Yesterday I sort of planned on going for a walk and picking up trash and litter in my area---in honor of Earth Day and because littering is my number one environmental pet peeve. (Why are people still doing that???) I've had some extra free time on my hands lately, so I thought contributing to the beauty and cleanliness of my community would be a good way to put that free time to good use. I could pop in my earplugs, grab a trash bag (and maybe some rubber gloves) and get to work. It would be great!
But instead of doing that during my free time, I found myself alternating between frolicking to music, fussing with my hair, and catching up on the book I'm currently reading. Then I remembered, "Oh yeah! Didn't I plan on picking up litter instead of engaging in such activities?" I could feel the inner voice of negativity and disapproval coming on, but to my amazement, I managed to stuff it down and ignore it before it could tell me how irresponsible and environmentally negligent I was. I was immediately able to replace that with something more like, "I'm actually enjoying my music frolicking, hair fussing, book reading free time. The litter will still be there if I decide to pick it up some other day." And just like that, I went back to what I was doing---guilt free.
I've noticed myself doing this quite a lot these days. I keep coming up against this blunt refusal to beat myself up or attack myself with "shoulds." It's like I've subconsciously developed an "anti self-abuse" policy.
I'm not saying I don't beat myself up at all. I do. But I've been doing it way less these days. I've adopted an extremely nonchalant, somewhat uncaring mentality. While this is very liberating and has helped me love myself more, I can't help but wonder if it's a little bit of a bad thing too.
I'm a huge advocate of treating yourself with patience and kindness, but I'm also a huge advocate of remaining self-aware. I think it's good to be able to stop every now and then and think, "I could be better at this" or "I could change this." Recognizing how we can be better or how we can change is what leads to growth. If everyone just kept doing what they've always done and never made an effort to recognize the areas of their life that could be better or different, we'd all become pretty boring and stagnant after awhile. There would be no more stories to tell. There would be no more lessons to teach.
I don't want my extremely nonchalant and somewhat uncaring mentality to prevent me from recognizing the areas of my life that could use work. I'm not exactly talking about my failure to pick up litter when I told myself I would. I'm just talking about the self-punishing thoughts I deflect in general. There are some that I probably shouldn't be deflecting so much.
Maybe there's a healthy way to stay self-aware without punishing myself over anything. I guess I just need to find some sort of balance.
What do you guys think? Is my new "anti self-abuse" policy a good thing?