What keeps us up at night? If you’re like me there are countless hours spent in the dark staring at the ceiling fan or flip-flopping trying to find comfort. Often times when our lives are full of noise it becomes hard to shut it off. Especially, when you’re alone with only your thoughts to keep you company.
My struggle usually involves the over thinking of my mistakes and my anxiety for the future. To help combat my over thinking and anxiety I came up with something I call “Monsters in my bed”. Monsters in my bed is an idea that I came up with to give myself something to focus on when all I have is my thoughts. I enjoy competition or combat, so having an opponent to focus on gives me something to prepare for. Often times, just like any other competition, if I am not prepared to deal with the monsters, or thoughts, that come to me in my down times they can overwhelm me. I’ve learned that I must prepare myself and go through my processes even when I am feeling good and things are going right. That way, when the monsters do come I am prepared. One monster that is probably my most constant monster is one I call enough.
What is enough? A question that plagues me at night. Am I a good enough Dad? Am I doing enough at work? Am I doing enough for my future? The questions are endless and the answers are usually nowhere to be found. When I’m struggling and questioning whether I’m enough, it usually involves a level of enough that is set by other people’s success or expectations. When I start to do that, I put myself in a losing situation and if you do that you will too. The process of putting another person’s example on a pedestal that you cannot reach is a game your mind plays to make you feel inadequate when often times you are looked at very differently in the eyes of others. This is a monster I wrestle with often. Do you?
The problem with this monster is the idea of letting others set the bar for you. Just because you think someone is doing a really good job at whatever they do, does not mean they’re not going through a struggle as well. Its simply just your perception of that person. Everybody has different lives with different responsibilities and different needs. Being the best you can be at whatever you want to achieve should be about you and how you feel about your effort, not how it compares to someone else. Allowing what someone else is doing to determine your worth is a very dangerous game that you’re bound to lose.
I have processes that I do throughout the day that deal with this monster. My favorite process is habits that develop pride. I look at habits as wins. If I say to myself I want to do something every day and complete the task every day it becomes a very prideful event. An example of a habit I do, is I want a stronger core so I do an abdominal routine daily. I do it every day no matter what. Whether I’m tired or busy or sick or whatever. I get on the floor and do some kind of simple core routine. In the end it takes me ten minutes and any more it’s not particularly difficult for me. The pride it gives me is well worth the effort it takes. It’s a win that I get every day.
After a while I can look back and say I have worked on my core every day for two months or three months or even a year. It becomes a habit that I am extremely proud of. So, how can you use this with thoughts of inadequacy? It’s simple really. Try to write down things you admire about people who you feel set the “enough” example. I like to use these lists to create habits. It’s hard to say I want to be as happy as this person or some other unmeasurable trait, but things like parenting or fitness level or other attainable skills you can work on. Say you want to do something like connect with your kids better. Start to set aside ten minutes a day to read to your child or write one question down a day to talk to your child about and do it. Every day. No excuses.
The best way to accomplish this is to start small. I started with ten sit-ups a day. It literally took me thirty seconds. In the beginning the procrastination was the biggest obstacle to overcome. The “I do not want to” or other excuses would always be present and become monsters of their own. However, setting the bar small at first, to build the habit, made it easier to get past. The benefits always outweighed the excuses and I do it every day. Those wins added up and before I knew it I had done a core workout every day for a year. I even increased the workouts throughout the year and developed a very strong core. Now, three years later, it’s something that is built into my daily routine and as easy as brushing teeth or other daily task. Was it enough for someone else? I don’t know, but it was enough for me and gave me a source of pride that I can lean on.
The pride these habits give me, allow me to focus on myself and the things I have done rather than the things I have not done. It gives me a sense of progress. Core workouts is just one example, but imagine if you spent ten minutes a day doing anything. Ten minutes a day for year adds up to over 3,600 minutes. It might seem small but it is about progress towards that elusive enough. When I know I am progressing I might not have a yes or no answer to if I am enough, but not yet is an answer I can use to combat that monster and becomes a tool to create the person I want to be.
So, what habits could you incorporate in your routine that would get you progressing towards your goal? My challenge for you is to develop three habits that progress you towards your various goals. Set an anniversary date and access what you want. Then, develop habits that progress you towards that. Find out what you admire in people and access how you can obtain it for yourself in order to become the person you admire. Once you do that and that monster visits you at night to ask you if you are enough, you have evidence for yourself that yes you are enough or will be shortly. Hopefully, quieting that monster enough to give you peace.
I hope to continue to give insight on creating my processes that allow me to deal with my monsters. I love habits and the hardest part is starting, so start small and progress. Before you know it you just might get what you want.