Friday, May 18, 2012

The Weariness of Self-Improvement

I'm tired. I have become so tired with life. Always trying to do something, always having to do something, always room for improvement; there's always something. In fact, I'm already tired of writing this post.

I just started going to counseling to maybe hopefully work through some of these issues that are making me so tired. It's just begun and already it's helping. Slowly. Little by little. My "homework": stop negative self-talk, including all of those pesky shoulda, coulda, wouldas. But wait!, I thought. Don't I need to ask myself those questions so I can improve? But how do they really help me improve?

"I should have done things this way" just leads me to think, "I suck, I did it wrong. If only I did it this other, better way, things would be great right now." Nope. No improvement there. If only I would have pretty much works in that same way.

"I could have handled that situation this way" just leads me to think, "If I know how I ought to be [another sneaky, negative trap], then why aren't I that way? What's wrong with me that I'm not that way right now?" Nope. Still no improvement there.

Up until now, I had used those shoulda, coulda, wouldas for so long that I didn't know how to process things in any other way. I've worn myself out over all of these years thinking about how I could have been better, should have been better, ought to learn from my mistakes and be better. It's like a never-ending game of dog chasing tale. I'm never gonna catch my tale if I keep going around in circles-- it will always remain elusive. And I'll always be going in circles, never changing my path, never growing, never improving; always the same. It allows me to not have to change, just talk a big game and simultaneously beat the crap out of myself for being so awful (even though I'm really not).

So how am I supposed to improve if I'm not beating myself up over how I could have been or should have been or whatever? Well, we haven't quite gotten to that in counseling yet, but I know that it has to do with forgiving myself. I have to forgive myself for not being perfect every time out of the gate. Show myself some mercy. Because if I can allow that I make mistakes and that I'm not perfect, then I can also allow that I can be better no matter how many times I stumble. "Theresa, I forgive you for (insert weakness here-- but be specific. None of this "being stupid", "not handling that like you should have." Say, "for jumping to conclusions", "for taking your anger out on someone else", "for being too weak to stop doing whatever it is."). So tonight I say, Theresa, I forgive you for beating yourself up all these years and being too tired to want to desire to change anything or do anything.

Steve Gershom wrote a great post today (read it here, really, go read it) and he ended it with the following: "Screw self-improvement. Forget facing terror and misery, except when I have to. Sometimes there's a good reason to be miserable: that's how it feels when you're not where you're supposed to be." Amen.