The Crushing Pressure of Absolutes

As I take on new goals (and re-attempt some old ones), I’m trying the approach of being less militant with myself.

In the past when I’ve taken on a goal, I’ve created severe rules for myself to abide by.

ie: get through this entire 6-week​ workout program… or you fail.

Eat healthy from now on or… you fail.

It’s been a very harsh approach. I think I hoped these strict rules would scare me into action and make me more likely to follow the rules.

It’s as though I’ve been treating myself as a child in a military reform school. And as one might expect, the rebellious child in me reacts to this strictness by immediately dragging her feet. Or else she tries very hard, for a while, and then at the first sign of failure, throws up her hands up as she realizes she cannot live up to these absolute ideals.

Well, I’ve missed 3 days of exercise…I guess it’s a failure then! I need to start over.

Well, I just downed an entire tub of ice cream. Back to square one.

This hasn’t been going so well.

While on occasion, absolute regimes have helped scare me into action, for longer term goals like health and fitness, I find these absolutes create the illusion I am failing constantly, (even when I am, in fact, making great progress). This hurts my self-esteem and never allows me to feel the benefits of gaining momentum.

Right now, I’m trying to approach these goals with more kindness. I need to be more gentle with myself, to cajole​ myself into tasks, rather than force them.

In short, I’m trying to free myself from the pressure of these absolutes.

Progress is rarely a straight line. We are always going to fall short of absolute ideals.

Accepting this reality is allowing me to relax my grip on some of these things.

Is it enough for me to simply exercise, instead of adhering perfectly every day to a strict program?

Is it enough to simply accomplish one, maybe two things, instead of squeezing the last drop of productivity out of every day?

I think so.

Here’s to giving it a shot.


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