I was letting the lies win. I had a few really shitty days and I succumbed to my inner diatribe. I let everything slide, using the old sour grapes excuse: “I didn’t really want that, anyway.”
But excuses never get me anywhere. I never achieved a goal by making an excuse. I never scored a goal, or finished a project, or creating something awesome by using an excuse.
They’re inwardly satisfying because they allow me to place blame elsewhere. If it’s not my fault – if I can blame someone else, or fate, or the universe – I don’t have to step up and try harder. I don’t have to solve the problem if it’s not my problem. Excuses are inwardly satisfying but they’re outwardly worthless.
Do I want to stay the way I am? NO! Do I want to regress and become a lump on my couch? NO!
I want to get better, I want to be happier, and I’ll never get there by using excuses.
Sometimes life sucks. But mostly not. If you can’t bounce back on your own, get help, but do bounce. It’s not half as fun on the ground as it is flying through the air, and I’d rather fly than sulk.
If you’re having a shitty day remember: there’s always help somewhere. Call a friend or a helpline. Write it out in your journal, sing at the top of your lungs, go for a run. Whatever it takes, it will get better!
So I think I’ve hit my first road block. The honeymoon is over, to put it another way. Like with most new things I started this with endless excitement and enthusiasm. As the weeks wore on, that excitement, that enthusiasm waned. Now I feel like I’m stuck in a rut. I have things on my To-do List that need to get done, I have daily tasks I need to complete, but nothing significant is getting done. The worst part is that it feels like I’m worse now than before I started this experiment. It feels like, the harder I try to be happy, the less happy I feel.
Now, I’ve read Furiously Happy and I’m trying to keep in mind something Jenny Lawson repeated a few times in the book: “Depression Lies.” It made quite a lot of sense when she said it. Basically, when you’re depressed, your mind plays tricks on you and starts repeating your self-loathing reel. You know, all those things you tell yourself when you’re feeling blue, like, “No one loves me,” “I’ll always be lonely,” “I’m no good, I’m doomed, I’ll never get any better so there’s no use trying.” The worst part about this reel is that it’s so convincing. It’s much easier to believe the reel of self-loathing than to believe the daily affirmations.
It’s easier to believe the lie in your mind than to see the truth right in front of you.
I know I have heaps to be thankful for in my life. Top of the list is my wonderful husband and two beautiful little girls. I have a roof over my head and plenty of food to eat, even a little disposable income, thanks to re-budgeting. But it’s like those things disappear when the reel starts to play, and all I can see are the things I don’t have.
Having a habit certainly helps in these times. Forcing myself to do my daily affirmations, to Tweet something positive, and to check things off on the To-do List helps to lesson the impact of the Reel of Self-Loathing. But I worry. I worry about the day when I agree with the Inner Demon and say, “Screw it! This wasn’t working, anyway!” And quit all the things that keep me happy. I worry I’ll slip down into despair and just become a lump on the couch.
I’m afraid I’ve forgotten how to have fun. I remember what I used to do, but it just doesn’t seem possible now. I feel like I have a weight of responsibilities that prevents me from having fun, and all I can manage is a quick glimpse here and there; a short burst of fun before the responsibilities loom again. Maybe this is what it means to be a parent. Maybe this is why my parents always seemed grumpy when I was growing up. But this isn’t what I want to be.
Maybe the trick is to find the happy medium: a balance between the responsibilities and the fun. I know I’ve said this before, that it’s important to make time for fun and not let daily chores overwhelm you. It’s just so easy to get overwhelmed. And often my mind twists the fun and turns it into just one more chore to get done, which sucks all the joy out of it. Part of my problem there is I’m trying to learn something new, so I don’t have a flow yet. And I’m extremely self-critical, so it’s hard to have fun when you think you suck. But I must remember to give myself permission to be a beginner. And I think I’ll re-read Furiously Happy for a refresher on how to deal with this.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m fighting the darkness. I managed to get some much-needed cleaning done this weekend (which is an achievement in itself), so hopefully that’ll free up some time for me to have some fun this week. I’d like to paint again. I’ll keep you posted.
Anyone else out these struggling with this? Anyone have any suggestions? Please feel free to comment and share your stories!
Stop Saying You’re Fine by Mel Robbins
1. Chronic neck pain
- 1/2 c warm milk
- 1/2 banana at room temperature
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. pure maple syrup or honey (optional)
- Step 1. Keep a notebook with you (or use an app like Mint) to track your spending. Write down in the notebook every penny you spend, and where you spent it. Do this for at least one month. At the end of the month you should have a general idea of how much you spend per month overall and specifically on things like coffee, eating out, gas, travel, etc. Charting what you spend serves another purpose. It helps you keep track of all those “little” purchases that you think don’t matter. It’s easy to overspend when you don’t know where you’re money’s going, and those, “Oh it’s only $1/$5” purchases can add up faster than you may think and before you know it, you’ve blown through $100 and don’t know where it went. So track your spending. Then you have a way to SEE where your money is going. If you have the patience I suggest you do this for at least 3 months, because the longer you keep track, the more accurate your numbers will be.
- Step 2. Write down how much you earn in one month.
- Step 3. Gather all of your bills together. Everything you pay on a monthly basis, like rent, utilities, credit card payments, etc. Also get together everything you pay on a more irregular basis, like car registration, property taxes, or sewer bills. Get absolutely anything and everything you have to pay and get it all together. Get your expense notebook, too. Good. Now we’ll figure out your monthly expenses.
- Step 4. Get a piece of paper and list down the left side all the things you have to pay. These are needs, like food, water, heat, housing. Then list the things you pay because you owe someone something, like credit card bills and student loans. Last, list the things you spend money on that aren’t needs, like eating out or take-out, coffee, and alcohol. Check your notebook to see all the things you spend money on in a month and make sure to include them on your expense list.
- Step 5. Now go through, one by one, and write down how much each bill or item costs you in a month. For things like rent, where the bill doesn’t change, it’s easy. For some of the other bills where the amount changes every month, or you only pay once or twice a year, it’ll take a little extra work. It’s important to do the work, or you could find yourself short, as I did a few months after I bought my house:
- 5A. Take a variable bill, like your gas bill, and add up what you paid each month for a whole year. Then divide that total by 12 and you’ll have a monthly expense. Write it on your list. Do the same thing for any bill that changes month to month. Find the total, divide by 12, then write the result on your list.
- 5B. Fill in the monthly totals for optional expenses like take-out, coffee, and alcohol. Check your notebook for the total. If you only kept the notebook for a month this will be easy. If you kept it for more than a month, add it all up and divide by the number of months.
- 5C. Something to remember: did you include gifts on your list? You probably should if you have any friends or family members with whom you exchange gifts every year. Just remember that you’re trying to get out of debt and get your finances in order, so the gifts don’t have to be large, just thoughtful. Calculate how much you usually spend on gifts in a year, divide by 12, and write it on your expense list.
- Step 6. Add up absolutely everything on your expense list. That’s how much you spend per month. Is it higher or lower than what you earn in a month? If it’s lower, GREAT! You’re doing well. You might be able to do better, so stay with me. If it’s higher, you’re in trouble. Spending more than you earn is no good. That way madness lies. Let’s see if we can get back to the land of sanity.