It is easy to be too hard on yourself now and then, so I say “take a break from yourself!” Breaking your own rules once in a while can actually be healthy. When you aim for perfection, chances are you’ll just stress yourself out in the process. I’ve given myself permission to be an imperfect being. For instance, I bought my kids a bottle of shampoo this week packaged in PLASTIC, but refused to feel guilty about it. I enjoy an occasional Diet Coke though I know it is unhealthy. I used cloth diapers with both of my kids, but put them in disposables at night. Do these choices make me a bad person? No. They make me human. In my early twenties, before I learned the importance of seeking balance, I tried so hard to be a perfect little environmentalist that the attempt actually backfired on me. I stressed myself out while trying to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. A friend gave me this advice, which seemed illogical at the time, “Maybe you should throw away a soda can once in a while.” That seemed to go against everything I was striving for. That would be awful! I just couldn’t! And what if somebody saw me? At some point I took his advice and understood his point. Who ever declared me the role model for the world’s environmental habits anyway? I realized that I had put that pressure on myself all by myself. I slowly learned (and am still learning) to live authentically and let go of the expectations put on me by myself and others. To live authentically means doing my best while tossing perfection out the window. It means putting humility in place of pride. It means having the same patience and compassion for myself as I do for others. At some point you have to start praising your achievements rather than dwelling on your so-called failures in life. Be mindful of your experiences without labeling them “good” or “bad”. View whatever process you’re going through as valid. Listen, learn, and come out on the other side with new growth and insight.