This is a rallying cry for more gormlessness in our lives. And why? Because I’m seeing so many people these days who are just trying so hard to make everything perfect. They grind their teeth at night (bruxism) or walk around with their jaws permanently clenched tight causing headaches, migraines and even sleep problems.
How and when did we learn to be so hard on ourselves? Where did that perfectionism come from?
I know that I’ve written about this before but this one’s from the heart because I’m fed up with seeing it all around me – children, burnt out mums, anxious and fearful corporate employees (the fee earner who said to me a while ago that she didn’t want to drink water during the day because she was worried about the loo breaks she might need and the implications for her billing targets! This is someone who has suffered kidney infections in the past and wears a mouth guard because of her nocturnal bruxism). To be honest, I’m sick of seeing this in myself too. When I was a child, the one thing I really wanted to do was to write a book. (I also wanted to be a Bollywood dancer but that’s a whole other story.) I received my author’s copy of Tired but Wired on the same day that I received Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I held both books in my hands and compared the slimness of my own masterpiece to the weightiness of Larsson’s bestseller and couldn’t help the ripple of embarrassment. In a split second I’d completely forgotten the sheer effort and exertion of my own endeavours and could only think ‘It’s not good enough.’
Back to being gormless. I believe the increase in bruxism that I’m seeing both at my clinic and in corporate environments is related to an increasing need to control everything out there – ‘I will meet those targets/ empty my inbox/ get through my to-do list’. And it’s madness because the reality of life these days is that we can never get on top of the demand. Life’s messy and it’s never going to be perfect! The intelligence of the mind-body connection means that rigidity in our thinking often transfers into the body creating tightness and dis-ease without us actually realising this is happening.
And so, in the interest of better health, more energy, and simple kindness to ourselves this is a call for us to start to let go…let go of thinking we need to do it all, it needs to be just so, we can’t possibly get it wrong/ ask for help. As always I have to offer a few practical steps to creating – and living with – beautiful imperfection in your life:
- Regularly stop and check your jaw. Are you clenching? Your jaws should only touch for 17 minutes out of a day’s worth of 1440 minutes!
- You may not be a ‘jaw clencher’ but might be holding on somewhere else – shoulders, between the eyebrows, stomach, hands. Where do you tend to hold on and try too hard?
- If you’re clenching, what are you holding onto? What are you trying to control and can you let go just a little? Can you get just as much done without the mental and physical clenching, with a little less effort?
- Practise being gormless – we need more of this these days as we’re so caught up with being busy and getting everything done. Regularly stop – I recommend 5 times a day, stare into space, daydream, relax your jaw and just do nothing. Be gormless. Notice how hard this might be to start with but how gratefully your mind and body starts to welcome these moments to just let go and We are human beings after all, not human doings.
And by the way, for those of you worried about meeting your targets, neuroscience research shows very conclusively that stopping and taking regular breaks from screens and devices, from thinking and being intelligent actually increases productivity. Another way of saying this – we are using more of the brain when we are staring into space and doing nothing.
I’m off to be gormless now…
Yours in perfect health.