Tag Archives: self awareness

It’s ALL in Your Head

its all in your head

 

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you right now- if you are not in the right place to hear what I am about to say, it’s going to irritate the piss out of you. It has been my experience that, when I am being negative as fuck, the last thing I want to hear is someone telling me that maybe I should change my attitude. Also, if you are suffering from legit mental illness (and really, aren’t we all, to some extent), I mean, severe depression, etc., then you are excluded. But for the rest of us, the whiners, complainers, procrastinators, and the “I feel fucked over” population, this is for you. For US, actually, since I am right there with you most of the time.

I don’t know exactly when it started for me, but I suspect it was somewhere in my mid-30’s, when I began to feel this sort of pervasive dissatisfaction with my life. Weirdly enough, if I had to point out a distinct portion of my life as the beginning, it would be around the time that everything settled down for me and stopped being so completely chaotic. You would think, wouldn’t you, that once things stopped being so messy they started feeling better, right? Not in my case. Perhaps I was so used to the chaos and upheaval that, once the dust settled, it didn’t feel very exciting anymore. I think I have written about this in the past, the way I love a good challenge, and overcoming obstacles is so gratifying for me. I have dubbed it “The Phoenix Syndrome” because I get off on rising from the ashes.

But you can only burn your life to the ground so many times before it becomes exhausting. I am 42 years old now, and the thought of starting over, picking up the pieces after wrecking everything myself- it holds a lot less appeal to me. I have evolved into this strange creature who pays her bills on time, and watches carefully her processed food intake. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I used drugs made partially from Drano, for Pete’s sake, and now I worry about the saturated fat content in a burger. Sigh. I am laughing about this now, but only because it’s true, and super weird.

So, my life settled down, and my mind began to change, and somewhere along the way, instead of just enjoying all the blessings of this incredible life I was living- clean, employed, blessed with a beautiful family, a nice house, enough of everything I needed- a little voice in my head started bitching, complaining, and feeling put out about everything, and it’s tenacity is astonishing.

This little voice never wants to do anything, and I mean anything- except of course, the opposite of whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time. If I am sitting on the couch, blissfully indulging in a Netflix marathon of Ghost Whisperer, the little voice is haranguing me because I really ought to be doing: The dishes, the laundry, or some type of meaningful interaction with my kid. Okay, so maybe the little voice is right. However, should I give in to the little voice, here is what inevitably happens: As I do the dishes, or the laundry,  the little voice will then say something like this: “You spend your whole life doing things you don’t want to do- when is it time for YOU, Courtney?” Or, in case I am playing Go Fish with the spawn, it says “You should really move this along. You could be doing something productive right now.”

In short, the little voice’s mission seems to be to make me as miserable as possible, no matter what I am doing. And, check it out, I am not talking about a psychotic break here. These are not disembodied voices that are barking directions at me. No, this voice sounds an awful lot like me, and I am nothing if not convincing. Much of the time, I buy into that shit, 100%.

And that is too bad, you know? Because the truth is, I deserve to enjoy my life. Every one of us do, to be honest. It is our God given right to be happy in this lifetime, however that looks to you. But every single time we listen to that shitty voice in our heads, we are bound to feel the opposite of happy.

So, what are you supposed to do about it? Well, this is the tricky part where I start trying to give advice about something that I haven’t mastered expertly just yet. I do well for a while, and then I backslide a little, start listening again. But I do know a little bit. Like, for instance, start noticing it. Start really paying attention to the thoughts in your head, hearing the critical voice when it starts talking. Because when you are aware of it, you can have a conversation with it. Your mind may say “You are so lazy. Everyone else keeps their dishes done, what is wrong with you?” And you can say, “I work my ass off all week long, I am the furthest thing from lazy, I am dealing with the loss of Jim right now (Ghost Whisperer reference, sorry), go away. I will deal with the dishes later.” You are allowed to defend yourself, even to yourself. My only advice to you here is that you have this conversation internally, unless you are home alone. People do tend to become concerned when you are having frustrated, one-sided conversations with yourself out loud.

Another thing you can do to combat this is to notice the tone of your thoughts, and, when they are negative and critical, redirect them. This happened to me yesterday, actually, when I was faced with the task of working in my enormous, weed filled yard. It was hot, and there was so much work to do, and I am not a big fan of manual labor of any sort. I started thinking about how much I wanted to be inside, doing nothing, and how shitty it was that I had to work all week and then spend my time off doing something I hated. And THEN, I looked around me. I was spending a sunny afternoon in my own yard, and people who loved me gave up time out of their busy lives to come help me, for free, clean up my yard. There was music playing, and kids laughing, and we got so much done! Suddenly, as I stood there, bent over at the waist, shoes and gloves full of fox tails, I broke through the spell that negativity had cast on me, and I could see the truth.

I was actually having a perfect day. I just had to be able to see it. Changing the conversation we have with ourselves, in our heads, is not easy, it is not quick, and it is not permanent. Like everything else worth achieving in life, it takes a lot of effort. But there are days now when I can nip it in the bud the minute it starts, and I always, always end up having a better time. I would guess that 90% of our experience of life is in the way we view it. If you let that little voice have too much power, you will not be able to enjoy anything. You could win an all expense paid, ten day trip to Disney World, and spend the whole time upset by how long the lines are for the rides, or worrying about your dogs back home.

So, basically- Pay attention to your thoughts. Listen to the way you are speaking to yourself. If your thoughts are lame, change them- you are not only allowed to do this, you are the only one who can. If the way you are speaking to yourself is shit, correct it. Don’t let your head talk to you in a way that you would never tolerate another person to. Remember, you are in charge of which thoughts you believe- it may not seem like it, but it’s true. The more you redirect yourself, the easier it becomes.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Have a wonderful day!

 

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Spiritual Re-set!

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I don’t know about you, but I have to make a conscious effort to incorporate things into my life which actually sustain feelings of peace and well-being. I naturally gravitate towards those little “quick-fixes”, the empty calories for the soul…like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I am not saying these don’t serve a purpose, or that they are bad…I’m just saying, for people like me, who love acknowledgement, who like that feeling of approval…this can be very tempting, even dangerously so. Now, I am not saying dangerous like it would KILL me or anything. I am just saying- there are other, much more important things I could be doing with my free time.

Not everyone is like me, I know this. I realize I walk a much finer line than some, what with my issues with addiction that cause a multitude of other problems (most of which concern how I am mentally, and how I behave in the world). Maybe everyone doesn’t need to make sure they are centered and spiritually sound before leaving the house every day. Maybe some people don’t have to work very hard to feel satisfied with themselves. But I do. So, knowing this, you would think it would be easier for me to tend to those needs in a fairly dedicated fashion, right? Wrong.

I still struggle with it. I get up in the morning, and the very first thing I do is grab my phone and see what is up on Facebook, Instagram, check my text messages, maybe my email. I grab my coffee and sit outside, scrolling like a crazy person to see who gives a shit about my latest contribution of videos, pictures, quotes and other bullshit. When I get to the end of it, I don’t feel any better…if anything, I feel sort of deflated and empty. It’s like a roller coaster ride- super exhilarating while it’s happening, but over with quick, leaving you looking for the next line to get in.

I have not made time in four days now for prayer and meditation. I may have prayed, but not in my usual manner. I tried a new meditation yesterday, but I was too lazy to turn the TV off, so, yeah…that is not an effort, not really. I can give you so many excuses, really good ones, too, ones that you would have no problem buying. But the truth is, I made time, lots of it, every day, for social media. Why in the world am I not making time for the things that keep me sane? That let me occupy a happy space in this world?

I think, to battle this over-stimulation that can be so alluring to both addicts and “Normies” both, it is wise to do a fast every once in a while. It’s sort of like resetting your metabolism, right? Creating a routine that only includes the “whole-grain” activities that nourish you. It’s like clean eating for your spirit. I think that is what I need to do, maybe for the rest of this week. A way to do this that makes it really simple is just to remove the apps from your phone. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier fast.

For now, I think it is time I attend to myself in the best possible ways…my prayer, my meditation. I have also been easing up too much on my novel writing (why I have been here much less, by the way) over the past several days. Time for a reset!

Have a wonderful day!

Exquisitly Tender, Beautiful, Bittersweet Life

Let me preface this by saying I really do not feel like writing right now. It is eleven o’clock on Monday night, and I am tired. I am also being subjected to Doc McStuffins, when I would way rather be watching New Adventures of Old Christine,  or something else fluffy and comforting, that would overshadow the never ending babble in my head enough to lull me to sleep. But I am afraid that if I don’t write this down now, tomorrow, the feelings will be faded and I won’t be able to access the words I want to get down…and also, I am learning to push a little harder to find space and time in my life for the things I really love (writing), and to relinquish a little control, to compromise sometimes (the Doc McStuffins thing).

So, here I sit. I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I am a little erratic, a little mercurial, and perhaps wound up just a wee bit tight. If you can sense it in my writing, imagine what it might be like living with me. No, seriously, imagine it, for a minute. Actually, never mind, stop imagining it, it upsets me. I want you to like me. I can joke about it all day long, but the reality is, I am a tyrant around here. Or, as I told my sister on the phone today, it crossed my mind that I am a bully. I use noise and menace and flat out threats of physical harm to keep things in line at home, and this extends to EVERY member of the household, right down to the animals. Now, this was never my intention, of course- as a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize the terrible extent of it until the other day.

Have you ever had something happen to you that forced you to suddenly see yourself the way you actually are, rather than the version of yourself that yourself allows you to see? Like, not the you that your coworkers think you are because when YOU tell the stories of your life to them, they get the benefit of your calm, and the things that you felt that led you to react to your husband/ child/ dog the way you did…not just your banshee screams and tantrum, barely intelligible tirade, slammed door, cold, dead silence? Because this has been my routine, this has been a pretty regular thing around here-REALLY regular- and I am betting that most of the time, my people here didn’t really know WHAT the fuck was wrong with me (now), or WHY I was so pissed off all the time. I didn’t even know. I feel like I have been upset for like two years, and it would fade for a while, but never actually resolve.

The other day, I was just miserable (again) and I had that gnawing, anxious, tense knot, right dead center in my stomach. When I feel that way, I get so antsy and unsettled, and it HURTS, but not just physically. It hurts emotionally, like, my feelings are on edge and crazy, achy. I don’t know what to do with that pain, or why it is even there, so I start looking for the source, or plausible stand in. Long story short, I heaped it somewhere it didn’t belong, and I think it was nearly the last straw. I looked at this person I love, deeply, and saw for the first time the strain loving me was causing them. And it horrified me. In that one tiny little moment, my entire perspective completely shifted, and I saw all of it- how caustic and awful I have been, and how totally self absorbed. I don’t want to totally bash myself, either, because I think that is a big part of the problem- when we aren’t happy with ourselves, we find fault everywhere we look. But I understood that my behavior has been TOTALLY unacceptable. Totally.

When this happened, and my perspective changed just like that, my pain changed, also. It was still there, but the quality was different. It wasn’t a spite driven pain anymore, it was a sorrowful one. I was standing at my dresser, trying to process it all, and the self loathing and sadness were sort of duking in out, and I closed my eyes and tried to breathe, Out of nowhere, my mind began to think of every single person who loved me, one by one- I could see each person like they were in front of me, and I could feel their love for me ( I guess this was my subconscious ploy to prove to myself that I wasn’t all that bad), and it hit me that not only could I feel their energy as clearly as if they were actually there, but each of them had a totally unique feeling love. Every love from every person feels totally different. This blew my mind. Then I began to think of people that were not even alive anymore- my grandparents, friends I’ve lost…guess what? Whether they were around or not, I could feel the love they had for me. It didn’t matter what dimension they existed in- that love was forever, period. Once it was given to me, it was mine forever.

This was a comfort to me, but it got me thinking. What kind of love was I putting out for people to take? Was I giving something worth having? And what if I wasn’t loving anyone at all, not really? Like, if you know you love someone, but all of you they get is tension, resentment, frustration…then that is what you are leaving them with. If you die tomorrow, that is your legacy. It isn’t enough to just know you love people. You have to give it to them, too. You need to hand it to them willingly, and show it to them by the way you treat them, the things you say, the quality of your attention. Maybe you do this already, maybe I am just an asshole with problems. But in case you do make people try to pull a little to get some of your love or attention, in case you are an overwhelmed mom who isn’t thrilled with life and doesn’t realize she is taking it out on her kids…in case you are a human being who acts a little fucked up sometimes just know you aren’t alone. I have been out of control. I am really sad about it, but I am glad I am seeing it now, painful as it is. Because now I can change.

I have been terribly sensitive since all of this began a few days ago- the way a boo-boo always is after the hard scab comes off and exposes the shiny, pink, brand new skin beneath. But it’s a great kind of tenderness, because I can HEAR myself, and I can SEE the people all around me, and how important who I am is in a MUCH bigger picture- how important ALL of us are to each other, in a way that I really never, ever even would have guessed before. Everywhere you go, you are radiating your energy, and effecting the energy of everyone around you. The closer they are to you, the more closely tied, the more they are going to feel and be effected by you. I was hurting everyone around me, the ones I love most, worst of all.

I have made my mind up that I will be better, NO MATTER WHAT. I will start from a good place every day, and no matter how many times I falter, I will start over. I am not going to make the people I love bear my love like a weight. I want to lift them up, to lighten them. How could I not have always done this. or even understood that I needed to? I’m not sure how I didn’t understand how to love another human being, but I missed it by a mile. I have to forgive myself to move forward, but mark my words- these kids, this dude, my friends, my family- they are going to know they are loved, they are heard, they are cherished, and that they have my undivided attention. And they are going to think of me and smile…long after I am gone, they will feel the great and deep love I have for them.