Daily Thoughts,  Mindfulness

Staying Afloat

Life sometimes gets…heavy. And sometimes it’s tricky to talk about because it feels weird to be complaining when you can’t count your blessings on both hands and both feet. There’s this common misconception that the blessings neutralize out the heaviness and stress. And we might intellectually know that this isn’t true, but it’s hard to really internalize that anyways. So then you feel ungrateful and unmindful, and, still, stressed and hopeless and possibly depressed, almost definitely anxious.

Lately, my wife has been spending her spare time reading the increasingly common articles coming out every day about the ecological disaster we’re all either ignoring or completely in the dark about how to deal with. How in 30 years the planet will be unlivable. How in 5 all the ice will be gone. And I don’t know about you, but turning your lights off when you leave the room, and recycling, feels pretty inadequate in the face of this. So, then, it’s pretty hard not to feel completely helpless, right? I mean, what in the heck can one person do to make a difference when what needs to happen is that every single person and more importantly every single major company in the world needs to simultaneously change every habit?

So there’s this. And that there’s this doesn’t change that you have your own stress. A stressful job, an annoyingly stubborn waistline, goals who keep moving with the horizon line further and further away. They’re still there, whether or not the earth is dying and bobo the clown is in charge (I refuse to call him an orangutan, out of respect for orangutans.)

So, here we are, with a mountain on top of us and our blessings, and rocks falling out of the air making the mountain heavier every day. At least that’s how it feels. What does one do?

Well, the first thing that one needs to do is to finally look at all of the elephants in the room in the eye. (no, not all at once, tho it would be really entertaining to watch you try…) It’s all cohabitable. You can have your blessings, tons of them, and still have crap in your life that’s weighing you down, at the same time. You can be blessed beyond belief and still be having a hard time. You can be grateful and tired. And in fact, I think most of us, right now, are exhausted.

You’ll be amazed at how important it is for you to give yourself permission to feel how you feel, and to stop fighting it. Validation is a powerful beast. No, your problems are not insignificant just because they’re not the worst problems a person can have, and just because you also have great things in your life. Respecting the exhaustion and the stress for what it is does not necessarily give it more weight. In fact, I might do the opposite. Looking your beast in the eye tends to let you see the zipper. Being honest and nonjudgmental about how you feel let’s you start the process of moving through it, and can sometimes dispel the smoke to see the fire so you can do something about it.

So that’s where you start. Keep an eye out for negative self talk. Cut it off like the chatterbox complainer at the party keeping you from going to the loo. And, really importantly, identify your self care things, and do them. Be stubborn about it, because you’ll be too tired to really want to do them. Do them anyways.

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