Hot Mess Mindset
This morning I felt like a hot mess. I woke up after a long week, haven’t had enough sleep, and had a busy weekend ahead. After all, I’m writing 1000 words a day, I have to chaperone my son’s water polo team to another state, and manage multiple trips, clients, programs and meet ups I have coming up over the next two weeks.
This made my brain a hot mess. I tried to write down all the things I need to do, and look at the actions left undone, and I can feel my blood pressure rise. I thought that sneaking sensation of overwhelmed trying to take over and shut me down. When this happens, the world becomes pretty predictable: I can know everything around me, and either avoid the work completely and do something to distract myself or tunnel in on my work and at the expense of my well-being and family.
Do you want to know what the secret is? We are all hot messes in our own heads! We look at others and think, “geez everybody seems to have it all worked out”. Or “their family has it all put together” or “in there so organized” or “they are so successful” or “they seem so confident”.
But actually, the opposite is true. And the insidious thing is that we are all so insecure about the hot mess monkey mind that we have from time to time that we work very hard to make it look like we’ve got it hope all people together.” On those days when you’re feeling insecure and out of control, seeing other people who are seemingly “pulling it all together” makes the monkey mind even worse!
I was there having a theoretical conversation about the hot mess mindset, I want to provide some practical actions you can take to make a difference with it when it happens for you. These are my practices, and I hope to make a difference for you.
- Breath. It serves nothing to get wound up in time, which is the what the monkey mind wants to do. I’m all in on focus on the scarcity of the moment, and every gap that you see in your life. Close your eyes, breathe deeply into your nose, and out through your mouth.
- Tell yourself that you’re having some feelings, and noticed them, whatever they are. And then say those feelings out loud. “I’m feeling scared, I’m feeling alone, and feeling poor, I’m afraid of…”. Now here’s what I know about feelings: they seem significant, but they’re all on the inside, and they don’t live in the real world. It doesn’t mean they’re not worth noticing, but the only thing that brings them to life is acting from them, as opposed to just noticing them and seeing if there’s anything you actually need to address because of that.
- Get a clean piece of paper and write down every single thing that shows up in your brain. What are all the things that have you in this seeming spiral of negative thoughts? These can be relationships, projects, actions. Keep this paper handy, and add more things to the list if they show up as we move forward.
This brain dump is designed to get everything out of your head so he doesn’t have to take up real estate when we do the next pieces. Often our thoughts live on a more macro level. They are vague and do not lead to specific action. Macro oriented fears are the ones that seem overwhelming and immediately push us into a downward spiral imagining the worst case scenario.
The challenge is to take the brain dump and the macro fears and turn them into things that you can prioritize and take action on. This is something you can do yourself, or you can do with someone else. To help get you out of your head.
You’ll have things in your hot mess mindset that are oriented around different areas of your life. You can be around work, relationships, personally. It can be further broken down into different, bigger areas: eating healthy, exercise, rest, personal growth, dating, home repair, budget. It can then be broken down further into actionable items like deciding on a number of calories for your day, shopping only for fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins, creating your week’s menu, budgeting expenses for the month, making a list of needed items from Home Depot for home repair.
The root of the hot mess mindset is an expectation. We expect that life will show up a certain way, or we will achieve a result or that a situation will unfold in a way in line with our expectations. Often our unreasonable expectations are based on some picture we have made up with limited information.
It’s a little like comparing yourself to an episode of Hoarders. The episode where the couple cleaned up their garage and created a minimalist, showroom-ready space that resulted in fresh paint, skylights, a gardening table, a wall-mounted tool rack and PLENTY of room to park your car.
At the end of the episode, the garage was cleaner and more spiffy than most kitchens. The host and homeowners (wearing spiffy tool belts!) apparently created all these results in a smiling 30-minute episode. Yeah, Sure.
What they don’t reveal in those shows is 20-man construction crew behind the camera who arrive with a flatbed of tools, supplies and a dumpster. Or the 3 weeks debating priorities: “More open space, Jack!” “No, more room for tools, Janet!” The show doesn’t reveal the couple’s screaming fights over whether to keep Grandma’s croquet set or throw it away “because that woman was a nasty witch no one should remember!” They don’t reveal the host’s rampant alcoholism or the passive/aggressive sniping he does with his producer on set in front of the crew.
You don’t see the conflicts, you just see the 30 minute highly edited moments of perceived PERFECTION that TV is so good at. We are no different. We look at other people’s lives and only see the highlight reel that they either show us or we MAKE UP about their lives. And then we project it on our own. We are guaranteed to lose out. We can NEVER win that battle.
It’s just a game our minds play. And it doesn’t serve you.
Next time you feel the hot mess mindset showing up, ask yourself any of the following:
- Who am I comparing myself to?
- Is the expectation I have real, based on the real experiences, or is it made up?
- What’s MORE likely the truth?
- If I was going to ease back on my expectations, what would that look like?
- For today, if I was going to take it easier on myself, what would I do?
No one’s perfect. Not me, not you, and certainly not the folks on Hoarders (guests OR hosts). Our only job is to do our best, have a little self-compassion and be able to fist-bump life at the end of the day and say “I did my best, and for today that’s enough.”