I’m starting a Screw It movement. Join me. Or screw it. Either way is fine.
Lately, two little words have been changing my life.
No, I’m not talking about not “Housewives Reunion”, “sleeping in”, or “elastic waistband.” (Although each of these is a game changer, too.)
I’m talking about words that are almost never taught to us as children and rarely celebrated in the adult world either.
But when I use them regularly, they lead me to more peace and self-assuredness than I have felt in a long time.
When I say them in my head, my whole body relaxes and I feel as though I am lying on a bright, peaceful beach, fruity drink in hand, while someone else wrangles my wet, sandy children.
What are these magical words?
But before you accuse me of defaming every cheesy motivational poster ever, please hear me out.
Like so many of you, I have been a first class agent of TRYING my whole life.
Trying to be better when I was a child so that I wouldn’t get in trouble.
Trying to please everyone around me and avoid conflict.
Trying to get the highest grades so that the adults in my life would be content and I could continue to take my place among the “smartest” and the “best”.
Trying to look pretty enough, thin enough, happy enough to satisfy rest of the world.
Trying to find out what I am “supposed” to do in the world that will bring me some level of satisfaction, job security, and financial freedom. Without making other people uncomfortable.
Trying to fit in.
Trying to stand out.
Trying to figure out why I’m still not happy when I do either.
The thing is, all of this trying is exhausting.
Which would be just fine if it shot me to the moon with the rocket power force that it takes to carry it every day.
But it doesn’t.
Instead, it tires me out and places me squarely in Someday Land: the place we go to pass our days with the belief that if we just try harder, we will find nirvana – and finally prove to ourselves and others that we are enough.
As full-time residents of Someday Land, no amount of evidence that this isn’t working deters our plans.
This is complete and total madness.
Because it’s like sitting on top of a chest of gold while endlessly searching through binoculars for a spark on the horizon.
Yesterday, I was talking to a dear friend who is giving a big speech today. She was in that mode so many of all us know well: “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if no one likes what I have to say?” “What if I don’t say the right thing?”
She had been reading and reflecting and trying to take in advice we hear so often:
Take the chance on being brave.
Push through discomfort.
Do the thing that scares you most.
Such suggestions are useful. Unless they’re not. For my friend, they felt like another thing she had to do – not only did she have to give the speech, she also had to make sure she felt like a firework in Katy Perry’s music video while doing it.
My advice to her came from my own place of feeling tired and overwhelmed by all these damn expectations: “So what if you just stop trying?”
I advised her to go out there, with all her nerves and uncertainty, and give it about 75%.
I basically told her to screw it.
Watch out, Tony Robbins!
But here’s the secret: if you’re someone like my friend who constantly asks whether she’s good enough, I’d place good money on the fact that your 75% is still going to be about 110%.
Trying has its place: sometimes we need to try things like Brussel sprouts with ketchup or attending a Ratt concert to know whether we like them (yes and definitely not, never again).
Very occasionally we do need to try in order to do big, brave things.
And sometimes trying is fun.
But the problem is that we’ve made trying a lifestyle, when really it’s a full-time cover-up for some deeper emotions, like shame and grief and anxiety. Sometimes we don’t need to try. Sometimes we just need to sit with ourselves, exactly as we are, and feel our freakin’ feelings.
So many of us are also trying to be bigger, better, more awesome because we’re afraid of what will happen if we accept ourselves exactly as we are. We don’t want to know that there actually is no Someday Land. It’s only ever just here and now.
Because here’s the thing: right here is the only place that peace and other really good stuff – like inspiration, intuition, and the FedEx delivery truck – can find us. To receive, we need to be here, in this moment, just hanging out with what is.
If you hate everything about this message, I would suggest very kindly to you that: 1) you try to avoid sending me nasty messages and 2) trying might be some version of really not being very nice to yourself.
Because we never, ever have to try to be ourselves.
Today, pick one thing – big or small – that feels stressful but that you believe you need to do. Could be emptying your inbox, flossing your cat’s teeth, or writing that overdue memo that no one is ever going to read.
Pick one and picture yourself going full steam ahead with this task.
And then picture yourself saying “screw it”.
And stop trying.
If this is hard and you’re unable to let go, cool. In that case, you can just stop trying to believe you should be able to.
In my experience, when we stop trying, one of two things happens: we find we are able to do that very thing much more easily or we realize we never needed to do it to begin with.
Especially flossing the cat’s teeth. I mean, seriously.
To sign up for a free consultation and receive personal advice on how to join the Screw It movement, visit www.gailcowan.com/schedule.