GREAT EXPECTATIONS

“Be exceptional.”
This concept has almost killed me.

One of the things I respect about my husband is that he is extremely easy-going. Not laid-back, mind you. He has a strong drive and an unreal amount of energy and motivation. But most things (I will eliminate driving from this statement) roll off his back fairly easily. It is certainly something that attracted me to him.

He also is an empathetic listener. (As I am a passionate talker.) He contributes to the conversation with input and generally speaking, agreement for what is being said.

But occasionally, he very kindly and before I even know it has happened…will gently realign my thinking. It is usually Scott who will say, “I think we need to just trust God’s direction on this.” Or simply, “We just need to pray about this.” It usually brings my silly worrying to a screeching halt when I realize that was the answer all along.

The other day I was talking to him about a mental cycle in my life that I abhor. I know it’s there. I know when it’s happening. I know it’s futile. And yet, somehow it still continues to root deeply in my mind…

Should be.
“I’m reading this book, but I should be doing the laundry.”
“I’m going out with a friend, but I should be finishing that writing.”
“I’m eating this cake, but I should be munching on those carrots in the fridge.”

Should be’s.

Some should be statements we make in our mind are productive direction (aka: carrots vs cake) But it seems that as soon as I think the phrase ‘should be’, it is destined to not happen.

Should be’s wear me out.
Should be’s remind me of all that I am not.

The frustrating part for me is that there is a very real and very logical thing that could kill them: Just do the thing you’re supposed to be doing! Right?

Most people take that next step. Scott would.
But my Mind Demon gets to that next step too quickly and screws it all up.
Here’s the mental cycle (the same steps, every single time) –

1. I should be doing…
2. But you’re not. You’re still sitting here.
3. So if you’re still sitting here, what kind of person are you?
4. Since you’re THAT kind of person, why even attempt the obvious productive step.
5. Enter total frustration and guilt over not doing the thing I should be doing in Step 1.

I could easily stave off 4 steps if I would simply do something between Step 1 and Step 2. But again, that Mind Demon of mine is quick.

In talking this through with Scott he nonchalantly said,

“But Greta…you kill yourself over the exceptional stuff. You try to take it to the best level possible. When people come over to the house, for instance, you don’t worry about the house looking okay and picked up – you want it to look fabulous. With some projects in life, you just have to do what needs to be done. And then be done with it. You just have to look at the syllabus, ask yourself if you’ve completed all the requirements for it, and then walk away from the finished project. Done.”

The impact of those words sat right down in my lap and crossed their arms. I had no reply for that synopsis. No rebuttal. Finally, I managed to say, “You’re right. You’re really, really right.”

I then realized my mental cycle steps were more like –

1. I should be doing…
(1a.) You know!…if I did it THIS way it would be SO totally cool!
2. But you’re not. You’re still sitting here.
3. So if you’re still sitting here, what kind of person are you?
4. Since you’re THAT kind of person, why even attempt the obvious productive step.
5. Enter total frustration and guilt over not doing the thing I should be doing in Step 1.

Real life example: weight loss (ugh.) My mental process went something like this –

1. I have gained so much weight this past year, I need to do something about it.
(1a.) I know people notice when they see me, but if I could go cold turkey on some things and start a strenuous exercise program, they would be shocked when they saw me the next time saying, “Greta! WOW!, you’ve lost so much weight!!”
2. Next morning came and that toast sounded really good, so I ate it
3. Why did I go straight to the carbs? What kind of person am I?
4. Since I had the toast for breakfast, I suppose one last McDonald’s meal won’t hurt
5. I will never have the will-power to lose weight. What was I even thinking?

Are you with me on this? Do any of you struggle with that stupid mental cycle of behaviour that dictates exceptional outcomes or nothing at all? Losing weight and being healthier is the key. NOT shocking people by how fast I did it!

I don’t have the answers about how to overcome this lifelong method of thinking. I do know that I need to remind myself to think just one step at a time. I texted a friend last night before falling asleep while I was lying in bed and said, “10am tomorrow – I have to walk. It’s the only priority I have to get done tomorrow. I have to walk tomorrow, I have to walk tomorrow, I have to walk tomorrow.”

I know she will keep me accountable to it. She’ll ask me about it. So I need to make up a story or I need to get my hiney outside and start pounding some pavement. I tried to mentally outfox the Mind Demon by not telling myself I should be walking. Instead, I decided that on my walk today, I will find something new that I haven’t seen before.

End of responsibility.
Just walk and find something new on that walk.

I’m lacing my shoes as you read this.
(Dangit!, I really should get new walking shoes…..)

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