Being mindful is hard.
I guess I knew that when I got started, but I didn’t know it would be so difficult so early on in “my year”. I figured as I moved on to the tougher topics and things that required more thinking and awareness, it would get more difficult to stay mindful and feel easier to just quit. I didn’t think it would be so easy to be thrown off track.
But last Thursday marked the beginning of Week 6, and the past couple weeks have felt more like steps back on the personal development scale. It’s been hectic. Projects at my job have picked up keeping me busy and stressed during the work day, and my evenings have been filled with different activities or things I planned with friends or various other things I promised to do. And I heard myself saying “I don’t have time to be mindful” and “I don’t feel like it right now”.
So in all my busyness and the craziness of life I stopped meditating in the morning. And then I forgot to write in my gratitude journal one day, and then two days and then just stopped for the rest of the week. It felt too hard to start it back up. Suddenly the things I had started to use to learn more about myself and tap into a deeper part of my world became a hassle. At a time when I was stressed and disconnected and mindfulness would have probably been significantly more beneficial than doing nothing, I quit.
And the thing is, I didn’t write a blog post for the last weeks, because I was embarrassed. I didn’t follow through with what I said I would. I had this vision of this year being perfectly planned out, and everything would go according to plan, I would stay on top of all my mindfulness tasks and the blogging and I would create this crazy awesome new awareness of myself and the world around me and it would be…
And there it is. That seven letter word always seems to pop up when I am feeling insecure and overwhelmed. Perfectionism is something I’ve always struggled with. And most of the time, perfectionism comes hand in hand with shame or judgement. Whenever something goes wrong and I’m feeling embarrassed or defensive, the first thing I try to do to combat that is make everything perfect. I tell myself that if I can act perfect, talk perfect, be perfect then I won’t feel shame and other people won’t see my flaws or mistakes.
The thing is, if I spend all my time focusing on what other people think, it makes it a lot harder for me to stay authentic to myself. The flaws, the mistakes, all those things are human. By trying to hold myself to a perfect standard, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. Living authentically might bring more mistakes and more hurt, but it can be so much richer along the way. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in following the plan for this year of mindfulness perfectly, exactly as it’s written. Sometimes I forget. It’s MY plan, I wrote it. I can change it if I want to.
Part of the reason I think it feels easy to give up when I try to make a positive life change is that I feel like my subconscious is trying to reject the change. It’s much easier to just stay “stuck” and have a pity party. Or to avoid tough conversations. Or just try to ignore the hard stuff. I feel like my subconscious is sometimes trying to tell me “Why do you want to be so mindful? It’s easier to stick with how things are and then complain when things go wrong. Why choose the tougher route?”
I guess I had envisioned after week 1 feeling this incredible and mind-blowing change and everything else in life would just follow. And that’s not to say that still won’t happen. But big life changes usually take more than a week…or even a couple weeks. I got caught up in that want for a “quick fix” that would have instantaneous results and I wouldn’t have to put in the work. But I think I want the change bad enough that’s worth the work. I want to be living my best life.
So for the rest of Week 6, I’m hitting the pause button. Rather than overwhelm myself with trying to pick back up meditation and gratitude journaling AND add a whole new thing on top of that, I’m spending this week focusing on the meditation and gratitude journaling to really help me ingrain those habits. Because those habits are important to me and I truly do believe that they can help lay the groundwork for all other mindfulness tasks. And the original new task I had planned for weeks 5 and 6…will still be there when I get to week 7 and I can start it then.
Things come up. Weeks get busy and crazy and stressful. This isn’t the only time throughout this year I’ll feel overwhelmed. I can be so hard on myself, telling myself I failed and I can’t do anything right. But I think the more important part about this whole thing is that I can acknowledge that I had a rough couple weeks and then forgive myself. Shit happens. If I continue to hold myself to that standard of perfection, I’m only going to feel more like a failure. Instead I want to focus on what I CAN do and let that be what pushes me forward to dig deeper and do better. If I’m coming from a place of positivity and acceptance I’ll be a lot happier along the way…and that’s the whole point.