This Week’s Project: Soften My Rigid Expectations.

There is nothing I dislike more than making mistakes.

I’ve always been hard on myself for as long as I can remember. I thrive off of setting high expectations for myself, and the high I get from achieving the lofty goals I set out to conquer.

But, along with the highs that come from living up to my impossibly high standards for myself, there are also inevitable “failures.” These “failures” usually leave me guilt-ridden, anxious, and inwardly hateful towards myself. Although I truly love my tendency to dream big and think of my ridiculously strong willpower as a huge asset, I know that it is a negative attribute to be so unkind to myself when I don’t accomplish a certain goal.

Whether that goal is to exercise in the morning and the evening, or get everything done on my to-do list while knitting a scarf, or graduating with a 4.0 every semester and immediately become a well-respected poet, I find it hard sometimes to “go with the flow” and accept the fact that sometimes, creating a vision of who I’d like to be isn’t always the same as being kind to myself.

If I miss a workout when I promised myself I would do it when I got home, I feel guilty and push myself extra hard the next day, or I won’t stop bitching about how I should probably just suck it up and get it done (even though I know perfectly well I’m just too damn tired).

When I graduated a semester early and didn’t immediately find a full-time writing job, I felt like a failure for a good two weeks even though I saved enough money to move in with my boyfriend and supported myself by working on a boat, one of my lifelong dreams.

Last night in yoga, my instructor talked to us about the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and how we need to rephrase this in our practice, and in our lives. Instead of just “powering through” and “gettin’ er done,” we need to soften, to breathe not through the pain or the challenges, but with the pain or the challenges. When we soften instead of harden, we feel everything going on within our bodies and without. We may not get to that final stage of a pose, or that final goal on our to-do list, but we actually feel the work we put into moving into that post, into reaching that goal, and we start appreciating ourselves for our efforts and attention, not just for the outcome.

This week, I am making a conscious effort to be more gentle to myself. If I truly don’t feel like exercising, I’ll give myself a break and keep reassuring myself that this is what my body needs, this is what I crave at this moment, so it is the healthy choice.

If I don’t write incredibly stellar scripts at work, or I am a few script approvals short of my weekly quota, I will not leave the office kicking myself for not being a “good” writer. I know I try my best, so that is all that matters. I put in the work, and not every week is going to be my best week.

This week, I am making an effort to soften, to accept and appreciate the efforts I put into my every day, and allow myself to relax a bit more.

I am not my work, I am not my body, I am not some future version of myself I’ve created in my head. I am me, and I am now…I will not be me and I will not be now forever, so it’s time I stop and smell the roses of my life. And even if I get pricked by their thorns, I will just let the wounds heal.

I invite all of you to be a little bit kinder to yourselves, leave your personal judgments behind, and appreciate the efforts you put into living, working, and being every single day.

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