My therapy has started two weeks ago. I have homework, books to read, courses to follow and things to try during my days. My therapy is mostly focussed on self-compassion and burn-out. I am supposed to be more kind to myself, do things I enjoy doing while reading about how to succeed in this. Two weeks have passed and today is the next appointment with my psychologist, however, I feel like things have gotten worse. I feel stressed and anxious, afraid I’m doing everything wrong.
In the past two weeks I feel there hasn’t been a day I was able to do what I wanted to do. The feeling of failing increases each day, I am supposed to be more nice to myself, plan time for things that relax me, plan time for things I enjoy. However, having to plan nice things, having to plan my days, makes me more stressed and tired than I’ve ever been. For some reason I feel too much pressure about what I’m doing, resulting in a constant feeling of stress that prevents me from accomplishing anything.
I have made a planning for every day in the past week, including writing, small household tasks, physical activity, relaxation time and some time to focus on my therapy. Every day I wake up and I can read on my planning board what I’m supposed to do that day and I simply have to follow what is written down on it. However, every day I wake up and immediately I feel stress, I lack the energy to start the activities that are on the board and the more I get behind on my planning, the more stress is taking over.
The strangest thing that came with the planning is that I don’t enjoy writing anymore. Every day it is on the board, but at the times I’m supposed the write I am not able to. I don’t know what to write about or when I do, I just can’t find the words I need to express my thoughts. The one thing I used to enjoy has become a huge frustration in the past weeks. I no longer gain energy from writing, it no longer relaxes me, instead it makes me exhausted and stressed.
What I did enjoy
The one good thing that happened in my weeks of planning, is that I started gardening. I had to add things that would give me energy and relax me. Gardening I had never done before, but seemed like a calming thing to do. Three afternoons I worked in my garden, with my hands in the dirt, creating something nice out of nothing, and this I really enjoyed, it really relaxed me.
But even gardening I did not do according to my planning, I didn’t do it when I was supposed to do it according to my board. Gardening relaxed me, not because I was following my planning, it relaxed me because it made me forget my planning, it made me loose track of time in the same way writing used to do.
Letting go of time
Although my psychologist seems to be right about the topic I need to work on, I am afraid she was wrong about the planning past of her therapy. Two weeks of a planned life made me feel stressed all the time, failing every day in what I wanted to do and I’m afraid this is not what I’m supposed to feel. I think I have to let go of a planning, let go of time, in order to feel better.
Today, I don’t have a real planning. I didn’t make one, since I have my next session today. Waking up without a planning made me have my first day without any stress for the first time in 2 weeks. Knowing I can do whatever I want to do today made me relaxed. I woke up, I had a coffee and I felt like writing and for the first time I was actually able to write and enjoy it again. For the first time I didn’t feel stress, I didn’t feel anxious, I felt peace.
I wanted too much
After discussing my planning stress with my psychologist it became clear that I do not suffer from a depression, I suffer from a big problem with self-compassion. I am still asking too much from myself. Not the planning itself made me feel stressed, the amount of things I put on it did. Once again I wanted too much and once again I was beating myself up over things I shouldn’t even be doing.
I was asking myself to do about 12 different things in a day. I was forcing myself to make every minute a useful one, have something planned for every second of my day. Off course this is too much for the situation I am in right now, too much for the small amount of energy I have for each day.
Once again I showed my lack of self-compassion, the inability to listen to my own body and my own feelings and emotions. Once again I was too hard for myself, expecting the impossible. The past two weeks have made even more clear how I should learn to love myself, to allow myself to be human.
Do less to feel good
The next two weeks I will still work with a planning, this time however, my planning will contain a maximum of 4 things for each day, 2 of which are things I have to do and the other 2 will be things that give me energy, things that I enjoy.
It will be hard for me to do this, to slow down and take it easy. But I have to learn this, I have to learn how to be nice and gentle to myself, how to be compassionate to me. I have to learn how to lower my standards to meet my possibilities, so I can feel good about reaching my goals each day. I have to decrease the gap between what I want and what I can, bring them together so I will be able to do everything I want. The only way to feel good for now (and actually for the rest of my life) is to want less, and to succeed in doing less.