There’s No Real Rush

The inspiration for this post has come from the realization that I have not posted on here for almost 5 weeks! I cannot be a hypocrite and claim I “have not had the time,” since I have written a post on this very excuse. I will admit that I have had the time but 4AM has simply not been a priority. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit.

The past few weeks have been filled with various lessons and realizations from the events I had prioritized over writing for 4AM. The one lesson I had learned was in the area of patience.

I have had various job responsibilities over the past few weeks that made me feel like I was living extended work weeks. In reality, I had probably been putting in an average amount of work time, but something made this time feel more consuming and more stressful than previous weeks.

Have I had more tasks to accomplish? Yes. Have I been spending less time at home? Yes. But, were these the true culprits of my angst?

I concluded although things have been a bit busier for me in recent weeks, the tasks themselves have not been the cause of my anxieties. Conversely, I have been the cause, not the events themselves.

We all have times in our lives where some weeks are more chaotic than others, but how we perceive these events is truly what determines our emotional state, not the event itself.

For myself, I recognized that it was not the increase in tasks or the extra driving or the additional money required of me over the past few weeks. It was a problem of my own perception of expectation vs. reality.

I expected these tasks to move along quickly with little additional time, effort or money being spend in the interim. Instead, a transaction that I expected to be completed over the weekend, for example, took 3 weeks to finally see completion, with additional time, effort and money required along the way. Of course, this had been a great disappointment to me, since the reality of the situation did not come close to what I had been expecting all along. My constant dwelling on the frustration of having this transaction constantly delayed was the cause of this anxiety.

Now, was it the actual incomplete task that had caused this anxiety? Was it the parties involved that had caused me to feel a consistent urge to look at my phone and email in hopes we could get a response to close the transaction more quickly?

NOPE.

The only thing or person causing this anxiety was me. In theory, we all have the ability to respond to the urge to check phone or email, for example, but in the moment, such control had gone out the window and full submission to the impulse had commenced.

This inability to react and appropriately respond to these tasks then would lead to another anxiety about being on my phone around my family and loved ones, and the vicious cycle continues.

The big learning lesson here is preventing this cycle or being able to break it through a change in our behavior when reacting to a given event.

Big picture, I had been rushing myself to complete this transaction, when in reality, the nature of the situation would have taken 3 weeks regardless of the way I had responded to it. I could have waited an additional hour to check my phone and emails. I could have waiting for the next day to respond to an inquiry. I could have shut off my phone for an entire day, and this transaction would have taken 3 weeks.

This was a big learning lesson of patience for me. I had been so consumed with wanting to finish quickly as possible, I was distracted from what was really important to me. I realized no one is expecting an immediate response from me, as I would not expect from them. I realized trying to get things done quicker and expecting tasks to be moving faster will only result in anxious behavior.

I hope this lesson of patience will serve me going forward when responding to tasks and time management.

When you feel yourself becoming anxious about a task, do not blame the task itself, but question what the true cause of your anxiety is? The bad news is, it’s most likely you. But, the good news it, it’s most likely you. You have the power to react to your circumstance. Take responsibility so you can take control and change it.

 

 

 

The Pink Elephant in the Room

A few days ago, I was prepared to diagnose myself with OCD. OCD is also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, essentially a behavior problem that prompts one to inhibit obsessive thoughts and habits that hinder their everyday functions. After recognizing my destructive habit of analyzing every little thought that came to my head, making reason for why it was occurring, and manically scribing away pages and pages in my journal for a full diagnostic report of one simple thought, it sounded like an OCD-type behavior to me. So, I began to read up on the disorder that can be crippling for so many. Ultimately, I realized my behaviors were very much in my control and nothing as serious as such a potentially debilitating disorder. I began to understand this was in my control.

As it was explained in a video I came across about OCD, the psychologist used the example of a “pink elephant,” an objectively bizarre yet meaningless image. She instructed the video viewers NOT to think of a “pink elephant.” Ok, try it for yourself now. Do NOT think of a pink elephant. Whatever you do, do NOT think of a pink elephant. What are you thinking about now? Let me guess… The damn pink elephant, of course! The point of this exercise was to make an example of how the more we think about our thoughts, the more they can consume us. We might even begin to question, “Why am I thinking of a pink elephant? Oh my gosh, it must mean something!” And again, be possessed by meaninglessness.

As the doctor went on to explain, WE are the ones who give meaning to our unintentional thoughts. Unintentional thoughts that just pop into our heads are really just the natural random functions of our brain, which we have no control over. Instead of accepting these thoughts as something we have no control over, oftentimes we CHOOSE to give reason and meaning to these thoughts, which in-turn drive our obsessive behaviors.

At the end of the day, it has been enlightening for me to realize that the majority of thoughts I experience throughout the day are not in my control and are completely random. I am the one who chooses to place meaning on the. As much as I love journaling, I decided it needed to be tamed, for it prompted full-fledged analysis of every little thing. Now that I understand, I have been working to allow my thoughts to come and go, not sticking with or giving meaning to the unintentional whims that might show up thought the day. You kind of just have to laugh about it and say, “Oh brain, you’re so funny. I don’t know why you would think that but I’m going to go back to what I was doing. Thanks for visiting.” And leave it be.

This is where the practice of mindfulness comes it, being able to recognize when the mind has drifted into possessive thought, and then bringing it back to the present. It is easier said than done and I am no expert in meditation or traditional mindfulness practices, but I have found that developing an ability to laugh off our thoughts and move on is a mindfulness practice in and of itself. This is what I encourage us all to do to live a more clear-minded day. Place no meaning on the unintentional thoughts that may pop up today, laugh at them and recognize that it is your mind doing its job. It is not you. J