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Can anyone throw any insight into why I continually sabotage myself?

(89 Posts)
JammingtonDodger Tue 08-Dec-15 10:03:12

I drag my feet about getting things done every single day, despite knowing full well that starting earlier and being more organised would lead to a relaxed happy day. In the mornings I procrastinate and procrastinate and convince myself that I still have time to shower, make packed lunches, etc etc etc, until it is clearly too late and my anxiety during the last few minutes before me and the DC get out of the house is raised to fever pitch - I am racing around almost in tears, my breathing is too fast and I make the kids' mornings crap before they even get to school.

I don't understand what it is that deludes me into thinking that 'this morning is different, I still have plenty of time'. I can't do packed lunches the night before, I just get unbelievably tired and can barely get up the stairs to bed - and I HATE making the lunches so much as all three DC are so fussy and it takes a stupid, disproportionate amount of brainpower trying to figure out what I have and what they'll eat. I dread doing the packed lunches every day.

I just don't know why I make things so difficult for myself. On the few occasions I have meal planned for the evening, for example, my life runs so much more smoothly and it is SUCH a relief not spending the entire day worrying about what I might be throwing together for dinner ...

Why why why????? I feel if I could identify why I'm like this I might have some hope of changing. It's as if I don't want to grow up and be a capable, organised adult. But WHY???

WowOoo Tue 08-Dec-15 10:09:15

Are your Dc old enough to help you? Sounds like you need a bit of help.

Even though mine moan and complain I make them get their stuff ready the night before. Uniform out and bags ready at least.

How about school dinners? It can make life a lot easier. Mine don't have a choice anymore as they were wasting too much of it. They'll get used to it soon.

I sympathise, sometimes it feels like I should have time to relax as I wake up so early, but I never do.

thedevilinmyshoes Tue 08-Dec-15 10:10:51

Are you in ok physical health? Something about your description reminds me of the strange wired but tired state of having an overactive thyroid.

Apart from that EVERYONE seems to have some kind of gremlin inside that is desperate to preserve the status quo. I think it's called resistance, that sort of inner voice that tells us all kinds of mad and usually horrible things about ourselves that we believe. You could try writing down what you want to change, being very specific, and then detail why you want those things to be different. The why usually leads to the how?

WowOoo Tue 08-Dec-15 10:11:29

They were wasting too much of their packed lunch, I mean. After I was spending so long planning, buying and making a healthy lunch. Grrr.

JammingtonDodger Tue 08-Dec-15 10:20:26

The DC do kind of help as they go off and get dressed and ready (well, most of the time) when I tell them to. It's just that I tell them to too late, and continually underestimate the time it will take them. It's not DD's fault, for example, that it might take her a whole 5 mins to brush her hair when I feel it should be a 30-second job.

It's just the fact that I do the same thing every morning, while expecting different results?!?? It's nuts. Every fucking day the same.

I am ok health-wise, thedevil. I think the wired-ness genuinely is a result of knowing we're now have only 7.5 minutes or whatever to leave the house or we'll be late. (We hardly ever are actually late, because of this stupid high-octane miserable rush right at the end.)

Wondering if I should give them all clocks and make them completely responsible for being ready themselves, but they are 9, 6 and 5 and I think the younger two are just not quite up to scheduling themselves to this degree ...

They hate the thought of school dinners - I've tried, but DD in particular bursts into tears at the thought of it sad. It's bloody expensive too - would work out at £36-ish per week! Don't know if that's standard but I'm a bit <eeek> at the thought.

moopymoodle Tue 08-Dec-15 10:22:41

I think u have to just force yourself to get moving, you then see the benefits and get into better routines. I used to feel overwhelmed a lot and put off everything, I felt like the world was on my shoulders. I was once stressed about having to post a letter (wtf)so I went and did it and realised it felt so much better to just get on now and that's becoming my habit.

JammingtonDodger Tue 08-Dec-15 10:25:03

I know from experience that it feels better to 'just get on', moopy. But I don't know how to force myself. I try, but I just ...... don't. Pathetic, no?

absolutelynotfabulous Tue 08-Dec-15 10:39:53

I'm like this, a bit. I think it's something to do with fear of failure, for me. It's got nothing to do with not having time or being disorganised. I just can't seem to do things. Like my Tax Return. Last year I got into a ridiculous pickle as a result of procrastination. Easily avoidable! I can't get a CV done-I just can't.

I think the CV thing in particular is to do with failure: what if I do it, do a fantastic job of it, send it out and STILL don't get a job? If I don't do the CV, at least I don't have to deal with the sense of failure ikwim.

So definitely psychological for me. Have you asked yourself why you do it?

JammingtonDodger Tue 08-Dec-15 10:44:48

Yes, I've asked myself. It's just easier to stay sitting down drinking my cup of tea or faffing around on the computer/phone than motivating myself to get up and actually do something. Even though the 'something' would make my life SO much easier. And I have tried forbidding myself screen time in the mornings ... it just makes me defy myself, think 'why the hell should I ban a quick flick through my phone when I'm having my tea, before the kids are even up? I'm an adult!' and go and bloody do it anyway.

It makes me feel hideously lazy and not in control of my own life.

thedevilinmyshoes Tue 08-Dec-15 10:47:22

You might be sort of addicted to the adrenalin and drama of it a bit? Not addicted but it's kind of a buzz isn't it, albeit a horrible one.

thedevilinmyshoes Tue 08-Dec-15 10:48:32

And your inner gremlin will just love telling you as often as it likes how lazy and not in control you are so it can keep things as they are.

WowOoo Tue 08-Dec-15 10:54:04

Ah, I see your younger ones definitely need help.
You are hardly ever late. This is a good thing - try to remember good things!

The worst thing that could happen if you are late? - you are late. The world doesn't end and nobody will hate you.
It's so hard when it's cold and dark too.

Wouldn't the school dinners be free for KS1?

My eldest was upset about school dinners but I give him a good breakfast and dinner and basically told him he'd have to get used to it whilst I am working full time.

I had a list with the latest times dc needed to have done things. Then showed them the list (I'd added time to spare for emergency 'I need a poo' type situations) Do this and actually look at it and teach your kids how to tell the time at the same time. Read and discuss it in the evening when you actually have some time grin

misscph1973 Tue 08-Dec-15 10:55:56

I think fabulous has a good point - fear of failure/succes. If you actually did it properly and it still didn't work, then what? At least while you delay till the last minute you can still have the illusion that it would be fine if only ...

Also, I think there is an element of unconscious rebelling - you don't want all the responsibility. Make any sense? I often feel that I just can't cook another dinner. I feel that the burden of the family is too much for me - I look after everybody, but no one ever look after me. I have to remember everything and take resposibility for everything. It's draining.

I just got a cleaner, and it's fabulous, it's made such a change for me. I feel like now I can do all the other things properly. The house remains tidy, I meet my work deadlines etc. I think sometimes you need to take a serious look at all the things you do. I came to the conclusion that I was doing far more than one person could handle, but I still expected myself to manage it, and I was failing daily.

You can organise yourself out of many things, but we all have a limit to how much we can handle.

berylbainbridge Tue 08-Dec-15 10:59:37

I think endless procrastination like this is all part of a low self esteem vicious cycle. You put stuff off because you think you're crap, lazy, bad at it. Anxiety makes you finally do it with little time to spare - it's a rushed, grumpy job that makes you feel shitty and worthless and you then beat yourself up afterwards about how bad you are at stuff! Then back to the start! I am terrible at this too. Boring but true that just forcing yourself to do it earlier does help.

berylbainbridge Tue 08-Dec-15 11:00:32

Yes to the unconscious rebelling. I am much more likely to procrastinate when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

Ripeningapples Tue 08-Dec-15 11:08:36

Re the lunches. It is the job I hate most. Years ago I started making them in mega batches and freezing the sandwiches. Simple ones like tuna mayo, ham and cream cheese, edam cheese, etc. I also got some big plastic boxes for the fridge and started putting into a plastic bag: Little cake or squeezy yoghurt, box of raisins or Satsuma, drink carton and all I had to do was lob contents into lunchboxes and throw in frozen sandwich. Worked a treat for years.

Could you try setting yourself a timer to limit sitting/screen/phone time.

I used always to have shoes, gym kit, book bags lined up in the hall the night before to keep stress levels lower.

moopymoodle Tue 08-Dec-15 11:08:59

OP I understand what your saying. It's a habit to procrastinate. I don't always feel like cleaning up and I'm dreading my tax return but once it's all done I feel better and relaxed and so next time I remember how much easier it is to get on and over time I develop more proactive habits.

Don't get me wrong I still do it with some stuff, but I'm not overwhelmed anymore. I would procrastinate everything. Posting a letter or cleaning the fish tank out filled me with overwhelm. I think the more you do it regardless of motivation you retrain yourself to actually feel less overwhelmed and the result is usually more motivation.

Think I shall eat my own words now and dig out my tax return before I get fined in January!!

MaisieDotes Tue 08-Dec-15 11:09:39

Oh I have this in a bad way. Unless I have a fire under my arse I just can't get on. I need some sort of external influence, my own self discipline is crap.

For example I am fine getting up and going to work, as Authority Figure is policing that. However at the moment I am working from home, which is probably the worst set up for someone like me.

My absolute downfall is college/ university assignments. I CAN. NOT. get round to them. I have one overdue at the moment and here I am on mumsnet. I've always been like this, but the absolute killer is that for some unfathomable reason I keep doing more study. It's self-torture, I really must hate myself. I have an undergraduate degree, a postgraduate qualification, a professional qualification and I'm currently doing another degree. WHY WHY WHY?

misscph1973 Tue 08-Dec-15 11:11:18

beryl, I think you are spot on, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, you act a certain way to reflect who you think you are.

I think positive self-talk helps. I realised a while ago that the voice in my head (ahem) only talks about the things I haven't managed to do. So I am forcing the voice to talk about the things I did do, and if there are things I haven't done, I make the voice say "Sweetie, it's okay". I think many women are programming themselves to negative self-talk, and we are often not even aware of it.

anotherbusymum14 Tue 08-Dec-15 11:16:19

Do you have a history of depression?
If I were you I'd just write a list. Not a big one just one to get basic things done, plus one other thing each day till you get into a routine. Make yourself do the list and so long as it's not too big you will eventually start to do things automatically.
Also post encouraging words up around your home. Just to help you keep going.
If no one else is able to encourage you start with yourself. Just put "you're doing well" "I can do it" etc up around your kitchen, or in the hallway or something. Just enough to remind you you will get through each day smile hope it goes well flowers

WickedWax Tue 08-Dec-15 11:20:41

Go and make the lunches for tomorrow right now. That's a start.

berylbainbridge Tue 08-Dec-15 11:22:39

Misscph I think positive self talk can be really useful. It's hard to do it when you're used to constant negative internal monologue and it takes practice. Another thing I've started to do is rather than saying to myself 'God I'm so anxious/depressed about x' is try to say 'I'm having feelings of anxiety/sadness about x situation' as it slightly removes you from the immediate emotions and you can see they are just that, bad feelings which are just as transient as good feelings are!

JammingtonDodger Tue 08-Dec-15 11:28:40

Good to hear I'm not alone ... I guess sad.

Things like setting a time limit - I have tried. And it may work for a short while but after that it's just ...ah, I'll just click on one more link. And before I know it, another 15 mins out the window.

Totally agree re 'Authority Figure', Maisie. I much prefer being handed a set amount of work and told when I need to have it done by. I'll do it then, but my own work, stuff at home, just slides and slides because I won't stick to the routines and regimes I set myself. I do write lists, and it's not like the tasks are unrealistic or onerous or anything! I try and keep the goals small and achievable. I once had a thing where I divided the house into seven 'zones' and allocated one to each day - just a general tidyup and keeping on top of things, no deep cleaning or anything. And it still all fell by the wayside.

No depression, busymum. But I do feel like I'm hovering close sometimes to certain things my own DM, who has always been plagued by depression, does. She puts everything off - puts off life, in fact, till things are better. But they never are. She'll say, for example, 'Ooh, I'll hear all about it!' about a school show or something. But she never, ever comes back to it.

JammingtonDodger Tue 08-Dec-15 11:33:28

I can't, Wicked. Don't have any stuff in and have to take the car to the garage first. And first I have to rack my brains for about an hour to think what they all might eat - what one eats, another doesn't.

Yes, the younger ones are entitled to school lunches, whoever asked, but they point blank refuse, having seen the menus ...sad

JammingtonDodger Tue 08-Dec-15 11:51:25

In fact, you know what? I've posted on this subject a fair few times in the past, under different names. And it's because I'm desperate for someone to just TELL ME WHAT TO DO! Give me a formula that will instantly switch me from being lazy and distracted to focused and organised. But of course I know that noone can force me to change except me ... unless I was being tortured or something ... sad

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