Letting yourself off the hook?
When we let ourselves off the hook, do we really?
I have a client who was beating herself up because she didn’t get all the things she had hoped to get done last weekend. Instead of doing some work that she had planned to do, she went shopping, saying, ‘It’s OK. I need to return an item and that’s important, and, I’m just not feeling creative right now.” If she had left it at that, it might have been fine. She had let herself off the hook by taking a break from the work she felt stuck on and doing something else on her list. She would get back to the work later, when her muse was inspired and ready to dance. So, what’s the problem? Stacy didn’t really let herself off the hook. The entire time she was doing her errand, she was beating herself up about not writing the copy. When she got home, she was too tired to do it so she put it off longer. But her mind continued to punish her with negative thoughts. When we spoke, she was berating herself up for having her let herself off the hook. It was at that point that I started thinking she didn’t let herself off the hook at all.
It ‘s OK to change your schedule, shift your priorities, take a break, postpone actions in order to do something else or just plain relax and recharge your batteries. But it isn’t letting yourself off the hook unless you really allow yourself the freedom to do it, without negative self-judgment. That’s just letting yourself off one hook and hanging yourself on another. Your negative thoughts drain you of the very energy you need to get back on track and get the work done. When you sit down to do the work, you are starting at a deficit. You’ve created limiting beliefs: I mean really, how can a lazy, undisciplined loser do good work?
Next time you feel the urge to put off doing something on your to do list, set yourself up to benefit from the break. Before you go, jot down a few bullet points for what you want to write, make a list of the steps you need to take when you get back, line up the resources that you’ll need. Then, go. Give yourself complete mental and physical permission to go do something else, knowing you can come back to the task at hand refreshed.