It’s been a rough year. A rough month. A rough past couple of days. I missed my writing goals this month. Missed my blogging deadline today. I feel defeated.
I’m looking back at what I’ve accomplished (a lot!) and what I haven’t accomplished (more than a lot). And I’m feeling the press of time. The days aren’t long enough; the months are too short, and the years are flying past. The weight on my shoulders is crushing. Tears run down my face. I will not achieve my dreams. Fate is against me. Defeat looms.
I Don’t Want to Give Up
Yes, I have challenges in my life. But don’t we all? I’ve not accomplished all that I’ve intended to by this time. It’s disheartening. And if I focus on what I have not done, what I’ve yet to do—it’s overwhelming.
But I am a persistent optimist. When someone tells me you can’t do that, a little beast inside stirs. You can’t tell me what I can’t do, it screams. And yes, when I’m down, it screams that at me.
So I wipe my tears away. I refocus. Yes. I have a lot I want to accomplish. Yes. My creative time is limited and hampered by the life challenges I face. But, damn it. I can do this. One step at a time.
But rah-rah-rah won’t help me accomplish the next step. So I sit down and ask myself three questions.
How Did I Get to This Point?
This isn’t always easy to answer. This time, I can answer this one easily. Too little sleep. Not enough money to spend on the things I think I need to be successful. Not enough time. Too much focus on what I haven’t done yet. And the growing frustration that my time is not my own. Frustration that whatever I plan will suffer one disruption or another. Okay. So I can change my focus, but my frustration is born of a real situation. Like the mother of a newborn (this is a metaphor—no newborns in this house!), I have little control over how much sleep I get nor how I spend my time. Another’s needs trump my own. Repeatedly. Too many limitations.
What Beliefs Support Defeat?
What beliefs do I hold that support my feeling defeated? Initially,I always answer this one: I don’t know. Aren’t all those things above truths? Yes, that’s the tricky part. There are truths there. But I’ve interpreted them in a way that creates at least one belief that supports defeat. I probably have more than one defeat supporting belief. So I dig a little deeper.
The first belief I have is that because of those limitations I will not be successful. Oh, and I believe that to be successful, I need more time than I have. And I believe that not having accomplished everything I had on my list makes me a failure. Yes, but what if I dig deeper?
I believe that somehow I deserve failure. That I’ve done something wrong somewhere and that if I were better somehow, I’d be successful.
Ouch. That’s what I needed to face.
Intellectually, I know that these limitations exist regardless of whether I’ve always done the right things or the wrong things. Life isn’t fair. There aren’t perfect players who always win and despicable players who always lose. But when life wears me down, this idea that it’s my fault crops up over and over. And now it’s time to ask myself the next question.
What Can I Learn From This?
This is the point at which a mental health specialist would ask what positives are there in this situation? That’s not a helpful question. Sometimes there aren’t any positives about the situation. So, let’s look at what can I learn.
Sleep is important. Everything suffers when I haven’t had enough sleep. So when an incident happens that disrupts my sleep, a change in the next day’s activities must follow. That change may not be a nap (I don’t have that skill) but a reduction in the day’s To Do List or a fifteen minute rest period may be in order. (The secondary lesson is that I must take care of me so I can take care of anyone or anything else.)
Success can happen without accomplishing ALL THE THINGS. And that’s okay. Success can happen even when things aren’t perfect. That may be hard to believe, but it’s true.
Celebrations for the small successes are just as important, perhaps more important, than celebrations for the big ones. Those small successes build up to the larger ones and celebrating them helps me remember and honor what I have accomplished.
Perhaps the most important lesson to take from this is that sometimes I will feel like I’ve failed. AND THAT’S OKAY. I know how to pick myself up, dust off my knees, and start back to work.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Right back where I was. I’ll continue my review of what I’ve accomplished over the past year and the past decade. And I’ll report on that before the month is over. Most importantly, I will continue reviewing the past so I can plan the future.
I know at least one of the next steps is to finish If I Should Die, the second book of the My Soul to Keep series. I’m happy to report that while it’s not as far along as I had planned, the first draft has reached the end of the midpoint. I’m fairly happy with the first quarter and am taking a week’s break to look back at the second quarter with an eye to how those events play out in the third quarter. Writing will restart soon.
Sometimes I feel defeated, but I’m not. I also know sometimes you feel defeated, too. And I hope that my sharing how I find my way back from that place of defeat will help you. Do you have a way to beat back the blues when you feel defeated? Please share your thoughts in the comments.