Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Washing dishes

When I'm upset, agitated, or worried, I invariably find myself in the kitchen, clearing the table and washing dishes. It's kind of weird, because the state of the kitchen usually has nothing to do with why I feel upset, agitated, or worried, but it still makes me feel better. Why? Because it's one of the few areas of my life where I can assert absolute control, e.g. "So what if one of my favorite clients just had a nervous breakdown and blamed me for it? There's nothing I can do about it right now anyway, so why don't I do something that will improve my immediate well-being and take my mind off the problem?"

However, this is totally an avoidance technique in disguise. Rather than deal with serious problems, I find myself choosing smaller, less significant tasks to tackle, because I know I can deal with those. The problem with that is that it leaves the bigger things undone, while giving me a false sense of satisfaction that helps me postpone the bigger task indefinitely.

How to overcome this? I don't know a good way to tackle it head-on. I'm not going to do anything like make a list and go down and do each unattractive task in order--I'd hate it, it would make me feel awful, incapable, and stupid, if I actually did it. I'm not going to write detailed plans about how I'm going to accomplish each thing I don't want to do (that's another stalling technique, by the way). I'm just going to start by being aware. When I find myself avoiding things, I'll just remind myself how nice it would be to be unburdened. No concrete goals, plans, or deadlines; just awareness of how I feel and how I want to feel. If I manage to get any of those undesirable things done this week, I'll let you know.

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