“The participants who struggled the most with numbing…explained that reducing anxiety meant finding ways to numb it, not changing the thinking, behaviors, or emotions that created anxiety. I hated every minute of this part of the research. I’ve always looked for better ways to manage my exhaustion and anxiety. I wanted help ‘living like this,’ not suggestions on how to ‘stop living like this.'” –Dr. Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
Here’s what I know to be true: trying to find ever-more ways of managing the to-do list is the surest way to continue the cycle of equating your worthiness with what you cross of of your to-do list.
What drives us the most are the “thinking, behaviors, and emotions” that create the anxiety, the overwhelm. That’s what we have to shift, first. Every other choice that we make will be in alignment with our highest and most purposeful selves if we shift from the inside, out.
We also can’t deny that overwhelm is a feminist issue. It’s an issue that particularly affects women, who are expected to do it all and be it all for others. Knowledge of that conditioning doesn’t necessarily erase that conditioning.
And that’s where we end up with: vulnerability armor.
Overwhelm becomes the armor that we put on to mask our vulnerability.
Of all of the fear routines that I’ve encountered (Perfectionism, Martyrism, Self-sabotage, or Pessimism), perfectionism can be one of the hardest to get out from under, because it’s oh-so-seductive in our culture to be overwhelmed and struggling to be perfect. You won’t win many points for martyrism, self-sabotage, or pessimism, but you’ll probably be applauded for perfectionism.
We need to stop trying to find better ways to manage exhaustion and anxiety. We need to take off that armor that keeps us from vulnerability.
We need to be real, not perfect.