You know how dogs do that thing where they circle around and around looking for the right place – seemingly the perfect place – to sink to the ground? I watch them do it and wonder, What exactly are they seeking? What is their perfection?
That said, I do the same thing. I circle before sinking to the ground.
Regular readers here know I struggle with both perfectionism and indecision (the two go hand in hand). I circle and circle before making many of my decisions relating to my private life (business decisions I make quite quickly and intuitively). It can take me hours, weeks, years to settle to my spot on the ground. Often I’m not even mulling the decision over. I’m not stalling for more information, nor more time to weigh up pros and cons.
I’m simply circling.
Like most indecisive perfectionists I fret that this stalling/circling is problematic. That I’m defective. A lesser person for not knowing what kind of couch to get, or how I want to spend my day off.
But. What. If. We reposition this whole maneuvere? What if circling serves its own purpose? What if circling is the smart, wise, decisive thing to do? When I watch a dog circle I don’t see a beast suffering angst. I see them going through a process that makes their final sit-down better. Circling builds anticipation, it’s build-up. It’s preparation.
The thing is this: a dog will always land in the same place – circling or no circling.
Ditto with me, I reckon. When I stall on deciding on a couch, it’s because it doesn’t feel right. Yet. I don’t have to think-fret about why. It just doesn’t. I don’t respond to emails for a bit, I wait another few days, I live life without a couch…and then, after one final lap around the traps viewing the lay of the land, it strikes me to…settle. Poof!
I mentored a young uni student through her final design project recently. I’d followed up to see how she went and she didn’t reply for several months. When she did reply just a few days ago she was beyond remorseful and ashamed she’d stalled. She didn’t know why she’d procrastinated on replying to me, but it filled her with shame. My response to her was this: “Sometimes there isn’t a reason for why we procrastinate on something. Sometimes the reason is that time needed to pass.”
In recent years, I’ve tried smiling at myself when I circle, like I smile at a dog doing the same thing. Something all-knowing is directing me to let time pass. I try to also observe what happens in this time, to notice when an important new factor comes to light, or a question is answered, or I just get a better sense of what makes me feel more comfortable.