To move forward, you sometimes need to take a few steps back

Update – since I wrote the post below (only yesterday), I’ve had the chance to reflect a bit more, from more of an emotional distance. I’ve also received some lovely feedback (including from my ‘body double’) and am putting things more in perspective, I think. I still feel though that self acceptance / compassion is at the core, and in a non judgmental way (if i can), I’m going to put some steps in place to help with that. Enjoy the post below – I’d love to hear your thoughts x


Sometimes I wonder why I write this blog. I feel like, now I’ve started, I have to write each week, but sometimes I don’t know quite what I am trying to say. Like this week. I’ve had thoughts swirling around, but they seem insubstantial. They can’t be made solid enough for me to articulate.  It’s frustrating.

And then I wonder why I need to write them down. Even if I write the thoughts down, do I need to share them? Maybe I don’t need to share them (and in truth, I don’t share a lot of what I start to write), but I do find that writing with the aim of sharing and connecting helps shape the way I write. And it’s often my way of reaching out and connecting. Hopefully I have things to say that will resonate with others, and even better, if it leads to conversations, with me or with others. That’s why it’s good to keep going with this blog.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying, I’ve been struggling to get much traction this week towards my aims for this year.

The idea- a word to guide my year

Now, for those who are familiar with this idea, I set myself a single word: ‘Enough’, as a guiding principle for the year.

The idea was that:

  • I would work on appreciating that I ‘have enough’ (and so remove the idea of accumulation), through reading many worthy blogs and books, through decluttering, through focusing more on people than things, and so on.
  • I would recognise that I don’t need to do more / be more because I am ‘worthy enough’, by undertaking courses, putting measures into place and so on to keep reminding myself that I am worthy enough
  • I would grant myself permission to explore new ideas and interests, to look after myself better healthwise, to work out what I really wanted to do.

I thought this word was a great one. It promised a less judgmental way of living, and could also address some aspects that were making me anxious or tired.

How relaxing – to accept myself! Plus, look at all the opportunities that present themselves!

How did it work in reality?

Sounds so good, doesn’t it? Well, in a way yes, but in a way, no.

And as I get closer to the end of the year, I am feeling more stressed. I don’t think I did ‘enough’ well enough.

What do I mean? Well, these ideas haven’t been met. I still have many of my bad habits, I haven’t got on top of my desire for more things (there are so many lovely things out there!) and I feel bad about myself as a result.

Why have I found this so hard? I start one project and the previous one falls by the wayside. I try to stick with one a project, and slip up, or get frustrated about all the other areas of life I am not managing well. And I get frustrated. And give up.

I then feel like I am not making the most of the things I am doing and I feel like throwing it in, guiltily, or adding something to the mix that I might manage better*.

I realised I have built in an internal conflict into the situation. I am not sure if you can see it? (Don’t worry if you haven’t – I didn’t until I started writing this yesterday).

Yes – I say that I want to get better at ‘accepting myself as I am’. However I am judging myself based on my ability to ‘work at changing myself’ – not accepting myself.

I’m not saying that there is not effort to change the way you live, to learn new things, or to give up bad habits. Of course there is. But if the change is coming from a place of seeking self-validation, of needing to ‘earn’ my self worth, well, it’s sort of contradictory. Improving and accepting myself may take work. But this work is to introduce positive changes that are good for me, not change to make me good.

Let me repeat that, in bold (because that’s apparently what bloggers do).

Improving and accepting myself may take work.

But this work is to introduce positive changes that are GOOD FOR ME, not change TO MAKE ME GOOD. 

Where are I going with this blog and idea?

As we all know, ‘life is a journey’. And so I still want to get to this place – where I will be healthier and more energised, where I will have my relationships strengthened, where my work will be fulfilling, and where I will have fun. Yes, utopia**. I know (in my mind), I won’t get there (there is no ‘there’) but I would like to be closer.

The idea of life as a journey is a good one, I think. Because in many ways, it is. We go to different places – physically, mentally and emotionally. We discover new things, meet new people, develop an awareness (hopefully) and appreciation (hopefully) of things we couldn’t imagine if we didn’t travel.

But I’ve got to remember that, like any good journey, the destination is only part of the travel. It’s what you discover along the way. And sometimes you discover new destinations, you move off the track, and sometimes you realise you’ve moved too quickly through a place which really warranted more time. So you go back.

I think I’d forgotten that.

What now?

I need to take time out, to embed these things I have learned.

I don’t need any more information (thank you to all the wonderful sources out there, but enough – for the moment).  I am currently at information overload.

What I need to do is focus on the grunt work. The practical changes I can make, at a pace I can manage, to change these aspects of my life. I need to set structures in place. I need to put some accountabilities in train. I need to allow myself downtime – change is hard, especially when it involves changing habits that have been fed by emotions for a long time (and if you need evidence of this, have a look at this Craig Harper youtube clip on changing food patterns, which for some reason has re-emerged. Ignore the weird glasses though).

I’m looking at some changes – but before I even do that, I have to, no, not ‘learn’, but relax into accepting myself as I am, first.

And to do this, I think I have to go offline for a while.

Unplugging – for a while

I have said – repeatedly − to anyone who would listen, that I need to go off line for a while,. However, I never do. Because it is fun. And interesting. And I like it.

I am like this with other things – especially sugar. I love sugar (especially icecream and chocolate. Separately. Together. Or both. I’m not fussy – except for that nasty easter chocolate, or caoco. They’re no good. Anything else though – ship it in!). However we all know that too much sugar is not good for you. Sometimes it is not enough to cut back though. Sometimes you might need a break completely, for a while, to break the habit.

I think that is what I need to do with social media. As I said, I am not good at ‘only a little bit’. Plus, I am trying to write up something, and will need to log onto some sites as a result, from time to time.

However, what I definitely need to do is to withdraw from Facebook, in particular. I have to accept that I haven’t managed to do this very successfully on my own. So I need to bring in some reinforcements.

My plan is to bring in my ‘body double’*** (aka, my husband) as a back up. I need to allow him to do what I have asked him to do – to pull me up when I am not doing what I said I wanted. But not get angry when he does this. And possibly, have a second back-up (body triple), if this is starting to impact our relationship (as apparently we adults can get annoyed at other adults treating us like children, even if we have asked them to. I ‘might’ have acted like this once or twice myself, ahem).

I don’t know how it will work out – but I have to give it a try.

And that’s where I’m at.

How about you? Is your year turning out as you had planned? 

Do you follow through on what you intend to, and are you harsh on yourself if you do not?
Linking up with Maxabella Loves; Life Love and Hiccups and A Quirky Bird for the Weekend Rewind


*Kind of like today, when I feel like, as it is my non-working day, I should be both a) relaxing b) getting the things done I find hard / guilty about with the family around and c) watching my kids do their swimming lessons because I miss out on too much. Consequently, none are done properly.

** No – not the TV show (here in Australia). Shudder – too much like work. But if you don’t work for government, or in urban planning, or even worse, both (like me)  – go for it, I hear it is great!
*** A body double is a concept that apparently works well for people with ADHD, or anyone really who procrastinates and avoids doing things they need to do (so possibly most of us). They are sometimes just a physical presence who you don’t want seeing you wasting time or drinking more diet coke (and therefore it could just be the fact you are in an office environment, and you ‘body double’ doesn’t even know that is the role they play). It could be someone who is more of an active conscience for you.  (The body double thus becomes a model of control, and a mirror confidently reflecting back the message, “I can concentrate. I am working. I am focused.”source:)


8 thoughts on “To move forward, you sometimes need to take a few steps back

  1. You are such a talented writer with so much perspective to offer. I think you should continue with social media. When you write, you may connect with a person on a personal level that may not give likes or comment. That is the flaw of social media. The technology shows the analytics without factoring emotional impact. Great post.


    1. Thank you so much, Eddie! I really appreciate that – lovely to hear. And that is so true regarding the connection you can make – it’s not always apparent, is it? I do plan on staying with social media, as well – I just have to limit my own time on it better than I do currently, as it is getting in the way of actually living my life!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Helen, I ve been reading your posts but not commenting till now. Here’s my view.
    1. We all suck at keeping up to unrealistic expectations of ourselves
    2. They’re unrealistic because they don’t really take into account our default personally & life.. Every day life!
    3. I can’t even recall what so-called word I was going to use this year unless I go back & check. Apparently it was acceptance. Hah!
    4. Easy to write & hard to follow are changes we “think we ought to make” and I found that out in most enlightening way this year
    5. Each major change I made – retire, sell house & farewell Sydney & family – were good decisions. I liked them. Stuck with them but….. No-one told my feelings about them
    6. As a result my emotions have been all over the place this year as I made these major changes.. It’s been a HUGE lesson for me & im still on the early stages of learning

    What I think is that because of social media where I too like to hang out, we compare ourselves to false messages, statuses & pics & decide we are “failing” ourselves, family & all that jazz. I think our mums’ (I’m a bit of an exception at 65 I suppose) generation was never so caught up in so many “in your face” comparisons where we always come up wanting.

    Time for self kindness & compassion methinks
    Denyse x


  3. Thank you Denyse – what a great way of expressing it: ‘Each major change I made was a good decision. I liked them. No-one told my feelings about them’. I will remember that – it does take time to catch up!

    I’m sorry your emotions have been all over the place, but, insofar as you understand, I appreciate the fact that you understand what it feels like, and I hope things settled down soon. And yes, I am going back over the ‘self compassion’ and lovingkindness sections of the mindfulness course – now that topic is starting to make more sense to me – I hope they are starting to work for you, too x


  4. I think sometimes we know what to do, but fin that final step difficult. I’ve called in my husband too to get me going will my exercise, for mind and body. It’s really hard admitting we need that help so go you. Good luck with the social media break too. Zoe xx


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