We all have the tendency to tell ourselves things that are not strictly speaking true – it is one of our base survival mechanisms.
The thing with survival mechanisms though, is that they can severely constrain our personal growth & development. So from time to time it is important to challenge certain of these auto-defense mechanisms that may be limiting us. One such mechanism which often frustrates us, for example, is the common lament: “I don’t know what to do!”
I call this The Big Lie, because this has nothing to do with knowing, but rather everything to do with feeling. Specifically, when we complain to ourselves (or others) that we “don’t know what to do!”, what we are really thinking is “I don’t know what is guaranteed to work!”, and this is what makes us feel so frustrated, weak, or vulnerable.
By itself, this is not a big deal, but unfortunately the thought or feeling that “I don’t know what is guaranteed to work!” is all too often automatically followed by “So I’m better off doing nothing at all until I do know!”.
This is self-destructive for two key reasons: (1) Obviously because taking reasonable action, no matter the outcome, is always better than doing nothing. (2) Because the more we run this pattern, the more defiant &/or petulant we risk becoming, which in turn increases our initial feelings of powerlessness. Not good.
So if you ever find yourself lamenting “I don’t know what to do!”, remember that it is just not true; you may not know the absolute best thing to do, but then how often does anyone?
Don’t give in to fear. Remind yourself that you always have the power to take reasonable action, and do so; you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. And if the outcome turns out to be less than optimal, just manage it to the best of your ability and an opportunity for a better outcome will find its way to your door.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
PS. Two tips:
- Every task has to be done one at a time.
- No task ever has to be done “perfectly”, just thoroughly & completely.