No I don’t mean avoidance through hiding our mistakes from ourselves! We often make excuses for a behavior or absence of one, yet the guilt persists in spite of the excuses we create for ourselves. I avoided a personal guilt trip by finally getting down to my automatic writing exercise in the late afternoon. My time was frequently interrupted and it would have been so easy to tell myself that I will “do it tomorrow”, when in fact that rarely happens. The funny thing about that type of writing is that one starts at point A and meanders all over the alphabet, not landing on B or Z, necessarily, just lifting fingers from the keyboard when the timer goes off. And when the timer went off I wanted to keep writing. I have an idea that I am going to adopt next month, so it will be a secret for now. But part of the automatic writing helped jumpstart the process.
If I hadn’t forced myself to start, I would be sitting here this morning feeling awful about making excuses not to write. And in the end, isn’t happiness sometimes the absence of unhappiness? The feeling of lightness when we are not burdened with self-doubt, freed of the internal tongue lashing to which most of us are prone can give a sense of happiness too. One of the suggestions in Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project” is a list of nagging items. Those are the items that we put off for whatever reason, but they stay with us through guilt and self recrimination. Getting those nagging items into a list, daunting in itself for some, and then resolving to complete and thus cross off each item within a specific time frame is not just an organizational and management tool, but a way to lift the burden. Before I cross the last item off my list, I want to create the habit of never needing a list like that again. If the item has any of the earmarks of a nagging burdensome task, I will instead drop everything and do it NOW! I can dimly imagine what the freedom from procrastination might feel like, but I do know what a lifetime of putting off anything I wish I didn’t have to do feels like, and the opposite of that must feel wonderful. There are so many doorways to happiness, surely closing the door on guilt is one of them.