I have reached some kind of emotional-health zen.
Let me 'splain. So, in the past I had a crushing tendency to aim for perfection and then beat myself over the head with my shortcomings. We're talking, regular cry sessions on my knees at night because I just wasn't measuring up and felt like I needed to apologize to God for the numerous ways in which I was obviously a terrible person. (Anyone feelin' me?)
Don't get me wrong, it's good to have a healthy conscious. It's good to have personal morals. It's good to make path corrections when your choices aren't lining up with those morals. BUT. Sometimes I think that too easily turns into a hyper-focus on all the ways in which you are falling short. It too easily causes us to link our inherent worth to which choices we did or didn't make on a given day. I know that's what it easily/often became for me.
And then something remarkable happened.
With all the chaos of the last year of my life, my brain had about as much weighing on it as it possibly could. So much to process, so much to decide, so much to analyze, and SO.MANY.FEELINGS. A month or two ago, I felt like my brain was about to crack under all of it. Something had to to give...and something did. I did choose to give up something important.
I gave up guilt, and I gave up shame.
I reached a point where I was just simply tired of feeling guilty all the time. I didn't suddenly run out and abandon all my personal standards and embrace riotous living and tell myself I could do whatever-the-eff I wanted, don't get me wrong. I just...eliminated guilt. I did away with it. I just let myself make choices, trusted that I was making them with the best intentions of my heart (or sometimes with petulance and blatant selfishness, because I'm human), and then refused to acknowledge or entertain thoughts about whether or not that made me a good or bad person. Just honest, authentic choices from someone who's trying to be an honest, authentic person, whatever that looks like on a given day.
In short, I started giving myself permission to be myself.
I'm pretty open-minded about other people's lives. Friends can tell me the most sad or horrible things about themselves, and it usually doesn't faze me or change my opinion of them as someone I love and care about. My reaction is usually somewhere along the lines of "So?" or "And..?" Why wasn't I ever doing that for myself, too? Why not be open-minded and forgiving about my own life?
In a religious sense, I've stopped approaching God as an ashamed, apologetic version of myself. Instead, I've started coming to Him as....me. Just me, with all my ups and downs, just one complete whole with varying parts. Just one complete, GOOD, whole. One whole circle that doesn't have shameful pieces hiding off to the side, but rather has all the various parts inside one bigger, GOOD circle. All different parts, all one good whole. I'm learning to look at myself and say, "I am a good person, AND I have less desirable moments or traits or habits. And that's OK. My heart is still good, and I'm trying my best." Because I honestly believe that is how God looks at me, too. He sees my mistakes. He sees my best and my worst. And just like a good friend and a good parent, it doesn't change my value in His eyes. It doesn't make me lesser, or worthless, or something to be ashamed of.
I've long been taught that I don't need to earn God's love, or earn my inherent worth. I'm finally starting to believe that. And, I'm finally learning that I don't have to earn my own love either.
I challenge you to try it: The next time you feel worthless, guilty, ashamed, etc., simply turn and look at yourself, as a friend, and say, "So?" The next time you're nitpicking every little piece of your day and feeling bad about this or that, shrug your shoulders and say, "And...?" Then remember that you are still good.......and let it all go out the window.
It's like magic: I am allowing myself to be imperfect, and I have honestly, finally, never felt better about who I am.