What to Do When You Backslide on the Way to Your Goals

Perhaps you’re practicing mindful drinking and you slip up and drink your feelings and two bottles of wine. Maybe you’re working on loving yourself and you’re internal dialogue is rife with bullying all day long. You might be welcoming in healthy, loving relationships, and you decide to phone up your toxic ex. You’re trying to eat healthy except… not this week. You’re overcoming disordered eating, but falling back into old habits. You’re working on a new project, but you keep procrastinating. You’re slipping up. And that’s ok. 

You are allowed to backslide. You are allowed to make mistakes while you learn new habits. If everything we wanted was as easy as deciding we wanted it and then doing it perfectly from that moment on, we’d all have everything we wanted all the time, and it probably wouldn’t be that satisfying when we got it. 

Life isn’t always as simple or glossy as doing things perfectly the first time you try. We see the end results, the before and afters, and we see other people’s success, but we don’t see the gritty, messy, snotty sobs and all the frustration between point A and point B.

People don’t want to talk about the slip ups or the ugly in between space. It’s often private, embarrassing, and hard to swallow. There is often immense shame in our mistakes, our slip ups, and in backsliding. We feel alone in our flaws only because most people don’t talk about theirs. We tend to see what people want us to see. 

I’m here to tell you, I am pro at backsliding. I’ve quit smoking more times than I can count. I’ve sworn off the same guy seven times. I’ve hid from life because I felt ashamed of my body. I’ve cancelled Dry February, and dry January a couple weeks in. I’ve eaten to the point of discomfort, and tried to burn it off with exercise for days after. 

I’ve healed a wound and then taken a knife and reopened it myself (metaphorically) more times than I could count, only to heal it again. The scar gets a little bigger, but it still heals. And even if it reopens, it will heal over again and again and again and again because we are always new. 

Literally every seven years, our cells are fully replaced. Every seven years, we are brand new. We don’t have to carry the past into our present or future. We are not defined by our mistakes and our slip ups. Strangers on the street can’t see them, and we don’t have to share them with the new people we meet. 

You don’t need to keep old newspapers, clothes that no longer fit, expired food, or every mistake you ever made. It’s just time to trash it, and replace it with what’s relevant, fresh, and what fits. 

No matter how bad you fuck up, you can still heal. No matter how far you fall, you can still choose to get back up.

It’s not about your mistakes, it’s what you do afterwards. Do you dust yourself off, forgive yourself, and stay the course? Or do you say “fuck it” and give up?

Stay the course. Keep going. Your mistakes don’t undo the progress you’ve made. You likely won’t get where you want to go in a day, or a week, or maybe even in a year, but the time will pass anyways.

Forgive yourself for being human. Allow yourself to make mistakes and grow. Allow yourself room to be imperfect like the rest of us. Forgive yourself for everything you’ve done, and keep doing better. Keep being new.

Mistakes are how we learn. Keep learning. 

Even if you’re deep into giving up, you can deicide to give in. Give in to trying, to believing you deserve better for yourself, for your health, and for your life. Give in to feeling worthy, to feeling lovable, to feeling perfect exactly as you are, including all your broken, messy human parts. Give in to knowing that we’re all making mistakes, learning, and falling down and getting back up, no matter how it looks from the outside.

We all have those messy human parts. Every one of us.

There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re allowed to be human. Stay the course, and know that you deserve whatever it is you’re after, and you’ll probably have to make more mistakes on the way to getting it.

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