When The To-Do List Dictates Our Worth: Tips To Help Stop the Spiral
Do you ever have those days where you just feel overwhelmed….by pretty much everything? Some days I just wake up feeling behind…off-track…swallowed whole. I have a lot of irons in the fire – and I’m sure you do too. As a culture, we’re stretched thin. We wear busy like a badge and we constantly feel pressured to prove our worth by doing…accomplishing…achieving.
We think if we tick all the boxes and become the masters of our out of control to-do lists, that we’ll finally prove once and for all that we’re good enough.
I want to stop and save you some time. You’re already enough. Right now. In this very moment. Your worth is not determined by how much laundry you get done in a day or how clean your bathroom is. Your worth isn’t measured by how well your child is doing in reading, how many outings to the park your family takes, or how many organic vegetables you buy. (Which is great news for me because I’m cheap.)
I want to tell you right now – it’s so much easier for me to write those words than it is for me to believe them….to actually live them.
So often, (and I mean often), I listen to the lies and the whispers running through my head. I hear, “You’re not enough Bekki. You’re not good enough.” And suddenly, I’m spiraling and I have to do ALL.THE.THINGS. Today. Right now. (And if I don’t do all the things, my world will implode – and all those whispers will be true. I’ll prove I’m not enough.)
I wanted to offer a few practical ideas for you when you find yourself spiraling and feeling the weight of that to-do list bearing down on you.
- Ask yourself what HAS to get done TODAY.
This one is a two-parter.
The first step is figuring out what is essential for today.
This is about reality-checking our expectations and putting to rest the imagined expectations we feel on our shoulders. (All those things we think we need to do to “prove” we’re good enough…the things we assume everyone else is doing. They’re not btw, but that’s a different post.)
What do you actually need to get done TODAY. Does someone need something washed before tomorrow? Do bills need to get paid? Does something need to be mailed? What needs to be done for tonight’s meal? Think practically about the actual needs of the day. Put aside all the things you WANT to get done or the things you think you SHOULD get done.
The second part is harder for me. It’s that pesky word today. When I’m in a spiral, I start to see ALL THE THINGS that could be done/need to be done eventually.
I see the overflowing hamper(s) and become frustrated by all the laundry that needs to be done. Then I’ll become hyper-aware of every other area of my house that is dirty or disorganized. Suddenly I don’t just need to do laundry, I need to re-organize my spice cabinet, mop the bathroom floor, wipe the baseboards, clean the garage, pull the dead leaves off all the houseplants, and change all the sheets. Sometimes it gets even more ridiculous and I’ll start thinking about things I don’t need to do for months. I’ll suddenly need to plan all of next year’s homeschooling curriculum or plan an event that isn’t happening until next year.
When we’re spiraling, everything becomes urgent. Everything becomes immediate. Just figure out the have-to’s for today. Anything else on top of that is gravy – but not necessary. Let enough BE enough.
- Stay off Social Media
When you’re feeling “not enough”, social media will NOT make you feel better. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of the real and imagined tasks I’ve already given myself, the last thing I need is to get onto Pinterest and see all the things I didn’t even know I was “supposed” to be doing. I also don’t need to start comparing my day with everyone else’s highlight reel.
- Tell Someone What You’re Feeling
This one feels scary – because let’s be honest – vulnerability takes courage. But there is SO much freedom in speaking what we’re feeling…in telling someone we trust what we are struggling with….what lies we are listening to. Shame thrives in the dark. It multiplies when hidden. It gets stronger and more powerful. What was once a whisper becomes a resounding SHOUT. But when we share those “I’m not enough” thoughts with a trusted friend, shame can’t take hold.
When I am brave enough to tell someone that I’m spiraling, I meet the truth. I’m told that 1- I am NOT alone in this, and 2 – that I need to switch off the crazy. My friends and husband can reality-check the story I’m telling myself about what’s going on. They can encourage me, pray for me, and replace the lies with the truth about who I am.
(*If you need someone to reality-check your spiral for you, and don’t feel like you have a trusted person in your life – I am always here and would be happy to “talk” to you.)