Be Easy About This

17 Nov

I can be hard on myself. Very hard. Most people don’t know this about me because I have an easy-going, laid-back, laissez-faire approach to life. Happy to go with the flow, I appear to not care about much. Seem to lack direction, committment and purpose. For my entire life people have reported on me (from primary school teachers to strangers) saying that, if only I had more stick-to-it-ness, I would excel at anything I put my mind to.

What no-one realises is that it is not a lack of discipline that holds me back. Direction and purpose have got nothing to do with it. Most of the time what keeps me from accomplishing anything is a fear of not being able to do it the way I see it in my mind. I believe that I can do anything. Learn anything. I can absorb knowledge and information like nobody’s business. My problem is not a simple fear of failure – it’s more subtle and complicated than that. It’s not a fear of not achieving the outcome, it’s a fear that the outcome will not completely match the vision I had at the start. I am so focussed on the finish line and what that will look like, that I forget to watch what is right in front of me. I get caught up in the final vision and forget to look after the details. One insignificant detail will then trip me up and leave me reeling and directionless.

There is a general assumption that I don’t care about achieving anything and therefore I have no discipline or direction. This couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact the exact opposite it true. I care too much about the outcome. I want it so badly, that I push myself too hard, shoot too far and too high. And then give up at the first hint that I won’t achieve the perfect result.

I gave up learing to play the piano because I couldn’t play the (very difficult and advanced) piece that I wanted to play. I could easily learn the pieces for my level, but not happy with that, I wanted to play a specific (way too advanced) piece. If I had concentrated on learning the music appropriate for my level, I would have excelled with distinction. But I spent all my effort trying for something I wasn’t ready for and beating myself up because I couldn’t do it.

I wanted to be a photographer, but I was constantly disappointed in the photographs I produced. I was SO hard on myself because my images didn’t match some arbitrary standard I had set up in my mind. I compared my images to the best out there, decided they didn’t measure up and threw it all in. I forgot to notice that photography is a craft you hone over many years of trial and error. I forgot to notice that my photos, while not perfect, were pretty decent.

I don’t post all the things I should on this blog because I want the words to be perfect. And if I know, going in, that I can’t make them perfect, I simply don’t start.

As soon as I get a wiff that things won’t be perfect, I stop and throw it all in. And then I sit around for days, weeks, months (and sometimes years) being MEAN to myself because I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I didn’t realise that it’s okay to end up at 75%. Or 65%. Or 50%. I didn’t realise that any success is still a success.

I have a quote on my note board that has been there for years. This past week the words came back to me and I went and really looked at them and really understood them for the first time:

“Be easy about this. Be playful about this. Don’t work so hard at it. Let your dominant intent me to feel good, and if you don’t feel good, let your dominant intent be to feel relief. Feel your way through it.”

I have to stop being so hard on myself. I have to allow myself to accept less than 100%. I can’t let small obstacles get me down. I have to learn to stop being to serious about the outcome and learn to enjoy the journey along the way. See it as a game. Fun. I have to teach myself to feel good. All this being mean to myself has got to stop!


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