In case you were wondering, and even if you weren’t, I’m still talking with the fabulous Emily at least once a week. We’ve been meeting over Skype for well over a year and half now and we’re still going strong! Yay for mental health technology!
In our conversation yesterday, she mentioned something that made my ears perk up and has stuck with me since then. She said that whenever you tell yourself you “should” do something or when you say to yourself “screw it, I’ll deal with it later”…those two thoughts come from the same place. They come from the thought that (wrongly) says you don’t deserve self-care.
For example, you might say to yourself “I really should go to the grocery store after work” because your cupboards are nearly bare and your family will want something more than wilted celery for dinner. Now, let’s say it’s been a long hard Monday and you had several fires to put out at work and you spent all weekend at a volleyball tournament with your daughter and you are just flat out exhausted, but you really neeeeed to hit the grocery store. Your thoughts might tell you that you should just go to the store and get it over with even though the thought of doing so just makes you want to stab someone. Your thoughts are telling you, “you don’t deserve to go home and take a nap first” but your thoughts are WRONG. What if going home, taking that nap, and then going to the store is the right thing (and the right way to honor your needs) at that moment? This is exactly what I did yesterday – I went home, took a nap, then went to the store and bought groceries. Sure we had dinner a little later than normal, but you know what? No one said a thing about it. I was in a better mood, I felt a little more rested, and I had a little more energy to cook a nice meal. I could have even just bought a rotisserie chicken at the store if I wanted to skip cooking (but I wanted to play with my Instant Pot, so that’s why I didn’t). Taking a nap and listening to my BODY rather than my HEAD was the exact right thing to do. Don’t be afraid to alter your routine or do something just a little differently if that’s what is right for you at that time.
On the flip side of the Shoulds are the Screw-it thoughts. Those are the thoughts that say “I don’t want to deal with this right now so I’m just going to make the easiest choice”. An example of this: You have eaten well all day – lots of veggies and lean protein, a good amount of fat, plenty of water…you have been KILLIN’ IT all day food-wise and you are feeling good. Then it gets to be 9:30 at night and you realize that you forgot to put those wet clothes in the dryer this morning and your daughter reminds you you haven’t put money in her lunch account for 3 months and your cat is just being an asshole (which is kinda normal, but tonight it just adds to your stress). You remember the box of cookies in the pantry and despite knowing that you don’t really want them, you battle with yourself for approximately 2.5 seconds, say “screw it”, then tear into the cookies and cram them into your mouth without really tasting them. That “screw it” thought says you don’t deserve the time and effort it would take to pause and ask yourself if you really need cookies or if you really are just frustrated and need to take some deep breaths/meditate/go to bed/punch a pillow. That Screw-it thought says you don’t deserve to care for yourself or your feelings…and again, that thought is WRONG WRONG WRONG.
I am much better at talking back to the Shoulds than I used to be, however I still struggle mightily with the Screw- its. I often refer to it as letting myself off the hook which really means I’m giving myself permission to not take care of myself. However, realizing that both of these thoughts come from the same place will hopefully make it easier to start talking back to the Screw-its. I mean, if I conquered the Shoulds, surely I can also conquer the Screw-its, right? Right! 🙂