Last Wednesday I woke up feeling awful. Not sick. (I had just gotten over the cold that I described in my last post.) More like exhausted, overwhelmed, depressed and mad at myself.
I had gone to bed early the night before with the intention that I would get up early and write a blog post. (I had originally planned to work on a post that night but felt drained from a long day at work and just didn’t have the energy.) Even though I set the alarm for about 7 hours of sleep, when it went off I proceeded to hit the snooze button for another 2 hours. I just didn’t want to get up. I felt so exhausted and was not looking forward to the crazy-busy day that was waiting for me so I kept justifying “a few more minutes” of sleep. At some point I realized it was getting to be too late to work on my blog and I started to get upset with myself: I was going to miss my posting goal again! Of course, this was a self-imposed deadline but, if I can’t keep to the schedule I set for myself, what does that say about the importance of my passions? I’d like to run my own business someday but, if I can’t stick to a once-a-week blog goal, what does that say about my level of professionalism and my ability to be consistent? I couldn’t even make it through The Artist’s Way (a fabulous book course by Julia Cameron) because I couldn’t convince myself that I was important enough to take on an Artist Date, I couldn’t make myself a priority! Why did I hit snooze so many times? Why do I do this to myself?! Before I knew it, I was in a negative tailspin and all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and sleep the rest of the day away.
My husband, Dusty, who was sleeping next to me, heard me harumphing and pouting as I was losing this battle with my mental gremlins. He sat up to give me a hug and said, “Stop beating yourself up. You’re too good at that.” He held me close, told me how much he loved me and reminded me of my good qualities. I was still mad at myself for snoozing the morning away, but his loving words and hugs did help. (I do feel blessed to have such a supportive partner!) I also decided to take a shower to wash away some of the negativity, even though it was going to make me a few minutes late for work. I always feel better after a shower and yet, when I get super-busy that’s one of the first things that I put off.
Why is that? When I’m overwhelmed, I let my self-care slide: I put off showering and meditating and exercising and journaling, I start eating fast food instead of healthy food because I feel I don’t have the time to shop for and prepare it (of course, Dusty can take care of shopping and dinner but I’m on my own for breakfast and lunch) … why do I sacrifice the things I enjoy, things that would actually make me feel better? By letting go of my self-care, I perpetuate the overwhelming feelings, the exhaustion and depression. But I don’t always notice that’s what I’m doing. When my conscious mind is so preoccupied with everything that has to be done, I default to my subconscious programming and basically run on auto-pilot. Dusty’s words, “Stop beating yourself up.” really stuck in my mind and made me aware of what I was doing to myself.
It’s important to have goals and deadlines to motivate ourselves and measure progress but, it’s also important to be gentle with ourselves and be willing to forgive ourselves if we don’t always live up to our own strict standards. I did end up missing my posting goal, but I’ve worked that around in my mind over the last few days and have come to accept that and be okay with it. I keep reminding myself of what I wrote in my first blog post because I’m still struggling with perfectionism: it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s human to make mistakes and I believe the reason we’re here on this planet is to learn from those mistakes and grow as individuals. (I think I just accidentally paraphrased Cheryl Richardson there but, that is what I believe.) We shouldn’t beat ourselves up, that just slows down the process of growth and may even be counter-productive.
I’m still working on this and probably will be for quite some time but, I know this is something that many people struggle with (women especially) so I thought it might be helpful to share my experience. For the same reason, I invite you to share your experiences with self-forgiveness in the comments below. Let’s help each other grow!