So I've started giving myself permission to do superficial things that put me at ease that would normally make my rational brain protest. You know what? Totally worth it.
For example, I might be stressed out about going to a doctor's appointment. Although intellectually I know they really do not care if I shave my legs, I might choose to do it anyway because it will relieve my anxiety that I will be judged for it.
Here's where the permission comes in. Despite my belief that being judged by arbitrary social conventions is ridiculous, often sexist, and unfair; I allow myself to abide by one of those conventions when it will make me feel more confident or relaxed.
I reckon my approach to shaving my legs generally meets that metric. It's something I enjoy the process of so long as I'm not crazed about it.
By allowing myself to shave my legs before a doctor's appointment when I would otherwise skip it without feeling guilty or mad at myself, it becomes a real choice. I choose to do it because it will make me feel better.
As I get less stressed out by the inciting incident, I can make different choices if I want to. Instead of shaving, I might just wear knee-high socks. After meeting the doctor, I might realize I really don't care what she or he thinks about me. Or I might find out that my legs don't get seen at all anyway. The choice, whatever the venue or superficial action might be, is all up to me.
The main thing is that I never have to feel bad about doing something (even if it's totally shallow) if it will make me feel more comfortable, particularly in situations I already find stressful. It's nice to give my irrational motivations some slack sometimes, and oddly it seems to make it easier to come around to the rational ones.
A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #6
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