This morning I found myself snapping at my family. There was no real reason for it. It’s a warm, sunshiny day, and I had just made a delicious, gorgeous, super healthy breakfast for me and my family. On the surface, everything was good.
After I gave myself a time out in my bedroom, I realized that I’ve been feeling antsy. I have been ignoring what my body and mind have been telling me for a couple of weeks: I need time alone to nurture myself.
I have been working hard on my business, reading lots of personal development books, making plans to make a fundamental change to my business (can’t say what yet), running my kids to their activities, and going on outings with my family. My mind has been spinning with to dos and my workouts have fallen by the wayside. Again.
My first thought was to beat myself up for not putting fitness first. Why haven’t I learned that working out keeps me grounded, looser, more energetic? I’m forty, for crying out loud. I should know better.
The should triggered me to examine my thoughts. The should signaled an expectation I have of myself, and I know that usually shoulds mean that I’m being unrealistic and hard on myself.
So I decided to treat myself with compassion and start an internal conversation.
Yes, I know that working out always makes me feel better. Yes, I want to feel better. Be curious, Joanne. What else is going on with your thoughts?
And then the real stuff came out.
I am so out of shape. Working out feels hard, and I can’t work out as hard as I want to or used to be able to. I’m ashamed of the fact that I have let my fitness go, and that I’ve gained so much weight. I’m uncomfortable with my body because it’s so big right now. I should (there is that word again!) not be this fat. I’m undisciplined and lazy and a loser for not being able to get to a healthy weight.
Well, now. That’s enlightening, isn’t it? Of course I’ve been avoiding working out. I think about working out and I trigger all these nasty thoughts and feelings of shame.
After listening in on my own thoughts, I decided I need to talk to myself like I would my daughter. Would I tell her that she’s an undisciplined, lazy loser who’s fat and out of shape? Hell to the no! She is the most beautiful girl in the world, and that’s how I need to talk to myself, too.
And so I decided to write a love letter to myself.
Sharing this is not easy for me. It makes me feel super vulnerable, and I’m posting it anyway because I think that many of us struggle with feelings of unworthiness and with negative self-talk, and I think that it’s important to kick your inner critic in the junk and start to recognize that you ARE worthy, because that is how you live in authenticity.
It’s been a challenging couple of weeks from an emotional perspective and now you’re feeling out of sorts. That’s okay. Everyone steps off the path from time to time. That doesn’t make you a bad person, or lazy, or a failure. It means that you’re human and need to take care of yourself.
You are accomplished, smart, persistent, and strong. You are not perfect, and that’s good, because perfect isn’t real or possible.
While you may be feeling ashamed of your body and weight, know that your body is amazing and beautiful, stretch marks, rolls, and cellulite included. Your body, in all its (im)perfection, created two human beings who bring joy and love to your life everyday. It has run 5ks, 10ks, a marathon, and has trained for a couple of halfs. It has raced through a sprint triathlon, hiked trails to waterfalls, and tried surfing in Hawaii. It is strong and healthy, and forgives you for not always showing it love. It glories in yoga and provides the precision you need in your work. It delights in dancing, walking, and (yes) sex.
You and your body crave love and care right now, not punishment or a rigid, unrealistic workout routine. Seeking ease in your life doesn’t make you weak or lazy. It means that you want to feel good, and that’s what all humans want.
And, yeah, I know you feel bad about taking your mood out on your family. Use it as the wake up call you need to look after yourself first, so that you can centre yourself and get back to your normal self. You are forgiven for being irritated. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them; it means that you need to regroup.
You are worthy, of feeling good, feeling loved, feeling accepted. You deserve compassion, gentleness, and comfort. You deserve time to yourself, 80s music, a walk in the sun, nap time, solitude, fiction, Starbucks, time to browse in the bookstore, and the freedom to pursue what really lights you up.
Remember to heed your spirit. Today, it may yearn for introspection and retreat, but in a week or two, it may call out for expansion and exploring your edge. Listen, listen, listen, and then follow your inner voice.
Let go of the guilt you feel about wanting to be alone. That’s how you are, and that’s really, truly, deeply okay. You aren’t neglecting your family: you are taking care of yourself so that you can connect with them as a wholehearted person.
And that inner critic, the one telling you that you’re a failure, and unworthy, and that you need to stop being a wuss and workout already? Tell that *sshole to back off, because you’ve got this.
In love, light, and moderate chocolate consumption,
Have you ever written yourself a love letter? How do you nurture yourself and prioritize self-care? Do you ever feel guilty about taking time to yourself?
Books I’ve read lately that have helped dig deeper into what’s going on in my head:
Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map
Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap
Kate Northrup’s Money, A Love Story
Rachel Brathen’s Yoga Girl