The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
~ Anna Quindlen
What can I say, dear readers? I’m really not feeling like writing this post today. It’s a very familiar feeling.
But, see, that’s where I get stuck. The idea that I need to “feel like it” to get something done.
And sometimes it absolutely does work better for me to wait for a time when I’ve got more energy. This is usually only true, though, of things that don’t require me to be vulnerable or think too much, like housework. I’ll be much better – and happier – if I tackle that, say, in the morning when I’ve got more energy.
But for the other stuff? The stuff that requires me to show up, put myself and my work out there. The stuff that requires me to be vulnerable. To perhaps doing something different? The stuff at which I might fail, and for which failure means a missed opportunity. Waiting, putting that stuff off, is almost always about fear.
So here’s what’s going on with me: Part of me is looking at the fact that I sooo don’t feel like writing and is pissed off at myself that I can’t seem to get shiz done. Seriously, I’m really hating myself right now for not being able to get crap done. I know that doesn’t sound like fear – it sounds like anger, actually. But behind that anger is a fear that I’ll never succeed. I’ll never achieve my dreams.
Then in marches the whole inventory of all the times that I’ve not gotten things done. All the times I’ve failed to do what I set out to do. Dreams that have been dashed because I just couldn’t step up to the plate and do it.
And ooohh man, when I start heading down that path, watch out!
Because here’s the danger in that: heading down that path doesn’t lead me to negative false beliefs about myself – even though I’ve got plenty of those, too. Heading down that path is, at least in part, a laundry list of truths.
Mind you, what I think that laundry list means about my future, or what I think it says about me as a person, is probably LOADED with negative false beliefs. But the truth is, there really are LOTS of things I don’t manage to get done. LOADS of times I’ve disappointed myself and others. I have ADD and the truth is, I really do struggle to get things done.
And what do I want to do in the face of that truth? Two things:
1) Mentally beat the absolute crap out of myself; and
2) Tell myself that from here on out I have to be extra good.
I have to make up for it all, catch up, be super duper productive. Never procrastinate again. Just stop that crap right now because if you don’t your life is going to be total shit. Noooo money. Miserable, mindless job (if you’re lucky enough to even have one), on the street or living with friends who just took pity on you but resent you because they’re supporting you.
You hear what I’m saying? Fix this crap NOW, or else!!
And if your thinking is anything like mine, even though I know on a logical level that change takes time, I still feel like I’ve messed things up so much that I don’t even deserve the time it’s going to take to change and grow.
Oh so kind to myself, aren’t I?
I go there again and again, but do you really think it works?
Let’s see, how long has the procrastinating gone on, and how long have I been berating myself like that? Gee, and I’m still not on the street, I’m still managing to support myself – amazingly, I think to myself!
I’m not too hot at analyzing the evidence sometimes. I’ve obviously got more skills than I give myself credit for.
Nevertheless, if you came from a family like I did, no one was modeling a whole lotta life skills. There’s a lot I’ve had to live, and learn, and teach myself. And that’s hard.
More importantly, that stuff takes time.
Time I often feel like I don’t have.
But here’s the deal, when I tell myself that from here on out I have to just be extra good, do everything right, I’m setting myself up for failure.
I don’t tell myself I need to do those things because I think I really CAN do those things overnight.
I CAN’T, of course, but I still think I have to anyway because it feels so damn urgent.
But it’s an impossible expectation. And impossible expectations are abuse.
I don’t know about you, but I learned to do that to myself. Other people had impossible expectations of me long before picked up the baton.
It’s one of the ways that I perpetuate the abuse that was done to me, even when the abusers are no longer that close to me in my life.
Seriously, if there’s anything that’s gotta stop, pronto, it’s the ways in which I carry on those same abusive expectations.
It ain’t workin’.
I mean, really, how’s that workin’ out for you? What are the abusive messages or expectations from your past that you you keep carrying with you?
Let me tell you something: I forgive you for hanging onto those things.
And I am forgiving myself, right here, right now, too.
Because I know how hard these things are to let go of.
I know how difficult it is to trust the process of growth and healing.
To that things just might be OK.
OMG, do I ever know that feeling that things absolutely needed to be fixed years ago. And what it is to berate yourself for still carrying around these issues.
And trusting the process is hard.
So here’s one thing I do to help that.
I recognize that I have choices.
Change is going to take what it’s going to take. And expecting it to happen overnight only blocks the process.
I can either think about the past, sitting in a pity and self-hatred party and hurling around abusive expectations that this shiz needs to change NOW,
I can think of the woman I’ll be 5 years from now.
Why think abut the woman I’ll be 5 years from now? Because I can actually do something for her.
I can do nothing for the woman I’ve been, but I can do something for the woman I’ll be.
So, I ask myself: What simple but loving thing can I do for her today?
What infinitesimally small thing can I start doing today that will make her life easier? How can I make her life better?
That’s who I need to think about.
No berating. No impossible expectations. Just gentleness and love.
That for me is what self-forgiveness is all about. Letting go of who you were in the past and taking loving action today for the person you’ll be in the future.
No complicated rituals or dramatized mea culpas. Just a simple action in the right direction.
So what’s one small simple loving thing you can start doing for the person you’ll be 5 years from now. How can you make your future self’s life just a little bit easier. Let me know in the comments below. As Red Green would say, we’re in this together, and I’d love to hear your ideas.
(And what do you know, this post is done!)
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