Repost of Scary Mommy’s blog: It’s OK To Cut Toxic People Out Of Your Life
I took a break from everything for a few days over the holidays. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened and it felt awesome! I had to pick up a few dropped pieces afterwards but it was still worth it. Life can get so busy sometimes it’s easy to forget to just be, not do. Sometimes life is so painful we avoid the being so we don’t have to feel; the doing serves as a painkiller of sorts. Some days we need more being and feeling. Some days we need a break from the feeling. Too much feeling can overwhelm us.
Find the balance that works for you of feeling and doing. Everyone is different. Our needs vary. I need a lot of being and feeling. I need time to just sit and ponder. In that space emotion rises to the surface. I identify it, understand it, sit with it, decide what I want to do because of it, then let it go ~ until the next time it shows up. Then I go through the same process. The more I allow myself to intentionally be with my emotions, processing them not just swirling in them haphazardly, the less control my emotions have over me.
Make time to find your balance between doing and feeling.
Change can be beneficial. Really. Just because you have always done things a certain way does not mean it has to stay that way. This is true especially around the holidays. Think about the areas in your life where you have stress. Is it possible to change something up that will result in less stress? Usually our first answer is, “No!” But stop and ponder the idea for a bit. What would happen if you did things differently? The obvious answer is things wouldn’t be the same but is “same” always good/best/helpful/beneficial?
A stagnant body of water with no fluidity, no change, no movement of water coming in and moving out is a breeding ground for all manner of parasites and bacteria. When I looked this up the first bit of information said it’s a breeding ground for dengue and malaria. I do not want my life to be like a breeding ground for nasty parasites and bacteria. I want to be open to changing. Whether that is related to how I prepare for and celebrate the holidays or how I function in relationships, take care of myself, approach my work or faith.
How about you? What areas in your life need some fresh, clean water running in and clearing out the old stagnant parasite breeding ground? Let this holiday season and your entire life embrace and thrive with change 🙂
Not happy about current circumstances and want to navigate well? You don’t have to just wallow in your misery, you can do something productive. First, clearly identify what you are feeling (anger, sadness, fear…) and the thoughts that are dictating the emotions. Emotions don’t just show up all on their own. They are linked to cognitive thought: you have a thought and an emotion will follow. We sometimes notice the emotion and not the dictating thought so it’s super important to get back to, “Where did this feeling come from?” The reason? If the thought isn’t based in reality, it’s not worth entertaining and neither is the accompanying the emotion. We often feel these not-based-in-reality emotions anyway and develop incredibly unhealthy neural pathways that become ingrained in our brain and feel like a reflex when in fact they are an unhealthy learned behavior that we keep feeding.
For instance: “With this new President-elect, our country is going down the tubes, freedom will be lost, this is horrible!” What is true at this moment that you know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt? We have a new President-elect. That’s it. We don’t actually know what he will do. We know what he said he will do, but nothing has actually been done yet. Breathe. Remind yourself of what you know for sure. Let go of all the places your mind is going with the “what ifs”. They are crazy-making and completely unhelpful. You can mourn the loss of your candidate if you did not vote for Trump. You can celebrate that your candidate won if you voted for Trump. That’s it. Nothing more. Don’t get too puffed up about all that is going to happen or too depressed about all that is going to happen because–none of it has happened yet. Stay with the here and now and breathe deeply and slowly.
Next, after feeling the emotions based in reality, take a deep breath, splash some water on your face and ask yourself, “Where do I have control? Is there anything I can do about the situation that is healthy, legal and wise?” At the very least, we always have the ability to choose how we are going to react, what kind of attitude we are going to have, if we want to smile and find the joy in our life. Always! Viktor Frankl learned this in a Nazi-run concentration camp during World War II. If he learned this concept in the very worst of circumstances then we can surely do this in our circumstances. I know, if you are reading this, you already have way more freedom and more to find joy in than a concentration camp prisoner.
Now, move on. Surely you have something you need to be doing or could be doing that is productive. Maybe it’s time for a good dose of self-care (something you can do that fills you up in a good way–healthy, legal and wise!). Go for a walk, pet your dog/cat, talk to a friend, listen to music, feel the sun/fresh air, read a book, knit, play piano, write…the list could go on and on. Be good to your body and your mind. Fill up and restore so you can reset. You will deal with whatever happens when it happens and until then, you can take care of yourself, anchor to the present and bring joy into this world in your own unique way 🙂
I’m having surgery on my foot in a few days. Several people have asked me if I am nervous about it. I’m not at the moment. I think about the surgery now and then. I remind myself that I will most likely be in a lot of pain for awhile. I don’t know how long. I don’t know how intense the pain will be. I don’t even know if I will come out of the anesthesia. Chances are I will. I don’t know if the surgery will solve the pain that is the impetus for the surgery. So many unknowns before me create a state of curiosity, not fear (most of the time) courtesy of an adventure to Afghanistan in 2010 with a humanitarian organization. I participated in training prior to our departure to prepare for the cultural differences I would experience. One of the trainers suggested a technique to help rid our minds of expectations. The technique was useful as I entered a land and culture completely new to me with a sense of awe but few expectations. This approach meant I could not be disappointed as I had no idea what to expect. Each moment filled in the color and shape on my canvas until, at the end, I had a complete picture of my experience that was filled in moment by moment. Only a small portion needed to be erased and then filled in with reality because reality was the majority of that which existed on the canvas. It was a powerful lesson.
I have used this technique many times since that adventure. I teach it to my clients as well. It is what I call the Blank Canvas approach. When I have unknown situations approaching I visualize them as a blank canvas, which for me is actually a meadow that has been untouched by human hands. It has no paths through it, just gently swaying meadow grass, groves of Aspen trees, and high alpine flowers. The sky is a crisp, rich high altitude blue, with a few wisps of cotton ball clouds in the sky. It’s the perfect summer day in my sweet Rocky Mountains. This visualization replaces my fear with peace. It becomes the springboard for any upcoming adventure into the unknown. It is from this place that I begin my journey into a space I have never travelled and I get to see it unfold before me. I do not bulldoze my meadow and fill it in with manmade experiences, rather, I use the meadow scene to bring my mind back to a peaceful state prior to my experience. As soon as the moment of the new experience starts I shift my mind to simply taking that experience in and letting the pieces fall into place one by one, creating a whole new memory for me.
Back to surgery. I am focusing on my peaceful meadow. I’m getting my prescriptions filled, stocking the kitchen with healthy, body nourishing, comfort food (are healthy and comfort an oxymoron when referencing food?), cleaning the house, doing laundry and in general preparing for the days of inactivity ahead of me; all the while not really knowing what I’m going to feel or experience. There’s a balance between preparation and freedom from expectations. It’s a precarious and attainable balance.