Take Care Of Yourself! A Conversation.

Why can’t you take care of yourself?

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

You don’t know how to take care of yourself!

Why do you say that?

Because you don’t! You sit around. You let things go. You withdraw into books. You are struggling in your work. You struggle to exercise and get outside in the sun. You are unfulfilled and feel stuck in your life but still you do nothing!

I think you are being a bit critical. I do things.

You do the bare minimum just to get by.

Really?

Yes, and then you expect others to pick up the slack. To take care of the things you don’t want to take care of. To take care of you.

I don’t know about this. I have a business where I help others every day.

Yes, but you are a fraud. You are no better than your clients. You are trying to get well or to manage, just as they are. I do not think you are fit to serve. Just like you need to be fit to run a marathon you need to be fit to serve. Maybe the reason why your job does not make you happy is because you are running in a marathon without being in good shape?

I have not thought of it like that. I think I am fit to serve because I am trying to be a better person every day. I am trying to more effectively deal with the crap I have inherited from my parents- my past conditioning. I am trying to manage it more effectively so it does not make me a miserable person. This continual effort I think makes me fit to serve.

Maybe. You have part of the equation correct but you are still unwilling to do things that would make you happier and healthier in life.

What do you mean?

What do you mean?

What?

You don’t want to take charge. You don’t want to cut the bullshit. You don’t want to stop staying stuck. You don’t want to do the hard work that it would take to change things for the better. You don’t want to push yourself.

Maybe. But I do what I can. I try.

Yes, but this is not enough. You are just staying stuck in the convenience of habit. You are not willing to change and so you make do with what is. This is bullshit! Push yourself man. Do not be so fearful of hard work!

Maybe it is about accepting what is. Maybe it is about not trying to change anything but instead just making peace with what is? Maybe the reason why humans are so fucked up is because we are not able to just make peace with things as they are? We are very critical of ourselves and others and think things should be how we think they should be. Maybe when we become really critical it does not actually motivate change but instead creates more depression and unhappiness. I think you may be going about it the wrong way.

You are saying that it is about accepting things as they are? Accepting your lack of motivation. Accepting that you do what you can (which, by the way is never enough), accepting that you can’t really get things done, accepting that you have a hard time taking care of yourself? You are basically saying just accept that the garden is not being taken care of and let it stay in its disheveled and dried out state?

I suppose I am saying do what you can and accept that. Maybe a person is not meant to have a beautiful garden because they, for whatever reason, are not able to devote the time and energy needed. In this case the person needs to be able to accept that they have a garden that is not perfect. That is partially dried out. That it is not much tended to. Such is life. What I am saying is that in just accepting things as they are, even though they may not be desirable, it releases a person from all the stress and unhappiness that comes up as a result of trying to fix and change things and thinking things are not good enough. Maybe change happens through accepting what is.

I don’t know man. I think this is the greatest act of rationalizing one’s own illogical bullshit that I have ever heard. I think you are just perpetuating the status quo. You are just trying to accept the status quo. Anyone who is great never got anywhere with the perspective you are articulating. No one has ever mastered anything or become really skilled and successful thinking like that. That train of thought will get you nowhere besides right where you are which is struggling to take care of yourself.

I understand this. But maybe my work is in accepting that I will not be that person who is great, masterful and successful and super productive. That that is not who I am. This is just not in the deck of cards for me. Perhaps happiness for me is in accepting that this is just not who I am.

But you have talent. You have potential. You could do whatever you want. You could be great. You could have a beautiful garden if you pushed yourself more.

Maybe so, but maybe I am just not that kind of person. Maybe I am more fated to live an imperfect life. A life of slowness or no great achievements. Maybe I am just going to be average. Maybe I am going to need help along the way. Maybe I am just that kind of person.

And you are ok with this? You really want to accept this?

I see no other way if I don’t want to be miserable for the rest of my life.

Bullshit man. You know this is bullshit. You just don’t want to do the hard work.

Maybe so. I don’t remember ever being a fan of hard work.

Ok. There is no making sense with you. You are not getting it. You want to keep sitting on your ass and just let all the potential in your life go- go ahead. You want others to take care of you. You don’t want to deal with the hard stuff. Ok. Fuck it. I am not getting anywhere with you.

You know, what? I don’t like how you are talking to me. I think this conversation is done.

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Lazy Girl, Lazy Girl, Lazy Girl.

Lazy girl, lazy girl, lazy girl.

You are one of the greatest sources of stress in my life and I love you so much.

But sometimes I feel like I hate you. It is your laziness that I do not like.

You seem more than willing to neglect the more important things in your life. You will do just enough to get by but then you want to retreat into your rabbit hole.

You get angry when I tell you to get off Instagram. You get pissed off when I say you sleep in too much. You do not want to hear about how I think you neglect developing your career or tending to your health. Oh no lazy girl, you just want me to let you be so you can do what you want.

But it drives me nuts lazy girl because I can not help but think you are neglecting everything important in a well lived life. Just because certain things are hard, is no reason to jump into your comfortable hole.

I wish I did not get so upset about your lazy ways, lazy girl. I wish I could just leave you alone. Let you be. So what if you neglect your health, taking care of your garden, your relationship, your closet, your house, your car. Why do I care that much? It is not like you are that bad, right lazy girl?

I don’t think so. I think you let so much slip away. You would rather spend hours lost in a smart phone rather than tending to what needs to be done. You would rather let your body lose its shape and your health lose its vigor than deal with the effort required to maintain these things. I know lazy girl- you just want to have fun. If it requires effort, you will do just enough to make it look like you are not letting everything go.

It drives me nuts. I hate lazy girl. Lazy girl is not good for me because she stresses me out and does not push me to be a better man myself. Lazy girl does not care what I do. Lazy girl leaves me alone to “be myself.” If I don’t exercise, if I drink too much, if I don’t pay bills, if I am depressed, if my health is going to shit- lazy girl does not seem to care. She does not say anything about it.

Lazy girl just wants everyone to get along and enjoy life. Do what you want, forget about it and leave me alone. Lazy girl prefers things being easy and sometimes confronting a person about how they are letting themselves go can be hard. It can be very stressful especially when you confront lazy girl because lazy girl doesn’t want to hear it. She wants to be left alone. My anger stresses lazy girl out and lazy girl does everything she can to avoid feeling any kind of stress.

How many times have you checked Instagram today lazy girl?

I don’t know what to do lazy girl. I love you so much, but man you are really stressing me out. My hair is falling out. My digestion is off. I am always tired and feeling unwell. You always tell me what is the big deal. Why are you getting so upset. Just leave me alone. But lazy girl, see what the stress you do not want to face is doing to me?

But then why do I care so much? Why can’t I just let lazy girl be lazy girl? Why can’t I just put my ideas about how I think a productive and healthy person should be to rest. Why can’t I just leave lazy girl alone to be lazy girl? I can pick up the slack. I can try and just take care of myself. I can make an effort not to be a lazy guy. Why do I have to care so much that lazy girl is choosing to wake up in the morning and go right on her smart phone?

Because it drives me nuts!

A person should be more focused on the important things in their life! A person should take care of their health! Walk their dogs! Tend to their garden! Make their partner the priority! Tend to their house! A person should not do just enough to get by and then let everything else slide!

But lazy girl does not want to hear this. If I tell lazy girl this she starts to cry. Her tears are not tears of sadness, they are tears of rage. Lazy girl wants to be left alone. Lazy girl does not want to be told that she is being lazy girl. Lazy girl can not handle having her flaws pointed out to her. This is why she is lazy girl after all. Lazy girl doesn’t want to deal with the difficulties that are unavoidable aspect of living a healthy and disciplined life.

Lazy girl just wants me to leave her alone. Lazy girl just wants to have fun. Lazy girl wants to take off her clothes, have a cocktail (or three) and invite everyone to jump in. Fuck tomorrow, lazy girl thinks. Lets play today.

 

How To Get Almost Nothing Done.

I need to get my head on straight here. I have been procrastinating all morning. Watching various videos. Leaving status updates on Facebook. Posting drawings on Instagram. It is 12:03pm and I am still wearing the clothes I slept in. Why am I doing this? What is it that I am looking for? It certainly feels easier than dealing with all the things I need to get done.

My toilet has been wobbling for weeks. Need to bolt it to the blue tiled floor. My bathroom walls have holes that need to be patched up. I have closets and a garage that are filled with junk and in desperate need of being organized. I have yet to return phone calls that are days old. I have several unfinished novels and short stories begging for my attention. I need to pay bills and call the financial aid office because I am in so much debt that I have not even bothered thinking about paying it back. For years and years. I could go on and on with the things that I am not taking care of but this doesn’t sound like fun.

There is currently a public service announcement on the college radio station that I have on, which is recommending taking deep breaths as an antidote to the epidemic of stress that fills all our jam-packed lives. Instead of breathing, I seem to have chosen retreating. The more that I must get done it seems that the less I want to do. I am like a person who eats a lot to lose weight. It is reverse logic. I realize that the more I retreat the heavier my life will get. But for whatever reason, a large part of me is all right with this.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are pro-active and organized. These people usually are very good at doing things that do not have an immediate benefit but require being fully committed, effort and consistency. They are not afraid of hard work even though it may not be fun. It seems easy for them to work hard at something that they are interested in for long periods of time. These are usually the people whose films we watch, houses we buy, books we read, classes we take, restaurants we eat in, planes we fly on, surgeries we subject ourselves to and on and on. Then there are those people who do just enough to get by. The only thing they really stick with is not sticking to things. They give the minimum amount of effort to just get by and then when things get hard they retreat. They go take a nap. Read. Drink a beer. Read. Go on Facebook or Instagram. Read. Listen to music. Nap. Read. This second kind of person is me.

Isn’t a blogger someone who wants to do the minimum amount of work in order to still remain a writer? This would be me. As soon as working on a novel or a short story gets tough, I become frustrated and bored and want to do something else. In fact, whenever anything gets boring or frustrating I seem unwilling to put in the work it would require to get it done. Instead, I go do something else that feels more fun even if this means sitting on my couch and staring out my window for hours. I do just enough to get by and it is only when I reach a crisis point or things get urgent that I will do more.

Isn’t this what the status quo means? Doing just enough to get by and then enjoying your life (or not) on your off time? Go work on your car, take out the boat, work in the garden, listen to records, clean your home, go to a movie, hang out with friends, read a book, watch a Netflix series. You work your job because you need the money and then when work is done you just hang out. To answer my own question, yes- this is the status quo. What would not be the status quo would be putting consistent effort into something that you are interested in but may or may not work out down the line. Even though I am not happy about it, I seem to have chosen the status quo. Life just feels easier this way.

I know an older man who feels like he has failed in his life. His life has been filled with anxiety, worry and despair. He has worked hard at his job as a social worker for thirty plus years but he told me that when he is done with work all he thinks about is resting and chilling out. “This is how I avoid stuff,” he tells me. I see him sitting there with his large belly, his marital problems, his expenses, his dislike of his job, his tired face, his head filled with stress and worries and I can not help but feel terrified that this man might be me in ten years. But how does one change this tendency to make a hundred excuses for why they do not have to fold the laundry, keep working on the novel, stay in the relationship, pay all the bills, exercise or call the financial aid office right now? I am a psychotherapist and I have no idea. Some bad habits seem hard wired so deep in our brains that we will do just enough, make the bare minimum effort to try and figure them out. Then when this feels like no fun anymore, we will drop it and go do something else.