The importance of relaxing without feeling guilty

blogphotoBecause of the way I was raised with an abusive mother, I was taught not to take care of myself or nurture myself. I was made to feel guilty about enjoying anything. I grew up to be a strict goody-two-shoes who was nervous about trying anything “bad” or even taking a break. Hedonistic people live for pleasure, but I grew up being the opposite–denying myself pleasure. In some ways, that is a good thing because I never got caught up in vices, but at the same time, I never learned to relax…or even believe I deserved to.

I rarely watched television, I never drank alcohol, I didn’t get to movies, I didn’t splurge on self-care like massages or manicures, I didn’t buy delicious foods, I didn’t take time out for fun. I lived as if I did not deserve anything good. Even if I did watch television, I’d do work while I watched. I never did anything enjoyable without doing something productive at the same time. I have been one incredibly stressed-out person!

Most people are looking to watch less T.V. or get off the couch more, but recently, I have started trying to do the opposite. For all of my life, I have been active and busy doing things that “matter” from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. In the past few years, especially now that I have two toddlers, my days have been non-stop. It’s nearly impossible to keep the house clean, keep the dishes done, get all the laundry finished, and I’ve been stressing myself out trying to do everything and keep everything perfect.

That’s no way to live!

So, a few months ago, I decided to sit down in my comfy recliner and watch MORE television. Every night before bed. And…I force myself to put down the laptop, put down the books, and just sit. (Even though it’s tempting to run around the house and put things away with the TV going in the background.) I’m challenging myself to just sit, relax and do nothing. To enjoy just watching mindless shows for pure enjoyment. It’s nice!

Learning to enjoy life probably comes naturally to many people, but it was not natural to me. In fact, I remember being around 9-10 years old and watching my mother buy herself new clothes. I asked her to buy me a shirt–a purple turtleneck–and she told me that I did not deserve anything because I did not earn the money. Even when I did grow up to earn the money, I carried that comment with me–that I did not deserve things.

Over the past few years, I have learned to indulge myself in luxuries like some fancy perfume, a manicure, a massage…and a night in front of my television watching good-looking men on an interesting show. Purely wasting my time…and not feeling guilty about it!

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