What do you wish to walk away from?
Fear, worry, and anxiety. This is something to stop doing in general, to let go of no matter when or why it arises, but specifically there is one way this manifests for me in my life that is completely toxic: worry about those I love. The one thing I can count on, all of us can, is impermanence. Everyone we love, including ourselves, is going to die, cease to exist, become inaccessible as a physical form, is finite and mortal. This is true, and fear, worry, or anxiety won’t change that, won’t protect me. And yet, I am constantly being triggered–any time the dogs are sick or hurt, any time Eric drives away from me in a car or I get on a plane, every time I hear yet another story about someone in my family making a bad choice, or see them struggling or sick. Their suffering is out of my control and a constant reminder of my biggest fear, that one day we will lose each other. We will disappoint and hurt each other. I will abandon them or they will leave me, one way or another we will be separated.
I wish to walk away from fear, worry, and anxiety, and lean into joy, soften to love, welcome and embrace reality.
Numbing. This is a response to fear, discomfort, lack of appropriate self-care. I feel the twinge of anxiety about a situation and I want to numb myself to that ache. I’m tired, but my mind is pushing, insisting, “keep working, keep doing, just one more thing and you can stop” and I want to numb out and release myself. There are better ways to cope, I know that and yet I don’t always make the best choices, sometimes slip into old, deep habits and ways of being. I want to know deep in my bones that facing reality, the vulnerability, discomfort and pain of the moment, even the possibility of getting my ass kicked by it is better than being numb. Brene’ Brown says, in Gifts of Imperfection,
[T]here’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotion and when we numb the dark, we numb the light. While I was “taking the edge off” of the pain and vulnerability, I was also unintentionally dulling my experience of good feelings, like joy…When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy.
I wish to walk away from numbing and into a full, wholehearted experience of my life.
Busyness and exhaustion. I get too busy and won’t allow myself to rest. When this goes on for too long, I become depleted and start to struggle in all kinds of ways, all areas of my life. Work is harder, even play becomes difficult. I become irritable, easily frustrated, and confused. Illness finds a way in. It’s more difficult to make decisions and my priorities aren’t clear. I get overwhelmed and stuck, or speedy and sloppy, accident prone. I make poor choices about how to care for myself. I push past my limits, smash myself to bits, eat too much of the wrong things, don’t get the exercise or rest I need, have a nasty internal dialogue, falter in my commitments and practices, abandon and mistreat what and whom I love.
I wish to walk away from busyness and exhaustion, and towards rest, play, stillness, calm, and self-care.
Criticism and judgement. This helps nothing, no one. Rejecting the way things are doesn’t change the way things are. Pointing out the weakness of others, highlighting their mistakes, focusing on their confusion doesn’t make you strong. Love and acceptance, equanimity, truly is the healthiest place/way to be. And you might think that if you are only critical of yourself and not others–which usually isn’t the case, typically if you are doing it to yourself you can’t help but pass it on, but if you were able to pull it off–this kind of self harm ripples out, is not self contained.
I was thinking about this yesterday when I was watching an interview with a woman who had struggled with an eating disorder and body image issues in the past, and described herself as “horribly fat” at a moment of her unhealthy past, but the number she gave is my current weight…what she labeled “horribly fat.” I am aware enough to know that numbers are relative, and that her “fat” number doesn’t make me fat, but what I did realize in thinking through it is that if you don’t practice kindness, gentleness towards yourself, even your past troubled self, you will find yourself inadvertently criticizing every person who is like that, now or still. Comparison, criticism, being unforgiving does so much harm, generates so much shame, pain, and suffering.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~Mother Teresa
I want to walk away from criticism and judgement, and walk in a spirit of equanimity, compassion, and love.