Inevitably, when I write a post about how much I’m struggling to make hard changes in my life, I get comments (and even some emails) with gentle suggestions to cut myself some slack. I appreciate the reminder that accepting myself as I am is an important step, one I have to embrace before I can move forward.
I absolutely believe in the power of acceptance, in the freedom of acknowledgement without judgement. I am working hard to approach myself with compassion and loving kindness in the wake of some really difficult confessions (to myself and others) about behaviors I am not proud of.
I am no longer ashamed of my compulsive spending, nor the fact that I lied to my husband about it. I have owned who I am, the choices I’ve made and the consequences they have wrought for my family. I am working hard to rectify the damage I’ve done and to change so that I won’t inflict further financial harm on our family.
I am also working hard to embrace minimalism, a mindset that is helping me control my compulsive spending. For me embracing minimalism is not just about curbing the flow of things into the house, but purging that which we already own.
I’ve been working really hard on all of this for the past four months and I won’t lie, it’s been difficult. I never feel satisfied by the progress I make around the house; every thing is 50-75% finished and I cringe as areas that I worked hard to declutter fall again into disarray. I know if I had a weekend’s worth of uninterrupted time I could get to that place where I could manage the daily mess, but I also know I’ll never have that time to dedicate to this process.
In the few hours a week that I can allot for purging our unnecessary stuff, I find myself oscillating confusedly between acceptance and action. In my attempt to accept our situation without judgement, I find it hard to push myself to do the hard work of making changes. In the past my frustration and annoyance has propelled me forward. In their absence (or attempted expulsion) I’m finding it hard to motivate.
I’ve encountered similar obstacles on the compulsive spending front. For four weeks I’ve been great about not buying things, and my most recent credit card is proof of how little I’ve spent. But in the last couple of days I actually had to order something from Ama.zon (at the recommendation of my therapist) and then there were some things I truly had to get at Tar.get and I swear it was like taking that first drink after a prolonged dry spell. Suddenly there was all sorts of stuff I “had” to get, like some DVDs to show at school and stickers for when my kids win at Bingo. Do I need to buy those things? No. But I wanted to, very much.
When I slipped a little and bought the DVDs for my Spanish class (DVDs that will be great, but aren’t necessary by any stretch), I was quick to cut myself some slack and forgive myself for my mistake. The problem is that in doing so, I felt the pull to buy other unnecessary but useful stuff for my classroom growing stronger. If I truly forgive myself every time I mess up, how do what is the incentive to not mess up in the first place?
Having two kids and a full time job is kicking my ass something fierce. There are days when I can barely get through the things that absolutely HAVE to get done and still manage five hours of sleep. On those days, I understand the value of accepting that I still haven’t tackled the kitchen and it’s causing me stress. But on the day when I have an hour during my son’s nap and all I want to do is sleep myself, it’s hard to know what is the right move. Do I rest and accept that I just didn’t have the energy to be productive that day? Or do I push myself to sort (and then dump most of) the mismatched Tupperware? If I accept that I was too tired, when will I ever have the energy to actually accomplish anything?
So this is my dilemma. I just can’t seem to figure out how to embrace acceptance while still maintaining my productivity. If you have any words of wisdom on this subject, I’m all ears. I honestly don’t know how to do it.
Which are you better at: acceptance or action? How do balance both?