Rocky Start to 2023

It’s been a rocky start to the year. I’ve tried to keep my blog “real” and talk the good, the bad, and the ugly about Retirement Transitions.  I wrote (blog link here) about some of the challenges I’m facing in my mom’s 500-mile move to an Assisted Living facility near me.  This blog talks about a couple of other early-in-the-year life challenges.

How does making mistakes feel to a perfectionist?

I’m a perfectionist, which often means I avoid trying things for fear of doing it wrong or failing at it.  So, when I do try something and make a mistake (especially a costly mistake), how to do I stop from beating myself up?  It happened recently and I spiraled into negative thoughts – stewing in feelings of humiliation, self-reproach at my lack of thinking skills, feelings of being incompetent, and sitting in a puddle of self-loathing. This lasted for days! My fuse has been short, resulting in snapping at people, having crying jags over minor things, and avoiding things (and people). I keep replaying the scenario over and over (how could/should I have done it differently) and I’ve been afraid to share it with anyone because they will tell me how I should have done it differently, which simply validates my stupidity. 

What now – my regular Cardio Drumming class was cancelled!

If you follow my blog regularly, you will have heard about my love of the new cardio class I found – cardio drumming.  It’s a great cardio and strength work out, was close to home, fit wonderfully into my weekly routine, and was simply fun. (Plus I lost 6 pounds!)  In 2023, they cancelled both of the early morning classes I went to. I just cannot imagine how to fit 7PM classes in as I cannot eat before the workout (no, I didn’t eat breakfast before morning class), nor start to make dinner at 8:15 PM.  With the change in routine coming with my mom’s move, this was a second really big emotional hit.  (I am hoping to link into a new group’s class schedule, but it’s a bit further away with parking challenges and I’m praying that doesn’t prevent me from continuing this activity!)

The planner on hiatus?

I’m feeling overwhelmed with my mom’s move. I made a costly mistake in planning something. And then, I had lots of no-responses to my most recent email/text planning notes. OK, a 40% no response rate, but still. I thought these people had shifted from an acquaintance zone into a friendship zone, so I expected a bit more response, even a “nothing works for me” comment.  Then, a craft workshop I was leading (at my garden club) which had 12 people signed up, had only 6 actually stay for the workshop. (Yes, I had material for 12-15 people, thinking more of the 40+ people at the meeting might be interested at the last minute.) With my current stress level, maybe it’s time for this planner to just take a hiatus.

I saw this question: Are your thoughts healing or hurting?  Yes, my current thinking patterns are hurting me! I also read this recently: Move from Self-Critical to Self-Accepting. Move from Perfection-Seeking to Self-Trusting. Move from Feeling-Overwhelmed to Feeling-Calm.  Instead of group planning or beating myself up, maybe I will focus in on self-acceptance, self-compassion, and trusting myself to figure out and do what’s right (and plan some long beach walks).

Yes, a rough start to 2023. This week, I’ll be working on a change of thinking and some self-care.

Picture credit: my garden glass tower crafts. Some focusing on things that make me smile.

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26 thoughts on “Rocky Start to 2023

  1. Acceptance and self-love – invariably the two aspects I find most difficult in seeking to live a happy life but I just keep plugging away and working at them, except for those occasions when, just as you describe, it gets so disheartening. However, I usually find something happens, somebody calls and I throw myself back into living again. Take care, sounds like you’ve a lot on your plate at present.

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  2. I can understand your frustration and desire to retreat for a while. I don’t understand people who seem to commit to something yet feel no responsibility for being there. That’s my frustration with a lot of volunteering.

    My 2023 hasn’t started off very well either. I lost a good friend and I haven’t been feeling 100%. I am easily overwhelmed with stuff for my dad and I feel guilty most of the time because my sister goes overboard in taking care of him. All this has resulted in my vertigo (although relatively mild) flaring up, reducing my confidence and energy.

    Hang in there. It has to get better, right?

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    1. Goodness – I wonder if my brother feels I’m the one going overboard on caring for my mom? I was the one who pushed for Assisted Living. I’m seeing her daily – at the moment, but she’s quarantined in her room and it’s a totally new space for her. I think we both need to accept what we will/can do and what we won’t/can’t do for our parent at this point… and realize it’s different for others. My brother was doing what he felt was right; I’m doing what I feel is right. It doesn’t make the other person wrong in either case! What your sister is doing is right for her; what you’re doing is right for you. And I totally get the feeling overwhelmed! I’m focusing this week on adding back things that make me feel good about myself – cardio drumming class (found a new one), a long chat with a friend booked. Yes, still planning on daily long visits with my mom (she’s quarantined until Sunday) but also going to add in some me-things. And yes, I firmly believe it will get better.

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  3. All of that on top of the continuing trauma of COVID – it’s understandable that you respond like a normal human being. Give yourself the grace to take a minute to be overwhelmed & sad. It’s natural to feel this way given what you are going through. But I have read enough of your blog posts that I feel totally confident that you will pull it together and muster up the strength to climb these mountains (despite the obstacles) and be all the wiser for it. It’s all about the journey, not the destination. You got this girl!

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    1. AGMA – So nice to hear from you. And thanks for the confidence in me! Part of me knows things will get better as my mom settles in (hopes?)…and I’m working on rebuilding the strength to climb the mountains that I know are coming. It’s been so helpful to get all the virtual cheering-on comments!

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  4. Let me just say that sometimes people suck. I think those of us who are reliable and considerate expect others to be the same. We would never not reply to an email that involved another person making an effort to give us an enjoyable activity, and we wouldn’t bail at the last minute on an event…..so we’re doubly disappointed when others (who we thought were friends or on the same wavelength) do it to us. I’m sorry you’ve been hurt, and maybe (like me last week) it’s time to take a small step back to breathe before launching again into the fray? Perfectionism and expectations are soul killers – but so hard to change! Sending you a hug xx

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    1. Leanne, When I read your post about stepping back, I already had the thought to step back a bit from all the planning I was doing. The uncertainly of what “regular” visits with my mom will be means that I don’t have either the mental capacity to do the planning, nor really what my physical time might be. My one concern is that my stepping back from being the planner will slow down the connections we were making locally. We have not been here 2 years yet and are still working creating a local friendship circle! But, I do need to step back and I am.

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  5. I wish I could say something to make you feel better, but I can fall into those patterns too and know that you already know what you need to do, but knowing and *knowing* are 2 different things. Take care and give yourself permission to stuff up occasionally…and to over react if you want.

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  6. I wish I had all the right words of comfort for you but I don’t. We all make mistakes and often beat ourselves up for them. The key is to take a bit of a beating, forgive yourself, learn from the experience, and move on. I know that’s easier said than done. I have no words of advice for people not responding or not showing up. That’s plain rude.

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    1. Janis, I’m working on the forgiveness part. It’s been helpful to “listen” to everyone point out we all make mistakes, many of us beat ourselves up, etc. – it is a comfort and it is helping me move on.

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  7. I’m sorry that you are going through a difficult time right now, but thank you for sharing – there is almost always something in your posts that I can relate to and this one was particularly thought provoking. I especially like your wise comments in the last paragraph – I too should be focusing more on self-acceptance, self compassion and trusting myself. I wish you all the best and hope things turn around for you soon.

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    1. Thanks Angela. I am really trying this week to forgive myself and not try to do it all – practice some self-compassion. As I mentioned to Jo, sometimes the knowing does not make the doing any easier!

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  8. Dang it, I hate this for you! Being a perfectionist myself I totally get where you are coming from! But we all make mistakes and we are never going to be as good as we want to be so try (very hard) to give yourself the grace of forgiveness and move on.
    As far as those that don’t respond or cancel, that’s frustrating as well, especially for the planner. I would bet those people don’t even think it’s a big deal, they certainly didn’t want to hurt your feelings, which doesn’t help a lot I know but just try not to take it personally. I wish I could tell you not to take the planner hiatus because I sure would like to have that planner around here but I certainly understand if you feel the need to. You have a lot on your plate with your Mom’s move so maybe just concentrate on that and cut yourself some slack on the other stuff.
    All of life is transition and just when we think we got it going well, things change. I feel like the student talking to the teacher here because I’m always struggling with trying to be everything I want to be.
    Hang in there!!! I’m cheering for you and here if you need a wine session!

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    1. I always chuckle when someone uses the term “grace” as in “give yourself the grace of forgiveness”. Tim used to call me grace when we hiked… as in “lack of” as I scrambled over rocks, being short and not having the length of leg others had. But it made me smile… and yes, I do need to forgive myself and move on. Working on it – it’s definitely better, but not complete.

      I asked a local friend to plan a dinner for the 4 of us (us with spouses) and she did. I didn’t need to do the planning! So there’s that approach to. But, I am pulling back on some of the planning until things settle a bit more.

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  9. Ugh, definitely not the start you planned for the new year 😐 I’ve made costly mistakes before and Yes I also beat myself up over it. Hopefully you will come to accept that you made the best decision with what you knew at that moment time, but it doesn’t take the sting out of it. Try to chalk it up to a lesson learned the hard way that you are not likely to make again!
    I hope you can find an alternative to your drumming class, I could tell you really enjoyed it!
    And try to give yourself some grace – we’re human, we make mistakes ❤

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    1. Sharon, I went this morning to another drumming class – further away, not as nice a space, harder parking… but it felt good to move again. And, I like the coaches. So I’m going to see about getting it back into my routine. And I am working on releasing the mistake (in my head). Yes, I’m accepting I’m human and make mistakes! And let it go. If I write it down and say it enough, maybe it will be released!

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  10. I’m sorry you’ve had a rough start to the year. It’s easier said than done to lighten up on yourself with regard to perfectionism, but once you let go of that ideal, life is a lot less stressful. If you can’t let go of it entirely, maybe only try to be “perfect” in one narrow area like a hobby and learn to accept “good enough” elsewhere to take some of the pressure off.

    I haven’t known you for 20 years, but in the time I have known you, my perception is that you have very high standards and expectations of yourself and that you are tough on yourself if you don’t always meet those standards. My wish for you is that you’d be more gentle with yourself.

    Here’s to a much more positive remainder of 2023!

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    1. Bob, thanks. And you are right, I am hard on myself. My personality was (is?) all about “meeting or exceeding expectations”… and that was reinforced through years of working (you’ll recall that performance phrase I’m sure). It’s hard to shift all that programming and be more gentle on myself for being human…I appreciate everyone who reminds me to do just that!

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  11. Such a generous post. Thank-you!
    When I have something on my plate that must be there, I move other things off, if I can. That said, continuing with other things, even if I don’t get the responses I hoped for, helps keep me grounded by reminding me that I am not totally defined by what I can’t control. The people who show up are the ones who get my attention. I am learning to let go of those who don’t show up. Share your costly mistake with someone you trust, not to hear how you could do it another way, but to find out that you are not alone in making costly mistakes are making them doesn’t make you bad, stupid or any other negatives we tell ourselves. Thanks again for your generosity.

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    1. John – Great advice to ‘let go of those who don’t show up”. I’ve been seeing the “let go” message a lot right now. Obviously it is something I need to be hearing! I’m going to let go of the mistake I made, too (working on that let-go at least).

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  12. We stumble forward in spite of obstacles, don’t we? You have a lot on your plate with your mother’s move. I can understand how perfectionism is causing you distress. Plus your favorite exercise class, something I’ve never heard of btw, being canceled… well that sucks. I like the question: Are your thoughts healing or hurting? I need to think on it and answer it myself.

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    1. Ally, I’m focusing this week on thoughts that are more healing than hurting and
      that seems to be helping. I’ve gone back also to adding things into each day that bring me joy. It’s helping a bit to balance stumbling over the obstacles! (love the vision those words created).

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