Baby Steps

I like to plan. I sit down and make lists, full action plans. Heck, depending on the difficulty of setting up a plan I plan for the planning of it.
It makes me feel good to do so. Like I’m accomplishing something. Like I’m taking the first step to improving my life. But the problem is, I never make it to step two. I invest so much time into these things, then discard them nearly immediately.

The actual execution of plans does not occur. Execution requires discipline and motivation, both of which I lack. I’m better at turning away from things that require effort than facing them head on.

But it’s strange. Back in my poverty days when I had a lot worse issues to deal with, I tirelessly dealt with the problems in my life. I faced the issues as something to be aggressively fought against. Now when my only problems are related to having no structure in my life, I am simply a slug. Do I need to feel threatened, to have a boot up my tuckus to accomplish anything? Do I need to be struggling financially?

Maybe. I might need the push adversity gives. Now that I’ve “made it”, I think I just gave up. When I accomplished my goals of stable employment, financial security, weight loss, and house-acquirement, my subconscious decided well that’s it, you did it! Congrats! You’ve finished! Feel free to do nothing else, forever. But retain that sense of victimhood. Just find other things to be a victim about.

I hate what that says about me. But I’m smart enough to know this tendency is not set in stone. Change is painful, but as long as you’re alive it’s possible.

What stops me from changing? A complex of conflicting pathologies. My need to be a victim, and paralyzing anxiety.

I’m stuck in a cycle of victimhood. My ego is dependent on a sense of victimhood to the point that I crave it, to feel self-righteous, to have a reason to feel so awful inside. I have a deeply ingrained notion that I am no good, bad, sub-standard, you name it. But functioning in the world with these kind of thoughts is impossible unless you either disabuse yourself of them (very difficult), or you self-protectively wall off those feelings.

In my case, it’s the latter. I found another way to prop up my ego. Mine defends against my inner self loathing by saying,”Well, you only feel that way because world tells that you are bad, or because your stepmother told you so.”
And it works. Because if I am only worthless because the people of the world have a flawed and unfair basis for worth, it enables my ego to carry a torch of victimhood and cry out,”I am special but the world is unreasonable and against me.”

As much as I rail against the world for “making” me feel terrible about myself, it conflicts with a fundamental and intense desire: to be liked, to be worthy of being liked and accepted by this same world.
Anxiety is generated when I perceive I need to do things to make people like me. And “do things to make people like me” is just my childlike, simplistic way of saying,”do things that encourage people to find me attractive or worthy of interacting with.”

Here’s an example of what happens to me.

Situation: My house is dirty.

Response: I feel anxiety that someone will come in and see that it’s dirty, and judge me for it. I want people to like me and not think I’m dirty. I need to clean. BUT. I don’t want to. No one will ever like and love me anyway, so why bother to clean up. My husband should be helping me do it anyway.

Result: Nothing. Paralysis. I go and sit in my office and surf the internet, while the anxiety continues to build about the dirty house, and shame initiates because I didn’t clean. I retreat into avoidance from these feelings.

Rinse and repeat, multiple times a day. So there are two powerful, conflicting thought processes working here that ultimately end in the final results: inaction, shame, and increasing anxiety.

Lately I have been experimenting with a new thought pattern. Just two simple words.

“It’s okay.”

It’s okay to not be liked. It’s okay to just be you. To not be special or terrible. You are this way right now, and it’s okay.

This thought removes victimhood and anxiety from my decision making process. Just plain, neutral acceptance of whatever I’m feeling at the moment and whatever I decide to do. It’s simple. And it’s what I’m trying right now.

It hasn’t resulted in a cleaner house, better hygiene, or improved relationships. I’ve only just started. But plans don’t work for my current state of mind, as much as I want them to. I have many, many years of failed plan adherence under my belt. I’m trying something new: not having a plan. Just lifting my foot to take one wobbly, fumbling step forward.

I just need to be okay, in the moment. Just okay.

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