I used to hide in my bedroom with a jar of peanut butter, a bag of chocolate chips, a spoon, and my computer and headphones. I would run out into the kitchen when no one was around (I had 4 roommates), grab my supplies, then run into my room and lock the door.
Once I was finally alone and “safe”, I would log in to Netflix, put my headphones in, and start watching and eating. It was my guilty pleasure time, and I was totally ashamed of it.
Even though my regular day consisted of getting up at 5am, going to the gym, working out and teaching fitness classes, then spending the afternoon building my graphic design company, then going to either my nanny or restaurant job in the evening, I didn’t want anyone to know I was laying in bed and watching tv on the rare day I had some time to spare.
I would feel so guilty about watching five hours of Doctor Who or rewatching the Indiana Jones trilogy for the 20th time or catching up on Vampire Diaries, and that guilt would cause me painful anxiety while I was supposed to be relaxing. I would end up eating an entire jar of peanut butter and bag of chocolate chips because I would get so full that it would finally dull the tension in my body and the voices that told me I was worthless and wasting my life away.
All I really wanted was to feel like myself again. I spent most of my days doing everything for everyone else, restricting the foods I allowed myself to eat, and reading everything personal development related that I could get my hands on- a lot of which told me that tv was rotting my brain and that if I was going to watch anything, it should be TED Talks or intellectual comedians.
It took me years to admit to myself and others that I love television shows, especially anything sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, time travel, superhero, or magic related. It took me years after that to truly allow myself to enjoy watching shows without secretly thinking I “should” be doing something else or thinking I should have “outgrown it” and evolved past my enjoyment.
I thought I had to choose between some of the things I enjoyed and creating my work in the world. I felt like if I were going to be a coach, a yoga teacher, an advocate for personal development, that there were certain things I would have to get over about myself- even if those things brought me major joy.
As a kid I gobbled up fiction books as fast as the library would let me have them. During the same time period as above, I stopped reading fiction because it wasn’t “productive”. I felt guilty for watching and reading the stories that captivated me and sparked my imagination because I wasn’t “doing something purposeful” with that time. I stopped painting and making art because I was no longer doing it for a grade in school. I “didn’t have time” to make art for fun, because I had to BE somebody in the world.
I thought I was upgrading my reality and improving myself, when really I had fallen into another trap of trying to control and hide myself in order to prove I was good enough. All of the mindset hacks and productivity tricks and tests I was taking to figure out my purpose were actually taking away the space and energy I had for things that brought me joy.
It’s taken me years to unwind all the guilt I had around kicking back with a good novel, and the fear I had that I would make a bad painting. I still catch the judgements that sneak into my head when I’ve stayed up past 11pm to finish Jessica Jones Season 2 or for realizing I need a break and go lay outside in the sun instead of grinding away on my laptop all day.
A client will share with me that she’s “fallen off the wagon” because she stayed up late one night playing video games, because she’s learned that in order to be successful and healthy she’s not supposed to do that ever again.
Another client will tell me that everything is feeling good and she’s moving her body and painting every day, and she feels super uncomfortable and guilty because she’s enjoying herself but hasn’t lost any weight yet.
Everywhere you’ve learned that you have to change who you are, that you have to give up things you enjoy, that you have to wait to be happy and feel good until you’ve accomplished a certain thing, this is your permission to THROW THAT AWAY.
JOY is the whole point.
Whatever you are working toward, whatever you are creating, whatever you are getting rid of in your life- if you aren’t enjoying yourself along the way and making time and space for things that delight you, you’re missing the point.
This is your permission slip: ENJOY YOURSELF.
Right here, right now.
Don’t wait to feel alive and experience pleasure. You don’t need to lose the weight, make the money, organize the thing, take care of the people, or whatever else is in the way before you do something fun. Before you allow yourself to enjoy your body, your work, your relationships, your hobbies, your desires.
What are you willing to give yourself permission to enjoy?
What is something you absolutely love that, somewhere along the way you were told or read or decided that in order to be “successful” or “live up to your potential” that you had to stop doing?
What would it be like to enjoy yourself, full stop?
No guilt. No voice in your head telling you you’re stupid or immature or selfish or wasting your time.
The lived experience of Joy happens in your body. When you inhabit your body, release the stored programming of guilt, shame, and control, and allow yourself to feel alive and delight in your weirdness- Joy becomes your default. Your home base. Your immediate way of being.
When you program your body for joy, you don’t have to hide or give up parts of who you are anymore. You have time and space to create and play and have fun. Guilt, Shame, Anxiety, and Fear no longer run the show. And you can have an amazing life from a peaceful, grounded place.