My first car was a green 1968 Plymouth Fury. Her name was Priscilla.
Priscilla had a lot of personality because she belonged to my grandmother before she died, and had already been on plenty of adventures (some of which I had also enjoyed) before I bought her from my grandmother's estate during my sophomore year of college.
Aside from the great memories, the thing that I loved most about Priscilla was that she provided many opportunities for me to learn. She had a HUGE engine and it was easy for me to see everything under the hood. I developed a friendship with a great mechanic in town who allowed me to observe and help him whenever Priscilla needed a tuneup or a repair. I learned a lot about cars that way, and I felt a sense of pride that I could handle some basic car care myself. Knowledge is a powerful thing.
Sometimes, though, what you KNOW can hurt you. First of all, if you KNOW how to do something, you can just handle it yourself, right? If you come from a family of "do-it-yourselfers" (DIYers) - like me - you might even feel like you SHOULD handle it yourself. While there is certainly a sense of pride in doing things yourself, feeling like you have no choice can keep you from getting things done in the most efficient or painless manner. Lots of little projects start to build up. Some of them don't get done — and those undone "shoulds" can be accompanied by unpleasant feelings of overwhelm, regret, shame, and guilt. Those are a real drag on your well-being.
Here's the other dangerous thing about knowledge. What you KNOW might not be entirely accurate or helpful. The stuff that I learned with Priscilla was very useful when I was driving a vehicle with an 8-cylinder, V8 engine (30 years ago). Now, however, I drive a Prius — so all that knowledge isn't so helpful. Luckily, I realize that - and I don't try DIY projects on my current vehicle. But if I was convinced that I KNEW what to do, I might waste a lot of time and energy — and I might even do some harm — because I was operating under incorrect information or false assumptions.
These lessons apply to wellness journeys too. In my conversations with health-seekers, I often encounter people who want to make healthy changes, but aren't making progress because they've been trying to do it themselves and they can't see where they are stuck. They beat themselves up because they "know" what to do for themselves, but aren't being successful. This leaves them feeling disempowered, frustrated, and even cynical about their own ability to master their self-care. In order for us to work together, they must be willing to let go of their need to do it all themselves and become curious about what they might not know.
I also encounter health-seekers who have been actively working to build healthier habits, but they don't feel like they are getting results. They feel frustrated because they are working hard, and it isn't paying off like they hope. When we explore their situation, they may realize that they are using an approach that is based on incorrect information or false assumptions. As Mark Twain put it: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." With new information and different insights, these health-seekers can adjust their approach and find a successful path to their desired goal.
Learning to "do-it-yourself" provides a lot of satisfaction, but getting the results you want is ultimately even more satisfying. Part of mastering your self-care is learning when to rely on your own knowledge and skills, and when to get more information, resources, or support for your journey.
What about you? Has your commitment to DIY ever gotten in your way — and if so, what did you do about it? Please share your experiences and insights with me in the comments below!