Why are we so hard on ourselves? Seriously? Not sure if it's imposter syndrome or superwoman complex or good ol' fashion insecurities, but together I've seen this cocktail of negativities put my friends, and at times myself, off-course. Perhaps its the tendency to compare our entire journeys to others' destinations. Social media plays a huge role in that. I call it the highlight reel effect.
Last week, I joined a gym, albeit, online. I only set foot in the gym once so far. Yea that might seem pathetic to many, even lazy. But for me, it means that I made a mind shift to prioritize my health. Despite hospital visits across the city, visiting my grandmother (also across the city) in my mom's absence, and work, I found time to do something for me. I am proud of my membership. I'm proud of my first visit to the gym in a long time. Most of all, I am excited about the incremental progress towards prioritizing myself. Let's look at it from someone else's perspective, someone who isn't in my shoes. They might see the fact that I joined online as lazy, not knowing that I received a promo code to take advantage of a discount. They might see my feeble attempt at going to the gym as wack, not knowing that I spent two hours there, practicing sign language while briskly walking on the treadmill. That the one visit was the only time I had before driving across the city only to travel twice the distance for work the next day.
If I allowed someone else's idea of what I should be doing in the gym dictate my journey, I would feel defeated. I would feel inadequate. I would feel like I am not (ever going to be/do) enough. None of those things are true. Sure I want a flat tummy and toned arms like everyone else, but it's worth noting the small victories it took for me to embark on this journey in the first place. That is why I choose grace. I find myself repeating the affirmation, "you are deserving of grace" on a daily basis. I recently began reading The Four Agreements. One of the first agreements is to be impeccable with our words, extending kindness and truth to ourselves. We don't have to make a journey any harder than it has to be by beating ourselves over the head with doubts and discouragement. This is also one of the hardest practices. Think about the last time you were paid a compliment. Did you say thank you and humbly accept it or did you follow it up with a disclaimer or self-deprecating statement? Imagine the following scenario: you come into work the next day after getting your hair cut.
Coworker: Your hair is cute! You: "Thanks, girl. It was a miracle for the curls to act right this morning." vs. You: "Thanks, girl! Curls poppin' like popcorn today!"
Those two statements could lead you down two completely different paths in conversation and how you feel about yourself for the rest of the day. Another agreement that resonates with grace; we must always do our best with the caveat that our best will be different and is susceptible to change. Perhaps you can't do three miles on a treadmill as quickly as you did before contracting a respiratory infection. Maybe you can't devote as much time to a client because you need to prioritize your family. Or perhaps you can't communicate as clearly because that topic is a touchy one for you. You are not mediocre. There is nothing mediocre about elevation and growth. Or wanting these things for yourself. We cannot walk in each others' shoes, so we will never know how much of a headstart or the number of hurdles someone else has. What we can do is worry about ourselves and our own paths. With grace, we encourage growth by pushing through fears and focusing on what we overcame, not how far we have to go. Along the way, there is wisdom.