Perfectionism, like busy, was a badge of honor I used to wear proudly.
Which means, I was often ruled by feelings of anxiety, doubt, and fear of failure.
I thought controlling everything from food to my family was the answer. When life didn’t go as planned, I would to try to control my negative emotions by not feeling them.
Buffering negative emotions with more exercise and more control around food was a mistake I made. Though, at the time I didn’t see I was abusing exercise and my body. I thought I was managing stress and being healthy.
Often times, my default mode is to work harder, hustle more, be more productive. I get tunnel vision when I’ve got a goal in mind, and will grind through at the cost of everything else.
While hard work and hustle is admirable, it can also be damaging when left unchecked.
This kind of thinking leads us to never feeling like we’ve done enough, no matter what goals you’ve accomplished. There is never a stopping point when we work and live from this place of hustle. It’s an empty void that’s never satisfied.
You will never enough time to get everything done when it’s all a priority.
Because I was so anxious trying to control everything in my life, I was overwhelmed. As a way to cope with that overwhelm, I would sabotage myself by drinking too much, watching too much TV or staying up late. Throwing all discipline out the window.
I knew something had to change. I was tired of being tired all the time and never feeling like I was doing enough.
Black and white thinking in any area (including food) never leads to life satisfaction or contentment.
I couldn’t keep burying my negative emotions under booze, TV, or my other self-sabotaging behaviors.
I thought I was ‘resting’ or relaxing, but the reality is, I was trying not to feel the anxiety or self-imposed pressure to be perfect. So I went toward things that made me feel good in the moment even though it wasn’t what I actually wanted for my life.
Here’s the deal: negative emotions aren’t bad, they are normal and as much a part of life as the positive feelings we experience. Often times, it’s more the way we deal with our negative emotions that creates problems in our lives.
Instead of trying not to feel anxiety or fear or any other negative emotion, practice feeling the emotions and not reacting to them.
When you’re tempted to exert more control the next time you feel anxious or stressed, notice the feeling, give it a name, and let it pass.
I wish I could tell you this was easy. It’s not. But neither is continuing to engage in behaviors that sabotage you. Not reacting to urges takes practice, it takes patience, and it takes a willingness to intentionally choose discomfort. Here’s the cool thing, the emotion will pass through your body in 90 seconds or less.
However, the not-so-cool part is we often spend way longer than that reliving the circumstance that just happened which keeps those negative emotions hanging out much longer.
This is a practice, and like any other change will take time.
Don’t be surprised if you slip into old behaviors in the beginning.
We have to be mindful and deliberate about decisions, rather than running on auto-pilot and letting our emotions run the show.
Your negative emotions don’t need fixing, but the way you deal with them might.
The more self-aware you become toward your negative emotions and how you react, the easier it is to recognize them.
It’s easy to spiral down once a negative thought comes into your mind. It’s important to avoid sitting in the negative emotion too long. Give yourself enough time to notice, name it, choose how to respond, and move on.
When you’re not ruled by your emotions, you will go from exhausted and burned out to feeling more in balance and calm. You’ll be able to make choices that honor all aspects of your health–physical, mental, emotional.
When you do the work on your emotional health, you’re able to be more present in your life without sabotaging yourself.
That’s a win-win for sure.
By the way, if you’re looking to create a little more peace in your schedule, sign up below to get your hands on 3 simple ways you can get your time back starting this week!