The Reason Your Best Is Better Than You Believe
As the first month of 2022 comes to an end, it’s natural to feel a little deflated and as though you maybe didn't achieve very much. There's this unwritten pressure, at the start of a new year, that you need to overhaul every old habit and pick right now to become the very best version of yourself. We believe that we need to stop doing this, or do more of that, and we go to extreme lengths to do it all at once. But as I share here, when that doesn't last, we feel guilty or blame ourselves for not doing enough, or being enough.
“Sometimes when we set the bar too high at first, we become overwhelmed and have a difficult time sticking to the new habit we tried to adopt. We also have a hard time telling ourselves that something is permanent, rigid and forever.”
So this year, rather than essentially creating a “should do” list and never getting around to it, my only commitment is to complete a monthly check in, which I'll occasionally share in the format of Life Lessons on this blog. Of course, I still have goals for 2022, but I also know that the accomplishment of each goal will only be achieved if I prioritise myself first, avoid the trap of neglecting my moods and feelings whilst striving for achievement, and be kinder to myself by focusing on what I learned in the process of reaching for those goals.
So the intention of this blog series is simply to encourage you to do the same; to sit down at the end of each month and reflect on your emotions, how they impacted the month and any discoveries that aid your growth, resilience and ability to achieve going forward.
Discoveries from my January's check-in:
Trust that you are resourceful.
Goals give us direction; they tell us what we'd like to happen this year and what direction we want our life to go in. But it's important to appreciate the past too. There can be the belief that looking back is 'dwelling'. But, after recently catching Covid and being confined to my bedroom for ten days, I made a start on the final draft of my memoir manuscript. In doing so, I realised the first time, and even the second, had been almost a brain dump of facts and situations as I recalled them. But with some time and distance, revisiting it was an emotional journey like no other. I could see my story objectively after feeling like a different person and noticed how healing the process has become. I could finally see that each situation was necessary to shape who I am today, and that all the lessons learned and growth I've experienced were needed for me to trust in the future and in the next stage of my life. Better days are coming and pain is never permanent. The stability I've been craving for so long can simply be found within, and I learned to trust that I'm resourceful.
Your best is much better than you believe.
Fear can stop us doing so many things and often we judge ourselves before we really try. We think “It won’t be good enough” or “I failed at it last time” or “It didn’t go to plan before” and constantly ask ourselves 'what if' statements. Again, with my book example, I'd read my story so many times that I lost the ability to judge whether it was any good or not. As a result, I came close to abandoning the project altogether. But then I had a phone call with a lady who works in publishing, just to see what route to take, and she told me how compelling she found it and desperately wanted to continue reading. I wanted to share this example as it really reinstalled my motivation to keep going with this project. You shouldn't seek outside validation or opinions from others as a reason to do certain things. However, when lacking motivation and feeling as though your best isn't good enough, it can be helpful to remember that you're usually the one who has set that standard. And quite often, your best is much better than you believe. Even when things don’t go to plan, remember that some of our failures can turn out to be the best learning experiences.
You’re not responsible for the thoughts and feelings of others.
For a while now I’ve confused being kind and considerate to others with totally abandoning self care. I’ve prioritised needing to make others happy and please them in certain situations over checking in with how I really feel in that moment too. At the start of the year, it was pointed out to me that I was afraid of saying no to things that deep down I wanted to say no to, and was also basing my actions on the behaviours of others. I was neglecting my own needs through fear of disappointing others and as a result had lost sight of things I enjoy, especially given that it was exhausting trying to be responsible for the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s an ongoing process, but this month I’ve been encouraged to take a step back and look at where I’m spending my time and energy. I’ve since learned the importance of tuning into my own feelings and noticing what I need and want in a particular moment. You cannot always control outcomes or the actions of others, nor can you control how they feel, but you can ensure that you protect your own energy and only spend it on things and people that truly align with you and make you feel energised.
You never have to go through life alone.
For so long I’ve felt I’ve had to do things alone. Regardless of the support that I’m reminded is around me, I’ve grown used to keeping things to myself, avoiding ‘burdening’ others and sometimes suffering in silence. But I’ve found that if we take a chance and ask for help, it’s always there. Incredible doors have opened for me this month simply by choosing courage over comfort and asking for help, and as a result, I’ve received it in some unlikely places.
At the start of the year I had an early flight booked to Barcelona to visit my boyfriend, Leo. Whilst packing late the night before I realised I’d forgotten to pick up my prescription for Gabapentin - a drug used to help with my double vision and spinning world. Going cold turkey would have led to withdrawals so I waited hours into the morning on hold to the emergency medical helpline. As it’s a controlled drug, doctors in the UK were unable to write me the prescription for a new location. In a panic, and after two hours of sleep, I caught my flight to Barca and prepared to be bed-bound and poorly. I briefly told Leo whilst boarding but not in detail as I figured he wouldn’t understand the severity of it and couldn’t do anything anyway. But when I landed, he greeted me with a private prescription he’d sourced from a friend of a friend who happens to be a doctor. He’s since consistently asked me to share these things with him, so that he has the chance to offer support and assistance where he can. It’s a gesture that still makes me emotional whenever I think about it because for the first time, I felt properly reminded that I don’t have to do things by myself. This month I really learned the value of being vulnerable and willing to open up.
Avoiding future pain means depriving yourself of joy.
If we go through life avoiding pain just because we’ve experienced it before, we’re not really living. I’ve felt really triggered in certain situations recently, and realised it’s because I’ve had a guard up for so long, through fear of exposing myself to the potential pain that I believed could be ‘avoidable’. But actually, fully trusting in the moment and letting go of future ‘what ifs’ is reminding ourselves that we’re strong enough to handle future pain and any uncertainties we might face. By opening myself up to potential pain, I also opened myself up to the potential of feeling joy and positive emotions. I’ve learned not to judge my emotions and instead, simply become aware of triggers. By becoming aware, I’m able to understand where my feelings are coming from in certain situations, and let go of controlling behaviours.
Below are some questions I've been asking myself this month, to help me reflect:
- Has anything in life changed recently? Has this affected my sleep and eating routine?
- What’s occupying most of my headspace right now?
- When was the last time I felt happy?
- What have I done recently that made me feel good/happy?
- How do I feel about myself right now?
- What went well for me this week?
- What am I holding onto that doesn’t benefit my life?
- What do I need in this moment?
- What can I forgive myself for?
- What can I thank myself for?
Please share your discoveries with me, if you're also doing this monthly series :)
See you next month,
You are such a gift and inspiration, Sammy. Really looking forward to reading your book when it is published, which it will be.