Inspiration this Week: The Overwhelming To-Do Lists

The following post is one of my favorites that floats around social media. I've pasted the post below:

When I was at one of my lowest (mental) points in life, I couldn’t get out of bed some days. I had no energy or motivation and was barely getting by.
I had therapy once per week, and on this particular week I didn’t have much to ‘bring’ to the session. He asked how my week was and I really had nothing to say.
“What are you struggling with?” he asked.
I gestured around me and said “I dunno man. Life.”
Not satisfied with my answer, he said “No, what exactly are you worried about right now? What feels overwhelming? When you go home after this session, what issue will be staring at you?”
I knew the answer, but it was so ridiculous that I didn’t want to say it.
I wanted to have something more substantial.
Something more profound.
But I didn’t.
So I told him, “Honestly? The dishes. It’s stupid, I know, but the more I look at them the more I CAN’T do them because I’ll have to scrub them before I put them in the dishwasher, because the dishwasher sucks, and I just can’t stand and scrub the dishes.”
I felt like an idiot even saying it.
What kind of grown ass woman is undone by a stack of dishes? There are people out there with *actual* problems, and I’m whining to my therapist about dishes?
But my therapist nodded in understanding and then said:
I began to tell him that you’re not supposed to, but he stopped me.
“Why the hell aren’t you supposed to? If you don’t want to scrub the dishes and your dishwasher sucks, run it twice. Run it three times, who cares?! Rules do not exist, so stop giving yourself rules.”
It blew my mind in a way that I don’t think I can properly express.
That day, I went home and tossed my smelly dishes haphazardly into the dishwasher and ran it three times.
I felt like I had conquered a dragon.
The next day, I took a shower lying down.
A few days later. I folded my laundry and put them wherever the fuck they fit.
There were no longer arbitrary rules I had to follow, and it gave me the freedom to make accomplishments again.
Now that I’m in a healthier place, I rinse off my dishes and put them in the dishwasher properly. I shower standing up. I sort my laundry.
But at a time when living was a struggle instead of a blessing, I learned an incredibly important lesson:
-Kate Scott

Theme This Week: Letting Go of The Rules

We've all been in this place the woman detailed above, and I'm sure we've talked about it in session if you're a client of mine. And I go into encouraging a more critical look at our to-do lists. How can you break it down to more accomplish-able and easy tasks? How can you prioritize it? How do you reward yourself?

The most important thing we can do when looking at the tasks in front of us, especially those paralyzing us or causing us great stress, is identify and let go of the arbitrary rules we have set out. You really don't need to fold your boxers because no one other than your partner is going to see them! But I bet you do. 

For you naysayers who want to argue this concept, pay attention to what she says at the end- she eventually went back to the way she likes things to be. So we're not disregarding these rules completely. We are just giving ourselves the space to get moving and find some traction. And we'll get back on our feet and keep going. But again, we need to be kind to ourselves when riding the struggle bus and set aside the rules for a minute!

On a good day, if I want to do our weekly grocery shopping, it's a 2-4hr process. That's because it includes meal planning for the week first, finding what ingredients we already have in house and what needs to be used or thrown out, and finding at least one new and healthy inspired meal on Pinterest. Then I add the grocery list items on the fridge to a Google Keep list, along with ingredients I've looked up and screenshotted with Pinterest, and anything else my partner suggests. Then I finally move on to ordering groceries, clearing the fridge, and putting new stuff away.

On a struggle bus day, I go to the local grocery store, with no list, grab some tried and true recipe ingredients and probably some impulse items, and come home and pop in that frozen pizza I just grabbed. It takes 45 minutes. 

Both days we still have food for the week. One just went without rules so I could give myself a pat on the back that I accomplished something and find the strength to keep going.

Challenge This Week: Find and Arbitrary Rule and BREAK IT!

So what is the rule for you....fold the boxers? No running dishwasher twice? Grab quick meal ideas? Take a look at your to-list and break down each task and ask yourself if it has any arbitrary rules attached to those tasks making them take longer. Then go ahead and break the rule! Soon you will find yourself knocking through your overwhelming to-do list much more efficiently and feeling proud. And when you're feeling a little more energetic and motivated, feel free to go back to those rules! Or don't, and maybe find more freedom to add in the next best self-care and fulfilling thing ;)

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