How I’m Trying to Not Be Awful to Myself

Here is what I normally do.  I make a decision to start a new exercise routine and to do it vigorously. Or  I say I’m never drinking a soda again, when in fact I drink a small countries worth of Coke and Big Red per day.  Or I tell myself, I am going to write 10,000 words a day when I struggle to write 1,000 words a month.

All or nothing.

Go big or go home.

But here is what I’ve learned from that. Not just from my own decisions but by watching an entire society make decisions the same exact way.  It just doesn’t work.

This time, I’m trying something different. I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s work on shame and loving yourself and being imperfect. (I am convinced she did all those years of research just for me, or she’s been secretly watching my life for 40 years.) One thing I’ve learned is that I suck at extending grace to myself.

I don’t just suck at it, I actually don’t ever do it. I rarely, if ever, allow myself to fail, falter or be human in any way.  Maybe most of us do that. That’s why, when we start something and it doesn’t work out in the first few months, weeks or even days, we just give up.  Not because we couldn’t follow through, but because of what we tell ourselves when we don’t follow through.  We say things like, “I suck.” or “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough.”

In starting this self-imposed challenge of 30 days of Yoga and 30 days of writing, I almost quit before I even started. November 1, Wednesday night, I’m driving home from teaching a youth group and BAM it was like a lightening bolt hit my head. I can’t even begin to explain the pain of this headache that snuck up on me, most likely from the cesspool of allergies that linger around my city.

I crawled upstairs, yanked out my contacts, slithered into my jammies only to remember that November 1, Wednesday, was Day 1 of Yoga.  I had written earlier in the day, but I had not done Yoga, because, well I’m a last minute kind of girl when it comes to doing things that involve me. I laid on the bed, arm over my eyes, wondering how I was going to do this. I knew I couldn’t live with the impending shame if I skipped Day 1. Honestly, that would be pathetic.

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The old way of thinking would have forced myself to find a 30-45 minute Yoga video, and cry my way through it, and then shame myself anyway for doing too much and making myself sick.  Instead, I decided to find a gentle Yoga, one for headaches…to bring healing, so that I can take a step in the right direction and to make this whole process NOT the burden it could easily become.

So Day 1  I did Yoga with Adriene, Yoga for Migraines

Day 2  I wasn’t feeling much better so I stretched with Yoga for Bedtime

But today, Day 3, after a cocktail of Zyrtec, Tylenol & Sinus Meds, I was able to tackle Yoga with Adriene Day 2.

Sometimes just making the decision to do what I set out to is accomplishment enough. It doesn’t matter what Yoga workout I do, or how many words I write.  I intend to push myself, but what I won’t do anymore is expect unreasonable things of myself that are going to set me up to fail.

I’m human, I will get headaches and allergy attacks. I will sit in front of the computer and not be able to form any creative or inspiring sentences. I will not feel like it, or want to, or have time to. But I will DECIDE TO. I will wait patiently for the ball to come across home plate and swing when it feels right. And maybe by the end of this 30 days I will knock one out of the park.

What are some goals that you have that you need to grace yourself a little so you can accomplish them?

 

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Do You Want To Stop Struggling With Guilt?

I wrote my opinion about something on Facebook a few weeks ago and was accused of causing guilt in someone’s life. I was so impressed that I had that much power over a person and a person I never even met. (Lord, it’s hard to be humble.)

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people have a tremendous gift at guilt trips because they want to make you feel worse than they feel about themselves. But I promise that wasn’t my intention. For this FB post, I was simply stating my thoughts and even why I felt the way I did. I read my post over and over, just to make sure I wasn’t in the wrong. Then I let it go…let it go…(You KNOW you just sang that!)

I spent most of my life feeling guilty about things I didn’t even do and even more over the things I did that were wrong. My guilt was such a burden and so destructive that it just led to a deep self hatred and shame. Guilt is so ugly, and causes us to do ugly things. So I’m here to set the record straight and hopefully, bring you some freedom.

Before I move on, I want you to know that I wholeheartedly believe that God gave us all of our feelings, even our negative ones. He didn’t desire for us to actually experience pain or heartache, but he also didn’t desire for us to sin. Our negative feelings are an innate part of being human, and our human experience is what draws us nearer to God. With that said, I believe that guilt is a feeling that God can use and here is how I believe it works.

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There are two types of guilt:

  1. CONDEMNATION
  2. CONVICTION

CONDEMNATION is when we feel guilt the enemy uses it to pull us out of or away from our relationship with God.

CONVICTION is when we feel guilt and the Holy Spirit purposes it to draw us nearer to God.

The situation doesn’t determine whether it’s condemnation or conviction. The foundation of what we believe will lead us to accepting one or the other.

Let’s say you have tried to stop smoking. You know that it’s not good for you, you understand that you are ruining your body and can actually cut your life shorter by your choices, affecting not only your life but the lives of many. (see what I did there, you should stop smoking).

Let’s say you do a really great job and for 3 weeks you don’t touch a Marlboro. Never light it up. Then one day, work is particularly painful and you are walking outside to your car and someone walks past you with a cigarette. One whif, you’re a gonner. You don’t even try to NOT smoke. You stop and buy a pack of cigarettes, light one up on the way home. As you throw your butt out into the street, littering, breaking the law (see what I did there? Don’t litter!) you feel an overwhelming sense of shame for what you just did. The guilt floods in. You can’t control it. You’re so stupid you can’t do anything right. Why do you even bother trying. God is just so disappointed because you are a loser.

So is it possible that God intended to use that guilt to draw you closer to Him? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper this instead, “Hey dude. You messed up. It’s okay, I know it’s hard. Let’s start over. Throw the pack away. Brush your teeth. And know you don’t have to do this alone. Depend on me, lean on me, when you are weak, I am strong. You stepped away for a minute, but come back to me. We will do this!” Ta da: CONVICTION

Instead, we take those negative whispers, and agree with them, smoke the rest of the pack, and feel like an even bigger failure. We feel far from God, like He could never really love someone like us, and feel the weight of our shame every single day. Dum dum dum: CONDEMNATION

When Paul wrote a letter to the Romans, he knew they struggled with sin and the fine line between flesh and Spirit. Romans 8:1

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Wait, what? Ya. That is what this means. We don’t have to let our guilt become condemnation. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you don’t live under condemnation. All of Romans 8 (and even 7) talks about this struggle between flesh and spirit, sin and freedom. I love this, too:

If your sinful nature [condemnation] controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit [conviction] controls your mind there is life and peace. [interjections MINE]

So here it is. All laid out for you, free to believe, free to change your thinking, to change your life. To bring you actual freedom.

Choose the Holy Spirit. Choose conviction. Be free from the guilt that presses down on your chest at night and makes you second guess your every decision. Free from the guilt that makes you afraid of saying the wrong thing, taking the wrong turn, doing the wrong thing. Free from the guilt whispered by people you love, and those that hate you. You don’t have to. You just don’t have to.

You should not be like cowering,fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.”

LG|LP

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