Let. It. Go.

3 October, 2018

How are you going with perfectionism, trying to be all things to all people, a constant sense of pressure and urgency and productivity as your main source of self-worth?  Is there scope to finally let it go? 

My three and a half year old girl is always singing this at the top of her lungs.  Although it’s just a Disney song from the movie Frozen, it’s a very important and fundamental message:  Let. It. Go. (Who can escape Disney at the end of the day?).

Let what go?  I hear you ask...

I’ve had a very interesting and turbulent journey in the last few months.  And I’m finally learning the lessons I’m needing to learn, because my body is basically forcing me to.  And you can’t ignore what your body is telling you, as much as we might try.  I wish I would listen more intently to what’s going on before the body kicks in with its very strong message:  you can’t carry on like this and I’m going to force you to stop.  But hey, although I’m a coach I’m also a human and sometimes we don’t see things in plain sight until we really need to - and then the lesson is more powerful that way.  So although I could feasibly beat myself up for not recognising and making a change sooner, I will not do that.  We always have the choice to beat ourselves up, and I’m choosing to see everything as it should be and instead coach myself through what has been a hard few months. 

For those that are interested, let me fill you in.

In short, I’ve been doing too much at once, and my body has stopped coping with my busy life.  It’s not serious, just consistent colds for the last five weeks, and some blood test results that clearly show that my system is struggling, specifically my endocrine system.  Although it is all reversible, it is not a place I wanted to be at this point. 

Two teachers I follow closely are Dr Libby Weaver and Dr Brene Brown.  Libby talks a lot about women’s underlying operating system, which is trying to be ‘all things to all people’ and living with a sense of constant pressure and urgency:  everything needs to be done yesterday and I can’t let anyone down.

Brene talks a lot about how women succumb to perfectionism:  do it all, do it perfectly, and don’t let anyone see you sweat.  She also talks a lot about how, in our modern society, we use our  productivity as our source of self-worth, and exhaustion as a status symbol.  The more you get done, and the more busy and tired you are, the more you are respected by others and ‘seen’ to be ‘successful’.  I know this to be true: how often do we say the following when we are asked how we are:  ‘Oh, I’m great.  I’ve got just enough work to keep me stimulated but I'm not too busy.  I still have plenty of space and time for my family and gardening, and I really feel I’m in a good balance at the moment’.  Not often enough!  Usually our response is ‘Busy, busy - you know how it is!’  

Hands up - I’m now TOTALLY aware of succumbing to all of those unhelpful patterns:  pressure and urgency; trying to be all things to all people; do it all, do it perfectly and don’t let anyone see me sweat; using productivity as my sense of self-worth and exhaustion as a status symbol.  I can’t blame myself though or beat myself up because I’m influenced by the world we live in, and I know I’m not alone (am I?).  Even though I’ve BEEN aware of it, it’s not until recently with my body struggling, that I’m really KNOWING it and OWNING it.  And here’s another one I can know and own, three little phrases:  should, have to, must.  Using those three little phrases interchangeably throughout the day on myself:  I must get that done, I have to go to the gym, I should make the beds... and on it goes.

So, what is the solution to all of this?  

For me It’s been a process over a few weeks - which has become more solidified this week - which is to PRIORITISE.  Sounds like a word we all know, and it gets banded about a lot.  However, what does it really MEAN to do this?  It means asking yourself some very HARD questions:  What are the most important and essential things to you right now?   Why do they matter?  How many deadlines are real, and how many are self-imposed?  What can be changed?   What do I NEED to let go of?  How long do I need to let go?  And what do I need for myself RIGHT NOW?  

It means getting super clear on what you value and therefore what you are willing to spend your precious time on.  And it then means getting super brutal about letting the rest go.  I did my plan for the rest of the year last week, and wrote it up and put it up in my office.  Every time I looked at it, part of me was going ‘that’s reasonable, I can do that…..’ at the same time as my body was clenching up in the solar plexus every time I looked at it.  This week, after some brutal decision making,  I’ve got rid of three major things from this list and now it feels good in my head AND my body.  Phew. 

To do this successfully we have to let go of what the measure of success looks like in the eyes of others, and we have to decide on our own measure and definition of success.  For a long time, I’ve focused on what my life and business has looked like from the outside.  I’ve had to let that go.  At the moment success to me looks like health and relaxation, doing projects that I’m passionate about and have ample time to complete, having time to focus on nutrition and the right kind of exercise for me, and spending quality time with those close and dear to me.  And I do mean QUALITY time, when I am really present with them, and not just being there but thinking about my to-do list at the same time and wondering when I can excuse myself to go and get something ticked off my list. 

So my questions to you are:

Where are you at with your busy-ness, exhaustion and balance?  
What do you say when people ask you how you are?
What are you committed to that’s actually draining you?
How can you let that go now?
What do you have to let go of, in order to let THAT go?  (Hint: what other people think.)
What is most important to you?
How can you prioritise that and only that?
What would feel like the most ‘downstream’ thing to do for the rest of the year? (Downstream = going with the flow; upstream fighting against the current.)
How can you put your own mental and physical wellbeing back into the equation? (Hint: rest; play; leisure; doing what you FEEL like doing occasionally, not what you should/must/have to.)


I’d love to hear your questions and feedback, get in touch and let’s talk it though!

With much love, Charlotte.

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