The Demonization of “Try”

There is no try.
Go do the dishes.

I blame Yoda.

I was just having a little minipiphany (yeah, I just made that up because I have lots of these tiny epiphanies and they deserve a name).

I’m winning the war over the dishes. I was just finishing up and thinking about coming back to my laptop and my always-open chat window to Kait to tell her that I’ve really made a shift with this most-hated chore. I mean, I think I’m just about at the point where I appreciate having done them more than I dread doing them.

That’s huge for me. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind mess, and I can let a lot of things pile up before it bothers me. And dishes! I hate doing the dishes so much that I could dirty every dish in the house and would rather see them piled on the counters than wash them. Of course, I’m friends with enough normal people–and also crazy neat freaks like Kait– to know that a lot of you are cringing right now, just from that description. But I really hate doing the dishes.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point of appreciating an empty sink. I’ve been able to keep my sink empty before, establish good habits for weeks, and, very rarely, months at a time. But I always backslide because I always hate doing the dishes more than I like having them done.

So today I was thinking that I need to tell Kait that I feel like I’m turning a corner. It’s getting easier to do them right after dinner every night, and when they’re done, I really feel better now, and that’s new. And I thought:

It probably helps that I’ve changed my definition of “every.”

I have a feeling that the exactness thing I have with language causes me more problems than I realize.

It’s part of the all-or-nothing thinking plan I’ve bought into. “Every” means every. Each one. It doesn’t mean you get a night off when you’re really tired, have something else that has to be done, or even when you just really don’t wanna. “Every” night means that skipping a night is FAIL and fail is always an excuse to give up doing what’s hard.

In an attempt to work on the perfectionism that’s kicking my ass, I decided to redefine “every” for myself as “most of the time,” and even “more often than not” if necessary. With much better results.

If there is no try, there’s only do and fail.

I know that some people feel like other people need the Jedi Master Kick in the Pants. Maybe they do. What I know is that, over and over, I have tried to do my dishes every night, and then I failed to do them every night, and blowing them off felt hella better than actively failing all the time.

I actually think I need to tell Yoda to go piss up a rope (respectfully) and redefine “do” in my life as something a lot closer to try than the way I think about it now.  



Filed under me me me

3 responses to “The Demonization of “Try”

  1. Oh, you are way too hard on yourself in The Quest For Perfection. Glad you decided to go easier on yourself.

    I don’t mind doing dishes. I like to get them done in the morning before I leave for work, but sometimes I miss a day. I made a deal with myself to catch up if I miss a day, which is way more doable than They Must Be Done DAILY! And what’s really going to happen if I miss day? As long as I don’t slip into a deep depression over it, I’ll get them the next day and all will be right in the world.

    I think we need to give ourselves the leeway to not always meet our expectations. We’d never learn anything about ourselves and would never strive to be better. We just need to be honest with ourselves and go easy when we’re trying and kick our asses when we’re being lazy.

  2. I’m a terrible housekeeper…but I also don’t like the mess. Hubby is a great housekeeper. But he’s been sick. So I’ve had to do more. FlyLady is really who’s helping me. She says our perfectionism is what keeps up from doing things. She wants us to start with shining our sinks every night. Sometimes I don’t. But since I’ve kicked perfectionism to the curb, I’m still okay with getting right back on it the next day. She’s really changed my thinking about housework. That can help in other areas of life.

  3. “Piss up a rope”. Now THAT’s a phrase.

    I never thought about trying/doing/failing that way– but I’m a flake at the best of times, so getting ANYTHING done is an accomplishment for me.

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