I met a woman last week.  She happened to be experiencing what’s happened to me many times, she was crying at a table at the coffee shop. I watched as she and a man fought and then he walked out. She sat there crying. I got up to leave, walked over to her and asked if she was ok.

She started to cry again, so I sat down.  She told me that she was in a bad relationship, he was mean, would yell, swear and cheat on her.  She knew she needed to leave but didn’t want to – or really, she was afraid to.  She’d begun to think it was her fault. (Was she there for me or me for her?)   Her mother had just died and she really didn’t want one more change, even though she knew what she had to do.

Why do we procrastinate when we know we shouldn’t? Why do we ignore the “to do” list when it just continues to frustrate us?  What causes us to become stagnant when we should be moving?  Does this sound like anyone you know?

This is a common theme for all of us.  We keep avoiding the difficult things we’re afraid to face.  It’s the “what if” syndrome:

  • What if I f*** it up?
  • What if I look stupid?
  • What if, What if, What if?

These questions can kill us.  And, if we let them go too long, more worry and fear creeps in and we just can’t do anything.

I’ve avoided the pool for 5 months.  It’s a long story and I only have 500 words, but suffice it to say, it’s become an overwhelming fear of what kind of mind chatter I’ll have in there.  So, rather than dealing with it, I just stopped going. My worries become as big as an olympic pool!

This is what I told this young woman (and I really should be telling myself):

  • Do it now.  When you let your mind ignore your gut, the fear will build until you can’t move. And, you’ll be wrong if you ignore your gut.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses and cover them for yourself during this period. Ask for help!
  • Start with the easy and move to the hard. You don’t have to do it all at once. Sometimes just working on your mind before you act is the best thing you can do.
  • Acknowledge your feelings.  Know that you’ve avoided these difficult task(s) because you don’t know how you will feel or accomplish them.  Acknowledging these feelings is often enough to just letting them go and getting something done.
  • Know that you will become stronger – even if it’s just facing that to do list and not looking back!

So today, ever so quietly, I slipped into the pool all by myself and let my mind wander.  I was ok.  I really was.  And with that beautiful swim, I moved to another place. Take something off your list today. It’ll be freeing.

Have a great weekend!