Written by Susan Hanks

Voices

Nicely does it

Does the idea of settling down with cake and a cuppa at the end of a tough week send you into paroxysms of guilt? Tsk, says Susan Hanks, who believes we need to stop punishing ourselves for living the life we want.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

It’s 11am on a Tuesday and I’m in my PJs, sipping coffee and about to throw (with well-rehearsed aim) bacon and eggs in the pan.

Bliss.

Some of you are jealous. Some of you are thinking “lazy cow”. Some of you know already why I don’t mind what you’ve just uttered under your breath.

A friend once told me that “the only person that can make you feel guilty is yourself” and I think she’s absolutely right. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing something and, worse still, the number of times I’ve turned the phrases on myself.

I’ve always had a good work ethic. A massive thank you to my parents for leading by example and encouraging me to earn money for things that they couldn’t stretch to provide beyond the necessities.

No matter what type of job I’ve had, it’s always been done to the best of my ability. But whatever you have done or will do, you’ll always find someone who will deem it not enough. And the worst person to listen to on this note is yourself.

How many times have you had a week full of challenges, whether work based/personal/domestic or all of the above, and then bollocked yourself for sitting down with a cuppa and a cake at the end of it? Or sat there catching up on your favourite soaps or binging on a book with that little devil doing the ‘haven’t you got better things to be doing’ dance in the background?

If you’ve experienced that once, it’s one time too many. We need to stop punishing ourselves for living the life that we want.

I don’t mean we should rush out recklessly and aim to tick off all the items on our bucket list and to hell with the consequences (skydiving before lunch? Crikey, you’re meant to leave a two-hour window before attempting a swim). What I do mean, however, is that we should all be a little nicer to ourselves.

Yesterday, for instance, I was shattered. My sister was shattered. Her boyfriend ordered her to take it easy for the day and she did. We did. We wolfed down pizza at lunch and made light work of several portions of pudding while cuddling her dog Georgie on the sofa. She mentioned, no less than seven times, the things that she should be doing, but as her other half had suggested she shouldn’t be doing them, she justified not doing them. I was in bed by nine with a cup of tea and a novel and it was something of a novelty. It was also awesome.

“Sometimes I have had five minutes to be nice to myself, so I ate a couple of biscuits. Sometimes I’ve had a day and spent it with people who are nice to me. Sometimes I’ve counted car journeys as ‘me time’ and treated myself to a little cry and felt all the better for it.”

I have a friend who has a bit of a self-destruct button and she presses it on a regular basis. She eats and drinks things that she knows are going to make her feel physically unwell, taunts herself with to do lists and openly shouts at herself when she thinks she’s made an error of judgement. She’s one of my favourite people on earth and I wish she was as nice to herself as she is to me.

I haven’t always been nice to myself. My work life in the past 11 months – and possibly for years prior to that if I’m really honest with myself – has monopolised my time. I’m working hard to get to where I want to be to satisfy my mental wellbeing and line my pockets a little.

The difference now, and the only reason I’ve coped with these 14-hour days for those 11 months, is that I’ve snatched the moments that I can here and there and bloody well sat down and not felt guilty about doing so. Sometimes I have had five minutes to be nice to myself, so I ate a couple of biscuits. Sometimes I’ve had a day and spent it with people who are nice to me. Sometimes I’ve counted car journeys as ‘me time’ and treated myself to a little cry and felt all the better for it.

So if anyone looks upon me unkindly now when I’m being nice to myself and deems that I should be doing more, I know that they don’t have the power to make me feel guilty.

And no one, not even Daniel Craig with a basket full of puppies, is going to come between me and this bacon and egg sarnie right now.

@susan_hanks

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Written by Susan Hanks

Presenter on Moorlands Radio 103.7FM Drive Time, weekdays 4-7pm. Join Susan in 'shaking what ya mamma gave ya' for the daily Derriere Dance. Rhythm/leotard not essential.