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On Learning To Be Gentle with Myself

Jun 9, 2023 9:00 AM  | Crystal Venegas 

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I’ve struggled with high functioning anxiety, perfectionism, and a Type A personality for as long as I can remember. Even though I’m constantly reminding myself to slow down, reduce my expectations, let go of impossible standards, etc. I still constantly find myself enthusiastically biting off more than I can chew, & then quickly regretting it. 

Each time I find myself in this predicament, that feeling of not having enough time to accomplish everything hits me like a ton of bricks. Looking at my weekly planner can be daunting. There’s a rainbow of scheduled activities on each page; blue for work appointments, pink for social obligations, green for birthdays, purple for self-care activities, orange for side projects, red for self-imposed deadlines. Not to mention the things that don’t make it into the planner like household chores, my obligations as a parent, finding time to eat, etc., etc., etc. There’s very little time in between it all to unwind. 

On a typical day, my mind is wildly active from 6 AM until 9 PM, and if I’m not vigilant about intentionally slowing it down, I end up overwhelmingly exhausted and burnt out. This is why I’ve learned to have AT LEAST 2 different versions of my daily routine: The “Feel Good” routine versus the “Need Grace” routine.  The exact details fluctuate depending on my obligations for the day, but the overall concept, or thought process, remains the same - Do I genuinely have the energy & capacity to reach my ideal standards today, or would I benefit more from gentleness and self-compassion? 

A feel good day may start out with meditation at my altar, followed by a high intensity workout. Whereas a need grace day may start out with beditation, followed by gentle movement (i.e. yoga or a walk). 

I may have energy to do the dishes & tidy up an entire room on a feel good day. While I may only have the capacity to wash what I need & put 2-3 items back in their place on a need grace day.


I might invest lots of time & effort into the process of getting ready on a feel good day, or I might opt for the comfort of hobo-chic fashion on a need grace day. 

A feel good day may call for a social appearance or an extra episode of my favorite show. While a need grace day may call for a soothing self-care activity or an early bedtime. 

Some things may look the same no matter what kind of day it is (i.e. prioritizing balanced meals); some things may still be priorities, but in different ways (i.e. intense workout vs. gentle movement); & some things may be eliminated altogether when needed (i.e. chores & tasks that don’t truly have to get done that day). Overall, this is one of the best ways I have learned to combat some of the potentially toxic tendencies that I veer toward, so that I can be gentle with myself.

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