I’ve realized, once again, that I have a pattern of trying to find the right thing(s) that I can master/fix so I can hit cruise control and never have problems again (aka, once I know/do/be ___, I’ll be good/acceptable/okay). I’ve written about it here several times. It makes sense given my perfectionistic and controlling tendencies, but it tends to make life insanely stressful and not very fun.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to NOT fall into that pattern (although, let’s be honest, I’m kind of scared that I’m trying to make it into my next ___ that I think will solve all my problems; the irony is delicious). I know that accepting where I am and working from there is the right direction, but tonight I figured out a metaphor that might help me put it into practice a little more easily.
If my life is like driving a car, I keep acting like there will be some way that I can just set to cruise control for the rest of it. But as we all know, cruise control is definitely NOT something that can be used all the time -- it can only be used in certain situations, and even then, you still have to be paying attention and ready to hit the brake and get out of it if you need to. (I realize that some people use cruise control a LOT more than I do, but the point still stands.) To be a good driver, you need to be aware of your current conditions and adjust to what’s going on around you. You never know when someone’s going to randomly stomp on the brakes or a child is going to run out into the road.
And I think to be good at life, you have to be aware of and adjust to what’s going on around you, including what’s going on inside you. That’s always going to be changing, and it may not always be what you want, but if you're in denial about what's really going on and refuse to adjust accordingly, you'll either get really frustrated or maybe even end up hurting someone, including yourself. It's the same way you have to brake out of cruise control when traffic starts piling up. There may be a few situations in life that are predictable enough or that you’ve mastered that you can basically set to cruise control (like laundry or cooking your staple dinners or riding a bike), just like you've probably got the basic functions of driving a car down, but no one thing will ever make you master your whole life. Not only does life have a way of throwing new things, both good and bad, at you all the time, but you change, too.
I hope that metaphor will make it a little easier for me (and maybe for you) to remember to accept where you are and not try to “fix” yourself in unhealthy ways. And if you need another way to remember, I like to watch this music video from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to remind myself how ridiculous the idea that something will make me never have problems again truly is.