Fixing Things Alone

This morning I was driving the kids to school and I noticed that I was feeling very anxious. There were several tasks on my list for work that depended on other people and I was time-bound and had to make sure they were done. And the fact that they weren’t done yet was making me stress.

These issues had just risen in the last 12 hours so it’s not like the other people were slacking. What stressed me out was that the deadline was approaching and I still had to make sure these fixes landed and they weren’t mine so I had to make sure other people did it on my timeframe.

As soon as I noticed that my mind was repeating the same pattern of stress over and over again, I told myself to take a big breath. The fact is, this situation will happen again and again in my job. It’s part of what I do: gather fixes from people. And it’s not just in my job, I have this in my life. I have kids and as they grow there will be situations where I will have to depend on them getting their share done. Same for my husband, of course. When you share your life, your job with others, you sort of all depend on each other. Everyone has to do their part for things to move forward.

Depending on others is part of living in a community. So since I don’t plan on moving to an isolated island anytime soon, I realized that I had to find a way to deal with this anxiety on a more permanent basis.

Being motivated and getting others motivated to get stuff done: bonus.
Driving myself crazy until people do their part: not so much.

So I came back home and called up the engineer. I told him exactly when I needed it and how high a priority it was. I told him that my stress level was pretty high and I would work extra hard not to nag him so if he could please update me on progress, it would make it easier on both of us. I was honest and even expressed how I was being a bit crazy and apologized in advance.

So here’s my thought for the day: life is not just about figuring out your issues and fixing them. That’s important, of course. I noticed my stress, I took a moment to acknowledge it, I breathed, I visualized letting it go and I also followed up so the person who could get it done knew the deadline. So I did all I could on my part to make me less “crazy.”

But I also just was honest. I told this person, “This is driving me a bit crazy, I’m working on it but I need your help.” I was honest and vulnerable and asked for help (or at least for some understanding.)

I think the first step is always understanding yourself. Paying attention to how you feel, what’s coming up, so you’re always acting from a place of awareness and not reacting. But once you know, it doesn’t mean you can always fix it. Awareness is gold. But it’s not the fix. It’s just knowledge. And sometimes it takes a long, long time to fully change. (Or you might never be able to fully change.)

But the great gift of awareness is that you can ask for help. You can be honest and vulnerable. And, more often than not, others are kind enough to help. Or understand. Or give you the space you need. You get my point. If you’re willing to be vulnerable, people can surprise you in the most delightful ways.

That’s what I realized today. I do want to work on this issue because stressing nonstop about everything is just a bad use of my time and energy. But I also know this is how I’ve been for a long time and it won’t go away overnight. In the meantime, I don’t have to work on it alone. I don’t have to hide it or have it beat me down.

I can ask for help.

As for the engineer: he was great about it. He prioritized it, gave me updates, and got it all done in plenty of time.

Of course.

4 comments to Fixing Things Alone

  • Deborah

    Loved this post. I so relate!

  • Cheryl

    Identification made. I keep telling myself I’m not permitted to drive and that includes making myself crazy or “driving myself crazy” over any situation. Doesn’t mean I won’t do it tomorrow, only means I’m putting forth my best effort not to and maybe one day it will click. One can only hope!

  • Debi Boring

    I so can relate to this too! So… I LOVE that pic of the Boardwalk!!! How did you process it? LOVE it!

  • I’ve been working on the first part—NOTICING when I’m feeling the stress/driving myself crazy. Hadn’t really considered trying the second part—inviting someone else to help me with what I need…duh! Gonna try to remember this next time!

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