Last week, I explored my tendency to attack problems with the blunt instrument of my overthinking brain. And the challenge in letting go sometimes, not forcing myself to make a choice just for the sake of choosing.
After I published the blog last week, I knew somehow there was more to the story. It seems like nearly everything in my life right now looks like a problem to be solved, and I’m exhausting myself by needing to find a solution to it all. Telling myself that I don’t need to make a decision about absolutely everything helped, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Last night, it hit me.
Life is not a problem to be solved.
If I see life itself as one of these problems, one of the things I need to constantly be mulling over in my head, no wonder I’m feeling burnt out. It means I’m battling everything that comes my way, every decision I make, every decision someone else makes. I’m setting up to battle with things I can’t control.
This puts me in a place where I’m constantly on the defense because I assume everything will be a battle. I will need to defend my decisions, my requests, my actions, my thoughts. I will start feeling the pain of a denial or a failure before it even happens because I’m already there in my head. Even if I’m trying my hardest to build up defenses so I don’t feel denial or failure, just assuming they will happen means I feel their effects. It is an irony that the thing I’m trying to avoid is the very thing that comes to the surface the harder I try to avoid.
This is also an impossible quest for my inner perfectionist. Looking at life as a problem to be solved is not exactly setting myself up for success. Especially if I somehow put pressure on myself to solve it, and somehow if I don’t, I’m a failure. If this is the baseline for me, any real problem on top of it seems almost insurmountable. So, now not only am I a failure at not solving the “problem” of life, I’m also a failure for not solving other problems I’ve made so difficult by piling them up. It will also never feel like I’ve solved anything because that big “problem” will always be there, clouding everything.
I would really love a glimpse into my brain to help me understand why I do this. Why do I create problems that aren’t there, why do I set up defenses before I need to? In the absence of these answers, I would like to be able to catch myself when I’m slipping into a defensive position in my life. For me, this feels like resistance. Resisting life as it speeds by because I am trying to stop it, to slow it down enough to analyze it and determine the best way to tackle it as a problem. Creating tension between my thoughts and what is happening in front of me rather than relaxing into the journey. Putting up walls to prevent enemies from intruding but also keeping out the good stuff.
Life is full of problems, real ones, that I have the capacity to deal with if I’m not already so exhausted from fighting off life in general. It’s like I’m focusing so hard on setting up my cannons that I forget to the steer the ship and end up in pirate-infested waters. And then trying to attack the water instead of the pirate ship. Or forgetting that I can steer my way out.
I won’t lie, the prospect of changing this mindset is daunting. I feel like I’ve hit on something really important for me, but it’s not leaving me with a jazzed up, motivated “hell, yeah” whooping into the fray. The kind of buzzing brain that gets excited over the prospect of change or improvement but quickly fizzles out. No, it’s leaving me with this overwhelming sense of a long and difficult road ahead, and I can’t see where it leads. All I know is that staring at it and wishing it were different isn’t going to help. I hope writing about it is the first small step along the path.