addicted to to-do lists, part 2.

30 Jan

I realized, based on some comments I received (both online and off,) that I needed to clarify my previous post about being “addicted to to-do lists.”

I did not mean to imply there is anything wrong with keeping lists themselves. They are a useful organizing tool, help us de-clutter our brains, and are efficient. I have no intention to completely get rid of my lists.

Instead, it is the behavior that my list-keeping was enabling that is problematic. It became a way for me to validate my self-worth. The more that was on my list each day, and the more I crossed off, the more I felt validated. Days where I crossed off little or nothing, or still had items on my list, were days when I did not feel as good about myself. I felt I had not accomplished anything. I was hooked on the “high” of crossing an item off my list, and I needed more and more to feel good – so it got to the point where I took list-making out of efficiency and into a sort of abuse.

I believe intellectually that whether I cross anything off my lists or not, I have value as a human being. Intellectually, I believe that what I accomplish or how much I achieve does not make a whit of difference in my inherent worth.

Emotionally, however, I realized that my feelings of self-worth were directly tied to how much I accomplished in a day. And this is the problem. Not the list making itself, but that my feelings of self-worth were tied how much or little gets crossed off them.

Anytime our feelings about our value as a human being is tied to something we DO rather than who we ARE, that is a spiritual crisis. We are children of the universe, and we have value and worth and dignity just by nature of the fact that we exist. For a type-a person like me, sometimes that can be hard to remember.

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