Know Right Now If You're Trying Too Hard (A Short OCD Story)
Are you trying too hard?
You probably are.
What if you just stopped trying so hard?
What would happen?
Would the world fall apart?
Today, I'm giving you permission to try something new.
A new approach.
Because mental health isn't a 24-hour rat race.
And it's not a gym workout free-for-all.
It's a give and take.
Keep reading to see what I mean--and to learn from my mistakes.
My OCD Made Me Try Too Hard
I deal with OCD, and it has derailed my life at times.
When I was a kid, I would read 5-6 books at once.
This was especially common on long vacation car rides with my family.
I'd have books like The Boxcar Children and Goosebumps spread out next to me on my seat.
I'd read one chapter in book, and then I would turn to the next book and read another chapter.
I kept the books face down, creased open to where I left off at the start of each new chapter.
I wanted to read everything.
I couldn't just get through one story and enjoy it for what it was.
Learning to Stop Trying So Hard
This worked for a while. When I was a kid, and I didn't have any other commitments, I could approach my life this way.
But, believe it or not, I continued the same approach when I became an adult, an obsessive approach.
I tried to read everything all at once. Now, I didn't necessarily go from one chapter in one book to one chapter in another in such a methodical way.
But I read because I needed to do it all. I wasn't focused on the nature of what I was doing. I was obsessed with the process.
I was trying too hard.
What do you think happened?
I'll let you in on a secret. I retained nothing from the books I was reading, and I made myself extremely anxious in the process.
I needed a different way.
If You're Trying Too Hard, Here's How to Stop
This was a hard concept for me to understand. Honestly, it took years to get to this point. But I write about it so that it, hopefully, doesn't take you as long.
I learned to stop trying. Let me explain.
When I read these days, I don't worry so much about the process, about getting through as many books as possible.
I read to enjoy, to integrate new lessons into my life.
If I feel a book can help a certain situation I'm in, I pick it up and dive in.
For instance, I'm taking on more management responsibility at work. I've never managed so many people before, and it's a bit overwhelming.
So I'm reading--and re-reading--several chapters from The Effective Executive.
I'm comparing it what I've read previously in High Output Management.
Old Me would have been horrified to re-read books. That's a waste of time, for crying out loud!
But New Me knows something.
It's not about trying to do it all. It's not about trying so hard that you lose the meaning of what you're doing in the first place.
It's about enjoying the process.
For some people, that comes naturally.
For me, it didn't.
Easing off the gas is not something that my brain is naturally designed to do.
It took practice--practice at not trying so hard.
In the western world, it's deemed almost a fatal flaw to not try as hard as you can.
But in other cultures I've been around, there's an art behind easing off the gas pedal.
These days, I'm reading less overall, but I'm retaining more.
A lot more.