Those are the days when our best intentions and most resolute resolutions are the simplest things in the world to stick to. Easy. Effortless.
But how do you stay focused on your passions, your goals, your sense of self on a dark day? How do you stay true to you when you’ve got a thumping headache, your relationship is kicking you in the heart, your job is unfulfilling, there aren’t enough hours in the day or it’s raining – again?
In challenging moments of negativity, confusion, self-doubt, frustration or lost focus, it may help to remember the following…
1. You don’t have to be happy all the time
The truth is, sometimes you’ll be unhappy because you’re human.
Social media can give us the sense that the whole world is racking up successes like a rugby player lines up pints. And even talking face to face, we never really know what people are carrying behind the smile, the jokes, the confidence and calm.
Don’t let your off-colour moment, bad day or disappointing week define you. The ‘not so good’ won’t last, unless you fixate on it, replay it and ignore the fact that at other times, you’ve felt OK. More than OK. The seesaw will tip back. If you let it. Even on a bad day, there’ll be a something to edge you closer to how you want to feel, so what is possible, even from that difficult place?
Generate a bit of self-love at the other end of the seesaw to tip the balance. Be nice to yourself, even though you may feel like beating yourself with sticks. It might start small with a bar of chocolate and build to creating space between you and someone who brings you down… Keep on stacking the odds of a better day in your favour. Little by little.
2. You’re not perfect and never will be.
What happens if you stop trying so very, very hard to be good, happy, successful, well behaved or right?
This is hard. As a perfectionist, I know this as well as I know my own name. But the fact is, we’re all fallible human beings. We get lost. We fuck up. We forget. We flounder. We force ourselves to be things we’re not. And we can find our feet again. We do. If we let go of the stifling expectations that keep us hamstrung.
Most of us have a voice inside, like a song on repeat, which says: Do more. Be more. You’re not enough. You’re a failure… Practise telling that inner critic that, whilst you appreciate their input, it’s just not helpful, supportive or motivating. Instead, you’re going to sit in your own silence, just for a minute, without doing or trying to be anything. That voice needs to be quiet and let you get on with it.
3. Let go – it’s scary but essential
The more we cling to something, the more fearful we become of losing it or, in the case of a goal, never reaching it. Or doing something wrong. Or failing. And fear makes us contract. It makes us smaller.
When we’re scared, anxious or in a state of panic, our world and all its possibilities shrink. We become less resourceful, creative, calm, effective and spontaneous. All we can see is that one thing that we’ve been clinging on to and not the other possibilities of the moment.
So, as counter intuitive as it may feel, loosen the hold. I’m not saying give up on it. Just trust that, with your best endeavours - and if it’s meant to be - it will happen. Let go of the outcome and let yourself relax.
Writer Elizabeth Gilbert talks about simply showing up on a daily basis to put words on paper, whether or not she feels creative. The muse either appears or it doesn’t but she’s there at her desk, doing her bit and letting go of the outcome.
So think of that thing you really want to do or be. Why's it important to you? What will it change or make possible in your life when it happens? How will it make you feel?
And imagine that you hold that thing in your hands like a butterfly, beautiful and fragile, and then let it go into the air.
You can’t control the future; you can just do your best today. And sometimes, your best will mean simply loving yourself and allowing yourself to be. Other times, it could mean setting the world on fire and breaking out the marshmallows.