I’ve always been hard on myself. I tell myself that I will do things right, differently, correctly, good, whatever, and constantly screw things up. I’m always disappointed when things take more work than expected, or when I fail to do something. That sounds really general and nonspecific (and also redundant?), so let’s come up with some examples. I make myself a lot of goals. Lately those goals have been related to work, housework, and fitness/nutrition/health/diabetes/migraines/depression (yes they are all connected).
So let’s get back on topic here. I quit doing a lot of things because I disappoint myself. I quit blogging for that reason. I put a lot of pressure on myself. “I WILL blog three times a week from here on out!” Well guess what, for me, and my life and my schedule, that was an unattainable goal. I didn’t do it. And so instead of giving myself some leeway, I quit.
Let’s take the example of cleaning or housework. My house is, more often than not, a mess. My mom hates it, my boyfriend hates it, hell, I hate it. And every so often I tell myself, , “I WILL NEVER LET MY HOUSE GET THIS MESSY AGAIN.” And I come up with a plan to clean a bit every day so it stays clean. Like a normal person, right? Or I just tell myself I will clean it every Friday/Tuesday/Saturday/Whatever day of the week I happen to have off this month. And guess what? I do it for a while, then I don’t. And it’s not because I don’t want to or I’m lazy or I don’t care. It’s because I can’t. Sometimes I simply cannot force myself to do it. Sometimes I cannot force myself to do the laundry or the dishes or take out the trash and sometimes I can’t even force myself to take a shower or brush my teeth. I just can’t. It might be a headache. It might be that my blood sugar is 300 or 45. Or it might be that I just feel down about myself and the world and I spend all my free time sleeping. The same thing applies to working out or cooking healthy meals or actually working to do really well at work. Sometimes I just can’t.
What is the epiphany then? The epiphany is that that is okay. I will have days when I am down or when my blood sugar is out of whack or when I have a migraine and telling myself I am a bad person or a lesser human being because of the diseases I suffer from does no good and does not help me control any of them. I have to accept the fact that sometimes, I will have a messy house. But in a few days, I will feel better and I will clean it. I have to accept that sometimes, I will have a week or two where I can’t force myself to execise or cook a healthy meal and I will gain back a few of the pounds I’ve worked to lose. But in a few days, I will feel better and I will start over and I will lose it again. I have to accept that some days I just cannot deal with the customers at work, and I will have a low sales day. But that’s okay because in a few days I will feel better, and I will rock it and be the top agent on the team and get a huge commission check. It’s a cycle, and it’s normal with depression. And if I am going to continue living without depression medication, I have to learn to accept the cycle. Beating myself up about it will only make things worse.
And let’s talk about the fact that I live every day with three chronic illnesses. Let’s talk about the fact that I should be celebrating every single day that I get out of bed and go to work. Let’s talk about the fact that I never skip work unless I am legitimately “real people” sick. Let’s talk about all that. Let’s celebrate that fact. Let’s talk about how I’ve (finally) been living on my own for a year and a half now and let’s talk about how I’ve lost 30 lbs and let’s talk about how I’m (re) gaining control of my diabetes. Let’s count the victories and stop blaming ourselves for the losses. (Am I becoming skitzo now? I should stop calling myself “we”).
When I “start over,” whether it be in cleaning, work, diabetes, weight loss, or whatever, I will no longer tell myself, “I am going to always do this thing every day for the rest of my life.” I will tell myself, “I am going to try to do these things as many times as I can this week and if it doesn’t happen every day that is ok because at least it happens some days.” Because then, I don’t disappoint myself and start a self-hatred depression cycle all over again. Then I start to congratulate myself for my victories and then I start a cycle of self-love which will only lead to more success.
Because the more I think about it the more I realize my biggest opponent, my biggest obstacle, my biggest fear, and my biggest nemesis are all the same thing: myself.
Time to re-write the character of “myself” and turn her into a superhero instead.