The Self-Improvement Backslide

Self-Improvement Backslide
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I’ve been open about my own journey of self-improvement, especially my issues with rage. Sometimes I think the Hulk has nothing on me.

When you choose to change something about yourself it feels like this big scary adventure. The first step can be a little frustrating (but freeing, so very, very freeing) and you get through it and the next step, and the next. Then something even more terrifying happens. You start to detox. Maybe you miss the easiness of how you used to be, or you realize that maybe you can’t change because it’s hard. But you get through that too and you start to really think “Hey, I got this.” And you do until that moment when you don’t.

You hit the Self-Improvement Backslide.

Self-Improvement Backslide

Maybe it’s stress or hormones or a random moment of frustration but you find yourself back in those old habits and patterns that you worked so hard to get over.

It’s kinda like you quit smoking, you got through all of those gnarly cravings, you’ve been doing great and then you find that cigarette back in your mouth and you’re thinking what the hell just happened?

When I backslide it’s usually with my anger, which sucks for me and everyone around me. Years ago, I went on my own anger management journey and with a lot of time, work, and effort I got to the point where I was able to handle my anger without yelling horrible things, screaming, breaking things, and feeling like if I didn’t punch something I would explode.

There are times when I don’t manage my stress as well as I should. I start missing out on sleep because I’m busy trying to get things done. Which makes me anxious. So then I’m stressed out, tired, anxious and then I get cranky and that handle I have on my anger starts slipping. Instead of paying attention when my body says Stop. Breathe. Rest. Regroup. I fall into the zombified pattern of eat, sleep, work, veg out and watch Netflix. It’s not an overly stressful pattern but it also doesn’t nourish my soul. It’s not Dominee taking care of Dominee. It’s Dominee doing the bare minimum to maintain her sanity.

When my self-care is not a priority my life suffers.

I’m drained and stressed out and my temper knows it. When I was younger, I thought I was at the mercy of my rage. It frustrated me so badly because I felt like I had to live like that, there wasn’t another way for me to be. It made me feel out of control.

Now, when I feel the scary anger coming back I get this moment of panic, of hopelessness that the little voice that used to say That’s just who you are. was right. That I’m not strong enough to change, that nothing I do will ever get me past the anger. I will always be at the mercy of this thing inside of me that wants to rage. Like all of the work I’ve done over the years has been for nothing.

None of that is true.

I have made amazing strides with my anger issues. I’m not the person I used to be. Even when I get angry, really angry, I am able to see it clearly. I know what’s triggering the anger, what emotion is feeding it, how I’m going to start dealing with it once I calm down, how to calm down, and that hateful words and actions are not the way to go. I can soothe myself and I do it with kindness, gentleness, love, and by caring deeply about myself.

The anger thing is something that I hate – but it’s not something that I hate myself for.

The best way to change something that you don’t like about yourself is to realize that you do not need to hate yourself for it. The moment you slip into self-loathing is the moment you lose your best chance to be better. It’s hard to improve yourself and your life if you hate yourself and your life. Go into everything with love. Love yourself through the process and it becomes so much easier.

When you backslide realize these three things:

The work that you’ve done has not been erased when you start sliding backwards. Maybe you’ve struggled with over-eating or making bad relationship choices or addiction. When you “relapse” it is not a reflection of your strength because you were strong enough to change in the first place.

You are wiser. I know that’s a small consolation when you are in the thick of things but you are wiser than you were the 1st (2nd, 3rd, 45th) time around. You know what things helped you and what things didn’t. You know that there is help out there and it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Guess what? You got this.

It will get better. You’ll get back to where you were and then you’ll go farther than you were then. Nothing is a lost cause. That’s the thing I make myself remember more than anything. When I’m really feeling hopeless I repeat it to myself as many times as it takes. “It will get better.” Whatever thing that you struggle with, I want you to know that you’ll get there. Fall down seven times, get up eight, ya know?

What thing do you struggle with? What do you do to get through it?

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