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!
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Rachel (+ Kristen)