I am sitting here on a hot Wednesday afternoon in my room, wanting, as I so often do, to Do Something. I feel a need to Do Something, and yet I end up doing nothing.
For most of my life, I did things that either needed to be done (school, job, taking care of my kids) or seemed at the time to be the right thing to do (move to Seattle; quit the only good-paying job I’ve had in my life to follow what I thought – mistakenly – was a passion). Until recently, the idea of living by my values was a concept quite foreign to me.
But then, thanks to getting regular mental health counseling through the Portland VA, I was able to do the life-examining I needed to do, and I defined for myself what I believe my values are. Not to say I came up with a nicely enumerated list; if I could have been that exact, my difficulties would be much less. But I got close enough. I can look at what I believe my values are – for now – and have something to base my life on.
It’s finding the things to do, based on those values, that is proving to be the tough part.
One challenge I continue to face is the circumstances of my life. There are things I would like to be doing that are not possible at this point. My living situation limits a number of things. There are other things that I lack the skill or experience for, which means I am that stage of several things. Which is cool; learning is one of my core values. In a year or two, I expect my circumstances to have changed, and so I can be ready to move forward with things I’ve learned and work on goals I’m currently hibernating.
But those are just some of my goals. There are plenty of others I can take on right now with no difficulty (beyond my own mental health issues). Most days I get outside and take a long walk or bike ride; that’s in keeping with my value of physical health, fitness, and activity. Out of the same value, I am keeping a pretty good diet nutritionally.
I am working on balancing allowing myself to enjoy life by “not doing Something” without guilt-tripping myself. That is actually a big deal, part of a larger project of removing the overwhelming judgmental mindset I’ve carried most of my life. It’s one of the things that has blocked me from living a happy life, after all.
But still, I want to Do Something. I’m trying to convert that into a more healthy “do something”, but the feeling persists. Writing this blog post is a something; any kind of writing is a something. This post isn’t a major accomplishment, but it is a thing, and it’s a thing I am making. If I make a thing today, then I’m more likely to make another thing tomorrow.
A judgmental mindset tells me that I am a bad person, a failure, for not doing Something today. My mindfulness practice has helped me to comprehend more deeply the dishonesty of those thoughts. Failure is just another mental construct. Today, I won’t fail. I’ll make a few small things, complete some small but necessary tasks, and I’ll allow myself to enjoy this day however I use it.
The feeling of “ought/should/must” is slowly being eroded by a feeling of “this is good enough for this moment”.