I recently went for a mini “holiday” and discovered something very interesting about myself… What was meant to be a two night getaway turned into a snowed in long weekend with good people, good drinks and good snowdick building!
Now, when I say interesting, I mean surprising; and I shouldn’t have been surprised, but apparently there has been some intense denial going on in my head…
For starters, I’d like to identify a difference between my ideal self and my actual self… They don’t always align quite as seamlessly as I would like them to, but I guess that’s the journey, right?
My ideal self LOVES the prospect of going away to an isolated farm, detached from an isolated country town with no mobile reception, the possibility of snow in an Australian winter, beer, gin, friends, quad bikes and sleep-ins.
My ACTUAL self (apparently, as I learned) screamed internally for 64 hours straight and felt trapped in a dark cell (roughly translates to “huge holiday home”) with only confusing emotions for company…
Since when was I SO uncomfortable with my own feelings? I’ve always liked my own company! I’m fine on my own, I’d rather talk something through than hold it in! What was happening? Why was this particular situation so challenging for me?
As I shut myself down over the weekend and retreated into myself, I was thrown violently into child. There was no woman, no adult viewing this situation, just an uncomfortable and anxious child trying to escape from what she saw as a threatening situation… I felt out of control. One night while I was there, I promised my partner that I’d give him an honest description of how I was feeling and keep him in the loop, yet responded with “I’m fine, it’s nothing” the very next morning… What was happening to me? I had been working so hard at being level and balanced and fair and suddenly I felt i had reverted back to who I was in my early 20’s! Defensive, anxious, withdrawn…
I got home and went straight to my animals. My comfort. My safe place. My positive energy, my light source.
Things began to settle in my mind and in my heart.
It dawned on me that while I may well be “fine in my own company” I’m usually distracted, I’m usually doing something, or pretending I’m doing something so I don’t have to feel some uncomfortable emotion, and more often than not, I’m still communicating with people in some way or another.
Remove the escapism, put me in a house full of people, remove communication with anyone outside that house and I start realising just how many things I’m not dealing with, I’m just running from them…
Again, my ideal self runs headfirst towards emotions and feelings. She opens herself up bravely and gracefully and is able to take a step back from an emotionally charged situation and see the bigger picture, and her place in it…
My actual self saw only the emotions, only the proverbial “NO EXIT” sign on the snowed-in country road. She saw only the 10 minute drive to any hint of mobile reception to get some fresh perspective on the situation. She saw a prison.
When I got home and looked back at it (isn’t hindsight a darling?), I smiled.
I found myself feeling almost proud of myself! Proud?! Pardon?
Yeah. Proud. What I’d just done was become aware (painfully so) of an issue, an area for improvement, identified it, voiced it (to my partner) and then simply not known what to do with it. And that’s ok!
Recognising an issue like this, a behaviour that you find undesirable to have in your life, is really half the battle won! Working out how to change it, what to do with it and how to remove it from your habit bank takes practice, skill and a whole bunch of trial and error.
Did I fix the problem? I don’t know. Have I begun to practice mindfulness every (other) day in an attempt to stop charging blindly through my life and flinging emotions to the side to get them out of my way? Definitely.
Has it helped? I believe so.
I want to be ok with silence. Every kind of silence, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. The whole lot. So far, mindfulness exercises are astounding me with their ability to reset my mind, stop the frantic whizzing of thoughts, feelings and information and give me a stable, blank canvas to start again with.
Try here for some good starters on mindfulness. I’ve barely made it past the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise and already finding huge changes in my life…
When I’m getting worked up, I’m getting better at reminding myself (or my wonderful boyfriend reminds me) to take a moment and be mindful. To stop the snowball of frantic thoughts and actions and take a step back.
It’s very easy to lose sight of the big picture when all the little pieces of it are demanding so much of your attention, energy, time… But losing sight of the big picture means we lose sight of what is important to us; what we’re fighting for, or working towards or what we’ve just overcome.
Step back. Breathe in. Breathe out. Count some objects and tell yourself you’re amazing. Then keep going. You’ve got this.