“I must do this!' 'Oh! I need to finish this chore!'
* Insert guilt and feelings of compulsion towards completing these actions *
All of us have such compulsions that, have been with us since years, and are either a result of what others made us do, or of what we think we must do according to "them"!
Now, sometimes, we don't even realise that whatever we do, is not willingly done, but merely because we feel like we have to do them. And some other times, we are aware of such scenarios, we even get uncomfortable and irritable with it, but mistake it to be just a mood swing, or blame ourselves or laziness. What we don't realise, in such a scenario, is that the reason behind feeling guilt, and most importantly ENTITLEMENT, can be a forced notion that's going on in our minds. As stated earlier, it could be either external or internal. These feelings and emotions, then lead to overthinking, about the work (household or otherwise) that is to be done.
For example, if Pranay likes doing the dishes and is also used to it, because he was made to do it since an early age. Now that the house work is divided and he chose the dishes again, he gets to take it up and complete it every day, at any time that he wishes as far as it’s done once a day. Say he doesn’t feel like doing that work for a day. He knows that it isn’t a compulsion really, if he doesn’t do it for a day and maybe he could ask someone else to do it instead, but he doesn’t consider those options, because if he doesn’t complete it today, the utensils will just pile up and that means more work! So, he starts to feel entitled to complete that task, since he chose it in the first place. He feels entitled to his own choices, and starts feeling guilty of not wanting to do it. He also starts feeling inadequate because he questions himself as to, ‘why am I being lazy or why is this work bothering me?’, which leads to anger towards oneself. All these thoughts, feelings and emotions lead to frustration. Now this frustration could be towards the work- which then makes him not do it at all- or towards self, because he feels inadequate and incompetent.
This was just one example of such a situation. We experience many more on a daily basis, and they’re called daily hassles. We may or may not realise or register them immediately, and as a result, we don’t realise their effects on us. It’s only later that we build up so much of pent up anger, frustration, sadness and low moods, that we feel troubled. For these reasons, we must understand that taking a break once in a while is okay and important! If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t do it. The compulsion has been ingrained in us ever since childhood. We should also take control now and ingrain regular breaks from it. Break the cycle of compulsion. This is where, we need to realize and push ourselves to practice to stop forcing ourselves where it isn't an immediate need or urgency to fulfil the work (household or otherwise). For this, it's important to acknowledge our emotions and feelings in the first place. After acknowledging, think about the cause of them- it could be your own rules for yourself, the way you want to see yourself which fits the society’s view of you OR externally fed by people in your life, or maybe even your parents, telling you that you ‘have to’ or ‘you must’. Count even the tiniest of incidents or thoughts related to anything or anyone, and make a conscious effort to fix the little issue before it escalates into a bigger one.
Let’s see how can we make little efforts.
For eg : you're doing a household chore (say, washing utensils again). You start to feel like it's too much to do and yet you're unable to stop. So here, start small. Take a moment to yourself, and start noticing and questioning yourself, or talk with someone reliable.
" I don't want to do this anymore!"
"These utensils are so dirty and irritating!"
" Oh, okay! I feel irritated and annoyed at this." (Acknowledgement and Acceptance.)
" What's making me like this?" (Start questioning)
" Is it because s/he said xyz about cleaning, the other day?"
" Oh! Mom/Dad always crib about my cleanliness and that definitely irritates me"
" Maybe all this drags me back to those days and comments!" ( Try to draw possibilities)
After you're sure about what caused those emotions, get to dealing with them in any healthy manner that you think will help you. It could be writing, painting, listening to or playing music, dancing, talking to someone, or simple sitting calmly, etc. Always know that, if these little issues aren't dealt with, they shall be evolve into bigger issues, and pile up! All this can lead to overthinking, feeling of emptiness, a sad state, and with growing issues, even depression! The issues or problems could also be responsible for anxiety. Or worse, both!
There are a number of possibilities that could result in serious conditions. But avoiding such extremities is not difficult, if only one keeps reminding themselves of taking one step after another towards solving the nitty-gritties, first! Just like we maintain our body, avoid materials that may make us sick, similarly, we must remember to maintain our mental health as well.
- Avoid scenarios that cause stress or discomfort.
- Take little breaks regularly for yourself.
- Remind yourself that any work or relationship is not a compulsion.
- Maintain your rejuvenation activities like painting or yoga, etc.
- Set a good routine that also includes your ‘me time’
- Encourage logical thinking processes to solve issues.
- Don’t forget to breathe!
I do not imply that the long term problems raised by these feelings and or emotions cannot be dealt with or worked on. But what I do imply, is that we can deal with the causes at a very initial stage, much easily, than when they escalate! The easier way to deal with these problems is to do as much work as you’re comfortable with. Don’t push yourself towards anything that causes any discomfort to your mental or physical state. A simple way of identifying what is or isn’t causing an issue is that, if doing (or the thought of doing) something is affecting us or not. Because whatever we do willingly, will not negatively affect us.
We need to accept mental health issues, just like we accept other physical problems.
If we are at all, we're then entitled to our own good. Once we figure out how to establish that, we've dealt with a battle that didn't even have to start!