I gave meditation a shot this morning and I had a few a-ha moments.
First I realized how rigid I’ve become. I’m so unbelievably stiff from sitting at work, from my commute, and then from sitting at home while I’m working on my projects that my body has become inflexible. This isn’t unlike my mind. I’ve become so engrained in my routine and thinking about what I want to do that I’ve become rigid in what I’m seeing around me and how it needs to be done.
Believe me I’m all about flexibility. I know how valuable being pliable is in this ever-changing world. Yet, I’m stuck in my own routine. When we feel like we have to do things a certain way we lose the ability to see other opportunities, other ways that get us there. More importantly, other ways to view my experiences and to question the validity and necessity of my routine.
Secondly, as I moved my legs into butterfly position, it hurt the closer I brought my feet to my body. Yes, this is right up there with my first point about my physical need to move, but another pattern revealed itself: the closer I get to the root of the issue, the more painful it is, and this is when I want to give up and turn away.
How often are we directly faced with what we need to address? How often do we handle it? The deeper I dive into the core of the issue, the more I see I need to forgive, the more I need to accept and move on, I feel myself pushing away. I still feel that impulse to turn away and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Sometimes it feels too bright and I can’t face it. These are feelings of unworthy. Isn’t that true for all of us? We know that we have this purpose inside of us but we don’t feel it is ours to claim, like it can’t really be meant for us. Other times I turn away because I’m ashamed of what I see. These feelings exist in all of us, often at the same time. Our worth doesn’t change based on the things we’ve had to do to learn what we are meant for. Sometimes going through the muck of our life lessons brings us to that potential.
Perhaps with flexibility we can view our potential without fear and we can accept the things we are ashamed of without judgement. Maybe it is that simple. Don’t run away from any of it, the good or the bad.
In this spirit I have begun the process of eliminating. I’ve let my physical environment get out of hand so it feels good to organize and clean. It makes things clear. And it does feel like it’s opening space to bring me where I want to be.
But I’m also working on eliminating the emotional setbacks.
Eliminating the fear. Eliminating the emotional clutter. Eliminating the confusion. Eliminating toxic relationships. Eliminating wasted time. Eliminating perfection.
Let it all go.
Then breathe in the moment. Take what is. Accept. Breathe again. And know that is all you need to do right now. Breathe.
Eventually it will make sense. I’m not saying I have a clue what that feels like because there is a lot that doesn’t make sense to me. But I do know what feels good. I know what feels better than before. Maybe that is enough.
Maybe feeling better is the only indicator we need to tell us where to go when we feel like we are at the bottom. And it does feel better to decide when something feels better.
So here we are. Heading somewhere. We will know when we get there. 😊
Follow your inner moonlight, don’t hide the madness—Allen Ginsberg
In looking at what we want to change in our lives, overwhelm often creeps in easily. I know it happens to me…a lot. So I’m simplifying. Rather than look at change as a punitive process, or as something I “should” be doing, I’m looking at my curiosity around the situation and how I feel. I’m questioning rather than dictating. For example, instead of saying things like, “I need to accept all of me” I’m asking, “What would it feel like to love me?”
Connecting to the feeling of the desired change makes it easier to transition through the change. Creating questions allows us to explore options rather than try to adhere to preconceived ideas about what things should look like. You can ask anything. Some of what I’ve come up with is What would it feel like to let go of anxiety? What would it feel like to not be angry? What would it feel like to not take things personally? What would it feel like to step into my power? What would it feel like to be connected to source?
A habit of mine is to take on a ton of projects all at once. I’d get overwhelmed and end up not finishing any of it. Rather than looking at a massive to do list and trying to change everything at once, I’m breaking down the process in one area at a time. I’m going with what feels right. Focusing creates progress and makes it easier to branch out into other areas.
So let’s all promise to be a little gentler with ourselves. Let’s engage our curiosity. Let’s look at our lives as the grand experiment that they are and accept where we are. I think we will all feel amazed at the weight that falls off of our shoulders.
I took last Thursday off of work. I had initially planned on getting things done around the house and even catching up on some of my other work. What ended up happening was I spent the day drowning in anxiety. I tried to distract myself because I had the whole day with my son so we played. I tried connecting with myself again; we took a long walk. Anything to get out of my head. But my mind had other plans and the last two days in particular have been rough. It felt like my brain was breaking. It literally felt like my mind was splitting and I could not get grounded no matter what I did.
Mental exhaustion is an entirely different feeling from physical exhaustion. It can come out of nowhere and you can’t control it. I didn’t realize how bad I was feeling until yesterday. There are things I know I need to change in my life and there are some ties I need to cut. And it hurts because these are not people I want to lose. But I also know that they are the source of a lot of my issues.
I’m afraid to cut ties because I don’t know what my life will look like without them. I know I don’t want to feel this way anymore and I stick around because I feel like these key players in my life can change. All of the evidence points to they won’t change– because they don’t want to and they have demonstrated they don’t want to…but I hope they will. I also know that is giving more power to potential over reality.
That is part of what is causing the anxiety: I’ve tried living in multiple worlds at the same time—and I’ve been doing it for too long. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them every chance to live up to what I can see in them. But the truth is that it is simply not reality. I’m guilty of wanting the stability I’ve afforded myself in the old world but I want the freedom that awaits in my new world. So I’m straddling the things that exist while trying to create a new life. The problem is the gap is widening and I can’t stretch any further. There is a quote that says, “When I am upset, it is because I have replaced reality with illusions I made up.” There is more truth in this can I ever thought possible.
If I/we accept that our thoughts create reality then it might be easier to accept that we can turn off the things we fear and focus on what we can control. My mind laughs and takes me to the next level: enter the fear of choice. I can take the leap and believe I will make it. But years of doubt and pain and evidence saying I can’t make it incredibly easy to give up.
I want to be that person that says screw it and leaps, but the anxiety of the last few days would suggest otherwise. It has been crippling. I always hope that “this time” I will finally tell it to shut off. But this time was no different in that I couldn’t stop it. But it was incredibly different in how my body felt. My brain could not function anymore and my body started to shut down—so I tried to give my mind a rest. I really tried—I didn’t force myself to do anything. I slept a ton. I played and I walked.
And today I remember that there is a process. Whether I can see it or not is irrelevant. Everything gets uncomfortable when it’s time to change. That’s how we know it’s time to grow. The cages we build for ourselves become too small and we have to break free. So while my mind felt like it was breaking, it’s very possible it was breaking fee.
“When an egg cracks from the outside it is crushed. When it cracks from the inside it is born.” Gabby Bernstein
What one small step can you take this week to move you closer to your goal? Asked by The Doer’s Way. I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday night and I was not happy with what I saw. I saw a woman struggling, tired, depressed, anxious, unclear, scared, unfocused, and desperate. I saw nothing of the woman I am working to become. And I asked myself, “How can I be an example for change if I’m not fulfilling my own obligations?” There are these moments of pure strength that I know come from real alignment and it feels like I’m flying—I know I am capable. And then I feel like I can’t even walk.
Getting where we want to go means understanding the momentum that is life. It never stops and there is no way to know what comes next at every turn. Bob Goff said, “Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” Playing the cards you’re dealt is essentially what it boils down to. Life moves and you can learn to dance with it or you can get dragged with it. I have spoken words affirming our power, my power in deciding what life looks like.
The beauty with being unhappy about where I am at is that I can change it. I can make a new decision and turn this around. There are things that I know I will struggle with—such as anxiety—but I can develop new tools to work through it. So the small step that I am taking this week to get closer to my goal is to decide. I’m not looking to plan anything out, but I am looking to decide on what I want this beautiful life to look like. I will affirm the things I want in my life and let go of waffling and non-committal behaviors. I will no longer let myself off the hook. That level of discipline will be the kindest thing I can do for myself.
Believe in your magic, have faith in nature and trust your intuition. Be who you need to be and bring yourself peace.—Sandra Nason Sewell.
Today I am grateful for love. I love my strength, especially the strength I have had to dig for over the last few days. I love that, even as I feel I am breaking, I am able to be there for my family and I am able to pick myself up. I love that my brain is stubborn enough to keep going in the midst of what feels like catastrophic failure. I am grateful that I keep trying to give myself the love I need even when I feel less than zero. All of this means that somewhere deep inside, I know I am worthy.
Today I am grateful for laughter. Hearing my husband when he is caught off guard when he finds something really funny and lets out his genuine laugh makes me smile. My child’s laugh, so innocent and absolutely full of soul completely melts my heart—that is one of the best sounds in the entire universe. I am grateful to hear these sounds because those are the sounds of life.
Today I am grateful to stop. The universe is far wiser than myself and it has stopped any plans that I have in their tracks. For the first time I am ok with this because a simple pause is not enough. It is time for a full stop, a full accountability check, a full realignment with what I need to do. Now is the time to stop and simply think before moving forward. It is time to pick the intention, to set the intention and then move—not before.
Today I am grateful for understanding. After a week of high emotional stress and anxiety, I needed some understanding from my family. I was feeling isolated and unsure and just having a little support was needed. I am grateful that my husband took the time to help me today. He got me out of the house for a bit and he let me vent some frustrations. It felt good to be heard.
Today I am grateful for organizing and cleaning. I am so guilty of allowing my environment to get disorganized and chaotic, especially when I am not feeling myself. I took the time today to get the house back in order—or at least started to get back in order. Taking a little time to put things where they belong and to clean really helped me.
Today I am grateful to get my mind back in order. While I’m not 100%, I am much better than I was last week at this time and that is saying something. I feel much more focused than I did, so while I’m not completely relaxed this week, having something to focus on and knowing what steps to take next helps me feel better.
The other day I discussed things I was willing to do in my life to get where I want to be. In these moments of change, we are either our greatest allies or our worst enemy. If the things we want are on the other side of our fears, that means we have to face our fears. My fears are far and wide and sometimes not even real. This makes for a lot of hurdles in the effort to move forward.
I have failed nearly every time I’ve attempted a large change. I succumb to my anxiety, to my fears, to the obnoxious belief that I can’t do it. Years of people telling me that I can’t do it, years of being ignored, years of not knowing how to follow through on my own have left me confused and alone and sometimes holding the bag…and no where nearer to where I want to go.
Living like that for so long has made me settle. I have settled for a job that pays the bills and affords a decent life—but it doesn’t light me up. The work is enjoyable but it doesn’t drive me and it hasn’t allowed for me to thrive. I know that to be the best version of myself, I need to do something that will ignite me. It isn’t about how much I can buy—it’s about how much I can detach from the monster in my head and connect with what is REAL. The fact that I have a beautiful family, food, shelter, clothing, water, I do not take any of that for granted. I am in a position where I have been blessed with many gifts and I want to share them But I settled out of fear.
I settled in relationships. I accepted love on promises of what could be rather than on what was. I gave too many chances to people, believing what they said rather than what they did. All for the sake of being accepted. Because I was afraid I would be alone if I didn’t do what they said. I found I was more accepting of what they did, no matter how they broke my heart and they rarely reciprocated the favor.
It took a long time for me to understand that this behavior was by design. People fear change and they will do whatever they can to cling to what they know even if it means bringing you down. We can’t rely on people to give us the things we need if they lack those things themselves. And we can’t expect ourselves to find them within if we are lacking as well.
It is better to spend the time alone and working on what we can improve for ourselves than it is to be with a group of people who don’t have your best interest at heart. Unfortunately we live in a world that sees its fair share of greed and self-serving behavior so the message about self- care and boundaries is often misconstrued to mean that you are selfish. But the truth is demanding that others meet our needs all the time and or they only seek you out for their own purposes is selfish. We have forgotten how to be in relationships with each other, how to help each other. And it’s no surprise because we have forgotten what it is that we really need.
Knowing what we are willing to do clarifies the boundaries we need to uphold no matter who they are with. Knowing what we are willing to do helps define our story. Knowing what we are willing to do helps define the next step. And in the adventure of life, all we need is the next step.
Here we are at 3:30AM on a Friday and I am sitting up in bed, in the dark, typing. My brain is spinning—and for me, that is life with anxiety. A constant overwhelming spinning coupled with attempting to force the thoughts to slow down. It’s a loop of repetitive thoughts that sometimes widens the circle, but is ultimately saying the same thing until my frustration builds so much I want to scream—but I can’t stop it. It’s fearing every ache and pain in my body but not being able to bring myself to the doctor to make sure I’m actually ok. It’s fearing losing everything I love because of some trivial shit I did in my youth. It’s forcing myself to stay the line and do the same routine because my brain does its own thing and I’m afraid if I change anything I will forget something. Oh, and it’s forgetting what I’m doing while I’m in the middle of doing it.
This is one area of my life I sincerely wish that affirmations and empowering quotes worked. I wish I could tell everyone suffering with anxiety that words work. But words do not take away the overwhelm. Words often to not help center when the brain is so far out of control. Shit, breathing hardly helps in these situations because you can’t slow your mind enough to remember to breathe. For my own sanity, I wish my ability to control applied to stopping the thoughts that whirl and whirl.
The truth is living with anxiety is fucking painful. It makes me feel completely worthless because I am blessed to be a fully able-bodied individual who is only stopped by my mind. My brain’s automatic default is, “You can’t do that!” followed by, “You should have done it.” It makes me angry because I miss out on what is right in front of me because my brain simply wanders on its own, often into frightening territory, places that don’t exist. It keeps me stuck which generates more anxiety because I’m already afraid that I’m behind the ball in my life. And it keeps me alone because most of the people in my life are tired of dealing with my crap and are tired of me trying to control every situation.
This morning I wish I had words of advice for how to work through this, some reminder that all is well. I’m exhausted and scared and the only thing that’s keeping me from running out the front door right now is that I know I’m not alone. I know that I am not the only one whose thoughts betray them every day. I know that I am not the only one who becomes exhausted by simply waking up. I even know that I am not alone in feeling this loneliness. That honestly does help. It also helps finding ways to help those people feeling the same things.
So maybe that is the advice/hope I can share in the midst of this morning’s spiral: we aren’t alone. While anxiety is an asshole, there are little rays of light that sometimes poke through. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find them. Sometimes we just have to be smart enough to turn around and face the sun. And the sun is still going to rise. I am breathing. If you’re reading this, that means you are too. And that means we can do something productive even if that means simply remembering to connect with ourselves. I’m going to start there.
“If you are willing to be uncomfortable, you get to see what you’re capable of,” Brooke Castillo. WOW. That hit like a lead balloon to the gut. You know how they say you can hear the same message a thousand times but sometimes you need to hear it from the right person/in the right way for it to click? This was it for me. The instant I read those words, I saw all of the ways I’ve been more concerned with preserving my comfort than making real progress, I saw the ways I’ve been too afraid to step up. And I knew that to make things happen, I would have to do the work.
All this time I have felt like I was doing the work—and don’t get me wrong, I have been working–but this made me question it all. Was I doing enough? No. I was still hiding behind my comfort and my ego. I wrote an article a few months back about knowing when you’re not doing enough and redirecting the effort…and guilt popped in for a moment because I hadn’t been practicing my own message as much as I could have been.
So here is what I am willing to do:
I’m willing to be uncomfortable with my current routine. I have gotten complacent and fallen into the not-enough-time trap. I need to take better care of myself even if it means focusing on something important to me or hanging out more with my kid—in a more present manner (not me working while he’s on the tablet in the same room).
I’m finally willing to be uncomfortable with my flaws. I’ve done a good job of projecting what I wanted people to think I am. Now I need to know/be/do what I really am.
I’m willing to be uncomfortable with my comfort. I have to recognize where down-time is needed but I can’t keep looking for it. I can give up some of that non-productive time to put in a little more work for my business and for my health. My life is worth being a little more uncomfortable to make way for the things I am trying to create. It makes the comfortable moments that much sweeter.
I’m willing to be uncomfortable with my insecurity/fear. So much of what I’m afraid of stems from not knowing if I could do it. There were too many instances I thought I was ok, that I had it—and I failed. It happened a lot. Sometimes before I walked in the room, I had already failed. Sometimes for no reason. Now I see where I need to take responsibility and accountability and how to keep moving.
I’m willing to be uncomfortable with everything I’ve pushed down. It’s time to be honest and own all parts of me. Pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away.
I’m willing to be uncomfortable with the real me. Raw, unfiltered. Yes, I may lose some people in my life—but it will mean finding myself. Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” What are you willing to be uncomfortable with?
I spent some time with my friend this past weekend. During the course of the conversation she reminded me that it was the anniversary of her father’s death. My stomach split as I realized I had forgotten what day it was. I thought she had invited me over to simply enjoy and talk, catch up, have fun, let the kids play together. She started talking about how I had always been there for her no matter what was going on in my life and that she never asked me about what was happening with me, she just knew that I showed up for her.
My head began to spin with guilt and too much alcohol and I felt like the entire world shifted underneath my feet. I felt like I was looking at the scene from the outside but it was like looking through a rainy windshield. I thought she had just wanted to see me, that the conversations that had picked up again over the last few weeks were about connecting again. In that five minute portion of our time together, I started to feel broken and used and I was feeling like we were back in high school because we weren’t talking about progressing anything.
This is a friend whom I truly love dearly and it felt, for a moment, that she only wanted my presence to serve some purpose. That all of the reaching out had merely been a build up to that moment on the anniversary of her terrible loss. It made me realize that I have a tendency to view my relationships differently than those in the relationship with me. I’ve done it with my husband—falling head over heels, thinking I’m not worthy, that I’m not doing enough when I am sitting here depleted and angry and resentful.
The truth of the situation hit me: what she said was true. She did have a tendency to only reach out when she was feeling emotionally distraught. She didn’t have a clue what was going on in my life and I really don’t remember the last time she asked me. But I also realized that I take care of the majority of my stuff on my own. I haven’t reached out for help. And maybe that is a trauma pattern because the times I have reached out for help I am met with the distinct sound of crickets. So I get angry and resentful again that the people I am meant to rely on are not there for me.
I felt like crap—I got myself sick—and I knew in that instant that I never wanted to feel that way EVER again. Neither from poor judgement with drinking or from poor judgement with friends/family/husband…anything. I feel incredibly empowered to realize that I can step out of my way and set boundaries. If I want the genuine friendship then I need to reach out more too. We struggle to keep up because of the state of the world and because we are both busy trying to keep kids alive, houses run, and the million other things it takes to get through the day as a full time working mom. And in my case, a full time working mom trying to start a business.
I didn’t want to have the conversation with her because it touches so much of who I wanted to ignore inside of myself. The child who demands attention, the lazy girl who just wants to have it done for her, the princess who feels entitled to have people listening to me at all times. I am grateful for the terrifying emotions I felt because I realized that I am no victim. I don’t have to feel that way again. I can build friendships with a genuine foundation. I can be an empowering, non-threatening boss with great team-development skills. I can be an amazing wife and mother and have a great career. But I have to do the things that it takes to get there.
I have held myself back for so long and that is no longer conducive to what I want to do. Yes, I’ve said that before but the feeling I had as I was in the shower after this most awkward of nights made me realize that it is time to take control. I can re-create the narrative at any time. The truth with this friendship is that I am willing to put in the effort and get us where we need to be—but I am not willing to go back to high school to re-create the scenarios or to feel those things again. I would like us to let go of how we treated each other and stop reaching out because of guilt or lost time—I would like us to reach out because we are looking for a genuine connection and to be part of each other’s lives again.
I think we are all just looking for connection—and we all have decisions to make about the connections we make. If they are unhealthy or they deplete you or make you uncomfortable in any way—they aren’t really serving any purpose. That is an opportunity to redefine the relationship or remove it. In my case, I have the opportunity to be a better friend and to put in the work. I am grateful to be in that position and I am grateful to have someone in my life who wants to work on those things with me.