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Dear V,

I had a revelation today: I hate being told what to do.

That part’s not really the revelation, though, it’s been with me my whole life.

It’s not that I always hate being told what to do, I only hate it if I feel like I should already know what to do and I don’t. Or if I feel like I DO already know what to do, but I’m not doing it right or at all.

So for a simple example:
I know I should eat 3 meals a day because it’s important for my mental health.
I don’t eat 3 meals a day because I usually don’t feel like eating breakfast.
Mark tells me – “Eat breakfast!” and “What did you eat today?”
And I lash out at him, getting really angry because I feel like he is telling me what to do and I already know what to do (even if I’m not doing it)!

So his reminder to eat translates in my head to “you’re a failure, Joni, and you’ll never measure up.”

Enter compassion. If this was someone else (not me), I would say – “You know what? You can’t be perfect! You can wake up every morning and try again, you can fall down and get back up. You can make mistakes and the world won’t come to a grinding halt. You are ok. You are enough.”

But since it IS me, I say “You should know better. You’re not caring for yourself like you should, and it’s reflecting on your family, your friends, and your world. You’re not being the best you can be, and you’re making mistakes right and left. Straighten up! Right yourself! BE PERFECT!! You’re not a weak person, Joni!”

So here’s the thing: I don’t know HOW to show compassion to myself. I don’t know how to change my expectations from high and unrealistic to high and realistic. I don’t know how to accept my failures as part of myself, or how to be compassionate to myself for those things that make me human because, in the end, I want to be perfect (even if I know that’s unrealistic). I don’t want to be a burden on anyone. I want to be the hero.

As I wrote the above to my self-compassion sponsor (yeah, I have a self-compassion sponsor. Don’t be jealous!) I started thinking of ways I can compensate. My life is all about compensation: When I’m crazy, I compensate by being a super over-achiever in my life. When I’m depressed, I compensate by signing up for everything I can find. When I feel unheard, I turn my words into weapons and wield them against people in my life, every single time regretting the words before they fall from my lips.

At the root of my anger about being told what to do? Shame. Shame that I’m not good enough, that I didn’t do it right this time, that I wasn’t perfect. #ImperfectionIsMyNemesis

Self Compassion. It’s almost a foreign concept to me – I don’t deserve compassion, I think. But as I step away from the situation, I realize this thing: I’m a human, striving to be more and better. I am HUMAN. I’m weak sometimes, and I’m strong sometimes and that’s ok. Vulnerability is hard. Admitting to myself that perfection is unachievable is hard.

But in as much as I have compassion for those around me, I want to have compassion for myself. So here’s to self-compassion. Sometimes the best improvement you can make on yourself is learning to accept you.

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One thought on “Don’t tell me what to do.

  1. Self-compassion is a wonderful thing to aspire to. I’m proud of you for being willing to make the wish and to be open to finding out how to fulfill it. Then you can share what you’ve learned with the rest of us struggling with the same issues!

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