Going into this New Year I thought a lot about wanting to stop doing things because I think I should. And stop making decisions out of fear. And instead do things because I wanted to. And because it felt free to do them.
That doesn’t mean we should never do things we don’t want to do. Like, I don’t want to study sometimes, but it’s good for me. I don’t want to be selfless in loving Nick sometimes, but I do because I’m called to. And I don’t want to wake up at 6am sometimes, but I have to.
But if it’s a decision that we have full freedom to make without effecting other people or significant things in our lives, then we should say yes or say no because we want to and it feels good and free. Not because we fear the outcome if we do – or don’t do – something. That’s enslaving and really soul sucking.
For me, this “should I or shouldn’t I?” shows up most annoyingly in my social life. It’s Friday, I’m exhausted and I really just want to crack a bottle of wine and have a couple girlfriends over or just watch a movie with Nick or just go to bed at 8:30pm…but instead, I’m like…I should go to that dinner or that party or go out with those people.
In the past more, but even occasionally now, “I should work out.” or “I should eat that instead of this.” dictated my decisions. You too? And how annoying and consuming and exhausting is that dilemma? So frigging exhausting. And obnoxious. And annoying. And SO MEANINGLESS.
I was nutty with exercise (and food) in college. I ran to burn calories. I ran more so I could eat late night pizza and drink myself into oblivion and not get fat. Wtf? I know. It worked. And I loved college, but I was always anxious if I didn’t workout or if I ate late night pizza and consumed a stupid amount of vodka. I didn’t trust my body at all and was obsessed with getting more fit and more toned. And it wasn’t out of a motivation to get thin because I thought I was fat. I pridefully, and disgustingly, liked the way I looked…but I wanted to look the best. How stupid and pointless is that?
Because you’ll never be the best at anything. And in your striving to be the best, you internally actually want somebody else to feel inferior to you. Isn’t that sad? I would never want somebody to feel less than so I can feel more than. But that’s exactly what striving to be the best at something or to be better than that person at something means. “I want you to feel less than so I can be more than.” Ew.
But over the past couple years, I’ve began shifting from making decisions out of fear and obligation to making decisions out of freedom and desire. And it’s SO MUCH BETTER. And freeing and less stressful and leads to far more joy.
One thing I talk with clients about is asking the question, “Am I doing this because I want to or because I think I should?” Whether that’s eating a certain food or meal or doing a particular workout…do you want to do this or do you think you should? It’s staggering how often we do things because we think we should.
Food and exercise choices should leave your mind and body at ease and should feel good. That doesn’t mean there will never be some discomfort when you work out..I mean yoga is uncomfortable at times…but the overall experience is really good and you enjoy the thing itself, not the outcome.
Do things that are worth it. Not eating a food because it’s “bad”…definitely not worth it. Doing an exercise just because it burns calories even though you effing hate it. Not worth it. At all.
Do things you want to do. Do things that serve you as a whole person. And don’t do things that aren’t worth it and don’t matter. Life is way more awesome that way.
This post really could not have come at a more perfect time. I was literally in tears this morning thinking about how little margin I have in my life– between working night shift and every other weekend, investing in marriage, and trying to say “yes” to everything, I feel so. freaking. burnt. out. Thanks for the reminder that we aren’t made to do it all or be it all. You’re a rockstar!
Oh how I can relate – thanks for sharing. Thinking of you! Be bold with those no’s knowing it’s okay to disappoint people sometimes. xoxo
Erica @ fitnfabulous says
I have been trying to ask myself this more often. The “is this what I want to be doing right now?” question. It makes me reflect when I find that my answer is NO. Time is too short to be spending it with a bunch of NOs to that answer. Now how to improve and make it so my answer is, more than 70% of the time, a YES.
YES! I have to protect my yeses and me confident with my nos…it’s hard!
Amber @ Madden Wellness Counseling says
Wow. This is SO GOOD! I have this problem sometimes, too. I think some people that have disordered eating or a disordered eating past come from that perfectionistic tendency to do EVERYTHING RIGHT. And that is VERY soul sucking, as you said. I love the thought of doing things because it FEELS good. Some might say this is selfish, but we ALL deserve to be a little selfish with our time, with where and whom we spend our time. This is not selfish – it’s self care!
YES YES YES. Of course, we don’t want to always JUST do what feels good to us…but if the choice doesn’t have detrimental effects…then yes do what feels good…especially with food and exercise!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
This is an awesome post! I have come to live this way as I’ve gotten a bit older and boy is it more freeing. When I’m tired and dont want to go out…I dont! When I want to order greasy pizza and fries…I do! When I want to eat salad and do an awesome workout…I go for it! Life is so much better this way–thanks for the reminder!
I have definitely seen this effect as I’ve gotten older…so I can only imagine the goodness that will come with learning and what my 30s will look like 🙂
Yet another awesome and thought provoking post Robyn! I have made my goal for this year to live fearlessly, including not letting fear dictate my own decisions. I want to focus on doing what I truly want, and tuning into the true me.
Yes! Not making decisions out of fear is so hard, but so freeing.
This is fantastic! So well put. Thank you so much for writing your blog.
Thank YOU for reading!
yes yes yes. needed this! especially with the weekend coming up. I really just want to relax and do something for ME. And not do anything I feel like I “should” do. Love this <3
Do what is going to feel most restful and FREEEEE 🙂
Oh I love this. I really struggle with workouts. I am in a fitness school even though I hate it being inside and everything. I am not going often…only to the courses. I think I *should* do the strenght training because it is good for the body…..and I am 29 almost 30. I am actually afraid that if I stop going then….I will land in hospital as an emergency case or be 100pounds heavier over night or sth stupid like that. I don’t know. I have a history of bodyshaming-eating-hunger-shame, so this is a hard one. Love your work Robyn!
Bethany @LuluRuns says
THIS. So much. I used to force myself to do so many different things because I wanted to be “best,” too and boy, what a horrible place to be. Praise Jesus for grace and I’m so glad to be out of that time in my life! Now, as a wife and new mom I’m learning this again in a whole, new light. I learning to savor the chaos, the unexpectedness, and everything in between.
I love this post Robyn…I have found there are phases in my life where I more easily do what feels right for me without feeling ‘obligated’ or like I would ‘miss something’ if I skipped out on a social thing…and times when the ‘shoulds’ speak more loudly….I find it can be hard to even decipher what I want when I am in the latter phase – we can hear what ours or others expectations are of us so loudly – that it is hard to hear our own voice. It takes time to practice the art of discernment in decisions – when do I need to say yes and when do I need to say no.
Thank you for being so authentic and giving a platform for this conversation!
Have a lovely weekend 🙂
Megan @ A Continual Feast says
Ahh, so good! We have to be confident in owning our own likes/dislikes/etc instead of trying to fit into a mold. Like you said, there is so much more joy in that. Thank you for the encouragement!
Dang girl, hit us with that truth bomb “And in your striving to be the best, you internally actually want somebody else to feel inferior to you.” Thank you for speaking out that ugly truth in most of us!