I Should Stop Shoulding Myself

I’ve been reading a book about self-compassion. It talks about the fact that most of us don’t extend the same amount of compassion and kindness to ourselves that we do to others. The reasons for this are many – the way we were spoken to when we were growing up, life experiences that caused us to feel shame, feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness…the list goes on. Whatever the reason we are hard on ourselves, it’s something that breaks us down and deprives us of joy. I know this to be true for me.

The good news is, this brokenness that we inflict upon ourselves can be mended, and learning to have self-compassion can help.

I’m only half-way through the book, but one thing that has already had a profound effect on me is the idea that part of being compassionate toward myself means I have to change the way I talk to myself. Not the silly way I talk to myself out loud when no one is around (that is endlessly entertaining!), but the way that my internal self-talk admonishes and berates me when I don’t live up to the standards I set for myself. If you struggle with being kind to yourself, you know what I mean. Maybe your inner voice calls you names, or insults you. Maybe it belittles or makes fun of you. My inner voice doesn’t call me names or make fun of me; it shoulds me. A lot. And what it says always has an unspoken implication.

“You should have written that post three days ago.” (This tells me I’m unproductive)

“You shouldn’t eat so much.” (This tells me I’m fat)

“You should get off of your butt and do something!” (This tells me I’m lazy)

My inner voice is constantly aware of my faults and failures, and it lets me know by telling me what I should do, or what I should’ve done. It seems that my inner voice is far wiser than I am.

What I have to remember is that my inner voice isn’t an entity of its own. It’s me. It’s me being more critical and disapproving with myself than I ever would be with someone else. Ugh. Why do I do that? I shouldn’t do….

OOPS! See how easy it is for me to should myself?!

I’m working on it though. I am trying to be mindful when I start shoulding myself. I’ve been amazed at just how often that word runs through my mind! When it does, I stop what I’m doing, make note of what I’m down Honey
on myself about, and I think of a more positive way to deal with it. And you know what? It’s starting to work. When I bully myself about something with shoulds and shouldn’ts, it rarely causes me to change my behavior to what it should be. However, when I meet my shortcomings with self-compassion, I’ve found that I am more likely to feel motivated to change it, or fix it, or get it done.

Amazing how that works, isn’t it?!

I knew that to be true when dealing with others. You know, it’s the whole catching flies with honey thing. But it turns out that it works when dealing with myself too! When I treat myself with compassion, I feel better, I get more done, I have more joy, I am happier.

I should’ve known that, shouldn’t I?

Ugh.

Still working on it…

 

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Healthy Habit #5 – A month of decluttering (and an update on kindness)

 

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In my ongoing attempt to learn some healthy habits this year, I have decided that for May I will try to develop the habit of decluttering.  While we are not hoarders in the reality show sense of the word, my husband and I do live in a small apartment along side a lot of junk. and I think that it’s time to start getting rid of some of it.  I did some reading about decluttering, expecting to find a bunch of how-to’s, and I was surprised to find out that there are some real psychological benefits to sorting, and organizing, and eliminating the extra stuff we keep around.

I read this in one article:

Did you know that clutter can have negative psychological effects on you?

Have you ever wasted time looking for things? Or feel stressed by the visual chaos around you? Maybe you have a closet door that doesn’t quite close because there’s too much stuff in it. Maybe it’s your kitchen counter, office desk that is crowded with items, leaving you with no room to properly “use” the surface in question. These everyday sightings suck away your energy and weigh on your mind.

Experts even go on to say that all this clutter can leave you feeling edgy, unhappy, rushed and unproductive. I think they are on to something.

Decluttering can even create more space for your mind. It can generate fresh energy and help you let go of negative vibes you have been holding on to. Some people live with clutter (at home and at the office) because they need to. Clutter plays a role in their life. There may be a strong emotional connection to the clutter. For some, the clutter has gone out of control. We all know a hoarder or two. It’s actually scary, but it helps to understand that they need this clutter as it provides them a sense of security and comfort. And asking them to declutter can have the same effect as if someone asked you to cut off your right arm. It can be traumatic. Some people hoard because they are afraid to throw away something that is useful. (There are other reasons, but I digress). Let’s get back to our average clutter.

If you are like most people, you could probably use a good cleanup, create more space, feel energized and actually breathe better.

As you declutter, you will also realize just how much you have and this leads to a feeling of abundance, which leads to gratitude, which leads to happiness. Apparently, the outer order creates inner calm.

I would love to have the feeling of inner calm that decluttering can provide.  My closets are all packed full of things that I no longer use or wear, my kitchen has too many ‘junk drawers’ and all of the rooms in my house (except the living room, we have people who visit that room, for crying out loud) have nice, neat, organized (at least that’s what I tell myself) piles of stuff that I have no idea what the contents are.

So, for the month of May, we will be decluttering our home.  I’ve enlisted the help of my husband, because it’s his junk too, after all.  I will take some before and after pictures of the areas that we work on.  I will also follow the advice of a professional organizer whose tips I read online:  I will save big, time-consuming projects for the weekends, and I will work on smaller ones for 30 minutes a day during the week.  I will work with 3 piles as I clean – throw away, give away, and keep.  And I will either throw away or give away the things that I have not used for over a year.

I feel excited and happy about getting started on this month’s healthy habit…let the decluttering begin!!

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Month of Kindness update:  April was the month that I decided to develop the habit of being kind to people throughout each day.  I found that how easy or hard it was to maintain the level of kindness that I wanted to was directly related to the mood I was in.  When I was in a good mood, being genuinely kind, whether it was just by smiling at stranger, bringing lunch to share with a friend, or making a birthday cake for a coworker, was easy.  Seeing the happiness and gratitude on other’s faces made me feel truly blessed.  On the days when I was not in such a great mood, being genuinely kind was harder.  I could still “appear” to be kind, but when my heart wasn’t in it, it felt more like an obligation than a blessing.  Still though, even when I wasn’t being completely honest about my motives (my month of kindness, as opposed to true, altruistic kindness), the responses that I received from others did make it worth it.  I just think that it’s better to be kind for the right reasons, instead of being kind because it’s the right thing to do.

One thing that I did notice about kindness this last month is that it’s contagious.  I found that often times, when I was kind to someone, I later saw them being kind to someone else – paying it forward.  I don’t think that it was a conscious thing, it seemed almost like perhaps people have just forgotten that it’s nice to show kindness, and once they saw it, they remembered.  I loved that.

Overall, I would say that my month of kindness was a success.  I liked what I saw, heard and felt during the month, so I plan to make this a habit that sticks!