For a while I’ve had a rule that I unfollow anyone on social media that makes me feel bad about myself. It’s totally personal, but for me this is often a cull of "wellness" or lifestyle accounts, anyone who appears to be suggesting that they have a perfect house or children or meal plan or life.
I get that for some people social media is escapism and they only want to see beautiful things, but I want to see some realness. A bit of ugliness, some humanity, vulnerability. I really don’t need to be inspired to make healthy recipes (I can google that). I need something I can relate to, because perfection just makes me feel inadequate.
But at the same time I do want to do things that are good for me. If I let it all go and open a bottle of wine every night and my yoga practice goes out the window and my meditation practice goes out the window and I go to bed late and stare at my phone the whole time … then I end up fairly miserable. Anxiety creeps back, dissatisfaction creeps back, my body aches and feels sluggish and my mind races.
I try and see it as a concerted effort to put my yoga practice to good use. One teacher I know refers to it as“making your practice (or life) really intentional”. I know, it doesn’t sound like much fun, but I also know if I don't do what I need to do then I'm less happier for it.
Of course intentions are just that, they often go out the window, but I forgive myself (every day) and try again. I also know when lying on the sofa with a chocolate orange and a G&T is just the medicine I need. I try and listen to what my mind and body needs me to do, not what I “should” be doing in terms of the perceived standards of others.
Sometimes it’s yoga stuff (get up before my daughter and do 30 mins of breathing/meditation/movement! Do a gratitude meditation! Move slowly! Move fast! Rest and restore and do NOT move! Focus on stability and strength, not just flexibility!) and sometimes it’s life stuff: try and find time to see a girlfriend. Go dancing. Read a book. Have a glass of wine. Don’t have a glass of wine. For the love of god, buy a doughnut.
Frequently I fail and make the “wrong” decision or realise fairly late what I need or want, but I’m less bothered about always getting it right. Maybe that's a flaw, but I’d rather listen in a persistent way and keep listening, and keep doing my best. This seems like the only measure of success I need.
And the truth is, you deserve to live well and feel good. You really do. Life is short and you deserve good things.
A thing another yoga teacher says: tell yourself that you love yourself enough to do this. The stuff that's sometimes hard or challenging. The thing that requires that you come back, say hello to yourself and then listen hard. The thing that requires that you really value yourself.