and personal space
-A healthy, adult relationship with my kids
- Decide which items on your to-do list satisfy one or more of your values. For example, cleaning the garage does not satisfy any of mine. I drop that in my “too much time on my hands” notebook for later. Or hire it out.
- Take out your weekly calendar and schedule time to satisfy these items/tasks. At least one task per value. These are what I (and Tony Robbins) like to call “the big rocks.” You fit these rocks into the bucket first; you can fit the smaller, less important pebbles in between. AND get to the end of the week feeling like you’re living life on your terms.
- I’m a big proponent of block time. I schedule 3 2-hour blocks of time in which to write. Writing is absolutely essential to my peace of mind, so see how that satisfies 2 of my values? And it keeps me from shooting Walt when he brags about his new book. Wait! See how that satisfies 3 of my values?
- Each day, create a 2-hour block of time to do whatever urgent crap springs to mind. Like purchase, wrap and mail gifts to everybody you know. This leaves room for your own brand of nuttiness!
My accomplishment compulsion is part of my personality, so it’s never going to go away. The goal is to develop tools (and use them) to manage it.
Mom called on my birthday. It was 10PM, long after my bedtime. “You had yourself a landmark birthday today. Bet you feel old,” she said, referring to the fact I’d just turned 50. A toilet flushed in the background. “Your brother called. He has shingles.”