Eight days in Chicago. Four media appearances. Three business meetings. Two speaking engagements. Two parties. Three friend dinners. Enough to keep two people busy, for way more than eight days. And plenty of “work” to deserve a break at least one of the days that I was in Chicago. Even God rested on the seventh day right? But he wasn’t a woman. And he wasn’t a woman of the 21st century, born with a pair of genes that I call with both affection and despair, the Achievement Junkie gene and the Doing Addict gene. I’ve got them both. And chances are that if you are a woman between the ages of zero and one hundred you have them too. We’ve handed down these genes from generation to generation of women for centuries, like a good set of china. The problem is that unlike pretty china, these genes don’t just come out for special occasions. These genes run our lives, 24/7.
My mother was a doing addict, still is. She can’t sit still. Can’t stop working until she has “worked” hard enough to merit resting time. Growing up she was our full time mother, she worked full time in a big corporate building, ran a Girl Scout troop, ran a side business, cooked our food, sewed our clothes, and fixed up our lake cottage on the weekends she was supposed to be “resting.” I am the product of a doing addict, another generation of women doomed to feel that I either must be “doing” all the time or feel guilty for not doing something. Even after seven years of working to change this gene in me, it’s still there. This last week in Chicago I found it virtually impossible to take one day for myself, to just relax. The universe had to actually make me sick with a sore throat (threatening my ability to speak the following day, which got my attention) to get me to stop. This was extremely ironic considering I was speaking to a group of women about the exact thing I was suffering from—the inability to take care of myself, sans guilt. But we teach what we are here to learn, and I learn more about self-love every day.
I really don’t know who is to blame for this self destructive gene that makes it hard for me to relax (it is physically painful), to find value in just “being,” and to believe that I am enough right now without accomplishing anything else. I can’t really blame my mother, she got it from her mother, and she from her mother and on and on. And I figure since I already have guilt, I sure as heck don’t need blame, too. So this Mother’s Day, I am giving back by Doing Addict gene, again. Since I can’t actually return it to a store like I could a set of china, I’ve decided to put my feminine super power, creativity, to use so that I can at the very least, get this gene regulated. It’s time for some Doing Addict Therapy! Now, I realize that some of my therapy tactics may look like doing behavior, and it’s because I’ve learned that the best way to get my Doing Addict under control is to get her on my side, working for me not against me. If you are a fellow Doing Addict, I invite you to try these out, too:
Doing Addict Therapy
- Become a fantastic relaxer. “I am a great relaxer, practicing many different forms of doing nothing.” No TV, no crackberry. Now I am not going to sit and stare at the walls, that is painful and not relaxing for me. What I am going to do is find what relaxes me and then do that. I’ve been practicing with reading fiction books. It takes me to a different world and totally relaxes me. What relaxes you?
- Pick a sacred time when NO work can be done. “I set time each week that is just for me.” I call it Goddess Sunday, and from the time I wake up until noon I do nothing that involves achieving anything. No talking about work, check lists, or house work. Just me, a latte, and the goddess. Maybe a book, magazine, or a talk with my guy. But no work on Goddess Sundays until noon. When is your sacred time?
- Have FUN with my friends, not work, not problem solving, FUN. “I have play dates with my friends when we just have FUN.” I like to think of being fifteen again and what we did for fun. Walk in the rain, listen to music, talk about movie stars, watch ridiculous movies, eat ice cream, drink wine (well maybe that’s different). I’ve become much too serious with my friends—a side affect of the doing addict gene—and I am committed to laughing and being girls. When is your next play day?