Monday, September 19, 2011

How Rules Can Help With The Big Picture

The last few posts I have written about scheduling, and changing habits and becoming more productive as well as trying to give up being so obsessive.  Probably more of this blog is about that than not! :)  I don't know about other ladies with Asperger's or other differences and how they might be similar.  I just know about myself and these things have been a struggle for me for many years.  I used to spend several hours a day cleaning my house and it was spotless without question.  Then my boys came along and I had to choose between tending to them and letting them be themselves or having a home with nothing out of place.  I chose them and had to let my house fall far below my standards of clean.  I let it go physically, but mentally I knew I had to be a failure.  I thought that my house was by far substandard,and I was not a good mother, wife or person.  I felt that everyone else noticed these things and thought less of me, too.  Now, thanks to learning some really good meditating techniques and combining them with Mindfulness I know that my self worth is not dependent on such trivial things as how clean my house is.  I am not my house, I am not my clutter and I am not all these other judgements that I put upon myself.

Getting from that rigid of thinking and self flagellation to more balanced thinking was not easy, nor overnight.  I used many of the techniques that I have already listed in previous posts.  I am still a very rigid thinker and that's not likely to change.  No amount of meditation and mindfulness is going to be able to change how my mind works to that degree.  My brain, works on rules.  Everything has a rule.  I am not over-exaggerating. There is not much I don't do that I have not thought through, decided on how to best carry out every little detail to increase functionality and efficiency.  These rules become a ritual and I don't care much for these being changed unless I have lots of time to think about it first and acclimate.  The order in which I load the dishwasher to the order in which the towels are put away, to the order in which I watch TV programs on my DVR all have rules.  Those rules all serve a purpose to me and for me.  They make sense in my world and they make me happy when carried out.  They make me equally unhappy when they are not.  Even though I get overwhelmed in the wake of the hurricane like mess my husband leaves everywhere I think his chronic disorganization was okay with me, because I could control my environment.  I could control my world. I make the schedule (because he can't) I decide where things go, and what bills get paid.  He can't (or greatly struggles) do these things, leaving the door open for me to be in a relationship that is almost like being alone. 

So, rules have been my way of getting things done, even with mindfulness.  If I have a rule, I can cope. My brain has something to latch onto.  I have lost weight by making rules about how much to eat and when.  I make rules about exercise, when and how.  When cleaning to give myself more flexibility and be more productive I bring a timer.  I have tried several different methods, but this one has worked the best.  I alternate half the house every other day by cleaning 5 rooms a day.  I clean each room for 5 minutes and when the timer dings I stop.  I have to move on to the next room.  Otherwise, I'd be so overwhelmed with details that I'd be in one corner of the house all day doing things that most people reserve for spring cleaning.  You'd be amazed at what you can get done in 5 minutes, especially if you move quickly, because you know you only have 5 minutes!  I do one room a day for 20 minutes, so that some bigger cleaning like mopping and such can also get done.  That's only 45 minutes a day, but it seems to do the job.  I don't always get to it daily, but I try.  Without my timer, and without my rules of time I'd be stuck on details either not moving due to feeling too overwhelmed by the totality of it all, or I'd get too involved and get next to nothing done in the way of the big picture.  Keeping the big picture in mind is a difficult thing for me to do. Feeling like I have some structure helps me to move ahead towards my goals.