If you’re like me, you might be beating yourself up a little bit today.
You ate way too much (of foods you don’t normally eat at all), your training shoes didn’t even leave the bag you packed them in, and you’ve failed to work a full day for the past 10 days.
You’re riddled with stress from certainly family members. Maybe you said too much to them or maybe you didn’t say what you wanted to, even though you promised you would this time.
You’re disgusted by how much waste your family produced in just three days.
You may even be freaking out because you’ve got one day at home before you have to fly to New York for your wife’s best friend’s wedding and you’ll spend that one day packing.
Whatever your situation, you’re probably suffering from the dreaded holiday hangover, too.
And like any hangover, you’ll need to replenish your resources that have been depleted. You’ll also need to give yourself time to shake out the cobwebs. But most of all, I hope this year you and I can find the ultimate cure: self-forgiveness.
Self-forgiveness is about being kind to yourself and accepting what you can control and what you cannot.
Did I eat all that food and chocolate? Yes. Can anything be done about it now? No.
So I need to let it go and move on. It’s too late to change. I can only change what I to today, tomorrow and onward.
I also tend to be harder on myself than anyone else. If my wife was feeling this way, I’d have all the kind words she needed to get back on track. But I have some fascination with shaming myself when I’ve allowed a slip-up (yes, even one that happened on my favorite holiday when I’m spending time with the people I love).
I carry that shame like a weighted sack on my shoulders.
But if I wouldn’t treat those I cared about this way, why would I treat myself that way? Wouldn’t I feel much better if I just let it go and moved on? Of course I would. I’d feel the weight lifted off my shoulders immediately. I need to be kinder to myself.
I can even take what I perceive as a negative and flip it into a positive.
There is always a chance to learn and grow when I misstep. If I’m truly unhappy with the outcome of what transpired, I can ask myself “Well, how did this happen? When did I go off track and why?” Becoming more self-aware of my actions and answering those questions will help me identify the moments I can make better decisions in the future.
That way I can set better habits.
If everyone in my family is getting cake and I get cake just because they are, but I know I will feel bad about eating the cake later, I need to replace that action with another action.
When I see everyone get up to get their desserts, I can take a walk, look at some presents, or (if I don’t want to alienate myself from the family), I can make some coffee or tea instead.
But ultimately I need to ask myself, did I really even take a misstep?
Can’t I allow myself to let go and just enjoy the lack of boundaries for a few days? What’s going to be more important in the long run? And if three days messes up my year, then I probably need to be focused on what went wrong to let three days affect the other 362 so drastically.
If I’m going to set boundaries, that’s perfectly fine. I need to be clear with myself and others about those boundaries.
But if I don’t stick to the original plan, I simply need to forgive myself.
If not, that hangover will last several more days and now I’ve actually done more damage.
So if you’re like me, let’s make a promise to ourselves: Let’s lose the judgement and allow ourselves to be comfortable and open with that which we can’t control. We aren’t going to ruin anything by taking a few days off our regimen and we aren’t going to make up for it by beating ourselves up for a week afterwards.
Let’s focus on the long term, take things day by day, and love ourselves like we love others.
Rain Bennett is a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, writer, and competitive storyteller with over a decade of experience producing documentary films that focus on health and wellness. His mission is simple: to make the world happier and healthier by sharing stories of change.
You can read the rest of “Right as Rain” here, and check back every Wednesday on Chapelboro for a new column!