Let it go…

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It is late. A warm bed and a cosy book await, yet I still have a lot that needs to be done.

Or that’s what my mind is telling me.

It has been one of those days. The day went as such days do, with a series of minor annoyances. For a start, I slept through the alarms. Or turned them off in my sleep and given the rigmarole involved in turning off the second alarm, that’s pretty impressive. Especially as I had to get out of bed to do it. Normally I am up before they go off, but they are no more than a fail-safe for the occasional lapse. Thankfully, the dog never sleeps through the alarms and eventually woke me by snorting at the door. It was still long before dawn, but that loss of time would have been a problem any other day. Thankfully, I was due to start work several hours later than usual, so I still got to sit down with a coffee and open the email… where I found a request to start at my normal time after all.

My son’s cat, when I arrived at his home, had been busy too. It liked the new, wood-based litter in its tray and had decided that it would make a good plaything. I fed the cat and swept it all back up, refilling the tray while it ate. I swept it up three times over the next four hours. The cat objected and bit me, but I persevered… then gave in and went to the supermarket in search of the old type of cat-litter to replace the lot.

Grumbling to myself, both about the cat and the necessity of crossing the supermarket threshold at all, I made a bee-line for the pet aisle and grabbed the litter, stocking up with the dog’s requirements while I was there. Might as well but myself a little time…

Which I lost when I finally arrived home to a seriously depleted fish-tank. I dealt with that…again… fed and walked the dog, cleaned all the muddy footprints off the nice, clean floor,  and realised I should have bought something for me at the supermarket too. I was about to nip to the village shop for provisions when the phone rang. By the time the call had finished, the shop was shut. I fielded another phone call from one son and sat down to talk with the other, all the while fielding the ball for the deliriously happy dog who goes loopy when one of her boys turns up. And suddenly, the day had gone.

By eight thirty, I was ready to eat and start on work I had hoped to have finished twelve hours earlier. Some of it is stuff I am desperate to finish. I could get really stressed about now, especially with a crashing computer and a brand new set of muddy pawprints tracking across the living room floor… and the level in the fish tank steadily dropping again. I could stay up all night and get it done…or not.

I think not.

What is the point of getting stressed?

The animals taught me a lesson today. The cat, annoyed by my constant interference with her game, sunk her teeth in my arm and drew blood. The dog, over-excited by her visitor, barked and bounced like a lunatic in her joy, making conversation impossible until she had calmed down. Both of them had reacted to the emotions of the moment and neither of them were particularly pleasant to be around, though for opposite reasons. Do I want to be like either of them at this moment? Or fighting like cat and dog, either with myself or with time? There would be only one loser.

There will, inevitably, be more pawprints in the morning. There always are. The inboxes will be full regardless of how efficiently I empty them. There will still be writing to be done even if I finish the to-do list tonight. The PC always crashes and always has. And if the leak in the tank wasn’t solved earlier, there isn’t much more I can do. The fish are safe, the cat is five miles away, the dog is asleep and I have cereals in the cupboard I can have for supper.

There is nothing that has to be done tonight; none of it will shake the world if it doesn’t get done by morning. Were I subtracted from this world overnight to some alternate universe, this world would carry on without me quite nicely.

We acquire this sense of obligation to the tasks we set ourselves quite early. ‘Conscientious’ is a word often used on school reports and a quality prized in an employee. It implies responsibility, both as a duty and a quality. We carry that idea and ideal with us and call it ‘doing our best’, even into tasks and areas of our lives where there is no real necessity for it.

None of us, and few of the things we feel we just have to get done, are really that important. I think that is at the root of much of our daily stress… this sense of obligation to some unwritten timetable that we impose upon ourselves, coupled with the unconscious feeling that we have to meet our own expectations. We can project those onto others too, convincing ourselves that they have expectations where that may not be the case. Perhaps it is partly the ego asserting its own sense of self-importance that makes us feel ‘we have to’, when actually, we don’t. If a few hours won’t really make a difference, really and truly, we can let the stress go.

There are so many tasks we see as important, through a habit of mind or a habit of routine, that are not really earth-shatteringly important at all. Things that could easily wait until we have eaten or rested or slept…and which would probably benefit from our taking time out before completing them.

Stress is a killer, both in physical terms and where the quality of our work is concerned. Things completed under pressure are seldom as well done as those completed with a little time and consideration. Sometimes just letting go is the best thing we can do for that to-do list.

It is late. A warm bed and a cosy book await. They won’t be waiting much longer.

33 thoughts on “Let it go…

  1. “…the root of much of our daily stress… this sense of obligation to some unwritten timetable that we impose upon ourselves, coupled with the unconscious feeling that we have to meet our own expectations…” I’ve printed this off, Sue. You always seem to hit the mark for me. Thank you. However, this morning I overslept for the first time in years (might have been something to do with the fact that I haven’t slept properly for a week) And i should be setting off for class now… but couldn’t resist reading your post. The others will need to wait until I return home. Have a better day today.Jx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So true Sue.
    We lead a quiet life, but even that has its stresses. The dog can be a pain, but she can also be our therapy.
    The biggest problem in the colder months is keeping things dry, keeping condensation under control, watching out for damp and mold. It is never ending, but we can see how to better the situation and will do so when the weather improves. We have plenty of blue elephant’s bog roll as we call it, the industrial stuff for mopping up major spillages, we are warm, we are fed, we are happy. What’s a drip or two?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It doesn’t matter really whether our personal stressors seem great or small to others…they still do the job just as well.
      I love the descriotion of the blue tissue…I know the stuff and he descriotion is perfect 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent post, Sue. It’s just what I needed today. I woke this morning but drifted back to sleep and so am now running late and won’t manage all my self-imposed tasks before I go out – so I’m reading blog posts instead! But, now, I don’t feel guilty about it. I’ll manage one of my tasks and the others can wait. The world will still turn whether or not I tick everything on my to-do list.

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  4. Self-imposed expectations, leading to stress, and not really all that important at all. Could we all take a moment and absorb that one ??? You have entered our consciousness with this one, Sue. I was especially moved by the notion that we impose this sense of urgency on those around us, as they stare at our frenzy, bewildered. Thanks. 💘

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  5. Wise advice, as always, Sue. I have a stress-o-meter on my forehead, and if I don’t pay attention to it, my body takes over, gets sick, and forces some down time. If only I paid closer attention! Balance is elusive and I’ll continue to strive for it.

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  6. I am glad you decided to relax. When a day is overly stressful sometimes just letting go is the best thing to do. I have learned that those thing that cause stress have a way of always being there the next day, but they don’t seem so stressful in the light of a new day.

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  7. This post touched a nerve with me, Sue. I am always setting myself jobs to do throughout the day and ‘Conscientious’ is my middle name!! I HATE to let anyone down (including myself)!
    I hope your arm is ok where the cat bit you, and that you managed to get a decent night’s sleep 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am learning to step back. What happens if I croak at the job. The sky won’t fall. Nothing will happen, except a funeral. I’m not ready for such an ending. Best not to stress. Awesome post to remind us in a gentle fashion. ❤

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  9. This isn’t quite the same, Sue, but I can see parallels.
    Last year I was very apprehensive about my plans to sell on my business. Inevitably, there’s a little apprehension about the leap in the dark, but the biggest concern was about how my clients would feel. I’ve worked with some of them for over 20 years and I know our relationships are strong, built on trust and a commitment to service. I was sure that some of them would feel very let down that I was passing them on to someone else. And, underneath all that, was the knowledge that no one else does exactly what I do.
    But the first tranche of clients have gone. Disappointment has been expressed, which is gratifying, and good wishes have been offered in a way that reinforced my view that I was more than just a service provider. Yet there has been no resistance, only an acceptance that things change. My belief in my indispensability has been shattered, which didn’t do my ego any good at all. But it’s been liberating, as I now look forward to passing my other clients over without the same degree of apprehension.

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  10. I can see why. I always hated handing over clients unless I knew for certain they would get the same level of service. Different…but comparable. You care about your clients… and I think that as soon as emotion (as well as professional ethics) enter the picture, we get caught up in all sorts of fears and worries that may…or may not…have any grounding in reality. The ego hates feeling dispensable at the best of times, and when you have invested a great deal of care and time, it isn’t going to like realising it can actually step away from the helm.
    It isn’t dissimilar to watching children become adults. You know that what you have done to help them grow has value and the effects will be felt lifelong… but they no longer require you in the same way at all. Part of you is truly happy with that…part of you feels a bit rudderless.

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