6 Ways to End the Ick of Perfectionism, Overwhelm and Procrastination without getting a Lobotomy

May 17, 2010

For a few years now, I’ve been curious about the hounds of more, more, more! The hounds of more bay:

Try this! Learn this! Write this! Take this retreat! Go here! More, more, more!”

They’re the voices that yip at me, and my clients and readers, until we want to get a lobotomy: anything for some inner silence.

They also love to mess with our routines, yammering things like

Meditate first thing in the morning! No, I meant start with yoga. No, it should be inquiry. But it’s spring, now, it should be a walk in nature. No, I meant writing.”

Notice how the hounds use a lot of ! points? They are always on the search for perfect. They are never interested in enough. Their baying is exhausting and distracting, and quite frankly, boring because it keeps us from diving deeply into anything, from tending to the quieter voices of the heart, spirit, and soul.

From living a hand-crafted life. From resting in the “unstainable good,” our true nature, which is available to us in every moment.

I’m fascinated by the hounds. I’m fascinated by how, the more creative you are, the more they can vex you. The more you want to express your heart, the more you want to make a difference in the world, the more they may carry on. I’m actively investigating ways to throw the hounds a bone (and if you want to

For now, here are six ways to throw a bone to the Hounds of More, More, More.

Finally! A Perfect Day

Create a picture of your perfect day, a day in which the hounds are finally satisfied. A day in which you eat the way they want you to, exercise, create, connect, declutter, spring spruce, garden, make love, etc. You may find you’re exhausted before you’ve gotten through breakfast. That’s the point: get it down in black-and-white how outrageous the hound’s demands are. See that there will never be enough to satisfy them.

Use Their Energy

Each time the Hounds bay out another tantalizing idea or point out a fascinating training you must take or berate you for being behind in your homework for the class(es) you already taking, write down their suggestion (important because it gets it out of your head) and then say, “Thank you for sharing. I know you are afraid I’m going to miss out on life by not doing enough and I will miss my life if I keep listening to you. Life is happening right here right now and you need to be quiet so I can live it.”

A Barbara Sher Idea

In her wonderful book, Refuse to Choose , Barbara offers ideas for those of us who have more ideas in a week than we can explore in a lifetime. One of my favorites is to create a special “day book” where each of your desires gets as much room to play as it wants. Say you want to learn Sanskrit. You open to a fresh page, write Learn Sanskrit, and then go wild dreaming. “Study for a year in India, make a film about the history of the language, become a scholar in the schools, do a photo exhibit of images and poetry…” The Hounds love this kind of wild romp –you get some peace from them without having to actually do anything; plus you learn that you don’t have to follow up on each of your desires! This has been huge for me.

Cut the Input

Seth Godin wrote a great post about how easy it is to lose your day – and your mood – to incoming emails and blog posts. There is something sneaky about how email and social media can inflame the Hounds. We grew up with commercials; we know how to tune them out. Other messages, not so much. Take in social media and email the same way you would a TV commercial – knowing someone is trying to sell you something, even if just their ideas, which can inflame more ideas in the Hounds, so be careful!

Love the Abundance But Be Firm

The Hounds can be nipping at your heels or they can be pointing out the bounty and abundance of life. When the pile of books by my bed threatens to crush me, when I can’t read the Kripalu catalog because I want to take everyone’s class, I know it’s time to put a choke collar on the hounds and say, “Thank you for reminding me how vast and wonderful life is. And I’m only human so back off now.”

Calm Your Nervous System

The Hounds can get you into overdrive and then, especially if you add too much sugar and caffeine to the equation, you can feel it’s impossible to ever be enough. Anxiety can’t exist in a relaxed body, members recently said at the Comfort Café.

Breathe in for the count of four, hold for the count of four, breathe out to the count of six, hold empty of breath for the count of two. Repeat a few times. Then breathe in and out through your belly, like there were a mouth and lungs at your belly button. Let your belly be soft, and your eyes. And your jaw.

Life is so marvelous, may we live it with verve rather than by hounding.

What do you do to calm the Hounds? Do share!


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