I need to settle.

The word for today is settle.

Not in the sense of settling FOR, but settling IN.  Today, I want to focus on being calm and relaxed, and enjoy some peace and quiet.  I’m coming out of a four day weekend, and my work has piled up while I’ve been away.  But it will get done whether I let myself stress over it, or just methodically work through it.  My goal is not to get excited or worked up, but pace myself and keep things in perspective.

I tend to stay so uptight pretty much all the time.  Even when I’m not in a stressful situation, I feel stressed.  There’s an urgency to almost everything I do and my thinking switches from one thought to another; unfocused and random.  And when I’m manic the pressure is unbearable.

Of course the two biggest influences in my life are my job, and relationships.  It’s almost impossible not to get stressed out at work; my workload is overwhelming and endless.  And it’s a customer facing job, and there is a lot of pressure to not only respond quickly, but produce results and keep the customer managed.  Remaining calm and on task is very difficult when there is so much of it to do.  As the day goes on, my energy level grows, tension increases and effectiveness wanes.  And then I feel guilty because I feel like I’m not doing my job as I should.  The guilt then feeds into the stress, and creates even more pressure.  By the end of the day, I’m totally exhausted.

Relationships too are a source of unrest and anxiety.  I have done a lot better in the last six months learning to be comfortable by myself, but there’s still a desire (or need) to be involved with someone else.  When I’m not in a relationship, I’m driven to find ways to meet someone, and spend a lot of time on dating sites and personal ads trying to connect.  I AM doing better with this, but haven’t completely gotten it under control.  I don’t have the frantic activity any more to bounce back and forth from site to site; emailing everyone I think just might have an interest.  In fact, I’m not even a member of any dating sites now.  But I do have a group of email ‘buddies’ that I correspond with daily.  It’s a way for me to keep a connection.  The anxiety comes in when I don’t get responses from my emails.  I constantly go back and refresh my browser to see if anything new has come in.  Which is really ridiculous as my account registers new mail practically instantly.  It’s very rare that refreshing shows anything different.  But it doesn’t stop me from trying.  And when I do get a response, I stop whatever I’m doing to read it, and respond back.  Even when I’m driving when I hear the email tone, I’ll grab my phone and read what came in.  Even though it’s not like it used to be, it still adds to the strain.

But I’m developing a new relationship now, so you’d think that would help calm things down.  And in many ways it does.  I have regular contact throughout the day.  There’s knowledge that there’s someone who cares.  I feel wanted and very comfortable with our interaction.  It’s really nice as well to have someone I can treat well and give them the same feelings and satisfactions as I have.  There has been a lot of effort, and a lot of therapy devoted to building something healthy and wholesome, and I believe I’m succeeding.  I think we’re both succeeding.  But I’ve got baggage.  Because I’ve failed so many times before, I have the expectation that I’m going to fail again.  No matter how much effort I invest, I’ve always done something that destroys what we’ve had.  So I stay braced for the mistake to come and the hatchet to fall.  With all my failed attempts to build a relationship I’ve caused a lot of pain, and I worry that in a new relationship I’ll end up doing it again.  Of course I care for the other person, or I wouldn’t be involved in the first place, and the last thing I want to do is to hurt them.  But it happens over and over.  All this worry about what might happen creates negative energy and stress.    Then there’s the self doubt I have.  I’ve thought so many times before that I’ve made good decisions and have connected with someone in a healthy and lasting way, only to be wrong.  Again.  So why should I think that this time should be any different?  Do I even know what love really is?

It’s all so very stressful.

So my days are frantic and overwrought.  I have this feeling of impending doom and certain failure.  The more I worry and fret, the harder I work and the faster I try to go.  I WILL succeed damn it, even if it kills me.  Or will I?  It’s seems that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I work no matter how healthy I try to be, it always ends in disaster.  So how in the world can I change this?

I need to settle.

Instead of trying to get everything done at once, I should take each task one at a time, do it well, and then move to the next task.  If I look at my coworkers, they stay just as behind as I do, but without the stress and anxiety.  It’s better to do it right, the first time, than try to conquer the world all at once.  The end result will be much better, and I can relax and maybe even enjoy what I’m doing.  So I’m starting my mornings spending more time before I leave for work to linger over my coffee and ease into the day.  I’ve been intent on being at my desk no later than 7:00 and push myself to get out the door in time.  But my work will be there when I get there, even if it’s 7:30 or 8:00.  I have not set hours, so the 7:00 deadline is one I’ve established for myself.  There’s no need to freak out if I’m not there exactly on time.  By taking the pressure off, my drive in becomes a lot easier.  I won’t get upset when the traffic is slow if it doesn’t matter when I get into the office.  And I can take the time during the commute to counsel myself.  Don’t worry, don’t’ push it, just do the best you can and accept the results.  I know I’m good at what I do, just relax and let myself do it.  I’ve got to pace myself, stopping to breathe and clear my mind.

And where relationships are concerned?  I’ve survived on my own, and I know I have a lot to offer if I’m just patient.  I need to continue working on being comfortable with myself, and letting things progress naturally.  And when I am in a relationship?  Ultimately I cannot predict how or if it’s going to end.  With every failure I’ve learned something new.  I’m not doing the same thing over and over if I apply those lessons and approach it with a healthy attitude.  If I focus on keeping myself healthy and stay honest and true to us both, then there’s no reason to expect failure.  And if it doesn’t work out, I know I’ll pick up and move on.  There’s no reason to worry.

I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy looking at my past behaviors and adapting my approach and attitude to effect change.  By removing all the artificial and self created angst it becomes much easier to stay calm.  There’s nothing that breeds success like success.  And the calmer I stay, the more I like myself.  I feel like a healthy, ‘normal’ human being.  My therapist calls it ‘being still’.

I call it settling.

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