HBR article “In Praise of Extreme Moderation” spoke to me this morning. This is an article that will resonate with every one of us regardless of where we fall; moderate or extreme. It calls out the new norm of practicing extremism in all that we do. It calls out the “new” need to do everything to a level of excess. Earning badges of courage and worthiness is where we find our value in today’s society. A society that reveres everyone as “something” whatever the label or title. A new world where competitiveness is a label that has become the norm and when lacking it speaks to ones drive, or lack thereof.
We are swept up in extremism so easily as companies push their products and services as only best consumed in excess. The tell us to:
Only write if you have an audience and are working on a bestseller.
Only run if you can get a PR every time and not only win a medal but rank.
Only eat what you are prescribed via a specific diet and track to prove you are doing it.
Post everything you do publicly as proof that you are doing what you say you are and therefore validating.
It is so easy to sucked into this way of living, or at least attempted living. It is maddening when we are in it and it is reckless when we are not.
The article brings us back to what is “enough”. When is enough enough. That is as personal a decision as it is public. It is when one-by-one we start removing the value assigned to extremes. It stops when we applaud those living in the middle and calm the accolades around those that are pushing the bar so far that reaching for it threatens everything you are if you don’t land on top.
The best way to conclude is to quote the author who sums it up perfectly.
But I have spent a lifetime honing my daily practice, worshipping at the altar of “good enough.” Today, I am neither superrich nor superfit nor supersuccessful. But I have just enough of each to qualify in my own personal marathon, the race for a balanced life. In the end, maybe this only really matters to me and my dog, who does get a lot of good walks out of it. To me, that’s enough. – Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
Sitting here listening to Red Table Talk, “Kelly Osbourne Comes Clean” episode, and “wow” what a great reminder of the power of addiction. There are so many great quotes that I could not help but share and re-numerate on the hold it has had in my life through her story.
In my life I have known addiction, personally, intimately, and compassionately. I come from a long line of drinkers, fairly stated more honestly, alcoholics. I was never going to be a drinker because I hated everything about it in my young life and still to this day the smell of beer takes me to a place that turns my stomach. However, my drug of choice was food and in that addiction, I managed to reach 274 pounds with more co-morbidities than I could count on two hands.
Addiction in my opinion, is a personality trait. Many people have addictive personalities that never spin out of control and the trait instead serves as direction and drive. For others, and what you hear most when the word “addiction” is used, the trail of destruction it leaves in its path ruins lives, theirs, and everyone around them. I can relate to both.
I love that the first thing Kelly Osbourne notes is that she “…made it all the way through the pandemic…” without alcohol, which speaks to survival. Daily survival without the addiction, rearing its ugly head, feels like success. This feeling breeds a sense of confidence that “…you are normal, and you are going to prove to everyone that you can do this…” thing that you have avoided, you are cured. You tell yourself one drink can’t hurt anything and then one becomes two, three, TEN. The lie that we tell ourselves that we can have one drink, one bite, or one of anything that we are addicted to, leads to a spiral down the rabbit hole of self-harm and hatred. You sober up and come to grips with your reality “I did it again” and “Now I have to start over” which then leads to “Well since I have already fallen “off the wagon” I might as well _______________ (fill in the blank).” “Normal” is not a thing for anyone with addiction relative to the substance that addicts them. The new “normal” is the process of avoidance of all that has control over you and in building a resolve that can never waver.
Kelly noted that she “let go of her tools” of those things that help her “stay clean every day”. This is always where it starts. We fool ourselves into believing something is more important. It takes work to work the tools that keep it all together every single day for the rest of your life. Staying in control of your addiction is paramount to your survival. It is knowing this that becomes your number one responsibility, to protect the place where self-care lives as your FIRST priority and put all else second.
Kelly notes that some of her “insane thinking” included the idea of getting “pregnant because then she would have to stop drinking”. It is where self-care is absent that we search for the “reason” to stop. That is when we are not reason enough. In my life I remember the same fucked up thinking where a diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure would now be the “reason” I would give myself to get serious about my food addiction because the threat of death would set me straight; until the drama of it all would wear off and I would live to eat again. It wasn’t enough to stop for myself or my family; it had to be life-threatening. It had to be dramatic. Addicts live in the drama. It is always life or death until it is death-defying.
Kelly notes “I make everything more difficult.” Yes, WE do. Nothing can be done without it being painful or wrought with effort. Addicts are people-pleasers trying to solve for everyone around them and as Kelly noted she “Drained herself (through helping others) and left nothing for herself.” It is through failed attempts to solve for everyone and everything around you that you finally realize and are forced to answer the question of “How are you going to help someone else when you are all messed up?” Addicts are addicted to everything and codependency is where we find our value. Tell me I am enough, tell me how much you love me, validate me for I am not worthy without your judgment.
The climb out of addiction is hard. “You have to get honest with someone” that can understand the power of addiction and is able to handle your vulnerability. The second part of that statement is profound because as Kelly stated “I tell too much truth” and “You cannot have a conversation with someone that understands…if they are not an alcoholic (or addict)”. I have experienced this so many times with those around me that would simply solve for me by telling me to “Just stop”. JUST stop eating. JUST stop thinking. JUST stop worrying. JUST stop doing. If it were only JUST that easy.
In true addictive personalities, there is no such thing as stopping. You don’t stop. You can’t stop. You learn to use tools to control, manage and live on the positive side of addiction. You also learn to be uncomfortable in the addiction as it is always there, looming in the background, pushing you to do the thing that feels right at the moment. And when we give in, after the instant gratification of that moment passes we are left stripped of our self-worth and confidence leaving us asking, “Am I good enough for help?” and doubting our strength because of the realization that “I have done this again.”
This interview was revealing. It was also a great reminder that addiction is “…so much more than not using.” If you are reading this you are not alone and if you are not addicted put this blog in your toolbox to serve as a resource for those addicted in your life.
I conclude with the final quote in the interview. The best gift you can give yourself is “The gift of giving yourself a chance.”
Yea, this picture, this is exactly what it feels like to be in my head on any given day. Contemplation over every single thing. Every single person. Every thought and emotion contemplated over and over and over again. Start…no stop. Do…no just be…still. My mind goes one million miles an hour from the minute I wake (before my eyes are even open) until the moment I drift off to sleep (only possible through medication). Obsessive? Compulsive? Manic? Depression? What does it really matter what you call it except that this is “Me”.
Interesting that I called this blog “Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up”. Initially, I wore this as a badge of honor; like a warrior in battle. Profound words indeed as I realize that the warrior in battle is only defined by how he leaves the fight; alive or dead. Success could be defined either way, if alive he won and persevered or maybe is alive as a prisoner of the war. If dead it could mean he was courageous in his fight or shot in the back while running away. Perspective. It is truly all we have; your perspective and mine.
I have learned through my life of therapy that you must respect everything that has helped you survive for without “it” who’s to say how it all would have ended. Addiction, compulsion, obsession, or whatever your tool, are survival mechanisms. Most are not sustainable in their original form but through adjustment can create incredible resources. Addiction in its most evil form can kill or harm however when redirected towards good can bring about major life change. Compulsion and obsession are also spontaneous and perfectionists in different forms. Perspective changes the judgment. If I say that “She is compulsive” it brings about a negative connotation however if I reframe it that “She is spontaneous” we reimagine someone free and liberated living a rich existence. Ha…perspective…what a lie.
By now you are reading and wondering, “Where is she going, as we are a mile down a rabbit hole and not sure if I am inspired or concerned?”. I am trying to realign my “resources” to stop the contemplation that threatens my sanity; and everyone around me. I am trying to figure out how to tame a “monkey mind” that is brilliant and yet all over the place. I am fighting deadlines and expectations as defined by me, myself, and I. I am wondering where you, the reader, fit into all of this or if you do. I post my writing and my activity to inspire…hmmm…or is it to get credit or yield criticism.
This is what contemplation looks like and where all other “diagnosis” exists. Call it what you will, or don’t. Understand it as you know it, or don’t. As one could guess I am not a “stick your head in the sand” kind of person; compulsive, obsessive, and contemplative people do not stick their heads in the sand. They do quite the opposite, they build 15 sandcastles and contemplate how many more to build; ultimately not needing one, let alone 15 sandcastles.
What is the purpose of today’s blog? Rant? Statement? I don’t really know. It is what was top of mind. It is where I am going to find an outlet. Contemplating the next thing I will write, the next thing I will do today or won’t. Contemplation.
I have the most overactive brain of anyone that I know. I am thinking all the time constantly going over and over every conversation, every emotion, every thought, every relationship, every bite of every food, everything!!! Nothing goes on without me overthinking the crap out of it!!! I am not certain where this comes from as I come from two human beings that never thought about what they were doing on the forefront let alone ever thought about it again.
I credit my overactive thought process for much of the success in my life and maybe for a bit of the failure. As I do I was sitting here thinking about my thoughts; if that is not an oxymoron I am not sure what is…but I digress. The first thought that came to mind was the question, “Is everything that happens in our life because of our parents?” The answer comes quickly that this cannot be the case as many people grow up without parents. Is the question then “Is everything that happens in our life formed by childhood?” If that is the case at what point do you own the responsibility?
I think about my spending habits and are quick to blame them on my Dad because my Mom was the most frugal person I have ever known. In reality, when I test this theory I realize that while I am “giving” like my Dad I am far more frivolous…maybe. Ha! Overthought but ultimately I own it. I love to spend money…guilty as charged.
I think about my children and watching them live out their lives and feel a bit of karma coming back on me as I see their choices and know they were not defined by their parents! That is not to say that they cannot place blame on us as their perception of where their character traits come from is theirs to decide…I guess?!
Ultimately I am not over-defining life I am overthinking it. Two very different things. Blaming my spending habits on my Dad is defining not thought-provoking. The overactive thought process has more to do with a constant dialogue in my brain that questions every move I make. I am rethinking conversations, wondering if I said enough or too much. For goodness sake, while I am in the conversation I am thinking about whether to stay silent, speak up or interrupt and then immediately as I take that action, I am rethinking if I should have…? Exhausting? Yes!
My actions are thought-provoking as well. Do it or don’t, should I or shouldn’t…decision made…regrets?? Nothing is done accidentally or maybe it is. Ha!! Made you dizzy yet? This is my brain, not on crack but cracking up, certifiably CRAZY.
When I came out with my first prompt journal, Seeking Normal, I sent my Dad a copy. I was proud to have published something even if it was a series of prompts and self-published (not diminishing, just stating facts) and wanted him to have it in hand. When he saw it the first thing he said was “you think too much”…what…wait…this is your “take” on my craft, hobby, seemingly greatest accomplishment outside of my career…what the heck? I think too much!!!, that is all you have for me? In defense I came back with “Maybe you don’t think enough”…but then again I already know that about him. Ha!! In defense of my Dad he is not the first nor the last to say this to me as I have heard it from my children and husband many times before and again in all cases, I am fine with it. I don’t wear it as the badge of shame that it is intended but instead as the badge of honor that I do. It is who I am for goodness sake.
While this topic can be quite comical it has its tragedy. The entire addiction that I suffer from in food is cemented in overthought. It is through the overwhelming processes I have put upon myself in overthinking every single bite, drink, and workout that manifested itself into enormous dysfunction. It is only of late that I am finally getting to a place where I can distinguish the need to eat by true cues from my body and not from my mind that is on overdrive on when, where, and how I eat.
In most areas of my life, the overactive thought process does not hold me back or hinder me as I am decisive and active in my approach however the backlash of those thoughts can be exhausting. It elicits a “do” approach rather than a “be” and in that I find my thoughts to be relentless. Again as all things in life, this can be both good and bad however in being both, it is exhausting.
My favorite “game” to play with my husband is to randomly ask at any moment in time “What are you thinking about right now?”…and his inevitable response always being “Nothing”. I envy the idea that nothing can or could be on his mind at any time. How is that possible?? I can’t drive down the road without thinking about what is in the woods beside the road, if the road is bumpy and why it is so; and he thinks of nothing?!?! What must that sound like…quiet, peace, or an enormous void? Dang…give me a minute of that any day. Funny enough he rarely asks me the same question! I think he likely does not want to know what I am thinking…and I cannot blame him. What is ironic is that when he does ask, I typically cannot articulate it in those moments. It is the look on my face that elicits those moments that he asks…smart man…he knows I am perplexed and won’t be able to explain it.
In all fairness and in conclusion, I remedy this overthought by starting every single day with journaling anything and everything on my mind, as a way of clearing my mind. I learned this from a previous therapist and most recently from author Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artists Way”. You just write, anything that comes to mind without re-reading, just write. It works for me. It is far more effective than meditation as you cannot imagine the civil war in trying to meditate with an overactive brain!!! If you have an overactive mind, welcome to the club and if you are blessed with silence then embrace it. For me, it is who I am and all I know to be. I will continue to think on it relentlessly! 🙂
Well isn’t this a fine mess I have gotten myself in! There are so many lessons learned and I have never felt such an array of emotions all at once. Yesterday I went back to the Psychic that I originally went to the first time I ever went; he blew my mind then…and yesterday it is fair to say that he blew my mind again. This time rather than walking out with understanding and confirmation I walked out shaking, shocked and exposed. #Regret
Peter the Psychic is the “real-deal”. I knew it after the first session I ever had with him and was scared to ever go back knowing he had “it” but then I walked back into his office yesterday. Peter starts with Tarot Cards which I enjoy and appreciate as they reveal where you are in any moment in time. Fair enough to say that you could easily make something of anything, right?
As he was turning the cards over he revealed the “Three of Swords” to which he said “I am so sorry, you have a broken heart”. He immediately asked why my heart was broken and I told him that I had lost my mom a year ago. When he went to the Spiritual side of the reading he noted that he would see if my Mom was “present”. I sat there with doubt not believing that he would be able to summon her and then he did. I searched for vague descriptions that could easily be interpreted in any form and then…and then…he came out with a “message” that absolutely could NOT be misinterpreted and would have NO relevance to anyone else in the world. I was floored. I fought to stay present so I did not miss anything else he was offering but to say I was reeling is an understatement.
I woke up this morning absolutely heavier than I have been in more than a year. I barely made it through the day holding back tears and having to leave for lunch to get some air. I am a very black and white person and have a very difficult time playing in the “gray”. While I would love to have my Mom “here”, I know she is “there”. I cannot wrap my head around her being somewhere in between. I was a mess all day and while I am grateful for the offerings I realized that it was simply too close to the flame and this may have singed a bit. I was not okay.
I could feel the gut-punch of her not being here all over again. I could cry if pressed; fortunately I work with a group of people that “just know” when to just “let me be” and they did. The best yet was the reminder that I have a support system in the “one” that has shown me what true bravery and courage is in life and just as they did earlier this year when I needed them by my side, they were there again tonight. They who cannot speak “her” name pushed me to talk through it. They were willing to channel that strength that I needed regardless of how vulnerable it made them to which they showed selfless strength and courage.
Regardless of what you believe about Psychics and their gift the reality is that he brought up things that I have worked over a year to heal. In the moment, I was blown away and in disbelief. But after the shock of the moment subsided I was left lost with what to do with the experience.
I don’t often regret in life as I live with great intention and that in itself allows me to live freely without second-guessing. Today I was full of regret. I realized that I didn’t need to know she is “there” because in my heart I know she is “here” all the time. I don’t need “proof” I have always been sure about our bond. It has never required “proof”. The proof that I also found in the last 24 hours is the proof that I have worked hard for a year to heal this broken heart and while it will never be the same I am better than I was and that is progress. I worry that I threatened that “work” by so cavalierly summoning her spirit and in that am truly “playing with fire”. #Regret
I have an immense amount of respect for the energy that powers my life. There is power in the universe and the energy that surrounds us. To “play” in that world can be dangerous. We all know “karma is a bitch” which is why you do right regardless of who is watching. Yesterday I played with that energy, with that power and it has left me reverberating.
I close sharing a song, which is fitting considering music was “our” language. One of the messages that the Psychic shared yesterday was her letting me know “you would love the music up here, it’s beautiful”. This song was the last one during my run tonight how appropriate as I ran off all of the emotion of the day.
Oh, ’cause I keep diggin’ myself down deeper I won’t stop ’til I get where you are I keep running when both my feet hurt I won’t stop ’til I get where you are Oh, when you go down all your darkest roads I would’ve followed all the way to the graveyard
This is it, it’s exactly where I am, but lesson learned tonight is that I cannot put myself where she is…she is there, I am here and we will be together again one day. In the meantime, I have a life to live, the life she taught me to live, the life she revered. I know she is grateful and I know she loves me; I don’t need a Psychic to tell me that, I have always known.
I have found myself intimidated by the idea of writing. I have so much to share, so much to say and starting dialogues prompted and ready to roll but then I overthink it. Instead of writing from my heart and my very busy head I sit and think about what my audience wants to hear or read. I realize in this moment that this is where I am going at it ALL wrong.
I am not a fiction writer for a reason. Put simply, I cannot make it up. I write about what is real, what compels me and my writing is truly a form of journaling that I am brave enough to share. If I have to think about what I am writing it is a deal breaker because I have to “feel it”.
The idea of overthinking is one I identify with as I frequently overthink. I find myself overthinking about EVERYTHING in my life which is why I suffer from anxiety. I have worked to remind myself that most of what we “overthink” won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I use tools like asking myself “will this matter in five years” to help bring perspective. But it happens anyway and it happens at various levels.
The problem with overthinking is that it then lends itself to obsessive behavior and elevated emotion. Neither of these are a compliment to my personality…ha! Obsessed in my word means I follow relentless routines, push harder than necessary and will exhaust that which I am obsessing. Elevated emotion in a Taurus is down right dangerous! The issue with the emotion attached is that I have an uncanny ability to rally those around me easily therefore I am not only getting myself amped up but all of those that support the “cause”.
I Googled “overthinking and the excerpt above came up. It is absolutely on-point. The reality is that the more you think, the more you obsess, the more anxiety that surrounds the situation and the spiral begins. Additionally the article attached to the excerpt above notes:
Thinking too much about something often involves more than words–overthinkers conjure up disastrous images too. Their minds resemble a movie where they imagine their car going off the road or they replay distressing events over and over again.
I can relate to this excerpt admittedly worse than I want to, but admitting that something is a problem is the first step to solving, so once again I bear my soul.
Second-guessing every decision is something I do often but more in line with conversations versus decisions. It is frequent that on my drive home from work that I will replay all of the various interactions I had that day. I question my dialogues and my emotions and then visualize what I could have said or done different. Clearly pointless in that those moments have passed and most of these “replays” prove that nothing was wrong with the original dialogue.
Conjuring up disastrous images is the worst thing my brain does and the one thing I work very hard to stop or avoid. My mind is a very powerful tool. As noted above I can replay a scene in my head that will play over and over, feeling so real that it can bring true emotion to the surface. I was just telling my son the other day about this as one of the frequent scenes that plays out in my mind is “what if” when Gary and the kids are traveling together. I worry that if something happens to them I could lose all of them at once. WHO THINKS ABOUT THIS AWFUL STUFF!!?? I do.
In the end I criticize myself less and instead realize that my form of overthinking is truly about offering my best performance, work, relationships, etc. If I did not care I would not overthink and I will take “caring” over going through this life doing things that have no meaning. In my life, everything has meaning because if it doesn’t then I don’t engage. In this world, it’s easy to exhaust, it’s easy to letdown and hence my overthinking on how to manage it all.
With regards to my writing; today was a turning point of doing exactly what brought me to this passion to begin with years ago. Writing for me is not about thinking and certainly not about overthinking; it’s about getting out of my brain those thoughts that are circling, those things that have taken hold as an outlet. Just like this post I write it exactly as it is in my head and what comes out on paper surprises me to the point that it in itself is its own therapy as I now understand it better and can release my additional thoughts and emotions around it.
I have made a commitment the day I hit “publish” the first time to have the courage to share exactly what came out on paper. It is this commitment that will be my anchor and reminder to keep it pure; what is in my head will be what comes out on paper. Unapologetic-ally, not over-thunk and raw enough for YOU to get it even if you don’t.
I am a self-described organized person but some of that as I define as organized can feel obsessive. I drive myself crazy with rules that I create for myself about how to live my life and disguise those as “organization”. Don’t get me wrong organization is key to a successful life. Everything has to have its place and time and that which is in its place and has its time must have importance and intention. The point at which it feels obsessive is when its rigidity feels like failure or false success because the rule was followed regardless of the importance or intention.
I am and forever will be obsessed with my health, which is actually my weight but I call it health because it sounds better and it is. You ask, “Do you actually organize your health?”…well yes of course because it satisfies the definition of being important and intended. I schedule every single hour of my day to include what time I am going to wake-up and go to bed so that I am sure to get 8-hours of sleep. I schedule my workouts, what time I will leave for work, what time I will leave for home, eat dinner, read…well you get the idea…obsessed or organized? Regardless of the answer it is my health; physical and mental and it matters so I do it.
I am a a strong-believer that if you don’t schedule it, it won’t get done. But what this scheduling replaces is the reality that life will get in the way and worse, doing what feels right regardless of the “schedule”. If you wake and don’t feel like working out, do you do it anyway? And when you have to deviate from that schedule is it a “fail”? Another example of this that also pertains to “health” is logging my diet. I have been logging my foods for a billion years. While this is considered a healthy practice and meal-planning is key to health; at what point do I eat because I already weighed out a 4-oz portion and logged it versus eating until I feel satisfied? In these cases I find myself listening to my organization more than myself. Organized or obsessed? or discipline? (oh wait…that is an entirely different blog 🙂
I might go as far as to say that I am obsessed with organization. I like everything to be just “so” at work and at home. My husband reminds me that we do not live in a museum. I understand that but nonetheless I like a tidy home and I like everything to be of use and have a home. I Spring Clean my home numerous times a year because I like to purge what is not being used to allow more space; not to be mistaken as room for something else, just space. At work you would be hard-pressed to find my office as I have not one picture nor object that would identify it as mine. I need a clean, minimalist space to do my best work; free from clutter like my mind.
I am a planner and spend the first weekend of every month, setting my intentions for the month and following up on those from the previous month to see what I accomplished. This is where success and failure are abound. Instead of patting myself on the back for all of the things I did accomplish I focus on those that I did not, and then set a new plan to accomplish those the next month. There is a little Stephen Covey discipline in there about moving things forward that don’t get done to keep the “To Do” list current but…taking time to celebrate the successes needs to be part of “the list”.
When I think back to when all of this started I remember always making my bed from the time I could recall having my own bed. I would clean the house without my mother ever asking and even recall offering to mop the floors around the age of 8 if she would buy me one of those new fancy roller mops. Growing up in school, I always kept a running list for my homework and found great pride in my neat papers; no dogeared corners, no spiral rip-offs dangling and God forbid if you could see when something had been erased, I would rewrite the entire paper. Definitely obsessed and organized to a fault!
Regardless of what you call it, I am obsessed with being organized and I own it. I make myself crazy admittedly and while I will swear off logging the same damn foods I log everyday and being wildly surprised when it still calculates to the same total…I know that in a moment of weakness on the scale I will find “MyFitnessPal” once again! Living my life obsessed, organized and owning it – L.