I’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 ago, 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.
LESSONS 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 ago, 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.
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 blog posts 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 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 a high fever, lost voice and my entire body aching, I insisted on taking blog photos, cleaning and cooking dinners. After a 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 to 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 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 a positive outlook on life, it (life) sometimes gets the best of me, too. I sometimes let get things to 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.
There is nothing wrong with the 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. Forgiving yourself isn’t always easy, for those of us who are emotionally sensitive.
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? Do you think you could work on forgiving yourself?