I’ve spoken honestly and openly about my struggles with mental health. Neither my depression nor my anxiety are severe, but they have been ‘bad’ enough to severely impact on my life at certain points. It’s hard to know why I feel the pressure of life so keenly – I’m highly competitive, ambitious and was encouraged to be a high-achiever my whole life (second was first loser in my childhood home) – but most days I get to the end feeling like I’ve fallen short.
Even though my rational brain knows that perfection is an unachievable concept, still I wake every day determined to be the perfect parent (not the shouty, impatient one I usually end up being), to present the perfectly organised, clean and tidy house, to cook healthy meals, to be kind to everyone, to be on top of the laundry, to run a successful business and to get to the end of the day and have passionate, sex with my husband.
Let me tell you folks…I *might* achieve one of those things with some luck and a good wind and a shit load of help. It’s just not possible for me to do all that stuff every day and remain sane. Every time I drop a ball, I mentally beat myself up and when you’re beating yourself up once, twice, three times a day…those emotional bruises start to take their toll.
I posted an image on instagram the other day that talked about accepting that there are things in life I can’t control and those things, naturally, interrupt my perfect intentions every day. Until now, I’ve felt the true pain of those ‘fails’. I’ve taken responsibility for those ‘fails’ because I wasn’t up early enough, or I wasn’t motivated enough, or I was too tired, or lazy or, you know, whatever. That post touched a nerve with a lot of you.
But the reality is that, everyday, there are things that interrupt, disrupt, block, and distract us from our plans. In fact, when you sit and really think about those things, most of them are beyond our control. We can’t control the mood our kids are going to wake up in, we can’t control the fact that they get sick, or your babysitter gets sick, or you get sick. We can’t control the fact that traffic jams paralyse us on our chore run, or our mother in law calls us for 30 minutes to, seemingly, tell us what a shit job we are doing. We can’t control family members determined to exhibit their ‘I’m a dick’ gene on any given day. We can’t control the weather, the emails we get, or the stuff we get asked to do.
The only thing we can control is ourselves, our choices, our actions and our responses to those things. Think about that because it’s really, really powerful. If you can remind yourself of this, you’ll start to realise that getting angry just isn’t worth the fallout, that getting stressed will achieve nothing except a negative butterfly effect that will impact your life and those around you. Harnessing all your energy to take a minute and accept those things that you have no control over will result in far less emotional masochism. It’ll stop you expending unnecessary energy trying to bend life to meet your will and will leave you less ‘spent’ at the end of every day.
It’s not that simple though, I know that. It takes commitment to the cause and practice and you will fuck it up. You won’t be able to do this straight off the bat. It can take years to perfect but even if you stop just once today and recognise you’re about to expend a shit load of energy on something that you have zero control over, then that’s huge.
So, here’s a Monday morning motivational message to remind you that while you are powerful and strong, you are not so powerful and so strong that you can control other people’s feelings, reactions or intentions. The weather, the traffic, and all that are beyond your control. Focus on controlling your responses, your reactions, your choices and leave the rest up to chance.