Enough Mental “MUST”erbation!

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That’s it, you are cut off. You will go blind, grow hair on your hands, or go to hell, if you continue to mentally musterbate. It is getting out of control – even ruining your life. Your relationships, friendships, and career are being effected by your inability to stop obsessively musterbating. You need a support group for other musterbates because you are obsessed! “Hi, my name is Stacey, and I am a Musterbator”. “Hi Stacey.”

You are missing out on the life you have because you are ruminating about the life you should be having. The life you could have…would have…should have been having. That life. Not the actual life you have. You know the one that is messy, imperfect, stressful and often dire. No, not that life. The other life that was supposed to be your life if only you had: made better choices/lost weight/got your MBA/married your childhood sweetheart…blah, blah, blah. It is the life that would have been different if you were more disciplined, smarter, less impulsive, more fit, and frankly much less human than you turned out to be.

I call this irrational driving stressor to be perfect while holding yourself to an unobtainable ideal, “Mental Musterbation”. I call it this because you are wasting your life filling your days with all of the things you MUST do. The things you aren’t really wanting to do, but you feel you are called to do because everyone YOU know seems to be better at everything than you are and you MUST do more. I must be super-mom, career woman, awesome housekeeper, dinner party creator, family therapist, sexual dynamo and multi-tasker. I must be a sensitive, manly, masculine, ripped, strong, handy, romantically gifted husband/father/man.

Who can do it all? No one. I know this because I work with people in their deepest most sensitive private areas of their mind and I know this is a common misconception that we all share. The more we fixate on burdening ourselves about all the “musts” in the world, the more we push ourselves further away from the reality of our own best lives: these lives that are wonderful, disappointing, and sloppy all at once. We can learn how to accept “what is” and not put pressure on ourselves to overachieve in all areas of our lives by comparing ourselves to some imaginary “other” who does not even exist.

I encourage you to let go of trying to reach some idyllic version of yourself and start celebrating all of the idiosyncratic traits you already have. I read women’s magazines so I know what women are “supposed to be like”. I know that I am not able to practice the habits that many of the perfect/beautiful/thin/photoshopped magazine women do such as being able to turn down a delicious desert, not over pluck my eyebrows, walk around confidently in a bikini, wear sexy pajamas to bed every night, or shave the upper part of my thighs everyday. These are just a small sampling of things I believe I must do better to be more confident, attractive, or smooth – but I don’t. I used to think I was not very feminine as a result of all my laziness but actually that just makes me me. The truth is, no one pulls it all off perfectly and I shouldn’t worry about anyone else’s version of what I must be doing anyway.

It’s true, I am a musterbator. Thankfully through a lot of personal work and growth, I have been able to teach myself what the focus of my musts should be. These have become my truths. I must learn to surrender to my own limitations. I must love myself unconditionally. I must be my own best friend. I must learn to forgive myself. I must let go of any idea of controlling my life or others in it. Most importantly, I must celebrate my very own life just as it presents in this very moment because in the end it is all I have. What must you do?

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stuck on Social Work
    May 27, 2014 @ 18:40:56

    I really love this way of externalizing the problem, although I am not certain I can use this with the teens that I work with…maybe their parents??

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  2. Clare
    May 30, 2014 @ 22:54:49

    Fantastic piece, and funny too. I also call it comparing my vulnerable inner with others’ perceived (by me) ‘outer’ image; assigning narratives to other people that are based on very little but supposition/projection.
    When self regard grows, this tendency diminishes. It’s hard and often painful work but so worthwhile. Messy is beautiful.

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  3. artforyoursake
    May 31, 2014 @ 09:30:02

    It reminds me of that analogy that every once in a while you have to check your closets for clothing you haven’t worn for say, 5 years or more. Why not do the same with all of our “must-dos”? If we haven’t followed through on a must-do; it might be time to re-evaluate what is humanly possible given our DNA-given make-up.

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