What I read today in my old journals made me cringe. Literally clutch my imaginary pearls and gasp in horror.
The old saying goes that “you are harder on yourself than anyone else will ever be.” But what I was reading wasn't just my being hard on myself. It was belittling. It was deflating. It was a harsh, judgmental tone that I would never allow someone to use when talking to my best friend. I would slice them in half and shut that mess all the way down.
But here I was, reading page after page after page of some of the most shockingly harmful words that I had ever seen. And to think, this was not some random hater “throwing shots at the throne” as Jay Z might say. This was just a written conversation with me, myself and I.
Here's an example. About 3 months after my son was born, I had this to say to myself...
“My weight is back up and there really nothing I can do about it. I tried to work out last week 1 hour on the elliptical for 2 days – but my milk supply (I was breastfeeding at the time) dropped significantly for a couple of feedings. I can't lose weight and I can't make enough milk. And honestly, I feel like I'm not enough...like I can't even make enough food to feed my child. I t makes me feel like I can't do anything right.”
After reading that I thought, “Sheesh Shan, give her an effing break! You'd just given birth for god sake. It had only been 3 months....what did you think? The weight was just going melt off?
You were still figuring motherhood out. Still trying to get used to this little ball of energy that didn't sleep. You were getting ready to go back to work and you were incredibly worried about that. It's ok that you weren't on the Kim Kardashian post-baby-weight-melting-magic-diet. Kim makes her money based on what she looks like. You do not. Damn, girl....be easy.”
The truth is, every woman I know is her own worst critic. While I believe that a healthy dose of realism is, well, healthy, there's a point where keeping it all the way real with yourself goes horrifically wrong. There's a stark difference between “hmm, this dress might not be flattering for my figure” realness and “hmm, you genuinely suck at life” mental abuse.
Don't skip over those last two words.
Mental abuse that you are doing to yourself.
Without help from anyone else.
Yes, girl....I am talking to you.
Ladies, we are killing ourselves with our own thoughts. We're killing our chances at joy and happiness. As quiet as it's kept, a negative view of yourself is keeping you from achieving the thing you so desperately desire to conquer. How exactly can you motivate yourself to have the will power to follow a new diet when you keep telling yourself what a failure you are? How do you plan to write a book when you keep telling yourself that you're too lazy to do it? How do you plan on being an awesome businesswoman when the story you keep playing in your head outlines every business failure you've ever had?
See how insane that sounds when you read it?
One of the most dangerous phrases I found myself repeating in my journal was “I need to get my life together!” It seems innocent, but when you dig a little deeper, you'll realize it's toxic. It screams of not-enough-ness. It makes you feel like you're somehow behind. It subtly belittles you. It makes your previous wins unimportant. It silently screams that the life you've already lived isn't any good.
As my Grammie would say, “Lies from the pit of Hell.”
Instead of focusing on where you think you should be, let's take a moment to look at the four reasons you don't need to get your life together.
1. Because You Are EXACTLY Where You Are Supposed to Be
There are no accidents. If you didn't get that promotion, it's because you weren't supposed to have it yet. If you aren't making six-figures, it may be because you haven't learned the lessons or developed the habits and skills of a six-figure earner. If you're a stay-at-home mom and you want to open your own business, you may be running into roadblocks because it is not your time. Oftentimes we are in our current spots because we have not learned the lesson needed to move to the next level. Here's the thing. If you try to go to the next level without learning the necessary lessons, you don't thrive. There's a quote by author Jim Elliott that says, “Wherever you are, be all there.” While I'm all for setting long term goals and planning your success, once your plan is in place you must live in the moment so you can get the necessary skills you need. Be present where you are so you can get what you need to move forward.
2. Because The People You Are So Concerned About Pleasing? They Don't Care....
I'm going to admit it (even if you won't). A lot of our need to get to the next level of our lives is for the benefit of “The Unknown They”. If you're new to my blog, the Unknown They are the people you are flossing for so they can envy you. You, in turn, can feel as if you've arrived. The Unknown They don't have names or even faces. But we seek their approval like it's manna from heaven. For some reason, we want the Unknown They to like us. To see us as successful. To look at our relationship and believe that we've found true love. To see our children and go “Awwww.” We want the Unknown They to respect us. We consult them on everything from which baby crib buy to what man to date to what job counts as cool and acceptable. They guide our choice on everything from running shoes to which neighborhood to live in.
Let me let you in on a little secret. The Unknown They don't care. The plastic surgery you just took out a second mortgage to get? They don't care. As a matter of fact, they thought you looked better with a little more weight. The Loubitans that you maxed out your credit card to purchase? They don't care that you've got them unless you're going to share. They are probably going to talk about how uncomfortable you look standing there in too-tight shoes. They could care less about the state of your life. They are too busy worrying about their own.
This is really going to blow your mind. The people who you know and love? The ones with faces and names and history with you? They don't care either. (Except for your mom. She absolutely cares and is judging your every decision. But, she's probably it.) They don't care if you got the latest must-have wardrobe or rock the hot item from two seasons ago. They don't care if the dude you're dating appears to be the Jay Z to your Beyonce. The people who love you care that you are ACTUALLY happy. They care that you are able to live the life you want to live in peace and joy. They want to see you smile. They do not care if you have your life together. They love you whether you're the pillar of success or the poster child for falling apart.
3. Because You Are Already Slaying
When someone tells you that you're one in a million, this is not just a cute, throwback Aaliyah song. You are literally one in a million. Well, not just a million. Try 200 million. A man normally has to shoot out over 200 million sperm to fertilize one egg. Know what that means? It means to make it to life, you already out swam at least 199 million others and won. Your momma was not just being nice to you when she said that being born makes you special. The fact that you made it here means you're already a winner. Build on that.
4. Because Every New Moment is A New Chance To Make Better Choices
I'm not one of those people who believes that you have to wait until January 1st to make resolutions. I also don't believe in waiting until Monday to start a diet. Honestly....what's the hold up? When you make a decision to change, the next moment is when the change begins. And you have the power to do it. You don't have to beat yourself up about your previous choices. You don't have to get anything together. The life you want is as simple as making a different decision. It just requires that you make that decision repeatedly, until it becomes a habit.
In short, you don't need to get it together. Your life is already together. Your decisions may need work. You may need to stop mentally abusing yourself. However, regardless of where you are, your journey is not an accident. You have the choice to use that journey to help you get to better decisions. Your path was never meant to be a mirror that showed you all your flaws. It was designed to help you identify opportunities for growth.
Be present for your lesson. Be positive to yourself for your own personal growth.
Then, go be great.