Being Nice to Myself

A while back I signed up for the FlyLady site.  If you haven’t seen it before, it’s pretty much a get-organized, get-your-house-clean site.  She advocates doing a little bit every day, and taking weekends off.  When I first signed up, I read that and thought, “Yeah, right.  She hasn’t seen my house, and I can’t possibly get the whole house cleaned by doing a little bit every day!”  But I signed up for the emails anyway, figuring that it was free, so what did I have to lose?  I could always unsubscribe from the Yahoo group.  But little by little my house got clean.  Now I’m never more than about 15 minutes away from being ready for folks to drop in – and I’m usually not even 15 minutes from it. 

For me, the reason that site worked so well had as much to do with the psychology of it as it did with the “routines” themselves.  FlyLady talks about perfectionism and procrastination – the “P” words.  One of the things that made me sign up was reading things like, “Your perfectionism got you where you are today!  Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family!  Just do it!  You can do anything for 15 minutes!”  Although I don’t always agree with her politics (there’s a little too much Conservative God for me), I can’t deny that the general method has worked really well for me.  Little by little, bit by bit, I’ve learned that I really can do this – even when I’m tired, even when I’m sad, even when I’m busy as hell.  I can ALWAYS find 15 minutes.

Now, believe it or not, this is NOT a FlyLady testimonial, although the first part worked out that way, LOL.  But the other day, a couple of emails arrived in my inbox.  I don’t remember the specific subjects of either one, but one of them talked about exercise as “blessing your heart,” and the other one talked about the way that we talk to ourselves: how much hate and anger we spew at ourselves.  In that one, she pointed out, “Would you talk to your children the way you talk to yourself?  If they don’t deserve it, you don’t, either.” 

So all of that got me thinking.  Doing the Intuitive Eating has sort of given me back some adult control over my eating: if I know I can always have it, and that having it doesn’t automatically make me an uncontrollable pig, then the Crazy Bitch in my head calms down.  And doing the FlyLady stuff helps to remind me that doing “better” doesn’t mean doing it “perfectly.”  And that not doing it “perfectly” IS OKAY.  The perfection police won’t show up at my door, and if I can maintain my equilibrium, the Crazy Bitch stays quiet, too. 

Basically, I’m learning to be NICE to myself.  Doesn’t that seem like a huge “duh?”  But there it is.  I think most of us are not very nice to ourselves.  You can hear it in the diet talk of women: “Oh, I’ve been so BAD this week.  Now I have to eat nothing but lettuce and tomatoes to stay within my Points for the rest of the week.  But that’s ok; I DESERVE it.”  WHY are we so freakin’ MEAN to ourselves?  (No, no.  I know why, and that’s a long answer.  Don’t go there.)

But between reclaiming my adult self and learning, REALLY learning that I don’t have to be perfect, I find myself getting more done.  As my house got cleaner, and I realized that a little bit REALLY WAS better than nothing – in fact, a little bit was pretty damn good – I started applying it elsewhere.  I love the Hundred Pushup Challenge, and I’ve adapted it to get a lower body workout, too.  And the thing I love about it is that it’s such a small commitment, really.  And it’s not perfect.  In the not-too-distant past I would say to myself, “Ok, I haven’t been exercising at ALL, so I’m going to start running in the park M,W,F and doing an hour of yoga on T,Th,S.  And if I get up early, I could do 50 crunches every morning, too!  Ready . . . GO!!!!!

As you can imagine, that would last 3-4 weeks before I’d miss a day.  And then it would start: God, I can’t even workout every day!  What the hell?  I was doing so well, and now I’ve thrown it all away!  What’s wrong with me?  Other people sustain this!  I know because I’ve read it . . . [wait for it] . . . IN THE FITNESS AND CELEBRITY MAGAZINES!!!  [‘Cause ya know, THEY’RE realistic.]  And I’d beat myself up, and feel lousy, and eat ice cream, because WHAT WAS THE POINT, and feel worse, and beat myself up some more until such time as I was so full of self-loathing that the Crazy Bitch would rise up and pronounce that I needed to start exercising and eating better/less!  And I’d pull out the strict diet and the hard-core exercise program, and the cycle would begin again. 

THAT IS MADNESS.

So.  I’m trying to be NICE to myself.  To do the pushup challenge, because I can do it at home, for a few minutes at a time.  To do the lower body stuff in the same way, for the same reasons.  To remember that it’s REALLY OK to be imperfect (gasp!).  To eat a little better: a little less sugar, a little less dairy, a little more vegetables.  I haven’t seen evidence of it in my weight yet (and I know I may never, although I won’t lie – I HOPE I lose weight doing this), but my arms are stronger, and my legs are sore today (woot!), and I’m not eating crap.

I’m exercising more consistently and following a “diet” more closely than I have in a long time.  And the Crazy Bitch is quiet 80% of the time, and the other 20% I can manage.  It’s funny what you can start to accomplish, what voices and compulsions will quiet down, if you’re just NICE to yourself.  It’s . . . well, it’s nice.  😉

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3 responses to “Being Nice to Myself

  1. Oh heavens, being able to quieten the inner demon? Priceless.

    Being nice to oneself only when one is being “good” leads to nothing but eventual self-sabotage and then self-flagellation…however, I shan’t talk of the importance of self-love as I fear that may lead us down an entirely different path…

    Ahem.

    Anything > Nothing

    Getting out of the all or nothing mindset is not easy though, and Marste my dear I’m sending kudos your way.

  2. I need to listen and learn here. On the housework, the nice-to-self, the no-longer-all-or-nothing.

    It’s sort of like choosing a gift for somebody. You always want to pick The Perfect thing, the thing they never knew they wanted, the thing that will make their lives complete and show how well you know them. But actually? They’re just bowled over to know you cared enough to think of them and go to the trouble of finding something at all.

    (nb. this theory only works for gift recipients OVER the age of 18)

    TA x

  3. “Ok, I haven’t been exercising at ALL, so I’m going to start running in the park M,W,F and doing an hour of yoga on T,Th,S. And if I get up early, I could do 50 crunches every morning, too! Ready . . . GO!!!!!”

    Yeah That? Is SO totally me. I have been working really hard to not go there over the past year. It is not easy. At all.

    The food part isn’t as hard for me. I don’t get “the guilt” for the “bad food”. Which is probably why (among other emotional issues) I ended up as big as I was. Now I just try for proper potion sizes. It’s a work in progress. 🙂

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