Stop being so hard on yourself. Begin again. Always.
Hey, Cravings Tribe! So, we are starting Day 4 of our adventure, and I’m guessing that if some of you are anything like me (and I’m secretly hoping you are), you’re feeling like this isn’t going as well as expected. You may be getting down on yourself for not doing as much as you had hoped. You may be getting down on the tribe for not providing the transformation you had expected. You may be getting down in general, because you have to take down all those Christmas decorations (ugh) or you have a big work project coming up that’s stressing you out (double ugh) or you have to try to bi-locate to drive two of your children to three different places in opposite directions but during overlapping times tonight (true-story ugh). And you may be ready to scream, “SERENITY NOW!!!”
It’s all okay. It’s all normal. No one said this was going to be easy or fast. Expect it to be a dance of two steps forward and one step back. In the end, you’ll still be making “progress,” not that we should be measuring progress, because that’s not what it’s about. Every day we have to be willing to be a beginner all over again. To start over, if necessary, and without judgment. (That’s the hard part, isn’t it? We are good at self-judgment.)
Here’s what I said about my own struggles with this beginner mentality in “Notes from the Journey” in my book Everyday Divine:
I’m not good at being a beginner. I want to be an expert from Day 1. No matter what I’m doing. Even when I’m doing something I’ve never done before. Not sure where that mentality comes from, but it’s a stumbling block. To expect perfection in everything is a surefire path to “failure,” or to not trying at all.
I need the willingness to be a beginner in prayer, to sit there and be open to whatever might unfold, to come back day after day even when it feels like I’m not progressing and just practice my “craft,” the craft of praying.
This week in the early morning hours before anyone else is awake, I’ve been saying Morning Prayer out on the deck or in my sun porch. And slowly, slowly I have found a rhythm there that feels right, one I hope I can keep up for good. As soon as that thought enters my mind, I realize I’m heading right back to the quest for perfection instead of living in this moment, praying in this moment, one day at a time. (Everyday Divine, page 12)
When you feel yourself slipping into that perfectionist mentality or that mindset that tells you that you should be making progress faster, just stop, breathe, and begin again from wherever you are at that point. It’s all good.
I was listening to something yesterday and the speaker said that if you know you’re someone who has issues letting things go or being still, that’s a good thing, because it means you are aware and you are working toward awakening. So let that be a hopeful reminder to you today. You are here, which means you’ve already taken the biggest and most difficult step: recognizing that you want to awaken something within and shift the balance of your life. Begin again. Today. Every day. Always.
For further reading, here are a few things to keep you going, if you’d like (no pressure to read them!):
Click HERE for a story I did on mind-body-spirit connection from a Catholic perspective for OSV Newsweekly.
Click HERE for a story from Aleteia (also from a Catholic perspective) on “10 Spiritual Practices to Jumpstart Your New Year.”
And if you’d like something outside the Catholic arena but still really helpful, click HERE for a story from Kripalu on “Turning Winter Blues into Winter Warmth.”