"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Rom 12:2
Many of us go through life hurriedly and cannot even tell how tense we are. Today is my Day 11 of Yoga Camp with Adriene and the mantra is 'I release that which does not serve me'. It got me thinking of how long I spent down in the dumps and being frustrated because I could not let go of stuff. When you are so rushed and destination-oriented, fruits of the spirit like peace, joy, patience, kindness e.t.c would eventually become alien to you.
It is no fun being short with yourself and others. Yoga and mindfulness meditation are tools that I use to slow things down. When I was able to pause, separate myself and be aware of my thoughts, I knew I just felt lost. Keeping a journal helped me break things down. I was rooted in fear and shame and was very fixated on the stories my mind told me about my life.
At this point, people that care can start to try to motivate you but even when they are sincere, their words would likely just be rhetorics to you. There is technically no point in others telling you "You're beautiful. You're strong. Look at all you've achieved, don't be too hard on yourself" because unless you believe it for yourself, nothing others say will help. It is however good to know that others are there for you though.
Some people are naturally happy and optimistic people. Others are not quite fortunate and have to work on processing what goes on in their minds. Yoga and guided meditations forced me to be still and really feel. Gradually life stopped being about the random and multiple negative stories that were going on in my mind and it was just about breathing. I could then acknowledge the thoughts and separate them. After meditation, I write and trace possible sources of anxiety.
I would never have been able to do this without intentionally getting rid of distractions. I had too many sources of external stimulation that kept me from being fully aware of my own body and mind. I made new rules about social media, TV and bedtime. As I dutifully wrote in my journal, things started to make more sense. First there was the relief of not having so many random stuff going on in your head. Emptying yourself of those is a major step.
Then with time, I got to understand why I behaved in certain ways. This enlightenment helped me to be kinder to myself. I might not always be 100% in everything and while I now knew where change was needed, internalising shame over events I had no control over and constantly beating myself up was counterproductive. When I felt stuck, the accompanying despair I felt was due to the shame of not meeting my expectations and the fear of losing out. I put myself under the pressure that I was crumbling under and only me could put a stop to that.
I was once doing a 20 minutes guided meditation by Tara Brach and it dawned on me just how much time there is in 20 minutes. Life had always felt like it was spinning for me and I was playing catch up and I was definitely losing. Suddenly, I realised just how much the fixation on losing was stealing from me. I was so fearful that I was still. I had no zeal to do anything which only worsened my 'I will have nothing to show for myself' state.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"
For as long as I can remember, I have been a practicing christian but this phase showed me I had no trust. My confidence was in having things planned and knowing what was next. It was all a 'me' thing and the moment it seemed the reins were out of my hands, I did not know how to deal. Clinically depressed people need to take a bold step to visit physicians and discuss their issues but there are also many of us who are drowning because we are not present.
It is possible that training yourself to change your thinking pattern might hold the key to your wellbeing. I believe that even if you need medication, if you are still able to function cognitively, working to own your mind will help in a major way. Showing up for ourselves like this means we would not stay enslaved to the turns and dips of everyday life. It means even when we don't know, we can still be at peace and be kind to ourselves, and in turn others.
Also, consciously seeing your story as a whole shows you just how little you know of others'. I mean if you had to take time to date you to figure out your patterns, how much can you know from another person's social media pictures and few second videos? And really, do you expect others to have pages filled with tales of struggles and woes? Would you post an IG pic of you crying because you failed an exam or got dumped?
This learning process allows you to free others and in turn free yourself. So many of our expectations are unrealistic and when we fully acknowledge our journey so far, we get new respect for process and learn how to take things one step at a time. There is no better gift you can give to yourself than loving yourself this way. It is freedom.