For much of my life, the biggest obstacle in front of the life I wanted was myself. For many years I battled my inner saboteur, the aspect of self who would shout ‘Hell No!’ to any plans I had for self improvement or creating less chaos. She was the one who protects me from being shamed for being ‘too much’. She is the one who saw the other kids mock me for getting As and learned to switch between and A and C to limit my exposure to the wrath of my mother for bad grades and the ridicule of my classmates for good ones. She is the one who learned the best way to avoid pain is to avoid success.
It took a long time for me to create a life that felt safe for her. Lots of therapy, lots of talking with my inner child, and many, many false starts. She will still show up if I get wobbly or over extend myself, but we’ve reached a place of truce. If I listen to myself and try and maintain a healthy balance, she will step back and allow me to be in the driver’s seat.
For lots of reasons, I’m running on fumes at the moment. Today was a day I had planned to spend creating in my space. I could feel the saboteur sneaking in. She knew I was pushing too hard. She started to whisper sweet nothings about not doing the things. I heard her. She was partially right.
Where she was wrong was in which nothings to do. I had to invoice a client and set up a Google Meet for a last minute session. She suggested I put that off and instead lie down and do a meditation. I knew not doing those two things would mean I couldn’t fully relax. For me to enjoy doing the ‘nothing’ I had to do the thing that was weighing on me.
I decided to do ‘Just One Thing’.
Once I had my computer out, and the calendar and invoicing open, it made sense to do the invoicing for the coming week, that was something that would weigh on me till done. I had to make some calendar changes, as clients wanted to switch their sessions times. I had the calendar open. I made the changes. Another weight was lifted. I had a scheduling conflict with a new client I had been dreading dealing with. The calendar was open, I sent the email.
My mantra of doing ‘Just One Thing’ is the truce my saboteur and I have found. The gains I feel from taking one weight away give me the energy to do the next thing, and very often the next. It’s become a choice about balancing stress. My saboteur now recognises that the stress of things weighing on me is often more draining than the actual doing. She relents, relinquishes control. I find peace.
Telling her off, shaming her, hating her, trying to silence her…none of these things made the saboteur budge. She stood resolute between me and the things I wanted to do to make life easier. She had to learn to trust me to make good choices. I had to learn to listen to her concerns.
So next time you get stuck, getting through the day feels like wading through molasses. Sit down and rest. Take a moment. Figure out what the most life enhancing choice will be.
Sometimes it will be rest.
Sometimes it will be a break.
Sometimes it will be doing just one thing that will take stress off.