Since becoming mindful of the way I talk to and about myself, I’ve begun recognizing bullying self-talk in others as well. I want to shake them and say, “BE NICE TO MY FRIEND.” I’ll sometimes offer a gentle nudge, saying something like, “Is there a kinder way you can word that to yourself?” Some are receptive. Others are still caught in the trance of believing that being hard on ourselves equates to being good or a hard worker or something.
LOOK HOW NOT-LAZY I AM. LOOK AT EVERYTHING I AM ACCOMPLISHING. If I’m hard on myself first, maybe others won’t be hard on me!
It is challenging for me to not be consistently busy. I used to look at this as a positive attribute, always accomplishing multiple-item to-do lists… Only feeling accomplished upon completing all items. Even then, I’d find a way to tell myself I could have done more. Or “I’ll do more tomorrow.”
There’s always something to do.
There’s also always nothing to do.
What is the importance of this? Of doing no-thing? Of rest? Of allowing the to-do list to sit untouched, if only for an afternoon or hour or 15-minute period?
It’s quality time with the self.
I’ve realized over the years that any solo time I had was spent reading, texting, on social media, watching movies, or accomplishing things. This seems fine by most standards. But… What if this was a relationship with another person?
If every time I was with my boyfriend, he was texting or reading or on social media or busying himself… Never taking time to sit with me, lay with me, listen to or talk with me… I’d feel unimportant. Unheard. Unloved.
Yet, we often do this very thing to ourselves.
It can be immensely uncomfortable at first to sit in silence with oneself. Especially if you’re a go-go-go type of person. But… Silence is what opens us to ourselves. It’s what accesses the fears we often run from or busy ourselves away from. It’s what helps us to feel heard, loved, and to eventually learn to relax.
The surest way to discover why you do something is to stop doing it.
I experienced this when I changed my relationship with exercise. I made a promise to myself where I refused to exercise if the motivation was around losing weight, getting skinnier, or making up for something I’d eaten. Instead, I only exercised if my motivation was for fitness, to move my body, or to be healthy.
This. Was. So. Hard.
There were times when I’d want to exercise, but the want came from an anxious place of “OH NO IF I DON’T EXERCISE, THEN… (xyz).” And the xyz typically referenced my weight, my size, my cellulite, or something else external.
There were many times I sulked on the sofa, feeling the inner irritation of my old self-bullying ways no longer working. If the voices got louder with their “OH NO YOU’LL GET FAT” taunts, I’d eat some dark chocolate and almond butter or bake some cookies to show the fear that it didn’t have a hold on me anymore. Those old stories no longer worked.
Over time, these decisions to do the uncomfortable thing and be mindful of my intentions / motivation helped retrain my brain. It helped calm me down. The times of panic around the way my body looked went from happening multiple times a day, to daily, to weekly, to now happening occasionally.
I’ve learned to trust myself. I’ve learned that there is no tally mark system. I don’t have to “make up for” eating a certain food, nor should I bully myself into over-exertion simply because I’ve taken a few days to rest.
Guess what happened as a result? Over a handful of months, fat started dropping off me. I choose not to weigh myself, but my guess is that I’ve lost around 25-30 pounds in the last year.
By not trying. By giving myself permission to weigh exactly what I weighed in that moment. By loving myself as I was rather than as I thought I SHOULD be. By refusing to fall prey to old stories about my worth being tied to my pants size.
I’m putting that same effort into my daily to-do lists now. My accomplishments. My work. My goals. I’ve historically put that same tally mark pressure on myself. My intentions to post something have rarely been out of joy or excitement, and mostly have been from a place of obligation. “Well, I’ve been given these gifts; I should probably use them.”
I’m learning to realign with what lights me up… With what gives me the warm fuzzies. I’m learning to rest when I’m tired rather than caffeinate myself or pressure myself to do more more more.
Because, let’s be real: we are going to leave behind incomplete tasks. Seriously, when we eventually keel over… It won’t miraculously occur after we’ve accomplished everything we’d ever set out to do. There will be a pile of laundry or a half-finished book idea.
And it’s okay.
I’m learning that I only need to do the best I can today. This very moment. And sometimes, my best is eating dark chocolate while watching baking shows. Other times, my best is powering through a bunch of stuff in a short period of time. Earlier today, my best was turning my phone off and hiding under my weighted blanket.
And guess what? I’m just as worthy of love hiding under my weighted blanket as I am the days I finish big projects. My worthiness is not based on what I accomplish.