For most of us in the US, this is the final week before the holiday vacation season—and I have friends already leaving tomorrow for various destinations across the country—which means a weird time of last-minute pushes of work projects and social gatherings coupled with that pre-holiday brain where no one’s really quite operating at 100% capacity.
I’ve been struggling this time of year, I think more this year than I can remember, probably because there’s a lot in my life that seems in transition (or, purgatory might be a better word)—writing life, work life, home life, running life—and I’m really, really bad at transition. It means that there are very few solid-seeming things for me to focus on when my brain starts down a road of rumination. It means that the hermit-hibernation mood is strong, and I struggle with balancing the craving to stay in my pajamas and never leave the house with the knowledge that getting out for runs and casual friend-dates is important and will make me feel better. It is a feeling of malaise, of impatience, of everything feeling like a checkbox on a to-do list (even the fun stuff) that I have to get done before I feel like I’m in “real life” again.
I will set aside some time this weekend for some end-of-year journaling—reflective and anticipatory—which will help me set goals and let me meditate on what’s important to me. One things I know will be on my mind is trying to frame things in a more positive light.
I don’t think I’m an inherently negative person—certainly not in a pessimistic sort of way. I tend to have hope, that even if the glass isn’t half full now, there is a chance it could be, and that “things” in the very general sense are more good than they are bad.
I have a hard time translating this—if not optimism, at least realism or pragmatism—to my own life. I’m constantly looking for what can be improved, fixed, better, different. This isn’t negative, exactly, but what it means is that I don’t allow myself to celebrate, to see what’s good, to give context to those things I want to change.
Striving for better has been a characteristic that’s brought me a lot of success and reward. But I tend to see those rewards as obligatory, not as something to celebrate. Because they’re rewards for things I “should” be doing anyway, even if the person defining that “should” is me and me alone.
I can reframe that mindset as passionate, dedicated, driven. But how to make that mental switch that I deserve to celebrate, that I deserve to be proud of my hard work and grateful for luck?
As soon as I accomplish something, or meet a goal, or get over an obstacle, I’m already looking for the next thing, proving to myself that what I just did isn’t something to celebrate because I’m not “done”—look, there’s still one more thing to do to be better.
I hope my blog in 2020 can focus a little more on themes, and one will certainly be this idea of framing—which is essentially a way of tricking my brain into not making the logical leap that if things aren’t “done” that means they’re not good, they’re not worth taking a second to celebrate. That I can think about what I want to change or how I can do better but not at the expense of downplaying the good.
This to me seems very hard, so of course writing about it will help, as will hearing from you your successes and how you celebrate your daily milestones.
How you show yourself appreciation—not just rely on compliments or praise from others, but how do you pat yourself on the back in a genuine way? Comment below or on my Facebook page.
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