Dear 100 Hour Board,
I need some words of encouragement. I feel so discouraged lately and it feels like everything I do is useless and bound to end in failure. I feel like I can’t be a good enough mother, wife, employee, daughter, or friend and I don’t have the energy or motivation to fix it.
You seem like a good person. In a leadership class I took a guest lecturer told us "Having moral dilemmas is a good thing. It means that you have morals and that you're in a position of influence." I think your concerns show that you are a caring person that has a positive influence on those around you. Caring for and serving others can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. We have finite capacities and it's important to realize that.
For example, if you were to run a half marathon everyday with only 4 hours of sleep what do you think would happen to you after a few weeks? You'd probably get exhausted, or sick, or even injured. Sometimes we forget that we are mortal beings with limited time. We can only do so much right now, and that's okay. We are growing, but we are far from perfect. Any one of the roles that you just mentioned is hard so don't be discouraged if you can't give 100% to all of those 5 different roles. I think if you are trying your best and keeping good priorities then you're doing what you need to do.
You asked for words of encouragement, but would it be okay if I share with you a secret to help avoid discouragement? Okay, so, I'd like you to take a look at this graph (inspired by Anathema’s recent graph):
Which of these three graphs is doing better? The yellow line started off higher but then went low. The red line started off low but went higher. The blue line just stayed in the same spot the whole time. There are plenty of judgments you could make off these graphs; but, before we do I think that it's important to look at the axis. As you can see the x values are only between about 7.85 and 8.4, and the y values are only between 15.6 and 16.9. This graph is only a tiny piece of the big picture. If you zoom this graph out this is what you'd see:
The three lines now look very similar because they are the exact same function shifted ever so slightly. When we compare ourselves to others it's easy to get discouraged. We're all on different time lines and comparing ourselves to others is not useful and will only get us down. If you were the yellow line in the first view you might've thought "Things are going down hill. I'm just not as good as the other lines. I can't do this and might as well give up."
Looking at the bigger graph you can see that such comparisons don't make sense. All three functions have their ups and their downs but they are all heading toward infinity. Comparing ourselves to others, or focusing on a very small period of time, gives us a skewed view of where we're at. Life is full of ups and downs and growth takes time. I know not being able to reach our expectations is frustrating, but if we're kind to ourselves and trust in the Lord we'll get to where we need to be and the Lord will take care of the rest.
I hope this helps. I'm really glad you asked this question because I was in need of some motivation as well and seeing all the other writer's answers has been really encouraging to me. You're definitely not the only one with struggles, and neither are you alone in your struggles. As a mother, wife, daughter, employee, and friend you have children, a husband, parents, coworkers, and friends there to support you. You also have us and you always have the Lord. You've got this.
Let me start off with a super inspirational song/music video by Josh Groban.
Alright, now that you have either listened or are listening to the melodious tones of Josh Groban, let me continue on with giving you encouragement. First of all, those lyrics you're hearing are true: you are loved. And failing does not make you a failure.
Maybe you can't be as good as you want to be right now. But the fact that you care about doing well is a pretty good indicator that you're a good person. And sometimes that's all that matters.
You are most definitely, sincerely not alone. In fact, I'm not a wife or a mother and I struggle just to be the other things on your list, so without even knowing you, I admire how much more than me you manage to accomplish.
On the note of accomplishment, I've learned that when I feel overwhelmed and when I lack the energy to tackle major tasks, accomplishing anything at all gives me a sense of satisfaction. Simple things like going grocery shopping or taking out the trash mean that I've checked something off my to-do list for the day, therefore even accomplishing one thing is worth celebrating. Even by the act of being an employee or a mother, you accomplish something useful each and every day.
Personally I find satisfaction in knowing I'm not alone in feeling lazy or lacking motivation, so I collect pictures on my phone that remind me it's okay to not be supergirl all the time, as well as photos that inspire me to be a better, more productive person. Here are a few I particularly like:
Some of my saved photos are more positive than others, as you can probably tell. But the bottom line is they remind me to take care of myself, and that it's completely, totally okay to have days where I struggle to keep the existential dread away. You're going to have a lot of bad days, and they will often feel overwhelming. I've had lots of bad days lately, and at times it feels like bad days and lonely days and lazy days are all I have. But when I feel that way, I reach out to the people who care about me and they help me get through it, they support me when I don't feel capable of supporting myself.
You're amazing, and you're accomplishing things every day that seem totally overwhelming to me. Things will get better, and you'll get through it. I believe in you.
It's okay to not be 100% at everything you have to do. In fact, there will probably be few moments where you feel you're doing everything perfect. And that's okay.
One of my favorite songs to listen to when I'm feeling depressed and overwhelmed is Michael McLean's "Which Part is Mine." It tells the story of a woman who is caught up in raising her children, working, and being a good wife. She finally asks God, "Which part is mine, and which part is yours?" This has really stood out to me lately: God may ask us to do our part, but He recognizes that our part may vary. There are some days where the most we can do is get out of bed, and God can work with that. Often I hold myself to a much higher standard than God does. God only asks us to put in some effort, and He will provide the rest.
Future success is not dependent only on you. You're not the only one fighting for your children, husband, parents, and friends. You have someone on your side who has infinite love for your friends and family and will never stop fighting for them, and will never stop fighting for you. It is never just you. Your efforts will be multiplied by the thousands by your Father in Heaven.
You've got the creator of the universe on your side. With His help, everything will be okay.
-guppy of doom
I feel like I can’t be a good enough mother, wife, employee, daughter, or friend and I don’t have the energy or motivation to fix it.
I am a:
Mother: My baby spends more time watching TV on the couch with mom than is recommended! (Pro tip tho apparently babies aren't supposed to watch like ANY TV and how on earth do they expect newborn babies' mothers to night nurse like that)
Wife: Sometimes takes me multiple days to do certain simple household tasks (*gasp*)! (I will empty the bathroom trash tomorrow...tomorrow...tomorrow...) Also, my husband and I eat pizza at least once a week straight up.
Employee (barely. Super part time): Sometimes I don't save my work frequently enough and then my job's software crashes! Hooray for re-doing and wasting time with doc recovery!
Daughter: It is theoretically possible that some birthday gifts end up being selected off an Amazon wishlist (so impressive, much thought, wow) or never sent at all!
Friend: Sometimes I totally fail to make sure my good law school friend and I actually have that Skype date we've been meaning to have for weeks!
These aren't huge things, but they're things that probably wouldn't happen in a perfect world.
But guess WHAT! I DON'T LIVE IN A PERFECT WORLD AND NEITHER DO YOU!!!
So let's break down your feelings into some smaller pieces and go through them.
You feel like you're not doing good enough:
First things first. Some stuff is serious and should cause you serious concern. If you're abusing your spouse, kids, family, or friends, that's serious and you need significant and immediate help to improve NOW. If you're embezzling money from your company, likewise. In such a case, please contact your bishop immediately as step one. However, I'm guessing that you're a lot more like a lot of LDS women: you're doing okay (or even well) at most stuff but you feel like you're not quite enough compared to either other women or your own demands. If that's the case, read on.
Let's do a hypothetical thought train. Do you agree with the following: dangit, if I tried hard enough I would get things right and that means if the outcome wasn't perfect I didn't do "good enough." I think a lot of us can fall into this type of thinking (and Satan's probably pretty happy when we do). As we grow up, we learn about the things that we're good at and about our capacity and how much we can accomplish when we try. So we set up goals for results that need to be achieved that will help us determine whether we did "good enough."
PRO TIPS FOR LIFE: that's not how it works. How does it work? Here's a super super simple but encouraging metric for "good enough."
"If you will really try and will not rationalize or rebel—repenting often and pleading for grace—you positively are going to be 'good enough.'" In the linked talk, Elder Cornish (who is way wiser than I am so probably just read his whole talk) comments that "We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick."
You feel like you can't do good enough:
Here's what I think: I think that God understands inertia. I think that God understands that even if we want to be better, it's hard for us to make huge leaping strides towards better-ness, sometimes especially at the beginning when we're trying to overcome bad habits or nurture less-used virtues.
While God expects us to eventually become perfect people, the Atonement exists not just because God knew we'd mess up but because He wanted us to be able to keep improving over time while having access to grace throughout that process.
You feel like you don't care enough to try hard enough to be good enough:
The fact that you're asking this question shows that you care. And that's great. There's a scripture about faith that discusses what to do if we only desire to believe. It sounds like you desire to improve even if you're struggling with actually doing it, but I think that just like with faith that desire can be the start to nudge us towards taking small, experimental actions that over time make huge changes for us!
Maybe you're struggling with motivation. That's common. But don't get discouraged because you don't have the energy to get up tomorrow morning and suddenly be the perfect employee all day who then comes home and cleans the whole house before making a delicious dinner (which your perfect children help you prepare before playing games together nicely afterwards) and then has a special dessert baked for her husband before the kids are all in bed at 7:30 and you sit down to work on family history together.
I'd suggest trying to break this down into way smaller steps. I think we please Heavenly Father by trying to improve even when the results we get seem frustratingly slow to us. What is ONE thing you can do tomorrow to be better in one or two of your roles than you were today? Please note: finding the motivation to do things better is easier when you are well (enough) rested and taken care of yourself. If tomorrow evening you spend a half an hour in the tub reading a book and eating chocolate while husband takes care of the kids and you then feel rejuvinated enough to make some improvements, let that be your starting point. Neglecting family and other responsibilities isn't okay, but taking some time for your own mental/physical/emotional health is important to enable you to have energy! Here are some thoughts for tiny improvements: you don't need to use mine, but these are examples of ways little beginnings can start:
- Find one meal you can add a fruit or vegetable to to make a tiny health improvement.
- Find 15 minutes that you can go on a walk down the street/around the block with your kids or spouse to combine exercise and family together time. Or, turn on your music inside and dance for 15 minutes. Or, turn on a favorite show and workout in front of the TV.
- Try to say one extra kind thing to your spouse/kids tomorrow. Notice an attractive quality about your spouse, or thank them for a service they do for you. Tell your kid something you love about them.
- Do one thing at work that you've been putting off or doing with less than full effort differently.
- Text one friend just to say hi. Make plans for dinner or a game night if you're feeling ambitious.
Etc. etc. etc. These are just a few examples. You're unlikely to quickly get better at everything in your life, but prayer and reflection both for help knowing what your first priorities should be and for strength to improve them can enable you to identify ways that you can take steps (even if they're not flying leaps) in the direction you want.