Every person eventually has their cross to bear.
Have you ever gone through such a rough time that you couldn’t bring yourself to make dinner or make your bed?
What about not bothering or not having the energy to wash your hair or keep your appointments and social engagements?
Forgetting to eat or eating too much?
Whether because of a diagnosed condition or not, every person has times in their life when things are juuuust shiiiit.
It could be divorce, death, injury, physical or mental illness or even a rough patch during which you can’t seem to get out of your own way; you’ve gone through it, I’ve gone through it, Jan in HR and Kevin the plumber have gone through it.
People who know what their values and convictions are, like veganism or environmentalism, often hold themselves to the highest (or even an impossible) standard.
Particularly for people with certain mental health conditions, not meeting their own standards can have very real and damaging emotional consequences, and it can take a lot of insight and self-work to synthesise that imperfection isn’t failure.
Conditions like depression, anxiety and OCD can hijack your healthy habits, beliefs and philosophies and turn them away from being something wonderful and inspiring that runs like a seam through your life, and into a demon that haunts it.
Having a bad day or a garbage month might result in the consumption of convenience foods containing palm oil, or in packaging you would normally avoid like they’re on fire, perhaps even a non-vegan ingredient even though you’re a vegan.
Being so sick you can barely function might see you push yourself to get to the chemist/pharmacy, and with the last of your energy grab the first cough syrups, lozenges and cold and flu tablets you can before going home to collapse; even if they contain honey or are made by companies whose ethics you despise.
This is ok! Know and accept that it’s appropriate, permissible and fair enough for your daily actions to change according to your circumstances.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
~ Lao Tzu ~
Today is not forever. Radically accept this is today, tomorrow, even the next month but it’s not forever – it’s not a catastrophe.
It’s unhealthy, unreasonable and illogical to force yourself to suffer for being human and having human limitations.
Radical acceptance requires that you look upon yourself, others, and the world in an entirely new way. You must be willing to let go of your ideas about how you “should be” and simply accept the way that you are… in this present moment. When you radically accept something, you are completely releasing judgment of it and avoiding any attempts to fight against or change it.
~ Laura Chang, Mindful Muse ~
It’s easy to feel that any small “misstep” no matter how small, is a failure and a blight on your record as a vegan or a greenie, a zero waster or spiritual person etc, but fighting against what IS, will break you.
Whatever your values and convictions, they can’t fight for you the way you fight for them. Put yourself first when it’s important, so you regain the energy to keep doing what you’re doing.
It’s a knee-jerk reaction to go immediately to self-flagellation and feelings like disgust, disappointment and anger at ourselves, even when we’re having a perfectly forgivable crappy time and we can’t juggle every ball in the air.
Why can we not find it within ourselves to understand our situation and be reasonable and accept that perfection is impossible when we’re well, happy, achieving, successful versions of ourselves, so of course it’s even harder when we’re run down, sick, grieving, depressed, anxious, in pain etc?
You can commit now to making your first reaction one of empathy for yourself.
You surely don’t believe that you must never drop the ball, even when your world is falling apart?
Or that you deserve to be berated because you’re so depressed that the only way you can eat something nutritious is if it comes in a Steam Fresh vegetables plastic bag?
Allow yourself some slack. You deserve as much compassion and understanding as the animals you advocate for, the environment you work hard to save, and the recipients of the charities you donate to.
Whatever your conviction and whatever your values, you owe yourself the same amount of respect and benevolence.
If you realise life is off kilter for you, simply assess your situation and ask yourself what you can do with the energy and resources you have.
Let your focus stay on all those positive things instead of the few you might previously have hated yourself for not doing.
Let yourself know that today, you accept that this is the way it is; you’re doing the best you can, and that’s all you’d ever ask of yourself and others.
You can’t fix the whole world, you can do exactly what you can do, and no more.
If you’re doing the best you can on your good days, and the best you can on your bad days, how can you tell yourself you failed, or you’re not doing well enough?
Love yourself, even when your spoons have run out.
Accept yourself, even when you feel like ass.
Give of yourself, only what you have to give.