mental health, Project Status, quilting

Crushed By Comparison and How To Talk To Anxious People

I few months ago I had this vision for a quilt project. Using only left over fabric from another quilt project I would make a blue/purple peacock on a background that went from yellow to orange to red. I was super excited when I started working on the project. Check out that eye!!!

I was so excited I did not read the pattern closely and ended up piecing the project backwards. I thought that was pretty cool because I think I have enough fabric to make another one in reverse, so green to blue to purple background with a yellow/orange peacock. If I made the second one the correct way it would look like they were mirror images.

Then I started scrolling through other people’s interpretation of the pattern on Instagram, realizing that what I was treating as background was actually the peacock’s feathers.

Now my idea feels stupid to me. How did I not catch that the feathers make up the background?! I’ve spent more than 30 hours hand piecing this project, and I don’t want to look at it. I don’t want to do another version mirrored version of my same stupid idea.


Some of you may be tempted to write a comment about how much you like what I made and reassure me that my idea is not stupid.

I am gong to invite you not to do that.

If I don’t believe that for myself either I won’t believe it from you, or I will need you to remind me forever. This is why telling someone who is anxious that everything is okay is a waste of your time. If a person cannot do it for themselves, then it won’t stick when you do it. You’ll have to keep doing it. Forever.

It is also not effective to tell people who are anxious to calm down or stop worrying. That’s roughly the same as me telling you not to think about Abraham Lincoln.

Seriously, stop thinking about Abraham Lincoln.

Stop thinking about the beard and the top hats or the Emancipation Proclamation.

Image result for abraham lincoln


To which any sane person would say, “Every time I try to stop thinking about him you remind me of him, and I start all over again.” That process is exactly what happens to an anxious person. Each time you tell them to calm down they are reminded of their anxiety and start all over again.

So what to do instead? Ask people what they need to handle whatever it is they are worried about. If they don’t know, I either invite them to take a few deep breaths or take a few moments to think about it. I do not solve the problem for them. Solving the problems leaves ME with the burden of relieving THEIR anxiety. No thank you.

Where does this leave me and the peacock? First I need to make peace with how my original vision is different. Then I need to decide if I want to spend another 30+ hours making another version or if  I want to move on.

One of my favorite things about quilting without deadlines is that I can put something away for awhile and look at it again when some of the original emotion has worn off. So away goes the peacock for a bit.

Until then, I’ll be thinking about Abraham Lincoln.

1 thought on “Crushed By Comparison and How To Talk To Anxious People”

  1. The problem with following you was, indeed, the iPad. Once on the land-line locked PC the button to follow is there. So, here I am and looking “sort of” forward to Farm Wife Sampler quilt-along activities. I started with two blocks on the Featherweight (in both 30s and Modern Low Volume grays). Cute blocks. 1/4 inch off. If I trim them to the 6 1/2 required I will lose the points. If I don’t the whole thing is wonky because they all would benefit from a bang trim. Wobbly edges slay me.

    So, I took the mod blocks to a workshop next day with Bill Kerr. I used them in a modern quilt composition class as the anchor to something entirely different. See my blog to catch the mini and pillows that I made from those blocks

    Your peacock is… busy. I’m with you. It is a little anxiety provoking just to look at. And yet, it talks to me. I wonder if it were framed in a soothing modern negative space, not a border. I have one project that was too much for my eyes. I used all Anna Marie Horner brights. Busy! I cut the negative blocks to put the piece in the off center middle. Then my husband got a job in New Mexico and so I needed to pack. It is still in a nice orderly tub awaiting reconstitution. We shall see.

    Anyway, nice to meet you through FWS – until we speak again, Lyn

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