You wouldn’t know it on social media. The cute baby pics remain on Facebook, my Instagram continues to offer tips on healthy living and thriving. My Twitter remains a hub for stupid, random jokes that hardly make sense half of the time. But for some aspects of my life now, the you-know-what has hit the fan.
It’s inevitable, right? One of the hardest parts of life going great is you know it’s just a matter of time before you hit a pothole, or a dead end, or a cliff. I remember a quote from Neil Young that said: “there has to peaks and valleys or it gets boring.”
Something I’ve learned about myself is I let others, my environment, and the energy around me significantly shape my own feelings. It’s like walking outside when it’s raining and stripping down from my rain gear into the nude. In five seconds, I’m soaked, freezing, and miserable. And the irony of it is all I had to do was keep my rain gear on.
So how do I keep the rain gear on? When the sh*t hits the fan, how do I protect myself from the negative energy, the ugliness, and my susceptibility to wearing the weight of other peoples’ pain and suffering?
I am a regular prayer, and I started meditating a few years ago. I use them both differently, but they both help me stay in a positive state of mind when things get ugly.
I pray to God. I talk to him about my struggles, I ask him for guidance, and I always tell him what I’m thankful for. I don’t care what you believe in, but if you aren’t making gratitude an important part of your daily routine, it’s time. The benefits are tremendous. There’s proven research on this (though I’m seriously too lazy to look anything up right now… you can Google it).
I also like to “give things to God.” A lot of times, like now, the pain and struggle and problems I’m having are far beyond my control. I give these problems to God and remember that he’s in control, not me. When I let go, the weight lifts a little and the heaviness in my chest relaxes a little. It never completely dissipates but every little bit helps.
This is really hard. I’ve been working on meditation for several years now, and it’s still really hard. I have a cheat, though. I use an app called Headspace and it practically does the work for me. All I have to do is listen.
Meditation reminds me of what’s really important and what I can control… which isn’t a lot! But it’s this breath… and now this breath. And when I focus on my breathing, I can calm my nerves somewhat and stay present. Sometimes our biggest enemy is the “what-if” monster that plays horrible games in our head. Mediation is a great way to beat that monster back.
This weekend, I had too much to drink. My husband and I had a date night and what can I say… it’s liberating to not have little kiddos clinging to you all night. Anyway, the next day I felt gross. But more than that. I felt defeated. I felt out of control. My guard was down, my “rain gear” was off and I felt so many fears and ugly feelings.
The truth is, when you aren’t taking care of yourself you can’t be your best self. You are more susceptible to illness (that’s proven too, and nope, I’m not going to look it up for you either). But more than that, you’re prone to negative feelings, negative talk, and negative energy.
Right now, I need to put on my game face. I need to be ready for a rain downpour (yes, I realize I’m beating this analogy into the ground right now… sorry, I can’t help it). My husband and my kids need me now more than ever. People are counting on me. There’s no time to feel weak or incapable. So I put my tools in my tool belt, I take a deep breath and I step out into the storm. I can’t let ugly times take me down. I’m stronger than that.