We're so universally tired--and, yes, maybe it's the change in seasons. Maybe it's the weird flu that's steamrolling through our various home- and workplaces, but maybe it's the stage in our climb. Maybe we've all been slogging up this mountain for so long with no glimpse of the summit that we're not even sure we're on the path anymore.
At this point, then, when feet and minds move by rote and not by inspiration, we need to sit, to rest, to notice the path is there, the air really is a bit fresher, cooler than when we started. And then, with the promise of the peak, we climb on.
Maybe there are some things we'll never learn. Or, at least, never learn well enough to silence the (very vocal, very loquacious) inner critic. Self-reprimands--especially after the fact--are nowhere near as effective (or enjoyable) as self-pep-talks. Funny that, how we never seem to remember to celebrate, to congratulate ourselves *before* we get up, *before* we get on with our day.
No, so often the criticism, the rehashing the past day's mistakes, becomes the morning--and evening--litany. No wonder we're so miserable. No wonder we're so touchy. No wonder we sleep so poorly.
I don't know how to talk any of us out of the habit, but I have learned that it changes very little about the less savory aspects of our character. So I guess the only thing to do is to begin with forgiveness. Perhaps, if we stopped fearing our own recriminations, we would become a bit freer, a bit more generous and spontaneously kind--both with ourselves and with each other.
If it finds its way into our dreams, then that something is calling for action. Even if it looks better in the morning--or worse--sleep (or lack thereof) has offered enough skill, enough time, and enough resources to see it through, whatever the solution.
Sleep is our last safe house and when that's gone, our resolve and our cleverness must take it from there.
Eventually, we've done enough work. Eventually, self-reflection mutates from worthwhile growth activity to guilt-induced habit, mourning everything we're not--and, perversely, everything we are.
Part of it, I think, is our fix-it, self-help society, and part of it stems from really, truly wanting to be the best version of ourselves possible.
But, you know, we've done the work. And despite the work, we'll slip, we'll do rotten things, and we'll regret them. We'll apologize and we'll keep trying. But those moments aren't the norm. Apologizing isn't the norm, not is it necessary.
We're good people. We're hard workers, but we don't need to keep demonstrating that at every turn. We've done enough. Take us as we are--lovely and flawed and very much deserving of a rest.
When my anxiety was at its worst, it would often manifest itself as hypochondria. And when one is in the midst of an anxiety attack, they are obviously unable to see the bigger picture, trapped in the free-fall of that moment's clutching terror. And while your rational self may be telling you that this moment, this pain, this difficulty, this test result is far more normal than your perception of it, there's no way your captured mind will believe it.
One of the resources I read recommended that, instead of panicking, have a hard and fast two-week rule: no matter what you're experiencing (honest to goodness emergencies aside), give it two weeks. In most cases, whatever your acute sensation(s), they'll disappear or remedy themselves within days, if not hours. Still around in two weeks? That's a good indication that something needs attention.
This was the most freeing advice I've ever received. The two-week safety net not only pulled me out of the mania of anxiety,...
My strengths do not lie in handling changes in routine. Perhaps that comes from a childhood spent moving around so much, but my guess is that I would have been like this even if I'd been born and raised in the same small town. And, who knows? Likely, that would have been worse. We can't know, but, what's more, we can't change what we are, not when it's woven that deeply into the fabric of our being.
But, yes, I (we) can adapt for short periods of time, at least. My problem is that, despite my carefully cultivated discipline, my impulsive nature, matched with my anxiety over the anticipation of change, results in opening my big mouth when, really, all I meant to do was sit quietly through the storm, no matter how long it's meant to last.
Well, what can I say? Best laid plans and all that. Anyway. Where is this going? No idea, except to say this: we cannot help, in large part, who we are. We need not apologize for that, but fear is no excuse for not keeping a civil tongue in our head...
There's a reason we zone out from time to time, and there's a reason that one-point meditation (focusing on a candle flame, a mandala, etc.) is so soothing and so revealing. Our eyes need time to adjust, not to what's before us, but to what's behind what's before us. Passive study, at least in my experience, is how the universe reveals itself to us, whether we're struck motionless by the impact of a landscape, the intricacy of a detail of shell or leaf, or the mundane familiarity of the objects we encounter daily. (I can't tell you how many times these daily blog posts reveal themselves to me while I stare at my pot of pencils...).
What we see matters very little--how we see makes all the difference.
The flip-side to the discomfort of change is that it can be a welcome remover of obstacles, of burdens, and a reminder that no matter how tedious or difficult a task, time will carry it away with it next time it skips town.
But, of course, in payment for this invaluable service, time also takes the lovely things, too, and it's these we must focus on if we're to remain the lovely, pleasant, contented creatures we were built to be. So. Do what you can for as long as you can, and love everything you can, regardless.