On Giving Yourself Grace
"Today is my favorite day. Yesterday, when it was tomorrow, was too much day for me.” - Winnie the Pooh
Last night, I went with Paul to see the Christopher Robin movie. Yes, that's right. A movie about Winnie the Pooh. But, to be honest, Winnie the Pooh is kind of the hero that we need right now. And here's why: Pooh...just is.
This blog post obviously is not a movie review, but just the same, I loved the movie. And that's because the movie's general theme was that we get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget just to have fun. To be present. To enjoy the little things. To play. And that, at its core, is exactly what Winnie the Pooh is all about. He doesn't care about deadlines, important papers, or demanding bosses. He cares about what is happening right now.
But even if you were never a childhood fan of Winnie the Pooh, there are so many things that relate to this blog post's idea of giving yourself grace. And what do I mean by that? It means that life isn't perfect. There's many times that we're constantly trying to find a balance between what our life is and what we want it to be. That doesn't mean that we aren't working towards our goals; maybe we aren't getting there as quickly as we would like. A lot of stress and anxiety comes out of those situations, especially when it feels like you're working so hard or your seem to be in a rough patch. Giving yourself grace stems from this idea that perfectionism is unattainable.
If we are continually so hard on ourselves, how will we ever seen what is truly there?
Even while writing this piece today, I found that I had to step away from my computer. My brain was fried. This blog in itself, while something that I'm incredibly passionate about, is a perfectionism trigger for me. I want it to be the very best that it can be. I want to look at each post and its corresponding pictures and say, "Yes, that is perfect, professional, and someone is going to love that." I obsess over how I write each article. I obsess over the analytics of each post. Did I post it at the right time? Did people not like it? Am I posting too much about food? Too little? At the end of it, sometimes I have to ask myself, "Who am I? And do I even like what I'm writing about?" (Spoiler alert: The answer is always yes, as I've said many times before, but sometimes even us creative folk go through serious periods of time when we feel as though we just, well...suck.)
I want it to be perfect. And sometimes, like today, I sit in front of my computer for hours, mindlessly checking my email, or watching the cursor flash, no words spilling onto the page. I was texting friends asking what kinds of photos I should take for a variety of upcoming blog topics. Nothing seemed like it fit. I didn’t like any of the ideas. That’s what mental burnout looks like, folks. The idea that you just push yourself until there's nothing left. I don't want to push out a crappy product, but sometimes, it's just not there.
And that's where we come to the idea of giving yourself grace. Sometimes, the very best thing that you can do is walk away. Go for a walk, shake off the cobwebs. Stop trying to force something that is buried deep down inside of you because you feel that you have a deadline. Stop obsessing over the fine details. Just, for once, go with the flow. Because, ultimately, the best product will come from you when it's ready...not when you are.
"Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something." - Winnie the Pooh
Know That You're Doing Your Best.
We, as humans, are hardwired, I'm convinced, to continually compare ourselves to others. I could do more. She does. I could work harder. She has it all. Why don't I? Most times, I feel like a terrible blogger. I feel like a terrible friend. Why is it that we always get down on ourselves? I find that it's because we continually look to others and compare ourselves. I'm guilty of that - I compare myself to others, not because I'm jealous or envious, but because I look to be motivated and inspired by the fierce, powerful women I surround myself with. But, little do I know, these women could be looking right back at me in the same light. I don't have it all together - do you think that I do?
This comparison leads to the overwhelming urge to increasingly overachieve. And for me, that endpoint usually results in getting sick and spending the day sleeping off an illness. There's no need to put ourselves through that.
Simply, it's a matter of giving ourselves grace and allowing ourselves to take a step back. You are enough. You are a hard worker. What you are doing is great. There needs to be no lines drawn for comparison, because, ultimately, there is no comparison. You are you, and she is she, and together, we are us. But, we are not the same. And it is okay to take a step away from the computer. It is okay to stop obsessing over picking the perfect photos. It is okay to take a walk down the block. It's okay to disconnect yourself from your cell phone, the internet, or social media for a moment to go outside and live. Breath some fresh air. You are doing your best.
One bad day does not negate your hard work.
It’s so easy to get into a habit of negative self-talk. I talk to friends and clients every day who struggle with this exact thing. Listen when I say this. One day does not negate your hard work. This statement can be applied to any situation. Watch!
Did you stray from your diet? One day does not negate your hard work.
Did you miss a run? One day does not negate your hard work.
Did you step away from your blog because of writer’s block? One day does not negate your hard work.
Did you leave the dishes in the sink to play with your kids? One day does not negate your hard work.
All of these situations require giving yourself grace. Grace to know that you can get right back on your diet tomorrow. Grace to know that your fitness is still there after skipping a run. Time away from the blog will give you freedom to come up with new ideas, new ways to write the things you want to say. Grace to say that you’re okay with everyone seeing the flaws, the behind the scenes, the raw, unedited product. And ultimately, grace to know that your kids are more important than dishes. Any day.
If you think you can, you can.
The most powerful statement that I can make is this: You can do it. But you don’t have to do everything. And you sure as hell don’t have to do it on anyone’s schedule but your own. As cliche as it might sound, if you want something, you can make it happen.
With all the negative self-talk that we push on ourselves, and our unending quest for perfectionism, it might seem incredibly daunting. But consider this.
What if instead of looking at your bad day on your food diary, you learned from it? What if instead of cursing yourself for missing a workout, you commended yourself for listening to your body and resting?
If we turn around our negative self-talk, it suddenly becomes a pep-talk. Each time that we get overwhelmed with stress or anxiety, we can best learn by taking a step back and seeing how exactly this situation is serving us for the better. There’s a lesson in all adversities that are thrown at us. It definitely might not feel like it in the present moment, but when you look back, you’ll know that that moment made you stronger.
Grace. Give yourself some.
Photography by David Lemon Photography