More Joy Killers

Since this is the joy week of advent I want to list two more things that kill and steal joy. Guilt –  mom-guilt, achievement guilt, and comparison. Mom-life, hustle, and girl-boss are fantastic until we set expectations at super woman level and don’t achieve. Then we feel guilty and compare ourselves to someone who seems to have it all together. The guilt and comparison makes us believe we are failures. We feel like failures when we haven’t failed at anything. We’ve achieved a million things and we believe we have failed. It’s a trap. We fall into it over and over. 

Women have a knack for taking care of all the other people, doing all the things, and not asking for or allowing others to help. Women feel guilty for a thousand reasons – mostly because expectations are not being met. We have huge expectations for ourselves, our families, and how our lives will turn out. Then we compare ourselves to the perfect pictures, the advertisements, the people who seem to have it all together. Then we feel guilty because we don’t measure up to some invisible standard. 

Here’s the truth – no one has it all together, we’re all just trying to make through to the other side, God doesn’t expect you to be perfect that’s why he gives grace. If God doesn’t expect you to be perfect why do you expect you to be perfect? What would be better, easier, if you just didn’t do? What would be better, easier, if you had help? What can someone else do for you that you don’t have to do for you? 

Often we feel guilty because we compare ourselves to other people. We compare our holiday to the that of our neighbor. We compare our house to the home on Pinterest. We try to make our life look like the life that is in the magazine. We compare and we find ourselves lacking. 

I was reading the comments of a scrap-booking blog earlier this week. The commenter said that she feels ‘guilty’ for being behind on her scrap-booking. Another blogger typed that she felt guilty because she only got a couple scrappy things done that week and was behind. Then she listed some of her responsibilities that kept her from her hobby. 

I look around and I see women who compare and find themselves falling short. Then we feel guilty for falling short. We set expectations that exceed what a person can sustain for any period of time. Then when we run out of time and energy we beat ourselves up. We’re not super woman and our humanity prevents us from achieving goals that we set for ourselves that are beyond what any person should be able to complete. Then we feel guilty. 

Beyond all of this – we ignore our achievements while focusing on our comparisons. We are mothers who work and put dinner on the table five to six days a week and we feel bad because we put a frozen dinner in the oven. We feel guilty because we failed at being a mom. We are women who are single moms, working six days a week, barely being able to shower. We feel guilty because we take an hour-long bath instead of playing with the children. 

We want to hustle and girl-boss and mom-goals and relationship-goals and Pinterest our homes. We want it all and we want to achieve it on our own strength. Our children must be put together, clean faced, and well behaved. We are told that we must hustle and be the boss in order to have achieved the goal. We are running a marathon as if we are running a race. 

Can we just stop? Can we stop feeling guilty when we take half an hour to ourselves? Can we stop sacrificing ourselves for the good of other people? Can we have dreams, hopes, and aspirations for ourselves AFTER we have children? Can we stop taking care of our husbands as if they are our children? Can we fill ourselves up to overflow instead of making sure everyone else gets filled up and we accept the leftovers? 

It used to be expected that women’s work would be home-making and child-raising. That was it. A full time job. Then we were freed from this and we entered the work force. We took on full time jobs. Yet we didn’t let go of the home-making and child raising. So we work two full time jobs every week. Plus we expect ourselves to side-hustle and girl-boss and mom-goals all at the same time. 

Can we just stop? What if we took some of our responsibilities and spread them around our house? What if we lowered the standard? What if we took care of ourselves before we take care of our people?

In 2019, I crashed and burned. I burned out. I learned a lot of lessons from my ‘failure’. Then in 2020, I quarantined. I told my husband I have home-front and you have the work front. He agreed. I set up a blog, worked on a book, continued shutting my law practice down. I believed I wasn’t working. Yet, I was working and doing all the work around the house. 

We all treated my work as less than because I was making less money than I was before. We treated my work as less than his because I wasn’t going to work everyday. We all treated my work as not work because it didn’t look the same. Still, it was work. A lot of work. I crashed again and snapped. 

Then, I began to self care. I was easier on myself. I took a break and did less. I asked for help and gave some responsibilities back to my people. I put dinner in a crock pot, sent the kid to bed early, made a cup of hot chocolate, ate a cookie, and watched a Christmas movie. I told my husband I wanted to be alone. I took time to create and make art. I bought things for me and started a new hobby. 

These are simple things. They are easy to do. They are also the first thing that goes when we are comparing, guilting, and hustling. Then we crash and burn. 

We have a week left and then it’s Christmas. I’m issuing a two-week challenge. I challenge you to self-care during the busiest week of the year. I challenge you to self-care in the week between Christmas and New Year. In addition, I’m going to issue a challenge for 2021 to join our mind, body, and spirit together. I’ll post more about that later. 

What is the challenge? Here we go. Spend 30 minutes a day with yourself. During this time you must do something you like and nothing for any other person. This time is not allowed for: things that you think you must do, things that are in pursuit of a side hustle, a main hustle, girl-boss goals, mom-goals, relationship-goals, or achieving the perfect life. It’s just you and you. That’s it. Two weeks of 30 minutes a day for you. 

Here’s a tracker printable for you. Just click the download button and it should start for you.

What to do:

  • Hobby work – art in any form including creating, crafting, art journaling, sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, jewelry making, baking, etc. 
  • Reading – book, magazines, blog posts, comic strips, graphic novels. No learning something new. 
  • Watching – movies, television shows, concerts that you like. 
  • Resting – napping, sitting, thinking, being, existing
  • Brain-dumping – get a piece of paper or three and write down everything that comes to your brain in no particular order, you can sort it later. 
  • Bath – take a bath if you like them, take a shower alone and let the heat of the water soothe you. 
  • Aroma therapy – put together a calming scent combination that will relax you. Vanilla and lavender work well together for this.
  • Massage – go get a massage if you like them. 
  • Nails, hair – have someone do your nails for you, get a trim or a new cut. 
  • Eat, drink – go get a coffee and a pastry and savor it.
  • Meditate and breathe. Pick something to focus on and do a breathing exercise. There are some fantastic breathing exercises on YouTube for free. There are some that have words and some that do not. Find one you like and do that. Focus on the breath and God. 
  • Nature – go for a walk on a trail, on a preserve, along the river in your town. Listen to the birds, the wind, the water, the world around you. Feel your body, pay attention to your thoughts, be in the moment. 
  • Go to bed an hour early and spend thirty minutes of it enjoying the sheets, pillows, and blankets. Take a book – fiction preferably. Read yourself to sleep. No social media, put your phone on do not disturb. 

In the beginning, it will be difficult. You will want to get up and do all the things that float through your mind. If this is you, begin with the brain dump. Remind yourself that you are worth thirty minutes a day. Do it when it’s convenient for you – before breakfast, during lunch, before dinner, after dinner. Do what recharges you. Exclude work, creating task lists, and anything else that will achieve a goal. 

This is literally 30 minutes a day, just for you. There are 48 half hour segments in a day. With everything you are doing for other people right now, don’t you deserve to do something for yourself?

Are you accepting the challenge? I’d love to hear what you have chosen, what you results are, and how you’re doing during this last two weeks of 2020. Leave a comment below to enter the conversation.

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