A friend reached out to me after a family member commented on her size and suggested she needed to increase her exercise.
“I know I’ve gained a bit of weight,” my friend said to me, her words heavy with shame.
Wait. Hold up a minute. Let me remind you of everything you ARE,I said to her and to anyone else who might need to hear this.
Besides ALL that you ARE, let me remind you of all the things you are carrying on your shoulders right now,I added.
And then I said this:
You know what you need to lose right now? The GUILT.
And instead of giving yourself GRIEF, please give yourself GRACE.
Fully loving, accepting, and forgiving
I repeated it three times, to which my friend said, “THAT’S IT! That is exactly what I need right now.”
So while we’re on the topic… what else might we be unreasonably expecting of ourselves in this fresh, new month and year? You know, the season of making big promises to ourselves and quickly feeling like failures because we “mess up” the first week?
Here are a few expectation-busters to ponder…
While starting to believe in yourself again, don’t expect yourself to never have any doubts.
While getting your ducks in a row after they’ve been running loose, don’t expect yourself to have them instantly color-coordinated and arranged by size.
While taking steps to pursue your dream, don’t expect yourself to ‘wow’ everyone with immediate results.
While trying to eat more greens, don’t expect yourself to love the taste of kale more than a Snickers.
While clearing out the bad energy in your life, don’t expect yourself to be the poster child for positivity.
While learning to express your needs, don’t expect yourself to speak it like a fluent language.
While venturing outside your comfort zone, don’t expect yourself to navigate without asking for directions every once in awhile.
While in recovery, don’t expect yourself to make sudden movements, bold moves, and elaborate gestures.
While overcoming a toxic habit, don’t expect yourself to be a fresh breath of air.
While finally having the courage to ask yourself hard questions, don’t expect yourself to answer them with ease.
So now that we’ve considered unreasonable expectations, let’s consider the alternative. What might be reasonable expectations of oneself during this intense period of Most Pressure to Improve?
Meaning: make choices that keep yourself and your people safe and healthy.
Meaning: make it a habit to stop and close your eyes, release all that is pent up through a deep exhale, and say to yourself: BE HERE NOW.
Meaning: recognize slip-ups as tools for growth and proof of your humanness… meet stumbles and letdowns with compassion and forgiveness… give yourself permission to FEEL what you FEEL without judgment or blame. Only love today.
Meaning: replacing damaging habits with healthy ones is challenging enough; we need not set ourselves up for failure by having an unrealistically high bar. Small steps forward are encouraging. Tiny, positive actions make a difference. Miniscule efforts light the path. One different choice today = a starting point to a better way of life.
By focusing on safety, oxygen, grace, and small steps (S.O.G.S.) in the days ahead, you will be giving yourself a real shot at happiness… a real chance at meeting your goals… a real opportunity to build a beautiful vision for YOU.
And I’m not talking about the 10,000-steps-a-day, balanced-budget, ultra-organized, completely chill version of you that you THINK you should be. I’m talking about the one whose eyes shine with tearful hope because you made it through another year, despite the weight and worry you carry on your shoulders and the criticisms placed at your feet.
Perhaps no one’s ever told you this, so I’m telling you now:
What you carry is already heavy enough.
What you ARE is already worthy.
Set down the unreasonable expectations.
Breathe in love and exhale grace.
Do not let the world cram the quick and easy fix down your throat; do not let it convince you this a sprint to the finish line, and you are on a timetable. Do not let it trick you into believing shame is a motivator. Spoiler alert: It’s not.
Just imagine what life could feel like with small steps forward and an abundance of safety, oxygen, and grace.
Just imagine what life could feel like if we:
Envision rather than Expect
Give Grace instead of Grief
Turn Pain into Purpose
Isn’t it time we break off our toxic relationship with Relentless Pressure and just SHOW UP with ourselves, as ourselves?
& Full of Hope
And should that pesky expectation show up, asking for one more chance, let’s block the number and slip on our S.O.G.S.
In case you need a visual, here’s one. I believe S.O.G.S look an awful lot like the “Comfy” Scott got the three special ladies in his life for Christmas.
Come… come as you are, dear friends. I’m practically living in my Comfy now… and there’s plenty of room for you here too!
Dear friends, if this small-step, grace-filled approach to showing up for your one, precious life sounds inviting to you, register today for my transformative eight-week SOUL SHIFT journey starting January 21st. When I was struggling to overcome my inner bully, my controlling ways, my perfectionistic tendencies, and my highly distracted, overcommitted life, I yearned for hand-in-hand guidance; I yearned for personal encouragement; I yearned for a supportive group of people I could be real with about my struggles and triumphs. But, at the time, that just wasn’t anywhere to be found. That is why I created SOUL SHIFT.
Each time course participants write to let me know how much the experience impacted their lives or describe how the process felt like it was created just for them, I know without a doubt that the struggles I’d endured were not without reward. I’ve always believed that when we meet each other in the light of realness, hope grows for both of us. The past two sessions of Soul Shift have provided living proof.
If you just aren’t sure if SOUL SHIFT is right for you, join me for a free LIVE TEACHING VIDEO tomorrow by registering here and take a look at some of the beautiful testimonies from past participants:
“Rachel opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of making the most out of my time on this earth! Joining Soul Shift was single handedly one of the most impactful things I've done in my life… I am forever changed from it.”–C.M.
“I cannot say this about any other course I have taken… SOUL SHIFT has CHANGED MY LIFE for the better. It felt like I was taking an important ride with a close friend who totally understands me. In the course, I was truly impressed with all the ways Rachel engaged participants in thinking through the hardest stuff, the most personal, and the most challenging obstacles. She made the work possible, and even joyful, as we got to laugh out loud and hold each other’s hands in the Facebook group. I am looking forward to joining again for another exciting ride!”–D.G.
“Being part of the inaugural Soul Shift was an honor, and it remains one of the best gifts I gave myself. I faced painful truths and gave myself permission to move on from guilt, disappointment and self-doubt. “ -AG
“Rachel Macy Stafford, you give us hope. Seeing you now it's hard to believe you came from a place of self-criticism and harsh criticism of your loved ones. Knowing you came out of that gives me hope that I can too.”-L.S.
“Thank you, Rachel Macy Stafford. This course has been life changing in many ways. I feel the shift happening slowly and see it in my loved ones eyes.”–A.B.
“I finally feel like I am becoming the mom, wife, and friend that I’ve always wanted to be. I didn’t need to be like someone else, just a softer, more present and authentic version of me. Thank you, Rachel, for giving me the tools to do it.” -K.B.
Dear ones, today can mark a new beginning to becoming who you want to be—through safety, oxygen, grace, and small steps. Click here to register for SOUL SHIFT. Click here if you would like to watch the free teaching video I will be doing tomorrow (1/11). I’d be honored if you join me for both. Love you all dearly.
Thank you so much for these words – I really needed them today!
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Hannah! What a blessing to hear!
Kimberly Bennett says
There are so many gems and mantras here, but this is the one I will carry with me and rest in for a while —> One different choice today = a starting point to a better way of life. Thank you, Rachel.
Rachel Stafford says
I am so touched. Thank you for taking time to highlight that line and let me know how much it resonated with you!!!
Maricela Young says
This morning my 5 year old told me that one of her classmates said to her, “your mom is kinda fat.” It made me sad. Thank you for sharing your words of encouragement.
Rachel Stafford says
I am so sorry for that rude and hurtful comment. Please maintain your focus on what is important which is WHO you ARE, not what you look like, and what YOUR vision for yourself. So much grace and love coming your way.
Mrs S@whenfithitstheshan says
I always come to your blog searching and I always leave filled! Thank you for your uplifting words! I feel like I can tackle today and I don’t have to be crazy perfect! Thank you, thank you. I’ll be back tomorrow for more!