Let It Be Easy

photo by Greg Markway

As I’ve been tuning in to my self-talk over these past few weeks, I keep hearing the word, “pressure.”  I think I need to do things on a certain timetable and with a certain level of quality. And then that pressured feeling turns into procrastination. In talking with the insightful Beth Beulow of The Introvert Entrepreneur, she suggested something along the lines of, maybe if I loosened the screws a little bit that feeling of pressure would morph into inspiration. I’m not sure if those were her exact words, but I definitely heard “Loosen the Screws!” (What? Me a little uptight?)

There’s a certain paradox in this self-compassion “project.” How do I not turn it into one more thing to stress over?

The other night I couldn’t sleep, and instead of getting all worked up like I usually do, a phrase kept running through my mind: “Let it be easy.” As I said in my last post, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, so I don’t know if I’d just read this (I can’t find it anywhere now), or heard it in one of the guided meditations I’ve been listening to, or just maybe, my “unconscious” knew what I needed to hear. “Let it be easy” is not something I’m used to doing. I typically make things more complicated than they probably need to be.

But in the spirit of self-compassion, I’m going to try to hold this project gently and lightly, like you’d hold a butterfly in your hand. What does that mean?

First of all, I’m going to ease up on any expectation of outcome. For example, I’m constantly saying things to myself such as, “Will this post be helpful?” or “Will this resonate with people?” Originally, I’d thought that one of my guiding principles of this blog was going to be, “If I help even one person, the blog is not in vain.” Yeah, I’m a helper through and through. And that’s a good thing for a psychologist. But there are pitfalls, too. In The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Christopher Germer says that “attachment” is a danger for helpers. I think he means attachment in the sense of wanting things to go a certain way. He gently reminds us helpers that everyone is responsible for their own happiness. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if this blog speaks to someone, great. But if I only help myself through this process of blogging, that’s more than enough.  (After all, he also says “Self-compassion is the foundation of compassion for others.”)

Second, although I had the intention of this being a one-year project, similar to The Happiness Project and The Shyness Project (it’s popular to have a project these days), I’ve noticed I’m already feeling pressure about time. “Oh no! It’s almost February and what have I accomplished? I’m still just laying the groundwork.” Deadlines are definitely good in that they help with accountability, cut down on procrastination (sometimes), and can enhance productivity. But in my case, I think the most compassionate thing to do is the realize that this has been my Issue for almost 50 years. There is no reason to think that in one year, poof, I will be completely self-compassionate and this will be something I can cross off my to-do list. To quote Germer again, “The path to happiness and well-being never ends. Just when we’ve arrived, a new challenge presents itself and we begin again.” So I’m going to quit worrying about time and simply see where this flows.

Speaking of time, it’s a week until my 50th birthday. I’m excited about an easier year ahead!

8 thoughts on “Let It Be Easy

  1. your 50th is a great opportunity to celebrate your life…for so many reasons. I have an assignment for you if you’re game 🙂 If you were given the opportunity to honor a dear dear friend of yours who was let’s say, turning 40 this year, what are some of the things you might do to honor them? Take your time with that question….and after you’ve given it some thought….I’d like you to apply the same amount of creative energy and passion for yourself…no self-effacing allowed….this is one of those rare times when you really really need to splurge and celebrate Barbara.

  2. I’ve gone through several similar motivational transitions as I’ve created and posted on my own blogs….there have been several shifts since I started 9 months ago. At this point I find that sharing and helping is a very special and important component of the blogs, but I am also noticing that I’ve really grown and changed through the process of creating the posts…so it seems to be balanced. I’ve also learned an incredible amount about myself as I’ve watched my own reactions as I create and post from day to day. I wish you well…it looks like you’re developing a special blog here…

  3. Happy almost birthday, and I completely feel you on the struggle with who, exactly, we should be blogging for. I’m always trying to remind myself that my blog is primarily an exercise for ME, not for other people, but like you I keep wondering whether I should be imbue every post with some sort of “meaning” or “value.” We really need to lighten up on ourselves!

  4. Hi Barb – I just found this blog and took the test, although I knew what the result would be. I guess I’ll be hanging around!
    Best of luck and happy birthday!

  5. I seem to remember your big day was coming up on the 1st? Assuming I have it right, happy birthday from a fellow February birthday blogger.DM

  6. Hi Barbara! I found your self-compassion project and your Psychology Today blog recently + your honesty means so much to me! Your words do resonate and help. Thank you for your kindness and willingness to be vulnerable. It helps the rest of us to know that we are not alone in our struggles. I hope you have a wonderful day!

    • My mom’s name is Erika, with a “k”! When I first saw the comment I thought, “Wow, why is my mom commenting on such an old post?” So glad you found my blog and thank you for your nice words.

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