In 2019, I Choose to Be Kinder to Myself
Now that January 1st has come and gone, I know hordes of people have set new expectations for how they want 2019 to go. I think that’s great, if that’s what works for you. But I’m not a huge fan of new year’s resolutions. I always found the idea a bit silly, if I’m being honest. Sure, it’s a new year, but a year is just a concept created by humans to denote the passage of time. Wouldn’t your birthday (a day of personal significance) be a more meaningful day upon which to reflect on your life and set new intentions? 🤷
In the spirit of the new year, one thing I have been thinking a lot about lately is my anxiety and the standards with which I tend to judge myself. I was raised with the expectation that I should excel at life (if only I took the initiative to make my desires a reality), and I guess you could say I deeply internalized those expectations. Mix that together with my introversion, and you end up with an introspective, highly critical person who overanalyzes everything and sets unrealistic goals for herself with the assumption that this is how life must be lived. AKA, me.
Only recently have I begun to realize how awfully unkind I am to myself. I’m constantly criticizing my looks, second-guessing my capabilities, and seeking approval from others. But finally, I’ve decided on a new mindset: in 2019, I’m going to focus on kindness. I say mindset and not resolution because this is not a set of goals to hold myself up against (and ultimately fail at, because I’m imperfect). Instead, I’m challenging myself to continuously focus on being kinder to my mind and my body, and on being genuinely forgiving of my flaws, my insecurities, and my anxiety. (And I challenge you to do the same!)
Here’s why I’ve decided 2019 should be all about kindness, and my (imperfect) plan to be kinder to myself:
1. Showing My Mind Love and Forgiveness
As an introvert, I have what could be defined as an anxious, overactive mind. (Not in the sense of ADD, but in the sense that I am constantly thinking about each action I take and every phrase I utter.) Could that comment be interpreted more harshly than I meant it? Did I make the wrong facial expression? Did s/he understand my email response in the way I intended it? You’re probably already annoyed. Now imagine being me.
So my plan for 2019 is to accept that I am one anxious introvert and to lean in to my anxiety — not by letting it consume me, but by acknowledging that it is a part of me. I want to be forgiving of what I cannot change while also recognizing that I don’t need to be so overly critical of myself. Life is difficult enough; there’s no reason to make it harder by second-guessing my every behavior. I can’t simply become another person with a totally different mindset and thought process, so I might as well work with what I’ve got.
2. Being More Accepting of My Body
That critical and sometimes cruel mind I just mentioned has often turned its harsh tongue on my body. I’ve spent years evaluating whether I’m skinny enough or pretty enough and never feeling satisfied with myself. I’m sure magazines and Photoshopped models are partly to blame, as is the feeling I got from watching my mother maintain her rigorous workout schedule (five or six days a week without fail, even on vacations). I’ve been so judgmental about my appearance for so long that just the presence of an angry pimple on my face can leave me feeling so ugly and insecure I don’t want to leave my house.
I know I’m not alone in these thoughts, but I’m a bit ashamed to say I’ve never really tried to make amends with myself about my body before now. That stops now. This year, I’m focused on accepting my body as she is and making choices that help me feel good about myself. Instead of criticizing my flabby bits or letting acne control my mood, I’m committed to doing things that make me feel strong and happy — like going on hikes and cutting back on junk food (notice I said cutting back and not cutting out, because some bad foods just taste too good to give up entirely). And most importantly, I’m going to work on changing how I view myself and caring less about what others might see.
3. Decreasing My Dependence on To-Do Lists
I’m a sucker for a to-do list: I think in lists, I work using lists, and I build my daily life around lists. But what I’ve begun to realize is that more lists does not equal greater productivity — in fact, lists can often leave me feeling overwhelmed and depressed about not completing everything.
So I’m choosing to take lists less seriously in 2019 — and maybe even cut back altogether on my list-making. (Instinctively, I’ve already started making a list of the to-do items I can cut back on. Whoops.) I’m deciding to use lists as suggestions rather than must-dos, and to be okay with not getting everything done. It’s going to take some work, but eventually I hope to be able to re-train my mind not to see lists as an all-or-failure type of situation.
Now it’s time I say goodbye to this list and start living this promise to be kinder to myself. Wish me luck! 🙏