How to Handle Your Inner Efficiency Expert

Oct 21, 2013

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.


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.

Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

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