Since I recognized it within myself, I have been trying to overcome my “all or nothing” mentality. I can say from experience that it is quite a detrimental mindset to have. It is a constant fluctuation between pushing yourself too hard or doing nothing at all. If it can’t all be done, if it can’t be done perfectly, why bother? I’ve been letting this question immobilize me for so long now. I can’t even remember when this feeling of futility began.
I used to at least be able to get excited about the idea of goals or projects to work toward. Making lists and making big plans. However, after over a decade of setting myself up for failure with heaps of insurmountable tasks, I can no longer even find that initial hope for success that used to spur me onward. I guess after repeating that cycle of being unable to follow through again and again has finally worn me down. I feel like I’ve given up on myself.
But I know I can’t do that. I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t my fault I’ve failed in the past. I always expected too much from myself in too short a time. With the plans I made, no one would be able to succeed. I was overly-optimistic. And that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I still think it’s good to have big dreams. I just need to learn to give myself that time and tenderness I need along the way to achieve them.
The goals I’ve set for myself in the new year, have already begun to seem daunting. I shudder at the thought of failing once again. I consider giving up before I even try. But then I remember that I don’t have to completely remodel my life on January 1st. Small steps matter. I just need to break my big goals up into smaller and smaller ones. Until they don’t seem as overwhelming anymore.
Even if in the beginning it seems like nothing. Even the smallest steps will still take me forward. It’s better than not moving at all. I HAVE to remember that this time. I must be gentle with myself. It’s okay to celebrate the small victories. Even if they might seem silly to anyone else. Only we truly know how hard something is for us. And I have been having a really hard time with the most basic things for a long while now. I deserve to give myself credit for what I am able to do. No matter how small.
There are only a handful of weeks left to us in the hellacious, year of our lord 2020. It is around this time I feel it’s appropriate to start making plans for the new year to come. I know most “New Year Resolutions” fall to the wayside and are forgotten after a few weeks at most. But there is something deliciously invigorating about the illusion of a fresh start, a clean slate. It may not ultimately help you follow through with or achieve your goals, but it does make it a hell of a lot easier to feel inspired enough to a least make a plan for yourself. And that is worthwhile and important in it’s own right.
I personally am in desperate need of a plan for myself. I have been drifting listlessly for what seems like a very long time now. Every time I think of making a change, it just feels hopeless. Why bother? However, knowing I’ll have a few months to mentally prepare myself makes it seem more manageable. (Not to mention still getting to enjoy a hedonistic holiday season.) Don’t get me wrong, it’ll still feel daunting when the day finally arises at my doorstep, but I’ll at least hopefully feel more ready. Having a clear plan in mind is always helpful.
So what kinds of things do you want to change in 2021? Start a new habit? Kick an old one? Spend some of this waning time in 2020 to get a clear idea of what you would like to do and how precisely you plan to do it. Having a detailed plan is key. Vague goals are the most slippery. Much too hard to actualize.
Maybe even more important than making your plan specific is making it incremental. Don’t expect yourself to wake up on January 1st 2021 and lead an entirely different life. That isn’t going to happen. I’ve always been afraid of being “too easy on myself.” I worry that if I’m not strict and rigid, I’ll fail. But perhaps that is exactly the reason I have already failed so many times in the past. I think it’s more important to be kind to yourself along the way. You will mess up. You will have days, maybe even weeks, when you feel like you’ve given up, that you’ve failed. But there are no rules to follow in this life. There are no disqualifiers. Keep playing. Start again as many times as you need to.
There is no shame in what we perceive as failure. Only an opportunity to rest. To collect ourselves. To be gentle with ourselves. And begin again with new strength, new determination, new wisdom. So make your plans. Make the small improvements something to take pride in. Expect to mess up. Expect to start again many times. But remember one thing above all else. These are your goals. You are the only one invested in the outcome. And do you know why? Because beneath it all, it is your self-love that moves you. The belief you have in yourself. The deep desire for you to be happy, healthy, prosperous. You’re doing this for you. Inspired by pure love. So don’t forget. Be kind to yourself. As you would be to a child that you only want the best for. Comfort yourself when you fall, and help yourself back up again.
It is time for another transition. It is time for change.
It is hard for me not to let my mind spiral into endless worrying every day. The more I allow myself to let that happen, the more natural it will become. Even though it’s hard right now, I want to keep trying to redirect my thoughts toward the good things. If something as small as a less than perfect home can bring me so much consistent anxiety, why can’t I spend at least an equal amount of time celebrating the little things that bring me joy?
We all deserve to give ourselves more credit. Don’t discredit the silly moments in this life that may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Nothing at all matters in that sense. We get to decide what matters. We get to decide what we give value. I won’t give up trying to train my mind to focus on the positive as automatically as it has unconsciously learned to focus on the negative. This reality I have made for myself is only a tiny sliver of the ones that are possible.
I’m going to keep working to build a new world within myself. A world where I can be happy, where my heart is light, where I can be the light. I know I can do it. It’s there inside me even now. I just have to water those seeds everyday. Even after they’ve sprouted once only to be suffocated by frost. I can grow them again. And again. As many times as I need to. Because we are all magnificent creatures who have been gifted with a consciousness capable of love, joy, peace, bliss, and gratitude. These are the things we are truly made of, and we deserve to nourish our spirits as we allow them to become our entire reality.
Today I did something small. But something that has been weighing on my mind for a long time now. Even though it may seem like the least I could do, I am going to give myself so much love and acknowledgement for doing it. It was hard for me, and I finally did it. That is truly something to celebrate. My heart is full. My mind is calm. My cup is overflowing.
Tomorrow when I meet the eyes of my students before we begin our morning yoga practice, I will share that bountiful, beautiful, healing energy with them all. And I will accept whatever is shared with me in return humbly and with immense gratitude. I won’t be distracted by the fog of uncertainty and fear. Because I know I have truth within me. I know what this life is for. This life is for breathing out all that I have, all that I am, with a full heart. This life is for breathing in all that I’m given, all that there is, with a curious mind and a joyous smile.
One thing that has been helping me feel happy lately is doing a few small things throughout the day with the intention of showing myself love. I’ve been making my bed in the morning happily, imagining how satisfied I’ll feel when I come home from work to a nice, tidy room. When I see my bed in order, I remember that it is because I love myself. Another thing I’ve been doing is lighting candles in the evening to make the atmosphere of the room nicer.
These little acts themselves hold no true power to change my mindset, but they can have a tremendous benefit when done with strong intention. I speak it silently to myself as I perform the task. I love you, I say as I light some incense to give myself something pleasant to smell. I love you, I say as I wash the few dishes in my sink before going to bed. I love you, I say as I tidy up around the house on weekends.
I often have to re-frame my thoughts from I have to do this to I am choosing to do this because I love myself. It is amazing how much of a difference it makes. Of course some days are harder than others to truly feel that energy. But it is always worth a try.
Today I was feeling quite anxious before sitting down to start my yoga practice, which isn’t uncommon for me. After just a short practice, focusing on my breath, feeling the silky movements of my body, I felt ready to offer myself even more loving kindness. I decided to use some vanilla and patchouli room spray before beginning my meditation. With each inhale I was reminded of my own love for this breath, this body, this life.
I encourage everyone to try doing something little like this for yourself today. When you do it, remind yourself that it is done from the heart, with the strong desire to be kind to yourself, to make yourself more comfortable. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you do it mindfully, and with love.