The Best Way to Get Perspective on Your Problems
I thought I would break.
I felt overwhelmed. Over my head. I thought the pressure to deliver on my own promises would engulf me.
I don’t even remember what I was working on at the time. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed until everyone forgot about me and what I said I’d do. Which would never work, because the only person who was actually tapping her foot and demanding more results was me.
That night, I attended a party where we were all instructed to write notes of encouragement to our future selves. The party organizer would return our letters in six months time.
Frankly, it all felt a little hokey to me, but I played along.
Here’s what I wrote:
When I think of you six months from now, I feel very tender. I know you’ve probably been working hard and are worried about all the things still unaccomplished. I need to tell you this: no one really cares as much as you do. If it all takes another six moths or a year, it’s okay. Take a deep breath. I’m already so proud of you–you don’t need to do anything else to impress me.
Make sure you’re investing as much time and energy in your relationships as you are in your business. Let yourself be equally absorbed by life as you are by ideas. Go explore. 2015 won’t be a better year if you stress yourself out on your challenges and don’t make more time for play. Get outside, enjoy this place, make friends, love your family, and be joyous. I love you no matter what. You are enough. You have already earned everyone’s love. Be brave.
I cried when I read my letter. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, it was clear I already had everything I needed to solve my own problems–no magic or heroic measures required.
My letter helped me see that the issue wasn’t what was happening in my life so much as my expectations had run amok.
I wasn’t overwhelmed. I was having a crisis of confidence.
It wasn’t that I was overbooked. I was too focused on just one aspect of my life. I needed to do more, not less.
Not all problems are like this of course. We all experience some true tragedies in life that aren’t so easily erased.
But the ones that repeat over and over again in my life are usually ones of my own making. I don’t need to beat myself up over that. How privileged I am to primarily have problems I’m fully capable of solving.
So the next time you feel anxious and overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Write yourself a letter.
And let your expectations go.