The world we live in moves at an extraordinary speed, to the point that every day is a race in which we must combine speed, endurance and success, transforming our life into an almost impossible mission.
These needs - and often self-needs as well - make us feel pressured. We want to be able to do everything. Living up to one's own and others' expectations. Doing things perfectly. Be successful and happy. And sometimes, it's just not possible.
“The society of weariness”, as the philosopher Byung-Chul Han defined the world in which we live, a society in which people “live with the anguish of not always doing everything they can”. The anguish that comes from thinking that everything is in our hands and that we are not doing enough.
In this society, the figure of the exploiter and the exploited merge and coexist in each of us. Consequently, "now one exploits himself and thinks that he is realizing himself," said the philosopher.
The maxim by which we are guided is as simple as it is unlikely: do whatever you can. All time. And this leads us to a state of exhaustion - physical and emotional - to the point where we feel tired of being tired. It is an overwhelming experience in which we cannot find our way out because a voice within us tells us that we must continue - whatever the cost - and another begs us to stop, because we can't take it anymore.
At this point, whatever we do, it will go wrong. Because we can't focus, because we lack strength and motivation. Because we have no energy or desire. So we lose our balance and feel lost, probably plagued by anxiety.
And just when we think that nothing can get worse, daily fatigue turns into vital fatigue, as novelist Henning Mankell warns: “What is one tired of when he thinks of committing suicide? Of life itself. Boredom. Of the tiredness he feels when he looks in the mirror in the morning ”.
Perfectionists are more likely to fall into this over-demanding state due to their inflexible, overly pretentious and / or controlling behaviors. These people often experience tremendous pressure which ultimately causes them enormous suffering.
A Brock University study found that perfectionists are more likely to feel sick and complain of lack of sleep, headaches, back pain, digestive upset, dermatitis, and fatigue than those who aren't. Furthermore, they are very afraid of failure because they are very concerned with what others think of them, so they often act according to what they think others want and not according to what they want themselves, and this generates dissatisfaction and frustration.
We have to stop long before we reach that point. We have to understand that sometimes we can't with everything. And nothing happens. Sometimes you can't do everything. And that's normal.
Accepting that we can't do everything in life - and we don't need to - is extremely liberating. Whoever puts all the weight on his back, sooner or later, must get rid of this weight or he will run the risk of dying under the weight of responsibility.
It is important to understand that in these circumstances it is not enough to take an afternoon off to disconnect, paint mandalas or practice half an hour of yoga because these are small solutions to a much bigger problem that we face in a radically different way.
How did we get to this point?
Why do we think we should be able to do everything?
Sometimes we perceive many tasks as urgent or essential, but in reality they are not. That's why it's important to ask yourself: is it that bad if I don't? Are the consequences so horrible? Is this the only possible alternative?
If the answer to these questions is "no", then we should stop thinking about that task as if it were a matter of life or death. If we have time for that, great. If not, nothing happens. It is not worth giving up enjoying the truly precious things in life just because we overload ourselves with irrelevant and sometimes absurd obligations.
We need to make sure that what is urgent does not take the place of what is important. Our ultimate goal in life is to be happy, not to fulfill an endless list of tasks ... Tasks must be subordinated to our goals, so we must not confuse the means with the end. Therefore, we must learn to say "no", to give up things we don't need and to want to do everything.
We also need to learn to forgive ourselves, be less demanding of ourselves, and occasionally be forgiving of ourselves. If we have had a bad day, if an inconvenience has arisen or we can't do something, we don't have to break down, let's just accept it as part of life and move on. We can't with everything, and we don't need to try.