Last week we had a guest come visit. This was preceded by a flurry of preparation on my part as I caught up on all the cleaning and organizing that I’d been putting off.
And as I was planning out what I was going to tackle on which day, I berated myself for waiting this long to start, thinking that if I’d done more the previous week, I wouldn’t feel so rushed.
So as I pushed through late day fatigue, I realized that there was a soundtrack running through my head. In it, I’m explaining to our guest why there’s still clutter and dust, and what issues I have with where we live that we get a lot of road gunk coming in through the windows. Excuses, explanations…
I actually went as far as to text our guest an apology that we didn’t have a nicer place to offer them to sleep. I felt that they should know in advance.
I was getting quite stressed about the whole thing, so I took a moment to ponder what was actually going on.
Yes, keeping a very tidy apartment is difficult when I’m the only one working actively towards maintaining it. Particularly now that my plate feels even fuller as I try to incorporate teaching yoga into my current work schedule…
But that’s not the real issue.
Problem is, I was raised to believe that my home is a reflection of me. My abilities as a housekeeper were practically a moral issue, as allowing in clutter and not keeping up on scrubbing things meant that there was something wrong with me. I was shown examples of other women who seemed to have no problem giving cleaning the priority that it required.
I felt like a failure.
With a guest coming to visit, I realized that no matter what the apartment looked like, I would still fear being judged. And it is that fear of judgement that has followed me through my life, throughout all the ups and downs, cancer and anxiety.
In fact, I have taken a liking to getting things clean and organized, standing back and surveying the work that I’ve accomplished. But that feeling of not being good enough still haunts me, and it’s not like this is a new revelation.
Frankly, I’ve been aware of this for years, especially when I realized that deep down I had viewed getting cancer as a failing, like I had brought it on myself, even though I was doing everything imaginable to live a fit life. So it wasn’t until I turned my attention to my inner critic and listened to what it was telling me that I realized, ah, maybe I wasn’t over all of this just quite yet.
Mindfully allowing that voice in my head to express itself, but without getting sucked into the negativity, offered me insight into those old fears and worries that encrust my mind like mineral deposits on a bathroom faucet. They’re tough and really stuck on there.
Bringing awareness to that negative soundtrack takes some of its punch away, kind of like identifying the monster under the bed and making it sit on the living room couch where I can keep an eye on it.
Yes, it’s still there. But now it’s tamer and eventually I’ll be able to show it out the door.
Undoubtedly, negative self-talk can be harmful, but it’s also quite difficult to stop. However, being able to allow yourself the space to examine it and understand its roots is one of the best ways to free yourself of it.