First, let me just say….ow. I can’t walk straight. My legs are wobbling, it hurts to stand up, my arse feels like it’s broken and I’m writing this in a bathtub I may not be able to exit. I’m back … Continue reading
Yes, it was a bad television commercial for some kind of medical alert bracelet, but how many times have you found yourself getting caught up in one mistake and either a)letting it suck you dry and giving up entirely on whatever it was you were attempting or b)focusing so much on the mistake you just made that you make another because you’re so stuck mentally on a past error you can’t see what’s right in front of you?
I have lost weeks of my life and productivity and happiness and peace because I could not see past my own mistakes. Whether I sacrificed my mood, my attention, or my own perception of myself, I have made Mt. Everest out of problems that started out the size of mouse poop…that seriously ended up the size of two mountains and a mini-van because I didn’t deal with them in a healthy way.
(And don’t ask me how I know what the size of a mouse poop is. I just know.)
When you make a mistake, do you find yourself doing any of the following?
- Generalizing – “Well, I guess I’ll just add that to my long list of things I’ve screwed up” and then look back over your metal inventory of errors;
- Freezing – Getting so stuck in thinking through every dire and terrible thing that will surely come as a consequence of your mistake that you can do nothing else;
- Negative Self-Talk – I’m such an idiot, I’m a failure, and then of course calling your friends/associates not for help solving the problem but to talk negatively about yourself to them as a sort of self-punishment;
- Ruminating – where you literally can’t think straight or notice what is going on around you because your brain is so focused on what you had done wrong that you’re in a mental and emotional tailspin;
- Blaming – hoping like hell there is someone else you can pin the error on to take the heat off yourself in any way possible so you don’t have to own what you did;
- Hiding – Making great efforts to cover up your mistake or praying simply that no one else notices and trying to convince yourself you hadn’t noticed either
Take it from someone who knows and has been there: if you’re looking for a way to waste your life, breath, and energy and potentially endanger your health, job, self-worth and friendships, then feel free to continue, but it’s not something I’d recommend.
Here’s the difficult thing: whatever it is – it’s done. The only safe way to handle a mistake is to look it straight in the face, own it, take responsibility for it and whatever that entails. You then try to find a solution for it, make reparations, and problem-solve as effectively and as completely as possible and move on, trying not to repeat the mistake.
Moving on, by the way, means *really* moving on. Leave it in the sand. Drop it. Forgive yourself. I once heard it said like this: your body doesn’t ask if you are worthy when it knows there has been damage done. It just starts work on healing what’s there without judgement. Do that for yourself. Take the next best steps whatever those are, one at a time.
How many years of your life could we get back if we treated ourselves with the same objectivity when we messed up, and worked to fix our issues and mistakes without the judgment, shame, or mental mess that so often trips us up? What if we treated others the same way? Oh what a world we could create!
Get Back Up. Brush Yourself Off. Rub some dirt on it. Life is a giant adventure and you’ve got better things ahead and no time to waste! Get up and get at them today!
It took slightly longer than getting to January 1 to get myself back on the health wagon and drag my butt to the gym. I did, in fact, have to trick myself by scheduling a swimming assessment for my children to force myself back into the building.
Humbly, I looked around at the swank gym, purposeful people moving about their healthy habits and sighed a little: the return walk of shame after you haven’t stepped into a gym in two months isn’t fun, moving a little slower, gym pants tighter, ass just a trifle jigglier.
To make it more fun I had to get into a bathing suit – but I survived.
Today I got on the treadmill and did a slow walk. As I sit here I am drinking my orange, apple, kale, romaine smoothie with dynamic greens thrown in for dinner contemplating what I am going to do differently this time.
This time I am going full balls-out faith. That sounds a little off but I am going with it: Just for today I am going to believe the universe wants me healthy and that my body is conspiring as we speak to excommunicate the 100 extra pounds I am carrying and no longer need to hide me. I am going to do the work and take the steps and believe my body wants this health as much as I do.
Most of all I am going to overcome this subconscious mind that has developed the belief system that I cannot do this. I am going to quash the judging inner voices that tell me I am not good enough and don’t deserve this.
I may be crawling toward my new body but crawl I will until I can run and sprint and fly so fast that out comes the beautiful, slim, powerful woman I am on the inside who no longer has time or energy for her gooey outer shell.
I am a butterfly and this cocoon no longer protects but suffocates and I want to fly free and soar right out of my Nikes.
I’m not just back on the wagon; I’m gonna kick that bitch over and use it for a launch pad.
There are many ways in which my life has changed while trying to balance a family, kids, and a career. I now find myself:
- Listening to books a la .mp3 while commuting since keeping my eyes open with a real book seems impossible;
- Writing blog entries on my cell phone mornings at two a.m. while waiting for my small son to fall back asleep;
- Watching the first 10 minutes of one television show on the DVR over a three evening period because I keep falling asleep before the 11th;
- Sneaking into my children’s rooms to watch them sleep because I get such little time with them during the day (and occasionally waking up in their rooms);
- Catching up on the lives of my family via Facebook since so rarely are we able to even speak on the phone at the same times;
- Not having any kind of consistent social life outside of the minions;
- Getting little quality time (read: any time) spent on hair, makeup, or general beautification unless I am willing to get up at 3am (sorry world);
- An almost constant craving for Sleep, Sleep, Sleep (Um, have I mentioned sleep?) has supplanted almost all other desires.
And honestly? I am so grateful for the two little Berserkers I have that as long as they remain decently clothed, fed, and (reasonably) happy, nothing else matters. There is nothing I am unwilling to do in that pursuit, no job I would not undertake, and I am sure that is true of you too.
I find myself holding my breath way too frequently: when I am waiting for a decision at work to be made on a candidate I’ve presented, when my to-do list far exceeds my normal life expectancy, and when I’m particularly worried that someone will notice I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth*(ew) in my rush to get to work.
I get stressed. I get anxious. I worry, about the important stuff and the totally non-important stuff. And I just found out hey, scientifically? Holding your breath apparently just makes all of that bad stuff worse.
Apparently, all that yoga stuff and meditation nonsense has some real validity to it: beyond the allure of the “in” exercise and the promise of a smoothie afterwards, there is a lot that we can do in the way of lowering stress, reducing anxiety, and achieving mental clarity if we make a conscious effort to take long, slow deep breaths. Remember to breathe OUT all the way too, or you will defeat the purpose.
When the idiot you work with (I just assume every place has at least one) does something to frustrate you, run in the bathroom and sit for a few minutes and slow down your breathing. Make it deep and even.
When you have a report due, and Excel is kicking your proverbial ass, go outside for 5 minutes. Again, breath deeply. Even if it is ridiculously hot outside, changing your breath and your environment can really help you get a fresh perspective on your problem.
You may feel like you have no time at all to do even that much: but if you take a few moments to recharge your brain, and quiet your heart, the oxygen that you take through slow breathing has massive restorative and energizing properties. Taking a few minutes to make your mind function more effectively will ultimately save you a lot more in the long run.
And even if you’re not stressed right now? Do the breathing exercises anyway. Try to do it a few times a day – maybe treat it like endurance training. That way, you’ll totally have it down the next time the poop hits the fan and you could really use some perspective and a highly functional mind.
*as a disclaimer, I *do* keep a spare toothbrush at work for these emergencies. 🙂
I’m not just blowing smoke with this statement: I just completed a test of it myself.
It is amazing how much negative self-talk and talking down to myself happens in this head. The things I tell myself I can’t do, the things I tell myself that I am not. But about an hour ago, I got to thinking a little too much, and I got a little mad at myself for buying into such nonsense. I decided to challenge a few of my negative assertions:
- Test Assertion One: I need my husband to put in the new car seat. I don’t know where this one came from except somewhere along the way I started doubting my innate ability to build and follow directions. (Actually, in fact, it’s just the directions thing. I’ve always viewed them as a backup plan. My husband disapproves and scoffs.)
Result: Utter Bunk. Annoyed at tripping over it and full of fire, I just went outside and installed that darn car seat, tricky buckles and latches and all. AND I tested it out with my daughter and she fits in it. I am 99% sure I did it right; regardless, I no longer have to stare at the damn thing sitting in the box a moment longer.
In the current mood I am in, my husband may well come home to find that the new shower head installed and the bathtub caulked. Well, probably not. But I totally could.
- Test Assertion Two: Because I am so out of shape I can’t do anything. Now, I don’t mean this in absolute terms: I actually walked this morning like a good girl. But I did so hesitantly, gingerly. I’ve been putting off weights, the elliptical, etc. recently, coming up with all kinds of excuses. When I was walking the dog a little bit ago, I started getting pretty down on myself – I could actually feel my arse jiggling and the judging eyes of the local geriatric community.
Result: Bumpkus! In what can only be called as sheer stupidity, and an utter shock to the pug, when I turned around at the end of the block to go home, I started jogging. I decided I was going to go all the way home, too. Now, I happen to know it’s only .30 miles from the curb to my driveway, but I would be lying if I said I believed I would manage it. Thud. Thud. Thud. I pounded down the sidewalk, feeling every extra pound and breathing carefully and one hand on my chest to check for heart attack. But I made it, dammit. I marched VERY proudly up that driveway.
I’m not going to be an idiot about it, but if I can run even that far, I can certainly pick up my game quite a bit. It’s my mind, not my body, that’s talking trash.
These are just two little tiny things that I challenged myself to do today. What something are you holding back on today? If I can do it, I know YOU can! Go challenge something and tell me what you did!
It is sooo easy to get caught up in wanting what you don’t have. The high-end baby couture, the money,the boats, the vacations, the careers. I find myself wishing I had a different shape, a more exciting job, and a cabin with a giant hammock.
When it comes to “thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ goods” – I need to go to confession more. At this rate, I’m likely to be struck by lightning.
Jealousy just doesn’t make you feel good inside: it cripples and blinds you to the awesome things you do have. It steals your contentment. It makes you anxious. It makes you bitchy and resentful. You are not fun to be around (I speak from personal experience and the testimony of friends who have called me on it when guilty of being “that girl”).
Comparing yourself to others creates an internal dialogue that somehow you are better or worse than someone else. Neither is healthy. Telling yourself you are better keeps you from working on your defects, and telling yourself you are worse becomes an excuse.
Here are a few things I’ve been taught over the years:
- Don’t assume. The stories we tell ourselves about the would-be happiness of others based on the cool things they have and do are usually pure fiction. That chick carrying a Prada bag with the fab social calendar may not actually like any of the people she is with, but utterly terrified to be alone.
- Skinny people (apparently) need love too. My size six friends want to be twos, and the size twos want to be zeros. They don’t eat much food, and are just as self-conscious – if not more stressed – about their own appearance as I am. There is fierce competition in the set. They also break easily and fall through grates routinely. (Have I mentioned most of my dearest friends are skinny? And gorgeous?) Give them many hugs…gentle ones.
- The more you put your focus on giving to others and work to make others’ lives happier, the less you focus on yourself or what you don’t have. Try volunteering. Shock your mother by showing up and doing something for her. Go clean your sister’s house.
- Focus on what you have. Lay on the floor in your house. Look at the ceiling and be grateful you have a roof. Imagine not having one. Put your hand on your belly. Is it full? Are you hungry? Even being able to ask that question is luxury. Are you wearing clothes? Do you have a car to take you to work? Do you get to have a job? If you have what you need, even if it isn’t what you want, you’re luckier than many, many people.
- If there is something you want, work for it. If you want the trip to Disney, start saving now. Put in more time at work, or get creative and figure out a way to increase your income if you can. You are the only one who can really do anything to improve your situation, regardless of how you got there. Take responsibility for making your life better.
Occasionally, when I remember to do these things, I find I feel an awful lot better about life and people in general. I’m still sarcastic, yes, but I enjoy life more.
The reality is unless we can learn to be happy In our own skins and content with what we have, chances are we won’t know what to do with more anyway.
That said, you people with the awesome boats and sweet swimming pools? I’m a great cook and would love to visit…