Setting Myself Up for Success
I gave myself a really good talking to the other day. I'm sick of feeling like the world's laziest lazy person. Everything feels like a chore. Especially chores. That includes the most routine parts of most people's day like WAKING UP, washing my hair, going to work, driving to the store, cooking dinner, getting up from the couch because the remote is on the other couch. And I just feel like I should be doing so much more than I am. Achieving so much more than I am! I am wasting my free hours not: climbing a mountain; prepping next week's dinners and work lunches; cleaning out my closet; or vacuuming my car! Instead I make ever growing lists all week while at work of what I want to achieve on the weekend and come the weekend I: sleep in, then sit in front of the TV for an hour drinking a coffee with my husband, then have a shower if I can be bothered, then go read a book, then spend some time thinking about tending my veggie and herb gardens, then watch some interesting documentary on my laptop - usually health related, then I think about looking at my to-do list, or I think about doing yoga but invariably decide I can do it on Sunday/next weekend, then I make myself a tea (weighing up between organic non-homogenised milk, almond milk or no milk), then I watch some more TV, then I do the laundry, and as dusk settles I find self-loathing and self-pity creeping in as I start to mourn the loss of my weekend and start to agonize over all the things on my to-do list that will remain undone for yet another week if not indefinitely. I should be so ashamed of myself.
So I said to myself: "Listen here and listen good" (yes, I talk like I'm in a movie). "You are going to STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE WITH INEXPLICABLE, OUTRAGEOUS, even CONCERNING LEVELS OF ENERGY. And YOU ARE GOING TO CONGRATULATE YOURSELF FOR DOING THE LAUNDRY. I mean wouldn't you love to have energy like that? To be able to jump out of bed and get up and go?" Yes. "And if you had that kind of energy wouldn't you be doing so much more than you are??"...Yes? I think so..."Now realize that you do NOT MEASURE YOUR WORTH BY HOW YOU MEET (or don't meet to be more accurate) THE STANDARDS OTHERS SET FOR THEMSELVES. ENOUGH NOW!" Which leads me to another favourite and familiar but ever mysterious and confusing topic: food.
Sometimes I think that the only reason why I am so focused on what is right and what is wrong, is so that I will know exactly how much I should dislike and berate myself. I'll give you an example: I'm in the grocery store, standing in front of an assortment of organic, free-range meats. I pick up the chicken breast and put it in my trolley. Now, this choice I've just made in this moment to buy a poor, innocent, defenseless chicken to cook for dinner proves what I've always suspected, which is that I am a bad person underneath it all. I am wrong. But wouldn't a bad person not even think about that? Or does thinking about it and still eating the chicken make you an even worse person than the person that doesn't even think about it? Well it's too late now then! I've thunk it!
Do you see how it can become just a bit exhausting living inside my head? Why am I so ready, almost eager, to assume the worst of myself? Is it because underneath it all I question my own value? Am I good? Am I good enough? Have I any worth? Am I worthy of insert text here (hint: the answer can be anything that would bring me any positive feelings whatsoever). And so I partake in this little subconscious self-worth battle I suspect have been raging from a young age. And everything I think and do can be drawn into the battle to be used either in defence of or attack on my value as a human being. Armour or ammunition. I am good or I am bad. I deserve love or I deserve rejection. I deserve health or I deserve sickness. It is what it is or I brought this on myself.
Or maybe that is complete garbage.
I want to try to break this down a bit. Some resolution would be a welcome break from the crazy I inflict on myself on a most regular basis. I know that I have jumped from watching TV, yoga and gardening, to almond milk and chicken, to self-worth. It is because my message today is really about the insidious, pervasive self-talk and assumptions I have about myself that permeate the choices I make and also colour my beliefs around what the kind of choices I make say about the kind of person I am and to a deeper extent what this means about what I deserve in this life.
Bear with me.
I'm very much an all or nothing person. And I've started to notice a pattern. Whenever I'm faced with a moral decision, a health decision, or most usually a health decision with moral implications, each decision I make opens up a new set of choices, the choosing of which will decide my fate (death by too much/too little cheese/karma) or reveal my true self (organic cow milk [cow enslaver!!] vs almond milk [planet destroyer!!] vs water [in glass - good person, in plastic - bad polluting person being exposed to hormone disrupting chemicals]). Inevitably the cascade of choices I've made, that I believe show my true virtue or lack thereof, become too overwhelming to deal with in my human sized brain. Relying on the strength of sheer will power (you must be joking!) and self-discipline, not too mention the feelings of constant deprivation of life's satisfactions that the pursuit of a moral existence apparently require me to forsake, result in a psychological exhaustion that ends in choosing...guess what...NOTHING. If I can't do it all, I will do nothing.
Maybe a pertinent question is this: why do I find it so hard to give up the foods that I ultimately do believe would benefit me to avoid? Why do I find it such a struggle relinquishing my dairy and my meat? Because if you think about it, I'm not so sure that I love some of those things as much as I seem to think I do? Confused enough yet? For example, the satisfaction and instant euphoria of my second coffee of the day is never as high and instant as the first and so forth. By the end of my work day I feel that all I want is to have one more coffee, except that the fact that I always let it go cold and then throw half of it down the sink begs to differ. Is it really the taste that is giving me pleasure, is it really the caffeine? Or is it mostly that feeling I get when my brain says I've been holding out for this, and now I'm getting it aaaaaaahhhhh!!? Now imagine going my whole life knowing that I'll never get to quench that feeling of holding out. Or constantly having to practice a painful level of self-discipline? It sounds dreadful. Never getting something I'm holding out for? I'll feel totally deprived! Forever! Or I'll internally combust! So what is behind that? Is there even something behind it other than that I really just love coffee and love satisfying my desire for coffee equally if not more than I love the actual coffee? And this applies to many other foods I can think of. So do I not care enough about my health in the long term? I mean I really must, and close acquaintance with a digestive disorder leaves me with little excuse. But it is so much easier to fight my food desires when I feel like total crap. When I feel better, I just want to eat stuff I believe I should avoid for my long term health if not my immediate health. And then I feel guilt and shame for not practising more resistance to such base, such human desires!...and then I become self-deprecating. So I'm continuously riding this mighty fun see saw of deprivation and self-deprecation. One theory would be that I do not value myself enough to fully commit to removing this that and the other from my diet. It sounds not completely insane but I'm not so sure it necessarily goes that deep to be frank. Sometimes maybe, but not all the time for everyone. And not for me. I actually do believe my body deserves better, I just straight up struggle with such extremes such as removing all dairy and all meat, all coffee, gluten, sugar and alcohol from my life. I really do not think I can sustain that kind of diet (and honestly I wonder whether the stress of trying to be so "perfect" is doing more harm than good) - and maybe that doesn't make me a bad person who doesn't give a hoot about her health or the planet, and will surely cut her own life sadly short. Maybe I'm okay, not that bad, and I'm doing really well all things considered. Maybe the changes I've already made and have been able to incorporate successfully into my life are good enough or at the very least a big step in a better direction. And let's face it, I know myself well enough to know that I will continue to try to make better choices.
After this little exercise I'm leaning towards a different (but young and fragile so handle with care!) self-belief slash life-philosophy (yeah that's right, I wrote slash instead of putting an actual slash! hashtag grammarrebel) that is surely more realistic for me to aspire to, and so surely much more healthy and achievable. So here is my new year's wish for myself (not a resolution as I want to set myself up for success after all and gently-gently will do it better I think) - that I will practice believing the following:
'I am enough. I deserve love. I deserve acceptance. So I must always try to love and accept myself. I must always try to make choices that honour me.'
This includes what I put in my body. And this is truly what I want for myself. Stack the health odds in my favour more often than not, but be kind to myself, allow myself some indulgences, and frankly, just chill a little!