Lessons on forgiving yourself and letting go

how-to-let-goI’ve always been very hard on myself. I very rarely pat myself on the back and say “good job, girl, look at you go!”

I grew up in a very strict household where if you came home from school with an “A” the first question you’d hear would be “why not an A+ ?”  When I was about 11 years old I went to confession, and once I was done, the priest asked “That’s it? What about school? Do you think you’re doing the best you can? Don’t you feel sorry for not trying your best?” That was a traumatizing experience for a little girl, let me tell you. I left the church crying that day and started thinking that perhaps, I’m not trying my best. Perhaps, I should work harder.

It took me years to finally learn how to forgive myself and let go of stupid little things like not finishing a book I started reading months a go, missing a workout or having a little cheat meal here and there. Today, I wanted to share a few lessons with you- on forgiving yourself and letting go.

ON EMBRACING THE MESS

I am a complete control freak and whenever we expect company, I turn the entire house upside down. I clean everything. We have a friend who lives in the city and often brings his laundry whenever he visits. When we were expecting him a few months a go, I was cleaning the laundry room and asked my husband if he could bring me a box of cotton swabs from upstairs. When he saw me clean the inside of the washer with Q-tips, he taught it was hysterical and couldn’t stop laughing. I then took a step back and thought to myself “I’m fucking nuts.” This is something that I had to learn to let go. My need to constantly try to be perfect and neat. Let me tell you, it’s much more fun to actually sit down and enjoy someone’s company, rather than constantly running around, fixing everything and making sure that the towels in the guest bathroom are hanging perfectly straight. I started small with things like actually letting my husband do some of the work- which was difficult because, anything he can clean, I can clean better. Duh. First time I ever let him help me, he told me to just sit down, and let him clean the house. I then insisted on following him around and we spent five hours cleaning the house (which, according to him was already spotless). After we were done he looked at me and said  “you know Paula, if this is what I have to go through every single time we invite someone over, I’d rather have no friends and die alone.” I started laughing and admitted that I need to let go. And so I did. Now, our home is still clean, but it no longer resembles a museum and I can’t guarantee that the bathroom towels are hanging perfectly straight.

ON BEING LAZY

I’m sure many of you know the struggle of not being able to relax at times. This is something I previously mentioned in one of my posts; I love staying busy. I love working and I often find myself feeling guilty when doing “nothing”- yes, I’ll still sit on the couch and put the TV on, but only if I have my phone and my laptop next to me. Just in case I need to answer any emails or draft any papers for work or blogposts for the blog. I don’t really mind this tiny bit of multitasking but I didn’t really understand just how difficult it is for me to relax, until I got really sick this winter. I never get so much as a cold, so when I got hit with a horrible flu, I felt like my world has turned upside down. I had to miss work, which is something I never do, and was told to get some rest. Even with high fever, lost voice and my entire body aching, I insisted on taking blog photos, cleaning and cooking dinners. After few days, instead of feeling better, I started feeling weaker and weaker- almost as if my body was shutting down. That’s when I realized that once again, I need to let go- get in bed and not do anything until I start feeling better. It was hard for my body to recover while I was in a constant “go, go, go!” mode as I call it. I actually ended up feeling worse, because I wouldn’t allow myself to properly rest and recover. Next time you don’t feel well, or you’re simply having an “off” day and don’t feel like doing much- give yourself a break. Turn off your phone and allow yourself to be a little lazy- this is something we all need sometimes. I’ll admit that I still struggle with  this and find it difficult to not feel guilty, but I think that as long as I’m willing to work on it, it’s all good.

ON CHEATING

On your eating habits, that is. I’m trying to avoid using the word “diet’ here as many tend to misunderstand it. I eat mostly plant-based foods and have for quite a while now. I share some recipes here on the blog- pretty much all of which are also plant based. Guess what though? I sometimes eat pizza, like… the one with real cheese and one that isn’t made on a gluten-free crust. Doesn’t happen too often, but it happens. This is something I used to feel very guilty about- not being able to stick to plant-based foods entirely. But if you happen to feel guilty about eating something a little unhealthy, what’s the point of indulging in the first place? Having a little cheat meal here and there is pointless, if you can’t really enjoy it because you blame yourself for giving in. Just because you had a piece of chocolate cake today, doesn’t mean that you have given up on those healthy eating habits.

ON BEING PERFECT

When I started the “girl-talk” category here on the blog, I never expected that it’d be such a success. I never thought that other places around the web would feature my posts. It makes me so happy to know that you guys seem to enjoy these lifestyle posts so much. I have to say though, that one of my fears was always the fact that someone might ask me “Okay, but what makes you an expert? Why do you feel comfortable giving out advice?” I felt a little self-conscious when writing these posts at first, but I also realized that these are my favorite ones to write. Some of you might know that I suffered from depression for a few years and was really, really miserable for a while. I literally had to force myself to get out of bed, every single day. My social anxiety was so bad, that I had to take medication every time I’d leave the house for an event, such as a wedding or a birthday party- otherwise I’d get panic attacks. It took me a few years, but I’m now in a place where I love life. I get out of bed feeling happy and excited, every day. Getting healthy, meditating, practicing gratitude, getting rid of unhealthy relationships, practicing self-love- these are all the things that helped me grow and become the happy person that I am today. So, I’d say that those are the things that make me feel comfortable sharing advice for those who are going through something similar. Sharing all this advice though, sometimes makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite (although I’m not sure if hypocrite is the right word to use here). This is because despite promoting such positive outlook on life, it (life) sometimes gets the best of me, too. I sometimes let get things get to me, I get anxious, I get angry, I sometimes go days without working out, at times I find it hard to forgive- those things sometimes make me feel like a fraud, because I’m not all “zen”, all the time, as my posts might suggest. And you know what? I think it’s okay. I have no desire to be perfect. I have no desire to hide or make it seem like my life is super dreamy all the time- because it’s not. And that is okay.

forgiving yourself and letting go

There is nothing wrong with constant need to do better- to grow, try new things, to learn and  wanting to become a better person. But as you grow and learn, remember to stop once in a while and tell yourself that you’ve done a good job so far. Look at how far you’ve come, don’t be too hard on yourself. There are many things you might find yourself feeling guilty about- not spending enough time with your kids, working too much, not working enough, missing your daily workout, not being able to finish your “to do” list- some of these things might seem small, but it’s important to forgive yourself for those too. After all, it’s those little things that make up our lives.

Are there any things that you often find yourself feeling guilty about?

  • Debbie Santiago-Keough

    WOW! Awesome article. Not everything is an emergency and loving yourself and enjoying every minute is wonderful. I often feel upset about unfinished to do lists then I realize I also enjoyed that lazy day that prevented me from doing them.

  • Samileen

    Yes I’m always guilty about not spending much time with my daughter, and doing things with her. It does sometime turns into frustration too, and then when I sit down and think about it peacefully, I’m in a much better state, and then just try to make her laugh and goof around with her, and that moment its like, all sins are washed off. haha.

    I do feel you about getting the house clean when it comes to inviting people over. I get so anxious if some one turns up to my place without notice :|

    Sam || Beautydetour

    • Samileen

      BTW that blue plate is stinking cute!

      • Aww Sam that is so sweet, you’re such a great mom! I’m sure she knows just how much you love her! I saw her fake-sleeping on snap today haha she is seriously so precious!!

        OMG haha people showing up without notice is my worst nightmare haha :D

  • Wow Paula, I definitely needed this! I feel guilty for sometimes being “too” lazy, ha! I’m trying to be proud of myself for the little things more… I feel like that really helps with forgiveness.

    Thanks for this!

  • Trying to get over that feeling of “being lazy” when we are letting our minds and bodies decompress…..that is something I still have problems with. I mean that was wasted time that I wasn’t writing a blog post or grading papers, I totally get it. This post definitely hit home :)

    • Me too! I always feel as “down time” as wasted time, but I definitely try to enjoy it more- it takes some time getting used to.

  • Guilt is the worst. It almost paralizes me – I am not doing what I want to do (because I should do something useful instead), but I am also not doing anything useful (because I am busy feeling guilty).

    • This, yes. I feel exact same way sometimes. Most of the time I feel like I always have to be doing something productive and can’t stand doing nothing.

  • It must of been so tough growing up in that kind of environment and definitely not easy to change the way you think as an adult, but fair play to you for letting go. Fantastic tips as always and ones that I need to remember at the best of times x

    Beauty with charm

    • It was a trip and a half haha, you have no idea haha ;) It’s all good now though :) Thank you so much Alina! <3

  • I used to be like this too, everything in the house had to be spotless, I was feeling guilty for not accomplishing my goals or plans and never felt good enough. But I have changed slightly and let things go more easily, I think having children and growing older put many things in a different perspective.

    Love your lifestyle posts, they’re so inspirational!

    PS. my family was just the same, maybe it’s a Polish thing, my little successes were never enough. I’m trying hard not to make the same mistakes with my children! x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

    • Everyone keeps telling me that my obsession with everything being clean and tidy will end once I have kids haha :) So there might be some truth to that :)

      So happy that you like these posts Dagmara, means the world to me! Haha it definitely must be a Polish thing! Good on you for not trying to make the same mistakes with your boys! :)

  • Dara

    This is so great, and all so true. Wonderful reminder! Thank you for this post!

    – Dara // http://www.peoniesandhoneybees.com

  • Leanne Cresswell

    I can relate to this post in so many ways! Especially feeling guilty about the ‘so called diet’ and having to take days off for being ill, i find that incredibly hard to do as well! Glad to think that there are other people out there whom are facing the same problems! Step by step we will learn! Great Post!
    Leanne xx | http://www.leannecresswell.com

  • Paula, I LOVED this post! I am a total go go go person and feel guilty when I’m not working on my never ending to do list. I always tell my husband if he wants me to relax, he has to take me somewhere away from home, where there will always be something for me to work on LOL. Really enjoyed this post! XO -Kim

    • Thank you Kim!! Haha that is so true, I always get more relaxed when away from home! :) So happy you liked this post, Kim, thank you!

  • amelia may

    I am really glad you wrote this. I really needed to hear and read this today. Thank you. A very positive message indeed and one to take note of.

    Best wishes. Xx
    http://www.millymayamelia.com
    23millymay25.blogspot. co. uk

  • This is SUCH a great post! I am one of those people who can’t “just relax”. I’m always on and almost never just sit around and be lazy but some days you just have to. You’re right, it’s ok to not be perfect and on all the time. We all need to allow ourselves a little forgiveness! Thanks for the reminder girl! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

  • The Gossip Darling

    This is such a great post and I can totally relate. I have to personally let go of my need to control everything. It’s ok to make mistakes and I’m not perfect. It’s so hard to do tho.

    Mel | http://www.thegossipdarling.com

  • I really recognize myself in so many of the things you said! I RRREALLY need to learn to let go and just relax and loosen up a bit. There really is no need to be so friggin’ perfect all the time.

  • This was a great post Paula – there are so many guilty things that I share in this post. I have a really bad habit of getting lazy for no reason and putting things off. And then I get tense all the time and angry at myself for being behind. Thanks for sharing this :)
    – Ambar x
    http://www.herlittleloves.blogspot.com

  • Biana Perez

    I felt the need to be pretty perfect growing up – straight A’s and winning tennis tournaments, but at a point it does become too much but thankfully my parents never pressured me to be perfect, it was something that I THOUGHT they wanted…I still can’t relax though – I will always be multitasking – thankfully when i sleep i relax! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

  • I’m a lot like you when it comes to keeping my environment clean and I’ve had to tell myself SO many times before that in the grand scheme of things, that kind of stuff means very little. Same goes for food and having “cheat days” … you only live once, right? Plus, life is short. Why beat yourself up about something that’s so insignificant?

    Great post!

  • Such an absolutely great post and such a pleasure to read. Thank you for sharing such a positive message. So inspirational!

    http://facetocurls.com/

  • The Sunday Mode

    Even though growing up my family was never really hard on me, for some reason I’ve always been quite hard on myself and that’s a habit that I hate. Being hard on yourself all the time is pretty exhausting. I like things to be quite ‘perfect’ as well and seeing as that’s not attainable I really need to learn to embrace the mess, both literally and also just life’s messes.

    http://www.thesundaymode.blogspot.com.au

    • It can definitely get exhausting at times, I agree. I find the the older I get, more I let go of that need to perfect all the time.

  • I really enjoyed this read! I used to call those unhealthy dishes my “cheat meals” but I stopped calling them for the reason that they sound so awful and unforgiving in a way. :) Now, I just eat in moderation, but with a shoulder injury, I’ve also put more pressure on the “unforgiving” side versus the “forgiving” side, but life is short and we should indulge and enjoy! When we die, we won’t look back and say we wished we worked more. We’d probably say, we wish we traveled more, spent more time with friends and family and ate more damn cake! lol

    Thanks for sharing!

    Xo,

    Miki
    http://mikialamode.com

  • What a touching and meaningful post. I’ve seen so many people struggle with self-acceptance and letting go, and the habit of constantly striving for perfection can be so exhausting and even destructive. However, it’s very encouraging to be reminded that you CAN change and you don’t have to be stuck with these unhealthy behaviours forever. Wonderful read, Paula, thank you for sharing such a personal story. :)

  • Really loved this post, and I am so glad I started following your blog! I really struggle with relinquishing control over things, and multitask to the point of probably not doing things as well as I could if I did them individually.

    • Thank you Jaime! I can be a bit of a control freak myself, so I know how you feel! I think best way is to try letting go of that control of one small thing at a time.

  • I know what you mean! Its hard not to feel guilty all the time if you’ve spent your whole life trying to be perfect. Striving for perfection can be so draining. I used to be obsessed with being perfect (still have to battle those feelings, sometimes) and suffered from depression pretty hard for a few years. Thanks for the pep talk and reminders! Hope you have a great weekend!

    xo, mikéla / simplydavelyn.com

  • I’m glad you’re finding success with these personal posts – I’ve always been a a fan of these little life lessons, tidbits. I think it’s super important to be kind to yourself, because at the end of the day, you’ve accomplished a lot and should be proud of that! Keep up the great work and inspiring posts!

    Lisa
    http://www.theeverydayelevated.com

  • Thank you so much for writing this post. I can particularly relate to keeping everything nice and tidy, along with being a perfectionist myself. Every day I am learning to try and not pick fault with the things that I do, because even when they are great I still tend to do so.

    Have a wonderful week.

    Tasmin ox
    http://tasminstalk.blogspot.co.uk