Time, in some ways, seems to me to move faster the older I get. Maybe that’s a perspective thing, kind of a zooming out. The seasons keep passing; seasonal markers and other celebrations like birthdays keep coming around again… and again. I’d like to feel better about how I engage with time — which in essence is how we engage with Life.
Part of that has to do with just getting better at pausing and engaging fully with whatever the moment offers. But I think it also has to do with being more deliberate about what we choose to fill the moments with.
Which leads me to examine how we make those choices. What drives us to do the things we do?
Trying to “be good,” seeking approval
One of the things that drives us is the compulsion to try to “be good.” That is, “good enough” to earn approval or to avoid disapproval.
For example, I spend inordinate amounts of time fussing around to get a post for ARealGreenLife “good enough” (meaning, “perfect,”) before I can press publish.
There are at least three problems relating to that:
1. Nothing can ever be perfect.
2. While I’m trying to make it so, I’m “using up time” and not getting anything else done.
And in that little phrase, “not getting anything else done,” lies a clue to the third problem:
3. I’m obsessed with the need to “get something done.”
And why do I need to “get something done”? To earn approval!
The internal critic
You’re right. I’m a grown up, supposedly a free one, in a supposedly free country. I shouldn’t need anybody’s approval. There’s nobody standing over me, controlling me.
Or is there? What about the internal critic? Most of us are experts at seizing on the least hint of disapproval from the outside world, magnifying it, and using it to beat ourselves up. Which is a great motivator to keep us with our noses to the grindstone, trying to do better at being “good enough.”
And while we’re doing that, we’re not actually engaging with Life. We’re just using up time, trying to be perfect, to avoid that terrible feeling inside of “not good enough.”
Kate writes at ARealGreenLife.com about making healthier choices for ourselves and for our families, communities, and ecosystems.