Now, while I know I should always have self-love, I still sometimes turn on myself. When things don’t go right in my day or week or with life in general, I often blame myself first. The problem is that I become viscously hard on myself and instantaneously spiral down a path to where I feel like a complete failure.
This is why the scheduling/prioritizing/overwhelm problem is a real one for me and at the top of my list of things to tackle because now, with more on my plate than I’ve ever had before, I’m just never able to get everything done. So many days over the past few months, I’ve caught myself feeling like I did something wrong not to achieve my goals, which sends me down that path of believing that something is wrong with me.
The call right now is not to get better about scheduling and prioritizing; the call is to love myself enough to get quiet and listen to my true needs in this season of my life so I can continue to work on fully loving myself, without being reminded each day of what I didn’t get done.
This past Sunday, I felt something that I’d never felt before. I was sitting in my reading chair, up in my office alone, after one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in years. I was reading the New York Times, as I love to do on Sundays, and if I do it how I like, it takes a couple of hours. All of a sudden, I noticed I felt so much contentment that, honestly, I almost never feel. I also have a robust Sunday journaling ritual that, truthfully, I fucking love. I go back and read the week’s entries, relook at the goals I set for myself, and decide what I want to focus on for the coming week. It isn’t at all an exercise of admonishment for goals not achieved—it’s not one to assess productivity; it’s one where I focus on how I want to feel at the end of the week emotionally.
I consider what’s most important to me—things like health, how to set boundaries, offering myself love and kindness, and being the best I can for David and other important people in my life. The ritual keeps me focused on the REAL goals I have for myself rather than the topical tasks I hope to accomplish.
David and I have had three major goals this year—we are kicking off the surrogacy process (1), but before that, we needed to get some critical repairs done to our house (2) and the costs of them, should they be beyond expectations could affect goal one. Also important to us is figuring out the marriage situation (3)—we want to get married, but as we’ve gotten older, an elaborate and expensive wedding feels far less important to us than it would have back before we had other objectives for our time and money. The Sunday morning ritual invites me to reflect upon these goals—ones that really matter to me—because I think about how I’ll feel in a year as it relates to them. While at the end of my Sunday ritual, I do make a list of “things” I want to get done during the following week, it’s far from the focus.
This Sunday, while I sat in my chair, reading and writing—doing things I enjoy so much on my Sunday morning, I started to think about things I should do, like going to the gym and making dinner, and I noticed something—I started to feel overwhelmed by the thoughts. I sat with it for a few moments, inquiring, and thought about how no matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn’t create more hours in my Sunday and then said to myself: Matt, you’re going to need to be really intentional about how to choose to spend your day, and like you’ve been realizing, how you spend your time is the act of making choices.
I realized that how I wanted to spend my day was as I was—in my chair, reading, journaling, and relaxing, and once I crossed the workout off my mental to-do list, the overwhelm feeling immediately went away.
Last week, with all I had going on, my podcasts and emails backed up, and they’ve been gnawing at me, making me feel ashamed for not accomplishing all that I wanted to. While in my chair, I opened up my podcast app and I erased almost all the podcasts I hadn’t listened to, and it felt amazing. Next, I opened my email and deleted all the ones that weren’t imperative for me to give attention to, and that, too, felt liberating and amazing.
What I’m saying is that right now, with where I’m at in life, I am feeling that my life is mandating I slow it down a bit, and some things that I used to do are going to have to go away, so I can get the rest and relaxation that I so badly need. I have a lot of goals that are important, and it doesn’t mean that I abandon those or even slow down on them IF they are important, but it means to get still and inquire about what REALLY matters right now and the things that don’t need to fall away.
I ended up getting out of my chair and going to a yoga class because, as I’ve been feeling for weeks, my body actually has been craving to be out of the gym and on the mat, or hiking on a mountain, or even running through the streets—these all feel slower and more aligned with what my nervous system needs right now than going to the busy indoor gym. Also, with my limited time available, I decided to take a bath yesterday because, when I tuned in, my body said it needed it. I almost always cook on Sundays, but as I asked myself what’s most important, cooking didn’t show up, so we ordered pizza instead.
I gave myself the Sunday I needed, and although I didn’t get to everything on my list, for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t feel even one ounce of shame about it because I listened to myself.
While I still have a lot of work ahead of me with this whole shame situation, yesterday, I saw, for the first time, that if I get still enough to inquire within and truly, truly, truly make choices that align with what I need the most, I don’t turn on myself and get angry.
I hate not listening to all the podcasts I love to, and I hate to miss out on important wisdom or offers that arrive in my inbox, but when it comes down to it, with the limited resources in my life, something’s gotta go, and it just makes sense to prioritize what’s most important.
This week, David and I are on vacation in Maine for a few days of relaxation and to spend time together, and I’m using this trip as an opportunity to continue to tune in and listen.
I’m finding that when it feels almost impossible to figure out what I need to focus on so I can keep loving myself, if I get really still, take a few deep breaths, and FEEL, the answer comes to me.
The more I focus on what brings me joy and contentment over choices that make me feel agitated and overwhelmed, the more I love myself for making choices that support what, deep down, I truly want for myself and my life.
My hope is that when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, having to make decisions on how to spend your limited time, you’ll be able to find a place to sit quietly for just a couple of moments and ask yourself, truly, what it is that will keep you feeling as though you’ve learned how to make better choices in life that truly align with how you want to feel about yourself.
Thanks for reading until the end and for having an interest in my life and my journey. My deepest wish is that through vulnerably sharing what I’m learning on my journey to love myself more fully, you, too, will learn to love yourself more fully. If there is anyone in your life who could benefit from this nugget of wisdom, I’d be grateful if you shared this blog post with them.