I have effectively avoided writing this post for two days. Why? Because I want it to be good.
“Thirty days of focusing on self-love and having multiple breakthroughs, Jen. What are you going to tell your audience of 16 people? THEY AWAIT YOUR BRILLIANCE. This is the final day and should be a culmination of your journey.”
“Make sure to be profound.”
“Add humor in there, too.”
I put this pressure on myself regularly, almost constantly. We really do give our brains an impossible task:
I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
It’s easy to be our own worst critic. In fact, it’s often commended. Being hard on ourselves can be seen as self-awareness or being tough or being motivated or strong.
The real challenge is to be our own cheerleader. (Even writing that sentence elicits discomfort for me. I want to delete it. “THAT SOUNDS LAME, JEN. BE COOL.”)
It’s easy for us to point out what’s wrong, what’s lacking, or how we or others can do or be better.
But what about focusing on what’s right? What about commending a loved one on their progress? What about offering them the support and acceptance you desire? What about absolutely refusing to condemn those we love, including ourselves?
My May, Myself, and I journey has been a transformational experience. It’s been challenging and exhausting, and it also took me a bit to an extreme of becoming too focused on myself. The prior tendency was too be too focused on others and how I could fill their needs and be helpful and and and…
I’ve caught myself in this last week expecting that of others. When my SigO was talking, I interpreted his words through a filter of “what does this mean for / about me?” rather than truly listening. My brain’s not-enough radar turned on and I began hyper focusing on the ways he and I and everyone else fall short.
I call it my proofreader brain.
I can find a flaw in any restaurant menu, a spelling or grammatical error in any book. Those “FIND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO PICTURES” games? I rock at those. I am great at finding errors, and it’s important for my job. I’m also great at talking a mess of words and rearranging them into a beautiful flow.
Guess what? This doesn’t translate well into human relationships.
In relationship with myself, I’ll find myself focusing on fine lines of my skin or on the fact that my neck meat hangs lower than I’d like it to. In relationship with a friend, I’ll find myself feeling judgmental, certain that if THEY’D let me make decisions for them, their lives would be much better. With my boyfriend, my sticky control-fingers will try to mold him into someone to fill my every need, to love me just right.
Thankfully, he’s immune to codependency and manipulation. That shit just doesn’t work on him.
Which works great for me – albeit annoying in the moment – because I’ll have a few days of flailing about and he’ll be steady and calm and all “Nothing is wrong; everything’s okay.” and I’ll get all panicky and fall into THE MOST ELABORATE CREATIVE STORIES EVER in my mind, convincing myself that everything is bound to be doom and gloom and then I’ll find myself imagining him telling his next girlfriend how high maintenance I was to be with… And finally I’ll settle and be like, “Oh wait. I think maybe I’ve been caught in a trance. I think maybe everything is okay.” And he’s all, “Yep. I’ve just been chillin’ and you’ve been flopping around.”
And then he hugs me and kisses my forehead and then we laugh about it all and I get rosy cheeks from being a wee-bit embarrassed.
THAT part is great. The flailing / panicky / trying-to-figure-out-what’s-wrong part? That sucks.
Sometimes I’ll catch myself beginning to panic or find flaws in some aspect of life, or I’ll just be feeling stressed… And I’ll go, “Wait. Is there actually a problem right now, or is this just a habit?”
Straight-up, 90% of the time? I am habitually stressing. I am worrying and panicking and trying to rearrange shit or find flaws OUT OF HABIT.
There’s. Nothing. Wrong.
Everything. Is. Okay.
(CUE BIG COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF.)
I am okay. I am more than okay; I am good. My relationship is more than okay; we are great. My health is amazing, my financial life is better than it’s been in years. Things are going really well.
And guess what? THAT’S OKAY. It’s okay to feel okay. It’s okay to feel good.
Sometimes I think that creating chaos is just a way to prevent the inevitable letdown of something good coming to an end, or to protect ourselves from the shock of something painful or challenging happening.
See, if I’m already closed off and stressed, a surprise challenge just adds to it. If I am wide open and enjoying life, a surprise challenge can be a real boner-killer. It can seem like SUCH a shocking and painful letdown in comparison to how great I was feeling.
So, in essence, I’ve been creating problems and pain to save myself from potential problems or pain.
:big, goofy grin:
I’m learning none of it is really that big of a deal. Relationships, jobs, even life… Not that big of a deal. In the grand scheme of things, we are so so small.
And this blog entry? It’s not going to make or break the world. Even if someone finds it to be helpful, they’ll have forgotten it in a few days or a week.
Applying importance and pressure to what I do is a recipe for disaster. It results in an uptight, high-stress, insecure version of myself desperate to control every detail to make it JUST RIGHT. This perfectionism often results in me QUITTING or not doing the thing at all. The pressure becomes too great. It’s crippling.
So, I’m writing this post today from a gentle place of, “Fuck it.” Yea, I could spend three hours crafting a profound blog entry. But I’d rather go hang with my boyfriend and his kids at the pool. So, I’m going to do that instead.
Because THAT is the most loving thing to do for myself, and for my loved ones.
If nothing else, this 30-day self-love experiment has helped me shift priorities and get in touch with what really matters. It’s not the fame or the fortune; it’s the connections, the love, the exploration of our individual experiences.
Just for today, let’s remove pressure from ourselves or those in our lives. Let’s free ourselves to be right where we are.
Let’s breathe, and let’s play.