Waiting for the Perfect Moment

When we want to be brave, we often think we need to wait for the perfect moment when we are feeling brave and not anxious at all. But the idea of being brave is that we have to ‘just do it’ even when we feel stressed about it and every inch of our being is telling us not to do it.  

In Bowen Family Systems Theory, a key component of the theory is understanding anxiety which waxes and wanes in life and can affect both individuals and relationships. My best metaphor is that it’s like an ‘undercurrent’. This undercurrent stops us from doing things in life that would probably make us feel uncomfortable and we often think “why would I bother”, or “what’s the point” or “I just can’t do it”. Or the undercurrent can have us reacting to something in a very amplified way.

Recently I got an opportunity to do a ‘sip and paint’ with a friend and not being a painter or artist was quite concerned about what my painting would look like. But I could have let that anxiety overwhelm me, instead I had to deal with my discomfort and just start painting. I wanted my painting to look just like the example given to us.  But then I would spend too long on one part, and I would run out of time to finish my painting. I had to really push myself to just be ‘good enough’ and move onto the next part of the painting.  In the end everyone in the room did their own version of the same painting and they all looked amazing. I even realised that by finishing my painting and not trying to do it ‘perfectly’ my painting turned out ‘alright’. I also found that as I concentrated on painting and not on getting it perfect, I was able to relax and focus on one thing only. This was actually quite calming. Wow, so much relaxing in just one afternoon and I was only sipping water!  

My undercurrent gets me overwhelmed and I try to do things perfectly. This also gets in the way of me starting things, so I end up procrastinating.  I am not alone. What I have learnt is that understanding my own undercurrent and being able to put it into words and explain what is happening to my closest people, is actually quite helpful. It takes away some of the power of the undercurrent and helps me to articulate that I am human and remind myself that everyone has their own undercurrent.  

What is your undercurrent, the worry or fear that is not based in reality or on what is happening in front of you right now?  It can be helpful to build our robustness by doing the things we think are important to do in spite of this undercurrent. It’s not easy, but when we do it, we feel stronger emotionally. This is the path to growing emotional maturity and being a bit more grown up as adults.  


Bowen, M. and Kerr, M.E., 2009. Family evaluation. WW Norton & Company.

Smith, K, 2019. Everything Isn’t Terrible: conquer your insecurities, interrupt your anxiety and finally calm down.  Souvenir Press.