Anna Maria Locke

What it feels like to slow down

November 2015Anna LockeComment

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly rushing through life?

Rushing out the door, rushing through your to-do’s, rushing through errands, running as fast as you can just to stay in place.

Because if you dare to take a break for one second everything will fall apart.

There’s never enough time to do all the things you have to do, much less the things you WANT to do, so you end up feeling constantly pressured, stressed, and overwhelmed, and resentful.

You’re constantly BEHIND on things you can’t even define.

Weekends are even more stressful because you have to catch up on everything you’ve been putting off.

You can never shake this constant nagging feeling of overwhelm that lurks below the surface of your day.

A nagging feeling that keeps you on-edge and never allows you to fully relax, because you have a feeling you’re never quite in the right place or doing the right thing.

So you bury yourself in keeping busy, in staying productive, in crossing off the “to-do’s” and then dumping more on the list, and the cycle of rushing through the surface of life is a self-perpetuating prophecy that allows no happiness or fulfillment to bloom and grow.

This is how I’ve lived most of my life. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

When we feel this way and let the daily grind sweep us up and stress us out, when we start to live from survival mode and never give ourselves permission to be quiet and listen to what we NEED, it’s a sign that we’re letting fear control us.

I’m slowly learning how to shift my mindset away from fear and more towards a place of love and trust, because deep down I KNOW the universe isn’t out to get me.

But convincing my subconscious to believe it is easier said than done.

I’m writing this post to process the stuff I’m currently going through on my own journey. If you also struggle with anxiety and perfectionism, I hope this makes you feel less alone.

Autumn is a season of change, introspection, and slowing down. I’m used to the change part, but the slowing down is new to me.

For most of my life I’ve had to speed up in the fall, starting a new school year or season of life. 

I have a tendency to take things too seriously and want to be instantly successful at every new challenge or endeavor. I have a restless mind that’s never satisfied and I've always searched for meaning and truth outside of myself, always feeling like I need to know more, do more, or be better in order to be worthy.

Worthy of what? Success? Love? I don’t even know.

All I know is I’m sick of the constant striving, hustling, seeking. This is the first time in my life that fall doesn’t herald a new transition or phase, and I want to appreciate it more and grow.

I want to seek meaning and truth from within.

I want to be able to relax.

I want more stillness and peace.

I want to let myself just BE, without instantly jumping to what I need to do next.

I want to stop feeling like I’m never enough. Like I never have enough (money, time, talent, resources). Like I never do enough.

Because deep down I know that of course I’m enough.

I have enough.

I do enough.

I am enough.

So I’ve started to break up with my old fear-driven way of living.

It’s hard to completely reprogram your brain, but I know I have to fight for myself if I ever want to be truly happy.

I’m starting to slow down.

I am saying NO to stress and overwhelm.

It feels really really amazing, but of course it’s easier said than done. 

Perfectionism is an angry beast that won’t be slayed with a poof of glitter, a self-help podcast, and a few days of yoga.

Hahahahaha no, this journey is endless, but it is so worth it.

I know there are greater things ahead.

So I’m surrendering my need for control and I'm leaning into the slowness because I know I need it for my own mental and emotional health, and also so I can live my purpose.

I know my purpose in life is to help women take ownership of their own lives and find freedom in being their authentic selves.

Sounds great, right?

But first I need to learn how to do that myself.

Wellll, shit.

I need to let myself slow down so I can listen to my heart, not my head. 

But since I’m not used to slowing down, I am resisting it like mad.

I’m mistrustful of the peace that flits around the edges of my heart.

And the fear is cropping up again.

I am afraid of so many things that might happen if I surrender and let go, release the frantic pace of city life, open my heart and my mind to accept more space and peace and stillness.

I’m afraid of missing out (#millennialprobs!)

I’m afraid of not being good enough.

I'm afraid of letting people down.

I'm afraid of putting myself out there and being seen.

I watch my husband come home at the end of the day and unplug. When he tackles chores or work he doesn’t overthink or over-complicate things, he just buckles down and gets it done. I admire this so much, but I understand it’s not how I’m wired.

I don’t have a natural ability to accept the present moment and focus, because I am so afraid of not doing the right thing. 

But it’s something I can work on every day.

I am teaching myself how to release my emotional attachment on outcomes and goals that exist in the future, and instead live from my values and actions I can take in the present moment to feel the way I want to feel.

Slowing down means giving yourself permission to be happy and feel good right now, no matter what your current circumstances look like. To bring your happiness and self-worth into the present moment, instead of postponing it for the future when you accomplish xyz goal

You have to believe that you DESERVE to receive happiness and love right now. 

It’s really scary and heartbreaking when you realize that you don’t believe you deserve to be happy.

But by slowing down, I am able to bring that happiness into being.

What slowing down feels like to a perfectionist

My anxiety is worse than ever, because I’m cracking open and expanding.

I’m afraid this is too good to be true, the thought that I can just be myself? I don’t have to be productive or accomplish things or chase external achievements?

Yes. It’s not too good to be true.

I don’t have to be perfect.

I don’t have to let other people decide how good or worthy or successful I am.

I feel like a baby, a beginner. I don’t really know how to NOT be productive 24/7 but I’m learning.

I’m practicing every day.

I’m listening to my energy.

When I’m low on energy or feeling down, I’m backing off instead of pushing through.

When the restlessness and anxiety peaks, I get moving and direct it into writing and creating.

I don’t feel EXTERNALLY productive, because I have so many ideas I haven’t been able to make myself implement. But instead of beating myself up I’m letting it just be. Everything will come into being when the time is right.

So in the meantime I’m keeping my breakthroughs and writing to myself.

I’m filling a new notebook every month.

I’m constantly reading, absorbing, processing ideas and listening to my thoughts.

I’m playing around with meditating and doing yoga, which doesn’t come naturally to me.

I have to resist setting goals like “meditate every morning” or “yoga 3x/week” because that triggers my perfectionist again and defeats the entire purpose.

I am learning what “self love” and “self care” really mean.

I’m connecting with my spirituality.

I’m learning how to be ok with my own thoughts, instead of compulsively grabbing my phone to check Facebook or Instagram.

I’m letting myself sleep in, and not measuring my sense of daily accomplishment by how much I achieved that day.

I’m learning not to let my weekly paycheck determine the value of my work, because I don’t trade my time for dollars anymore.

I am paying more attention to my breath.

I'm stopping in the middle of my runs to take in the beauty all around me and take pictures of fall roses.

I am becoming myself.

This is really weird.

I am becoming extra-sensitive to stuff like the energy of other people. Alcohol and caffeine.

I will be buzzed on one glass of wine.

If I drink too much at my friend’s wedding, my heart will race for most of the next day.

I’ve had to cut caffeine out of my life, except for decaf Americano’s and occasional black tea, because even one cup of coffee will give me heart palpitations and trigger panic.

I feel like I am going through a personal Rennaissance.

I am re-connecting to my imagination and creativity, after years of suppressing it because I believed it was "unrealistic" or "a waste of time."

Nothing is a waste of time if it makes you happy.

It’s ok to make stuff just for the sheer pleasure of making stuff.

It’s ok to have a lazy weekend and not get stuff done.

It’s ok to unplug and not constantly post about your life. No one cares. No one is judging you.

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

By slowing down I am learning how to trust myself.

By learning how to trust myself I am expanding into the real me.

xo Anna