Some days I just want to complain or feel grumpy and unmotivated. It can feel nice to complain that my back hurts, I have a headache, my kids make me cranky, my house/job/spouse create stress, my digestion is off, I’m not sleeping – and settle into that feeling of “Poor me”. But when those days come more often than they should I realize that is an alarm that I need to take action.
I know in my heart it is a one hundred times better feeling choice and will solve my problems to: eat nutritiously… exercise regularly… meditate daily… floss… drink more water… not eat before bed… scream into a pillow instead of at my children… come to the yoga mat often… do things just for myself that I love… practice awareness to manage my emotions… and to cleanse and strengthen my energy system since I am a highly sensitive person.
Blaming others, or things, for my problems doesn’t do a dang thing. I’m not even sure why we do it – are we looking for those things to fix how we feel? Life takes us off balance and we have this amazing ability to bring it back to balance and create our own health and joy.
Do we? YES.
While I have to admit I do pretty darn okay most of the time (thank you sensitivities for giving me awareness and thank-you life experience for teaching me enough self-love to do what I do), but, particularly as temporary stressful circumstances come around or bad habits sneak back in, I choose to wallow, eat more sugar, stay up late, talk snarky, widdle through Facebook posts instead of flossing, watch TV instead of my thoughts… and I have wondered to long, “Why do I choose to keep the icky feelings instead?”
I’ve been asking myself this for the past year in particular. I have a 2 year old son whom I care for full-time and still nurse. He has had pretty severe separation anxiety and so I have not had much time away from him since his birth. I am pretty tired. As much as I know I need replenishment, stress reduction, time for myself, rest, healthy eating to keep up vitamins for both of us, it is hard. “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have energy.” I tell myself. But I know full well (from have the articles I’ve written on quick stress reducers) that it doesn’t take much time to care for myself, just intention, that I can just roll out two yoga mats instead of one so my son and I can get our yoga on together, that I can turn my music on in the car instead of the stuck-in-my-head-forever-toddler-tunes, that I can be thankful when I notice I’m cranky, and journal when I crawl into bed, and that ALL of those things MAKE ME FEEL SO AWESOME. So I have been asking – WHY do I want to keep these icky habits? Why aren’t I making any effort?
One can’t move forward when there are roadblocks. So we have to start by looking at what is blocking ourselves. Our fears tell us this is the hard part, but none of it is really hard if we go one step at a time.
So I’ve been trying to pay attention to my responses, my thoughts about things that stress me, and asking what the things I’m complaining about are giving me that is so valuable (our ego only lets us keep things that we find value in).
What have I found blocks me? What benefits does doing nothing give me? (And what do I remember is the actual truth in each one)
- Poor me – the victim. Think about how strong that feeling is for you the next time you feel crappy. For someone else to say “aww, I’m so sorry. That sucks for you.” Is VERY POWERFUL (and human). But in reality it isn’t very helpful to us. What that is actually doing for you is HAVING SOMEONE ELSE VALIDATE YOUR FEELINGS. And gives you attention. But is that really what you want attention for is the icky things? A reputation of so many icky things? And VALIDATING YOUR OWN FEELINGS is more powerful than I know how to describe – the effects are longer and vaster (e.g. helps build compassion for others and self-confidence).
- It is safer. Not taking care of my self seems less risky. There is no fear of failure. Or fear of not being able to handle or keep up with the success I create. Comfort in routine is potent also, and another form of fear. BUT fear is actually liberating – if you take it up on its challenge. The world is huge and you will never know about something if you don’t try… or at least look into it… OPEN UP and take a chance on facing a little bit of fear here and there. You might find it motivates you to do even more! Remember that fear feels bigger than it actually is. It’s just a feeling – when you notice it, FEEL it (think of it as smelling something stinky) and you’ll be surprised how little it turns out to be.
- Owning it. By not doing something about my stress, problems, health, it can still be someone else’s fault and not mine. Admitting that I am responsible for what happens to me and am in control of my life feels really huge and awful, because I focus on the fact that “It’s my fault.” “I’m a horrible person for making a mistake.” I know this feeling well. But I have learned that being responsible for myself doesn’t mean blaming and criticizing until I feel so crappy I won’t do that bad thing again. Focusing on “fault” isn’t the point at all. I do the best I can in each given moment. I am human. Saying instead “I CAN be the one who makes things better for myself” should be EMPOWERING! Seeing what I’ve learned along the way only makes me wiser. Acknowledging that REAL LIFE TAKES TIME – it is a long journey.
- Immediate Gratification (ahem lazy). Our society of immediate self-gratification has caused it to be hard for us to be patient. We can’t go faster than our soul, our energy, life, can move. But our sense of what is immediately self-gratifying is askew too. For instance, before bed my husband and I turn on the TV and watch shows we enjoy. This is relaxing, right? We do this because it is immediately satisfying – worries are gone and we laugh and cry out of the pleasure of the imaginary. Close, but no cigar. What it does is shove my stress/emotions aside, stuffs them down (not gone or validated or handled), and takes me out of the present out of my body into an imaginary land. Feels good. Right away. But is fake and short-term. As soon as I turn off the TV or wake in the morning it all is back. What if instead, for five minutes after I turn off the TV I sit in the feeling of being relaxed, present in its luxury? This is meditation. It is presence – so healthy for me – and trains my nervous system with a bit of intention to create more of this feeling. Now, what if for five minutes before I turn the TV on I sit and journal (or type if I must) about some of the crap I’m stressed about? What makes me angry / sad / hurt / happy. Five minutes of two activities and I have taken care of my mental health in potent ways. INTENTION and PRESENCE.
So, some suggestions for you, in summary. I hope these insights motivate you to turn inward and perhaps help you clear some roadblocks that might be preventing you from making good choices.
- VALIDATE YOURSELF. For sure. So powerful. Admit this – that it isn’t anyone else’s job. How much can and should we expect from others in our lives and what is healthy to ask? Obviously there are many times where we can’t do things ourselves. Friends and family should support each other (and support each other in not wallowing in self-pity). BUT IF YOU AREN’T VALIDATING YOUR SELF YOU WILL NEVER MOVE FORWARD.
- It’s ok to feel afraid. Feelings can’t hurt you. Look at what is really true – in the big picture, too. Mistakes are ok as long as you try again. Need more push? Tell yourself positive things: “I am brave”. Life is ALWAYS about learning and growing – branching out is a GOOD thing. Usually you find something even better than what you have been doing.
Additionally, as I always want to know how I can teach my kids valuable things, tell your kids these things, EVERYDAY maybe:
- “Poor me” is not love. Feel “sorry” for yourself and then look for your joy to return! Share feelings and receive support from others, but remember to listen to your own heart too.
- Fear is liberating, the world is huge. Feel your fear, open yourself up, and try!
- Saying “It’s their fault” doesn’t make a problem go away. Having a problem doesn’t mean you are awful. You are human. Try to fix it and amazing things happen.
- PRAY about EVERYTHING. And then wait to see what you are given. Let go of it having to go the way you imagine – we simply don’t know as much as God. God has a bigger better plan.