I find myself feeling defeated. The reasons are common – money, job, not enough time with family – so I won’t bore you with the details. I will bore you with what I’ve decided to do about it.
If I feel defeated for a long time – say, more than a day or two – I start to worry that it’ll turn into depression. And, the last thing I need is a full-blown, get-her-into-a-straightjacket break-down. I’ve been in a similar situation and it took years to recover. No, feeling defeated has to be nipped in the bud.
First, I panic. I wake up well before the sun or my son have risen and worry about all of the things that I need to get done. My mind likes to dwell on the tasks that are beyond my control. When I feel the first anxiety attack coming on I hit my pause button. This should be metaphorical, but I admit that I actually touch my nose and tell myself to stop. I try to make myself go cross-eyed by staring at my finger perched on the tip of my nose. This silly act is just distracting enough to jar my mind from its destructive course.
Take Care of You
Once my son is out the door, I write a list of to-do items. This isn’t like my usual 20-30 item long, ever-changing, ever growing project sheet. This is seven tasks at most and includes things like “shower” and “listen to music.” I keep the list short so that I will actually feel the accomplishment of completing it. And, I make sure that every item on the list will make me feel good about myself.
Today’s list is:
- Write a blog post
- Listen to the “Happy” playlist on your iPod
- Write the outline for a query letter
- Update your website with the freelance writing section
- Call Melanie (my best friend)
The key to this short list is that I’ve included things to lift my mood and tasks to move me forward. Defeat is such a paralyzing condition. I feel like I can’t accomplish the goals that I’ve set forth. My dreams seem far away and in direct conflict with life’s responsibilities. It would be so easy to just give up.
This is where the small tasks come in. I’ve updated my website and am listening to Cat Stevens as I write this blog post. The paralysis is lessening. I’m being productive. At the end of the day, the fully checked-off list will be a positive reinforcement of my decision to keep going.
Tomorrow I hope to sleep past sunrise all the way to my son’s cries at 6:30am. I’ll make another short list – this one a little longer – and I’ll be kind to myself. I know that I will get through this rough patch. Just laugh with me when you see me on the subway with my finger on my nose.