I remember when I was about 18, working full time while going to college full time, that I was so exhausted and depressed that I decided to drop all the extra goals I was trying to accomplish. I just decided I would let them go for the sake of giving myself a much needed break because I literally felt that if I did not do so I would reach a point where everything would come crashing down on me.
I was not happy with the lack of social life I had at the time because I was so busy with school and work. I was overweight and felt like a total and complete failure because of it. I was not reading as much as I should be reading or writing as frequently as I would have liked. I had not perused playing the piano like I said I would and was not as organized and on top of things as I wanted to be. The list goes on.
One day after work, I felt so exhausted and lost that I could not see how I could keep up with everything I was doing. I was feeling short of breath and shaky; I could feel an anxiety attack was fast approaching. I began to question why I was trying to do so much if it was never good enough for my anyways. As I asked myself this, a thought came in my head. I did not have to do all this.
I decided I would pick three things to focus on that drop everything else until I began feeling better. And so I did. The only thing I had to do was go to work, go to school, and get seven hours of sleep. That was it. And I even went as far as allowing myself to be fine with getting b’s at school and doing just what my job required me to do instead of trying to go above and beyond. In other words, I decided to drop my perfectionist standards to a more attainable level.
After making this promise to myself I immediately felt better. I felt a tremendous amount of weight lift off my shoulders. I began to think about the things I could do that afternoon and felt energy to do those things. I could not believe how fast my emotional state and energy shifted with my decision to give myself a break from all the demands I was making to myself.
What I found so surprising is that after a couple of weeks things started improving without me trying. For example I lost about six pounds without exercising or putting an effort to eat less. I guess I was eating less naturally because I was not stressing out so much about “having” to eat less and feeling so disappointed in myself for a variety of reasons. I also began doing better at work; I was just more energetic and pleasant to be around. My mood was much better which naturally made me feel more like talking with my classmates. Things simply began looking up because I decided to take off a whole lot of unnecessary stress from my plate.
As a perfectionist, I have always constantly focused on my shortcomings. My attention always seems to gravitate towards what I have failed to do. I have been through a particularly tough time this week. I have just felt rundown and like I am continuously falling behind in everything. I can see that I am heading once again towards the same road I was in when I was eighteen.
I have a huge list of things that I feel I need to fix about myself and do in order to become happy and to feel complete. My list has gotten so out of control that I am constantly in a state of deep dissatisfaction and disappointment with myself for not being able to keep up. I realize that I need to step back and do what I did when I was eighteen. I need to cut down on all the things I am trying to unsuccessfully accomplish. I have been overworking myself for a while now and as I result I have been feeling depressed, anxious and have gained weight.
I know it’s time to cut back once again. My emotional state and health have been sending me enough signals and I chose not to ignore them anymore. I realize that the most important goal I can have is to take good care of myself, because the better I feel, the better I am able to serve those I love and be a positive force in the world which is what I aspire to do in my life.