Somewhere along the way, my value as a person got tangled up with my productivity. The more I could DO, the more valuable I would BE.
The inner pressure to do more and uplevel my perceived value became intense.
The "beatings" became severe - You're getting behind. You didn't finish that. Any dummy could figure this out, why can't you? That wasn't worth your time. Why are you just sitting around? Why are you doing this instead of that?
I got very good at feeling very bad about myself.
Look around, my inner voice said. You just don't measure up.
Spiraling. Round and round, and down and down, we'd go, my brain and I. LESS valuable. LESS capable. LESS loved. LESS lovable. NOT enough.
The questioning and self-doubt begin flooding in. Surely, there is something else I should be DOing. Something else that will make me more valuable.
Of course, all that questioning only siphons off a lot of time and energy from the things I could be doing and being. It causes doubt around all the good things I am doing and being.
I knew this spin cycle wasn't helpful to my do-ing and was even less helpful to my be-ing. Yet once it started spinning, I clung for dear life, far more afraid of getting flung off the merry-go-round.
The earworm in my mind's ear became "I accomplished nothing today." It felt like a cold hard irrefutable fact.
Of course, most days it wasn't a fact at all. It was just a story my brain made up about my day.
Our brains love to make up stories. They can take one tiny fact - I didn't check everything off my list today - and make up a story as long and convoluted as any Michener novel.
One fact spins out endlessly until it bears no resemblance to the actual incident.
Facts vs stories
> Fact - I had 4 things on today's list
> Fact - I completed 3 things on today's list
> Fact - I didn't complete 1 thing on today's list
> Fact - I completed 7 things that were not on the list, but were important and timely
> Story - I had 4 things on today's list
> Story - I only finished 3 things on today's list. What a loser. It was only 4 things. Anybody should be able to do 4 things in a day.
> Story - I couldn't finish 1 thing on my list because I just can't get it right. It's too hard. I don't know enough. I'm not smart enough. Other people can do it, but I can't figure it out.
> Story - Besides, I kept doing other things that were not on my list and ran out of time. I can't even manage my own time. I'm such a loser.
Can you relate?
On a recent day, my list said to write a blog post, create a sign-up page, write a chapter in my new book, outline the teaching module for that chapter, clean the bathroom, pull weeds around the patio. I only finished two.
I'm such a lazy loser.
What actually happened was:
I updated 6 old blog posts that pertained to coaching questions from last week and reposted them. I bought groceries. I learned how to create a sign-up page (Take that, learning curve.) I hand wrote a few notes for the new chapter and highlighted key points for the teaching. I washed, dried, folded, and put away 4 loads of laundry. I cleaned the bathroom. I took a LONG walk. I coached someone and got coached in return - in a casual phone call I was "too busy" to take! I pulled weeds around the patio. I cooked. I group text chatted with my daughters, sister, sister-in-law, and niece. (We are all making pimento cheese now!) I solved a problem on my website. I enjoyed lovely conversations on Facebook. I read two chapters in my current bedtime novel.
My brain is such a little LIAR!
The story it told at the end of the day was that I didn't accomplish anything. I didn't DO enough. I didn't check off everything on my list. That I was NOT ENOUGH!
Technically, my brain's story was true to a fact - I didn't check off everything on my list.
But that story missed a full day of fully living. A full day of accomplishments that checked off the spirit of my list and more, and made it possible to complete some of them another day.
Every story has two parts - the facts and the stories we tell ourselves about the facts.
Which stories are you telling yourself?
Anne Wade is Teacher, Writer, Mentor, and Coach for courageous women in midlife and beyond who want to disrupt their own status quo and design life on their own terms, even in turbulent times. She has developed the Becoming Found process of going within to find and address the inner barriers we have all inadvertently built up against love, happiness, health, wealth and any other desires of our hearts. Teaching women to unapologetically shine like a superstar and live their legacy is Anne’s mission.
You can follow her on her Facebook page “Anne Wade – Becoming found” or join her “Becoming Found” Facebook group.