Everything I stopped feeling guilty for in 2016

guilty

This time last year, I decided that I wasn’t going to make any big plans for 2016.

For the first time maybe ever, I wasn’t going to force my agenda of what “has to happen” in the New Year. Instead, I was going to be open and available to what needed to happen.

So, a year later, here’s what actually happened:

Having all of that extra space allowed for the “real me” to thrive.

Like I tell most of my new clients, turning into the “real you” is less a process of becoming than it is of unbecoming. The real you has always been there; it’s usually just hidden under layers of crap that got added over the years.

Becoming who you really are is about removing everything that’s not you, until the only thing left is what’s real and true.

In the past year, I’ve not only become a truer version of myself — I’ve also stopped feeling so guilty for who that person is and what she does (and doesn’t) care about.

Guilt is the absolute worst. It’s what keeps most of us from accepting who we are and giving ourselves permission to want what we want.

And as long as we’re more concerned with what everyone else thinks and worried about what we “should” be doing (versus what we actually want to do), we can never enjoy the freedom of just being ourselves.

Here are a handful of things that I felt guilty about in 2015, that I stopped feeling guilty for in 2016 … all of which made me a much happier, more grounded, freer version of myself than ever before.

YOU KNOW WHAT? I LOVE NETFLIX. AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT.

For years I’d been ashamed of my love for great TV shows.

I was perpetually worried that I wasn’t being “productive” when I was watching a show or that I was “wasting my time” and should be doing any number of more valuable activities.

I get where this comes from. It’s hard to know the difference between binge-watching for the sake of pure enjoyment and relaxation, versus binge-watching because you’re procrastinating or avoiding something you actually need to be doing.

To be fair, there have been plenty of times where I definitely was using Netflix to avoid something.

But you know what I realized in 2016?

Most of the time, I’m not avoiding anything when I’m enjoying a show. And when I am, I can always tell. I usually feel drained and numb when I’m procrastinating or avoiding something … not relaxed and renewed.

That’s how watching good shows makes me feel — relaxed and renewed. As an introvert, I need a lot of time where I’m “powered down” and recharging. And that’s exactly what Netflix (and reading a good book, and meditating, and long walks outside) does for me.

Having plenty of downtime allows me to renew my energy, which I can then give back to my clients, business, friends, and family.

It’s part of a balanced system that keeps me sane and relaxed and ultimately … more productive. That’s not something I need to feel guilty about.

BUILDING A BUSINESS IS NOT MY CUP OF TEA

I’m in no way an ideal entrepreneur.

I’ve always been far more interested in doing the actual work I signed up for — coaching and inspiring people — than doing the work that helps those people to find us (i.e. the marketing and business-building stuff).

I went into 2016 feeling bad about the fact that I wasn’t a good businessperson. A good “girl boss” would enjoy the process of putting herself out there. She’d want to be in continual expansion and building mode.

But at some point in the year, I realized that the only thing I was getting from judging myself and constantly feeling bad about this was perpetual suffering.

OK, so I don’t like marketing and business stuff? That’s not a crime!

Would it make running a business easier if I did enjoy that stuff? Sure. But that’s not how I’m wired.

So instead of trying to force myself into a mold that doesn’t fit — the energized, go-getter #girlboss type — what would happen if I did business in a way that was more aligned with who I actually am?

Running a business got a lot simpler and easier in 2016 because I stopped feeling guilty about what I wasn’t doing and did more of what felt good to me.

I haven’t crunched the year-end numbers yet, but I’m pretty sure we did better in 2016 than we did in 2015. Consider my guilt evaporated.

I HAVE COMPLICATED FEELINGS ABOUT YOGA

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to force myself to like yoga.

My thoughts have historically sounded like, “You should enjoy this! It’s good for you. It will make you more flexible and relaxed. How can you be a life coach who doesn’t like yoga? All the other coaches do it! It’s practically required for your job!”

Try as I might, I could never enjoy it. Which probably had something to do with the constant stream of comparison I kept up whenever I went to a class.

I was born a very inflexible person. Do you remember that gym activity we all had to do as kids called “the sit and reach?” (Sorry to any non-Americans reading this.) I failed that every time by inches. I baffled many a gym teacher with my inflexibility. (They always assumed I was just being lazy, when I was actually stretching with all my might. It was slightly pitiful.)

So, naturally, my inner critic tended to go wild in yoga class.

The Sit-and-Reach Failure (fun fact: I’m also The Cartwheel Failure) is on a mat next to Miss Stands-on-her-Head-like-it’s-Nothing … no wonder I could never get into it.

But the truth is … I never stopped wanting to get into it. Because I genuinely liked the idea of stretching, becoming a more flexible person, and focusing on inner peace during a workout.

So lately, I decided to stop feeling guilty for not being good at yoga (and likely never being good at yoga).

And paradoxically (but maybe unsurprisingly), I’ve actually started to enjoy it a little bit.

This is something all real yoginis know, but I was late to understand: It’s not about anyone else. You’re only there for you.

Lately, I’ve been listening only to the teacher and tuning everyone else out. The other day the teacher said, “This is a breathing class. Everything else is optional.”

I, the Sit-and-Reach Failure, thought: “Hold up. I know how to breathe! That’s a test I could actually pass! I guess I can, in fact, do yoga.”

Maybe I’ll surprise myself and become better (maybe even passable) at yoga. But that’s not really the point anymore. I don’t need to be “good” at it because I no longer feel guilty for being “bad.”

WHAT WILL YOU STOP FEELING GUILTY FOR IN 2017?

What do you wish you could do, without feeling guilty for it?

What would be nice to say “no” to, without getting judged for it?

What would you say “yes” to, if you weren’t afraid of feeling bad about it?

Feeling guilty doesn’t do you any good. And punishing yourself doesn’t make you a better person.

Letting go of everything that’s not you — and not feeling guilty for being yourself — is where the real fun, freedom, and enjoyment are.

Tell me, what will you stop feeling guilty for in 2017? Come share in the comments!

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Rachel reading this week’s blog:

IF YOU LIKED THIS, THEN YOU’LL ALSO LOVE …

The truth about my 2015: Rachel

I’m a “hard worker” and other lies

Confession: I have no desire to be a #girlboss

How to not care what people think

Much Love,

Rachel (+ Kristen)

11 Comments // ADD COMMENT

11 comments

  • Stefanie Naden

    I was always a -6 (yup, NEGATIVE 6″) in the Sit and Reach! It didn’t stop me from wanting to get more flexible, but I also heard that inner critic when I went to yoga. My tension headaches were enough motivation to ignore that voice and keep going… years later I’m finally passable at yoga (still have a major bend in my knees while doing a forward fold). Keep it up – it really is a metaphor for everything else you’re teaching, like the fact that you don’t feel like you’re progressing, but that “just showing up” is progress enough!

    • Rachel East

      Haha! I can’t even remember what my score was in the sit-and-reach, but I guarantee it was in the negatives too! 😉 I’m finally appreciating yoga for exactly what you said — it’s a great metaphor for everything else I do, and it teaches you a lot about yourself. Thanks for the encouragement! I’ll definitely keep showing up. 🙂

  • Bobbi

    Wow That was a great post.
    I dont read your blogs all the time but when ever I do BINGO you hit my nail right on the head. I’m glad you had such a successful 2016. So how will you top that for 2017?

    What do you wish you could do, without feeling guilty for it?

    I am transgendered, but for many reasons I’m not out to many people. My wife just gave me the riot act about wearing girl shorts all summer and felt it was embarrassing. I love it and have never noticed anyone giving me the look or feeling uncomfortable. So next year will be the year that I bring her on board and convince her that I would rather be fully feminine all the time and am done hiding.

    What would be nice to say “no” to, without getting judged for it?
    See above, It would be great to say no to having to change my clothes because the neighbor is coming over.

    What would you say “yes” to, if you weren’t afraid of feeling bad about it?
    See above. I’d love to say yes and put on my sundress and head off to the grocery.

    Thanks for all you do and Merry Christmas.
    Bobbi

    • Rachel East

      Hi Bobbi,

      Wow, what a brave comment, thank you for sharing! It’s so difficult to try to be yourself when the people closest to you aren’t as encouraging or supportive as you need them to be. It reminds me of that phrase (I think it’s originally from the Bible, actually!) that goes something like: “What does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life?” That’s the predicament so many of us find ourselves in — pleasing everyone else *except* ourselves, and forfeiting our souls because of it. It’s a very courageous act to honor yourself, and hope other people will understand (but have no guarantees). BUT, I know in your case, you’d no only be living your own truth; I’m sure you’d be inspiring other people, too. Here’s to a 2017 without guilt, and full of self-expression!

  • Joanna

    You can’t be good or bad at yoga. Yoga is just meant to make people feel better, no matter how they do it. There are modifications for people who are not that flexible. You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. Just do what you can do and be proud of yourself that you’re doing something positive for your body.

    If anybody was judging you for “not being good at yoga” then they were a cpmplete asshole. Every single one of my teachers started classes with saying “this is not a race or a competition. Don’t look at what others are doing.” Just do what feels right for you. Some things come more naturally to other people. I’m glad you realized this. I often meet people who say they can’t do yoga, because they are not flexible enough. This makes me sad. Yoga is such an awsome thing for the body!

    • Rachel East

      You know, I’m finally seeing yoga differently now! I was always going on about how “I wasn’t flexible enough to do yoga.” And at some point I realized, “Maybe if you did yoga, you’d actually *be flexible*!” It’s such a backward way to think (but so many of us do it!) … we expect to be good at something before we’ve ever tried it, and if we determine we won’t be good, we won’t even try it. I’m glad I’ve (mostly) gotten over that!

  • Susanne

    I pre-date sit and reach—thank heavens. BUT, as a freakishly strong person, I am so unbendy, and was always longing to be bendy and reed slim. Making peace with who I actually was and finding a yoga place that was supportive and encouraging(AND ONLINE) was key. Still a work in progress, but, MORE BENDY!
    PS going to read this twice more and also listen–I needed this-not yesterday, but TODAY.

    • Rachel East

      Haha! Congratulations on becoming more bendy, Susanne! I can attest — that’s quite an accomplishment. And it’s great you found a place that was accepting of all body types, levels, and abilities! I’ve also found a good place. The teachers are so nice, so it makes it easy to keep going! 🙂

  • Clarity on Fire

    […] Everything I stopped feeling guilty for in 2016 […]

  • Kat

    Hi Rachel!

    Thanks for sharing this with us especially the part where you said you love watching great TV shows and you don’t care who knows about this. I have been feeling a lot of guilt in watching TV too mainly for the reasons you also mentioned e.g. avoiding something and procrastinating on something I should be prioritizing. This is something I’d like to improve on — being able to watch TV or movies after accomplishing something or when I really need a break from work. I hope to be able to balance work and leisure this year. : )

    With regard to yoga, I NEVER thought I would step into a yoga class and enjoy it. To my mind, I also had the most inflexible body! I was also quite hesitant when a former boss of mine invited me to her class. I went to her class but did not yet have a good appreciation of it then. When my mom invited me to one of her classes last year, I went with her and found myself going back. In one of my first classes, I was even able to do a difficult pose (the first time I also encountered that pose. My mom was actually envious of me hahaha because she has not yet been able to do that particular pose after having attended more yoga classes than me. Today, whenever I attend a yoga class, I always feel accomplished and reenergized afterwards! I just need to keep showing up (how I wish this wasn’t quite a struggle. : P)!

    Happy New Year! : )

    • Rachel East

      Hey Kat!

      Yes, please give yourself permission to enjoy good TV or a movie! We can’t function at our best or brightest if we haven’t taken the time to re-charge. And if those things re-charge you, then they’re actually going to help you be better!

      And thank you for sharing your yoga story! It’s very encouraging. It goes to show that a lot of our ideas about how “bad” or “good” we are at something are relative, and often pretty inaccurate.

      Here’s to a great 2017! 🙂