The Goldilocks Approach

When I feel that everything is starting to get on top of me (before I go into full run away and hide with my fingers in my ears mode) I often wish that my life had a pause button. That if only I could stop everything coming in at this point, I would stand a chance of sorting everything out and then I could resume my life from a better place and everything would be rosy and I would be able to cope. Or maybe I’m after some kind of restore factory settings reset button.

Obviously this doesn’t get to happen. I can choose not to add new things to my to do list, but the making sure we’re all rested/clothed/fed/watered etc mundane daily tasks need to go on, plus all the incidental kid related things that I can’t opt out of. Then there’s the fact that undealt with dreaded things get loom larger the longer they’re undealt with and end up creating more anxiety as the chasing letters/emails/phone calls come.

Right now, I’m in a post anxious fug stage.  Which is kind of like waking up from a dream. It starts out very vivid but quickly fades. So that if you’re not careful it doesn’t seem like it really happened. Which would be fine, except that it means that I don’t remember what caused it in the first place, which means that I don’t stop it happening again.  Which is why I had my most recent little outbreak of stressedness.

So, this time, I am doing things to remember, such as this blog. So far so good.  But I feel that I also need to address the problem. Except, that I’m coming to realise, I’m quite a perfectionist when it comes to solutions.

“What’s the problem with that?” I hear you ask.  Let me give you a rather mundane example. The kitchen needs cleaning. But I don’t feel that I have cleaned it if I put some things away and wipe the sides down .  No, I have to empty out all the cupboards, and clean them inside and out, and leave them to dry properly, and rearrange them neatly, and do the same to the work surfaces and if I don’t do that I feel like I haven’t done it at all.  At this point one of three things happens:

  • I spend several hours cleaning the kitchen but get none of the other things that I wanted to do done so I feel useless.
  • I start cleaning the kitchen, get part way through, run out of time (or start one of the other things on my list) and leave it in a complete state with everything everywhere and don’t sort it out for several weeks (during which it’s quite hard to use the kitchen, creating more problems) and I feel useless.
  • I realise how much work is needed to clean the kitchen “properly” and don’t feel up to it, so I procrastinate instead of starting, do nothing from my to do list and I feel useless.

Anyone spotting a common outcome yet??

So, I am in danger of trying to create some perfect life improving programme to help me with my anxiety that I stand absolutely no chance of sticking to, thereby making me feel useless and setting me up for more anxiety that I’m not up to dealing with as the programme didn’t work. If you know Red Dwarf, then picture me as Rimmer, spending all his revision time making elaborate coloured revision time tables that he can’t follow because by the time he’s finished them most of the time has elapsed so he then makes a revised one.

I do not aspire to be Arnold Rimmer.

So, I have decided that I need to take the Goldilocks approach. Rather like astronomers looking for planets capable of supporting life, they want ones that are not too hot and not too cold (and probably several other things besides, I’m no astronomer).  Well, I have decided that I need a strategy that is not too big and not too small. Not so overwhelming that I cannot start it or have no hope of completing it, but not so small that it does no good or I forget about it.  Something that I can do alongside my everyday life, without being overwhelmed.

Now, I just have the small thing to add to my to do list of devising a Tailor Made Goldilocks Approach Resilience to Anxiety programme…

2 thoughts on “The Goldilocks Approach

  1. It’s entirely possible we were separated at birth. I have spent many, many years (and many, many hours with therapist) trying to see that lowering my perfectionist standards is in fact a good thing. Some days I believe that, some days I don’t. Among the many aspects of this standard lowering are the following…………

    1. ironing is not necessary except in extreme circumstances
    2. it’s ok if the kids occasionally (who are we kidding, often) have frozen chips for tea
    3. tv isn’t actually the work of the devil, in fact, penguins of madagascar is actually very entertaining
    4. taking the path of least resistance (work, kids, anywhere really) is a good thing
    5. coasting at work is ok
    6. eating cake to make myself feel better is ok
    7. my house does not need to be pristine. or even semi tidy for that matter

    I could go on but you get the idea and I risk showing myself up badly. Point is – go easy on yourself. Please?

  2. Ha ha, I haven’t ironed since I stopped my office job.

    You know how some kids have only 2 speeds, full tilt run or stop but no sane walking pace in between. Well, my attitude to housework is a bit like that, mad get out my way, empty all the cupboards, clean the grouting with a toothbrush spring clean, or no housework at all, dishes piled up, things on the floor, every flat worksurfaces cascading with stuff. More often the latter than the former. I aspire to a relaxed yet hygenic happy medium, where one can walk around on the carpet (rather than an archealogical layer of lego/dolls/clothes/cornflakes/paperclips etc) and sit on chairs without having to clear them first without intimidating visitors with the severely minimalist look.

    I remember a quote from a childhood book (but sadly not the book), “if a thing’s worth doing it’s worth overdoing”

    That’s me,80% do nothing, 20% do too much.

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