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There is a pile of mail that sits on my desk almost all the time now. Eventually there will be one day where I decide to go through it, putting things into a shred pile and recycling others and envelopes; but until that day comes the pile sits here on my desk. I’m sure there are some things in there that are important and should be addressed sooner than “mail day” will arrive- but it’s overwhelming to start going through it, so there it sits. 

Sometimes I will take the first envelope off the top and try to deal with just one or two pieces, but inevitably I feel that rush of self-judgement come up- and the inner critic rushes in to remind me that I should have handled the mail a long time ago, and what’s my problem letting it sit, and nobody else has the issue of piling up mail so why can’t I handle something so basic. At which point either I will go through the entire stack, leaving the things I was already doing when I took the first piece off the top, or I will abandon the project for another month to avoid the inner criticism, and distract myself with other projects. 

The mail doesn’t stop coming in, just piles up. While some of it is junk mail that goes right into the recycle bin, there are inevitably more important items that are intermixed and get added to the pile to address. 

Every so often I will handle a new piece of mail- say a current bill, which means I can discard all of the older bills that were in the pile related to the newer one. That’s the best scenario because I feel like I’ve made significant progress, even though it was actually a very small step. The worst is when I come across an envelope that I had overlooked, and I was supposed to do something and the deadline has now passed. This piece of mail will require a lot of extra time and research to resolve whatever I was supposed to handle. Sometimes I’m able to panic myself into dealing with the older issue right away, and sometimes it’s too overwhelming and I make it worse by ignoring it longer. 

I really wish that there were some way of handling the mail automatically- that it didn’t take my time and focus, and that it would magically just handle itself. 

It occurs to me that this is a microcosm of what I’m trying to do with processing the difficult feelings from the past and present.

Once in a while the dots connect and I make quick progress, linking my behavior and feelings with something that happened in the past. Other times an older feeling comes out, and I realize that it was never processed, and until I am able to work through it, it will be difficult to focus on any of the newer items. And as much as I wish that the feelings would just process themselves, that’s not how it works. 

What would the ideal way of handling the mail be? Just taking a piece or two off the top at a time to handle, telling the inner critic thank you for trying to make me better but please go take a nap, and then returning to the task I was working on previously. Maybe over time, if I go slow enough and stay consistent, I can train myself to repeat this every day. Then even though more mail comes in, the pile won’t be so overwhelming. And maybe in time I can take myself off the junk mail lists and sign up for paperless options with the repeat items, and that will reduce the amount coming in. 

 For now, it’s starting slow, retraining- and keeping that goal in my mind.