We’ve all been there: we’re working towards a goal, whether it’s exercising more, improving our grades, or trying to kick-start a new business, and there is always someone who believes that they know how to “help” you improve your efforts.
Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in people giving me feedback particularly when it comes to my recovery process. People will tell me what I should feel, what I shouldn’t feel, and (my personal favorite) that I should just stop an emotion right in it’s tracks. “Just stop feeling so anxious”. “Just stop worrying so much”. “Just focus on the positives and your whole perspective will change”. “You’re just too pessimistic”. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard one of these statements or some variation of it I would be able to pay my way through grad school without any debt! Wouldn’t that be nice? But of course, there is no monetary gain in these statements. The only thing I gain is a sense of failure. These statements serve to reinforce the idea that I am not enough. I am not strong enough, tough enough, smart enough, calm enough, wise enough, “enough” enough.
But then something changed…
I recently came across a TEDtalk by Brene Brown and instantly became a total fan girl. Since then I have acquired one of her books entitled “Daring Greatly” and I have spent hours watching her TEDtalk videos, investigating her research, and finding compelling and relatable quotes from her books.
One such quote states “if you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback”.
This quote really struck me. I had to read it a few times before the meaning of it really sunk in, but then I had an “aha” moment. Who cares what people think you should or should not feel? Who cares if your parents think you should “just stop worrying”? Who cares if your friends think you’re “just too pessimistic”? YOU are the only one who has a right to comment on your recovery and/or how you feel. The opinions of others don’t matter.
The realization that the only opinion of my recovery that matters is my own felt so empowering. I am in control of my recovery. I am allowed to feel how I feel and take my recovery process one step at a time as slowly as I need to in order to make the most of the process. I am allowed to slip up from time to time. I am allowed to feel angry. I am allowed to feel sad. I am allowed to feel happy. I am allowed to feel all of that and more all at once! Nobody can tell me how I should or should not feel. My emotions are mine. My experiences are mine. My life is mine.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong if you have a bad day in your recovery process. There are going to be roadblocks and slip ups and “failures”. Recovery is not perfect. Nothing is perfect. So don’t expect perfection and don’t let others expect it either!
YOU are in the arena fighting the battle. You don’t have to listen to the feedback of the people on the sidelines. Just fight your fight the best you can. Your best is all you can ask of yourself.