I’ve been thinking about how life is messy. It just is. You can plan and prepare and do the thing, but somewhere in that process there is bound to be a mess! And we tend to get upset about it…. even I do! Sometimes we get so hung up on having things appear perfect or doing “the thing” perfectly that we quit mid-stream, or worse, we never even start! I think we get upset about the messiness of life because many of us have a desire to appear perfect; perfect to ourselves or perfect to others. We have high expectations. And social media, the place where we get to look into the lives of people who show us mostly the good stuff, certainly isn’t helping us move out of that perfectionist space.
So, I propose that we start practicing three simple things to relieve the pressure of being perfect and move into more enjoyment of the messiness within the journey:
- Stop comparing your messy inside to others seemingly perfect outside! People may look like they have it all together but on the inside we are all facing similar battles of fear, insecurity, sadness, and loneliness. If we can risk being a bit vulnerable with people and show them our true self, then we’ll find that we are all in this mess together and are more similar than we realize. For example, I have a been a bit overwhelmed with a lot of life changes in a short period of time. If I compare how I am feeling about all these changes with how everyone else seems to be handling stress, I might think I’m not doing a great job of coping. But, when I talk to supportive people in my life I find out that they are dealing with stress too and we are in the same boat!
- Have realistic expectations. Recognize that you are in a different part of your journey than another person. You might just now be developing a skill that someone else mastered 20 years ago. You might not have all the resources you wish you had to devote to learning or perfecting a particular skill. For example, last week I was making valentine sugar cookies. I wanted to decorate them real fancy but I don’t know how to decorate a cookie in a fancy way. I’ve never taken a class, watched a YouTube video, or even regularly practiced decorating cookies. I should not be comparing my cookie decorating skills with those on Pinterest or on the cooking channel! I need to keep my expectations realistic and remember why I am making and decorating these cookies!
- Embrace the mess and just start! When we get into the habit of trying to make everything perfect it can be really scary to just start something. If you’re like me, the anxiety that comes with the “what if” questions can become overwhelming and so it can be easier to procrastinate or not start at all….or not connect with others. Even though it may be easier to do things this way, usually it’s not fulfilling and the anxiety about the thing doesn’t really go away.
So, practice the suggestions above….stop comparing yourself to others, have realistic expectations, and embrace the mess and just start! You’ll find that soon enough you’ll be making progress towards the things that are important to you!
If you’d like help on your journey to embrace the mess give me a call at 539-777-1129 or email me at Dr.Leedy@legacycounselingservice.com and we can talk about whether counseling is a good fit for you.