Thursday, 21 March 2013

"The Bother Symptom"

It takes courage to follow your dreams, because there is always this fear that you will never reach them. For as long as you turn away from them you can tell yourself and others that you could achieve them if only you tried.

I'm certainly guilty of the later. Not so much because I am afraid I'll never reach the dream - well, if I am honest that's part of it too - but mostly because I'm one of the laziest persons you'll ever come across. And a perfectionist on top of that. Add these three together and you get a person who really, truly struggle to get anything much done at all.

Before we get into the actual post about this issue, it might be a good thing to take a break and pour yourself something delicious to drink. This is a long post you see. I do recommend the Mango and Cardamon Lassi by My Darling Lemon Thyme if you happen to have some nice mangoes at hand. Frozen works, but doesn't taste half as good as really ripe fresh ones.

Anyhow, now when you have your drink of choice, let's get back to the problem of not getting anything much done at all. We call it "the bother symptom" in my home. You know you ought to do a particular thing, because the outcome will be good for you. In fact, the outcome is something you really desire. But here's the catch: you will have to actually do something for quite some time to achieve the desired outcome. It is not an instant reward. Let's say the outcome would be finally getting back into that size six again which you have not been able to wear since upper secondary school. Or rather, since after you finally stopped being tortured twice a week with P.E. and dance classes.

You know you really want to be a size six again, because you remember how good you felt back then. How light, how strong. And well, let's face it, you have this strange belief that a size six is just that much more attractive than your current almost size ten which you try to tell yourself is really just a big size eight. Even though the only eight you can possibly fit into is a skirt with elastic waist. There are, in other words, a lot of good things attached to the end outcome.

But at the same time, you have to actually pull yourself together. Really pull yourself together. That is, do something you are not that terribly fond of.

You do set out with the best of intentions, for that first week. You even buy the required tools, thinking they will help you stay motivated. And the first week, all is well and good, but this is a long term commitment. One week does not really give you any result at all, except muscles that hurt.

Two weeks does not really yield much better results and by the third week...

The third week, something comes in between your resolve to reach your goal and you working actively towards reaching it. It might be a mild cold. Which you use as an excuse not to exercise for one, and two, and four, and eight days. And suddenly, you are back at square one again. Not having exercised in some time. You do start again, and again, and again. Until one morning you just say "oh, bother!" and throw in the towel and decide to be happy with your nearly size ten.

If it was only a case of not exercising, all would perhaps be well and good. But in my case, it extends to almost all parts of my life. Like so many others I've always had this dream of becoming an author. It is a common enough dream. I see people around me, achieve it all the time. So I know it is achievable. But it is only achievable if you persevere. I give up on my stories already when the main character is, of some reason, falling in love with the wrong person and the villain turns out to be tender hearted. I do begin again, and again, and again...

But the perfectionist in me is never happy. And the "oh, bother!" feeling takes over so quickly.

I don't think there is a cure to "the bother symptom", sadly. Doctor's don't seem to take it seriously, and so no one is working on an effective medicine. We, who are affected, have to manage our symptoms best we can. For me, personally, I found my key to managing when I listened to a wonderful speech by Neil Gaiman where he talks about his mountain and how he always tries to move towards it in everything he does. My key?

Keep a list of achievements for each and every day.

It might sound like the same as a to-do list. But a to-do has never really worked for me to overcome the "oh, bother!" feeling. Rather, it adds to it, as the things I have not done constantly grows. Instead, I keep an achievement list. Noting down only things I have achieved already each and every day that moves me towards my various goals in life. Some of them are small goals, such as having a clean home. Other goals are large ones, such as planting an orchard. There are a thousand and one little things that I do every day that move me towards these goals. And when I see that I am moving towards my mountain, in black and white or sometimes a colour of rainbows when the mood strikes me, I feel better. The "oh, bother" feeling recedes and suddenly I get things done and keep getting things done.

It might sound very silly, to those of you who are not struggling with "the bother symptom", but those of you who are know how overwhelming life can seem at times, when you feel as if you are getting nothing at all done. Feel like you are failing, sometimes big.

I don't feel like that no more, most of the time, after starting recording my achievements rather than writing to-do lists. I suppose, some would call it the power of positive thinking. I simply call it "yay, getting things done!" and leave it at that, with a smile, feeling accomplished for having written a post about this problem. Another thing to add to my achievements list before going to bed.

Good night,


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