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Many of us have “to do” lists.
Truth be told, I can’t seem to function without mine.
Each morning, it starts with a fresh sheet of paper. While I sip my coffee, I write “all the things,” big and small, swirling inside my head. Things I need. Things I want. Things I must do. I write everything down so I won’t have to rely on my silly old brain to remember. Those who “make the lists” understand (if you know, you know!), so I won’t go into explaining it, but daily lists are part of who I am and how I operate.
So, here’s a question: if I know what I need “to do,” what are some things I should stop doing?
I created a “stop doing” list today. It may turn out to be my greatest tool for growth and change. I’ll make the bold assumption that you can relate.
Ten things I need to stop doing (and maybe you do too):
I tend to do too much. I give until it hurts. I try to cram a lot into my day, but that often defeats and depletes me. If someone needs me, I’m straight up there. It’s a nice quality, for sure, but if I’m being honest, it pulls me away from myself and what I need. I must remember that my own needs and self-care belong at the top of my list.
Often, we excuse bad behavior, hot tempers, lack of reciprocation, or poor manners. “Oh, that’s just how Joey is, he’ll cool down.” This is not okay. If we wave it away like it’s no big deal, it’s not only detrimental, but it’s a sure sign of the lack of respect we hold for ourselves and how Joey’s temper makes us feel. There is no excuse for lack of courtesy. “Oh, she’s just tired and cranky.” We are all human, and tired and cranky is a real thing, however, it’s not our job in the world to simply “accept” bad behavior as though it’s our due. It’s our job to set boundaries and protect ourselves.
3. Hating my own body.
This is a “biggie” for me. A pathetic and nonproductive part of my existence is that each day, on my “to do” list I write, “lose 20 pounds.” Seriously, I do this. I’m going to stop doing this. It’s stupid and serves no purpose other than being a daily (negative) reminder that for some reason, I can’t simply live in my skin and feel good enough as f*cking is.
The people in our lives show us who they are, over and over again. If someone doesn’t respond to a text in a timely manner, or not at all, he or she is showing you who they are and where their priorities reside, period. Silence is louder than words. No response is a response and said “response” doesn’t require philosophical dissection.
5. Undervaluing my own time and feelings.
We all push our own feelings to the side, don’t we? We shove them away where they bubble and boil and make us sick. We tend to stretch ourselves thin, or simply waste time by killing it. I won’t do that anymore. I’ll express myself in a kind and honest manner, directly and succinctly, and then I’ll go ahead and do what I want. The end.
As living, breathing humans, we are different and fascinating. We like what we like and we shouldn’t have to explain “why” to anyone, ever. Conforming to company policy or rules in public places is one thing, but conforming to societal “norms” serves no purpose if it doesn’t serve us. Sheep (sorry sheep!) aren’t thinkers in the sense that they do not question life, they simply do as they’re told (and eat what they’re fed). Going with the flow and doing everything the same way, day in and day out, creates a figurative prison where our creative natures do not thrive. It’s okay to be and think differently! In fact, it’s more than okay—it’s amazing!
Are you like me, either on time or five minutes early all the time? Why can’t others be like us? Being habitually late is how those who shouldn’t be a priority show us we are not a priority. Enough. More than 20 minutes in a doctor’s office is too long. Stop overbooking! Late “happens” once in a while. This is life. But habitual offenders need to change, period.
8. Abusing myself instead of loving myself.
Food, alcohol, drugs, too much exercise, lack of exercise, overextending. These are common ways we abuse ourselves instead of love ourselves. We turn to substances, lethargy, or endless activity for comfort instead of healthy alternatives. Healthy can be boring, it’s true. But stringing together lots of healthy days (and ways) leads to satiated control of our own happiness, destiny, and legacy. Driving erratically down a dead-end road leads us nowhere. A peaceful, steady journey is just that—peaceful and steady.
You might think those of us who engage in list making aren’t procrastinators, but you’d be dead wrong. In fact, writing a list each day is my way of procrastinating. If it’s on my list, I don’t have to think about it anymore and therefore it doesn’t get done! What a scam. “Finish writing my book” always lands squarely on my list, and yet, is my book finished? One guess, dude.
This holds hands with procrastination, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s different. Avoidance is something we do when we don’t want discomfort or consequences. I find when I finally confront the thing I’ve been avoiding, whether it’s a household fix, or a difficult conversation, it’s never quite as bad as I think it’s going to be. I feel better and I wonder why I avoided it.
Do any of the things on my “stop doing” list hit home for you?
Becoming more reflective in our approach to life and what makes us happier beings involves a “halt” of sorts. In other words, there are many things I must stop doing in order to create the space and time I need so I can cross off all the real things I desperately want to get done.
This is what Oprah might call an “Aha!” moment.