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Facing “Impossible Tasks”

by | Dec 1, 2020 | Anxiety, Self-Care | 0 comments

Do you have an ‘Impossible Task’? Coined by M. Molly Backes on Twitter, an ‘Impossible Task’ can be anything – starting an assignment, going grocery shopping, or making a phone call. The task may seem simple enough, but for you it’s overwhelming and all too much. Even if the task weighs on your mind every day and you spend significant time and effort willing yourself to ‘just do it’, for some reason you just can’t.

Why exactly is it so hard? Because doing the Impossible Task is not just about doing the task, it’s also about working through the difficult emotions attached to the task. Fear of failure, guilt, and shame are some common ones that tend to tag along. To tackle the Impossible Task, we first have to soothe these challenging emotions with compassion and understanding. People tackling Impossible Tasks have often tried multiple strategies to get the task done, but having self-compassion may not come so naturally. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to try it out:

  • Acknowledge that facing the task is not just about the task, it’s also about the difficult emotions attached. What difficult emotions show up for you? Is self-doubt present? What about feelings of rejection, or feeling like a disappointment? Each of these challenging emotions is like a hurdle you have to jump in order to get to the impossible task. No wonder it is so difficult.
  • Listen to your self-talk. “Why can’t I just do it? ‘Normal people’ do it all the time. What is wrong with me?!” Sound familiar? Being hard on yourself is often used as a way to conjure up the motivation needed to do the task. This way of speaking to ourselves can come so naturally, we may not even notice what we are saying. However, beating yourselves up only adds more difficult emotion hurdles to jump on the way to the task, like feeling criticised, shamed, and guilty. The alternative is to show yourself some understanding – just like you would a friend who is struggling.
  • Add some understanding to your self-talk. What would you say to a friend who was struggling with the task? Maybe something like “I know you’re really trying to do this task. I hope you know everybody feels disappointed with themselves sometimes, it’s not just you. Human beings are imperfect and we all struggle. To help you feel better about this, I’m wondering if it would help to ask a friend to keep you accountable with starting this task.” Just like how a message of encouragement might lift a friend up to get them over a hurdle, saying this to yourself might do the same for you.

Click this link to read M. Molly Backes’ original post on Impossible Tasks: https://twitter.com/mollybackes/status/1034239973392871426?lang=en

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