White Knuckling vs Letting Go

Learn the art of letting go!

 

It’s a running joke between my friends and me that we will get together as soon as we’re free. If you’re a parent, or even an adult in the year 2015, you probably know that this is easier said than done. Life seems to be moving faster and faster, and “things” quickly fill up your to do list and Siri begins to sweat under the mountain of appointments you have on her schedule.

It’s summer again and things are starting to get crazy!

 

I’m a mom of three kids, and without equivocation, they come first on any list. But I also own a business, and help as much as possible at a rehab that is near and dear to my heart, am a full time student and have creative projects of my own I want to tackle, not to mention maintaining a 15 year marriage, extended family…you get the picture. Every summer it gets loud, noisy, hectic, and somewhat crazy. For someone who enjoys smooth sailing as much as possible, this can quickly get overwhelming, and I know I’m not alone in this! I see countless posts about the number of days until school starts, how long before the semester is over. I hear “I can relax as soon as I finish this project” type lamentations from friends from all walks of life. They, like me, are white knuckling through whatever they feel is stressful or overwhelming right now to get to the end, where we all think the relief is. Where our sanity might return, where we no longer have to scramble to get everything done and still make perfect Pinterest cupcakes.

Is summer stress self-imposed?

It’s July, and usually I would have fallen into this “summertime madness” long before now. Things like planning vacations, keeping the never ending supply of sand that trickles onto my floors at bay, learning how to cut the perfect watermelon. This time I made it to July, and that’s an awesome feat, considering what’s on my list this year. Nevertheless, this week I found myself scolding kids for adding to my cleaning list while dosing my tension headaches with Tylenol. I even freaked my whole family out by crying in frustration on a day that three big papers were due, and I couldn’t seem to work in my messy office. Something finally snapped yesterday when my husband took my daughter golfing so I could have a few hours uninterrupted. I realized once again that white-knuckling it through my life just to get to the end of a goal was missing the point entirely. And that all of this strong feeling of overwhelm that seemed to be coming from my messy office, hard to deal with teachers, and my pile of projects wasn’t coming from any of those things…it was all my own ideas about what I thought I should accomplish, where I thought I should be, and how I thought I should look while doing it.

Overwhelmed or overloaded?

michael-neillThen this morning my friend Michael Neill (I LOVE saying that!) posted an article that was published on huffingtonpost.com, and it was like he was reading my mind. Overwhelmed or Overloaded?  could have been directly said for my benefit, but I know I’m not alone. I know there are people out there who would look at my list and laugh at its triviality, and others who would laugh at the thought of attempting all that. I know there are people out there dealing with life threatening struggles that make my whining about my desk seem ridiculous. I know that there are some family members who must still go about their day and check off their to-do’s even while they watch their loved ones sink further and further into what appears to be a bottomless hole of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. I suffered for years from my own self-inflicted stress and crap and irritation, never knowing that I was the one holding myself back.

Stress just creates more stress

My husband Reed says that dealing with stress by thinking about your stress is like trying to clean up a paint spill with more paint, and he’s right. Time management, life management, “steps” to chart your sober success are all more ideas and more paint. None of them will work long term if you don’t see through the paint to within for the real solution. This week when my mind took a break from paint splashing, I could remember what I already knew, that my problem this time was in my head, and I could breathe again. The stress evaporated into the rest of the humidity of Florida, and I’m lighter, buoyant, and ready to go. I still have a list, and feeling better about it doesn’t change any of that. But I can clearly see that I can either delegate a few things or be okay with letting them go if I run out of time. Any attachment left over is just my mind trying to overachieve again.

It’s an addiction!

I’ve learned the past few years that addiction is essentially the same thing. No, it doesn’t look the same on the outside, and I know some people may not like the analogy, but it’s the truth. My little addiction to being “supermom” and “super creative” and competitiveness is essentially found in the same area of the brain as people’s addictions to drugs or alcohol. Science is SLOWLY proving this to be true. Throw in some physical addictions and chemical imbalances caused by the very substances you wish you could avoid, and suddenly that to-do list gets quite a bit longer. This understanding is one of the reasons I give time I don’t seem to have to Gulf Breeze Recovery. They teach a program that follows along the same lines as Michael: that you have limitless potential to be healthy, creative and fulfilled…and that your ideas are what keep getting in the way. The reason we have a need for places like Gulf Breeze Recovery is that too many adults don’t understand about the paint before it becomes destructive. I’ve seen it over and over again, by people who have gone through countless attempts at rehabs and thought they are beyond help, and then one day they quit splashing paint and it all makes sense.

Let’s take a moment, a deep breath, and put down the paint.

 

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