How to Handle Your Inner Efficiency Expert

Fall-Trail

I have a part of my personality that loves to get things done. She’s happiest when there is something clear and finite to do. She’s great at packing, cleaning the garage, oh and filling our forms – yum! All those tidy little boxes.

What she utterly bites at is savoring life. Actually, she fails at living life. Because life isn’t lived in the efficiency zone, it’s managed. Which is cool, because being present isn’t her job, her job is abstract issues, paying bills, managing cash flow. I’m grateful I have this part of me. As long as she remembers, she’s not in charge of my life.

Yes, you guessed it: lately, she’s been forgetting that. A lot.

We had a big tussle during my personal retreat that ended yesterday. My retreat was simple: give myself what I give women, namely time and space to ask, “What do I desire? What do I want?” and listen long enough for the deeper answers to emerge.

If this sounds easy, it’s not.

Not when the efficiency expert is in the house. Asking “What do I want?” and sitting around to listen is so inefficient. So messy and self-trusting. What the heck does it get you?

I spent a good part of the first day of my retreat fighting with her. She’s a clever one – I’d find myself doing things like hanging up all my clothes even though I wouldn’t be wearing anything but yoga pants and my old sweater. Or upping the bar on how long I “should” write or pushing myself to hike farther (“You haven’t reached Castle Rock yet. You said you would hike to Castle Rock.”)

I started to despair, knowing that the sweet renewal I craved comes to me only when I follow my moment by moment arising desires, when I meander, when purpose and doing fall away.

Then I remembered, thank god I remembered, the magic freedom key: meet myself where I am. Stop rejecting and fighting with Ms. Efficiency.  With any part of me.

She saw I was on to her, tried to trick me into working on the play lists for the morning dance for my upcoming retreat but I climbed into bed, pushed the pillows behind me until I could sit up straight and comfy, closed my eyes, and said:

“Hello. I see you. I love you. I’m here with you.”

The tears flowed so quickly. She got to be scared and sad, to show me how she feels like she is never, ever efficient enough.  I wept and rocked and wept some more, and god did it feel good. So good to welcome myself. To make space.

And that’s what you can do too, right now or later, after you check a few more things off your to-do list. Or tomorrow, or whenever. It’s never more than a  remembrance away – to put down the fixing, the doing, the pushing away and to pick up the welcoming, the saying “Hi, I see you. Yes, I welcome you, just as you are. There’s room for you. Always.”

And then maybe you’ll do some writing or go for a walk through the amber and peach colored leaves, falling around you like the rarest confetti. Maybe you’ll savor one exquisite gluten free cupcake or do some reading. Whatever you do, for certain, you’ll feel more whole, and able to ask, “What do I want?” and peacefully listen, whether you can have it or not.

Love,
Jen

P.S. I feel so full and ready to co-lead Creative Joy. Due to other projects, we’ve decided this is our last Creative Joy retreat so why not be spontaneous and join us starting Thursday evening? I promise you will be so so happy you did.

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Jude Spacks - October 21, 2013

Beautiful Jen. Thank you! Tears sprang to the eyes–reading this started as a procrasto move, ended just as sweetly now as can always be.

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    jenniferlouden - November 6, 2013

    hugs my friend hugs.

    Reply
NJ Shelsby - October 21, 2013

Perfect timing. My efficiency expert has been in charge lately. I worked all weekend trying to get caught up. Silly me; I was feeling resentful having to take time out of getting things done to go to a friend’s party. This blog post was a soft and comforting wake-up call. Thanks for the reminder that I’m at my best when I’m not ALWAYS doing.

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    jenniferlouden - November 6, 2013

    hope things are calmer now inside and out.

    Reply
Kristina Peck - October 22, 2013

Okay. This is me right here. My perfectionism has come to a head and has been like fighting with a rowdy teenager. I’m keeping this post in my email so I can read it when it gets bad.

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    jenniferlouden - November 6, 2013

    ah don’t I know this place, too! May we both find good peace and acceptance.

    Reply
Sandra de Fontenay - October 22, 2013

meet myself where I am
Good one to post on the bathroom mirror, fridge, car…… 🙂

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    jenniferlouden - November 6, 2013

    Sandra hope you are meeting yourself today and everyday. just as you are.

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Kylie Bellard - October 22, 2013

Yes, yes, yes. And loving that there’s room to indulge our inner manager by ticking off a few more items from the list, if we must, before surrender.

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    jenniferlouden - November 6, 2013

    that was sly of me… helps a lot!

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Lisa Sonora Beam - October 24, 2013

I just love this…I can relate so much. Mind (heart!) reader! One of my writing teachers (Pat Schneider) told us once (at a writing retreat!) that when she goes away on a retreat she lets the first part be all about settling in and beyond that resistance. She doesn’t try to do anything on her “retreat agenda” right away.

Retreat agenda. Now there’s an oxymoron for us.

Anyway, that tidbit of wisdom a decade ago still serves me…when I remember it.

I experience this same thing while on vacation, while taking a work-a-day break. And I’m afraid my body is paying the consequences with adrenal burnout, etc.

Thanks so much for this, Jennifer.

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    jenniferlouden - November 6, 2013

    love that and wish I could see you in Portland!! have a great workshop.

    Reply
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Esther Steinberger (Abergel) - November 3, 2013

On my counselling course I did a Gestalt two chair dialogue with my slavedriver. It was really helpful to listen to this part of my and what is motivating her (she wants me to hold down a job and function in the world) and to see that her intentions are good. It was really good to tell her as well that my intuitive artistic spiritual side is what matters to me and that she should allow space and importance to it. A real revelation which has stayed with me and softened both sides so much. A big step to inner peace. Try it out if you can!

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    jenniferlouden - November 6, 2013

    I used to do that all the time with my first therapist, very powerful. Great story Esther, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
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