I wrote about self-trust in a previous blog post, and the topic of trust is again on my mind.
As with so many of you, this year seems to be doing a hell of a number on my focus and motivation. I find myself (more times than I’d like to admit) stuck to the couch scrolling through Instagram or solving word puzzles or taking naps at two o’clock in the afternoon. I procrastinate going on runs, spending time writing and reading: things I legitimately want to do.
Because I’m a planner, I’ll carve out time in my calendar for all these things. I’m able to see in color-coded glory my ability to make time for what I want. I have no kids, I’m working from home on a schedule that is at my control: time is not the issue.
The issue is, when the calendar notification dings, I don’t always “feel like” doing the thing I scheduled for myself. I may feel too tired, too unmotivated. My overanalyzing brain might kick in and starts justifying a change in schedule, that doing something else now and the other thing later makes more sense.
The thing is, once I start something, I never regret it. I feel great knowing I kept a promise to myself, to the past self who knew what was important and found time for and made a plan to accomplish.
This really is a trust exercise: my present self trusting that my past self has my best intentions at heart. And that my future self will thank my present self for keeping a promise.
I’ve been quite low on that trust lately, perhaps ironically because I’ve been trying to work on how mean I can be to myself. If the person I’m supposed to trust is telling me that I’m a failure for not living up to expectations, for not getting my lazy ass off the couch, then of course it will be impossible to build that trust. No one can trust an abuser, and that’s essentially what I’m trying to tell myself to do.
Instead, I need to build trust by setting myself up for success. I’ve learned that putting “writing time” on my calendar only works if I identify the project or the first step. I need to be specific. Otherwise, I can start buying into the false notion that I don’t really have anything to write about today anyway, and I don’t feel like it, so I’ll do it later. Having something tangible, something that takes away any decision-making about how I will spend that time, removes one barrier to keeping a promise to myself.
This really is a trust exercise: my present self trusting that my past self has my best intentions at heart. And that my future self will thank my present self for keeping a promise. But if the person I’m supposed to trust is telling me that I’m a failure for not living up to expectations, for not getting my lazy ass off the couch, then of course it will be impossible to build that trust.
If I have a decision to make, that’s when my brain ticks on and quickly gets into over-analyzing mode. But instead, if I see “free write to prompt” or “outline essay” on my calendar, I know what I have to do, I don’t have to agonize over choosing what to do. One clear example of this is my blog: I know what I will be writing every Wednesday morning so it’s easy to keep that promise.
Another part of building trust is acknowledging that I may not always “feel like” doing something, but comforting myself so that I can take the first step. I tell myself that if after ten minutes, I’m still not into it, I can stop. But with running and writing, I almost never stop and turn around. That first step builds the momentum to keep going, because once I’m in it, it’s hard to find other things to do instead, it’s hard to procrastinate, it’s hard to over analyze if I’m doing it “right.”
I’d love it if you shared this within your online networks: free for you and immensely helpful for me!
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