In some bizarre-alternate-world-freak-circumstance, I’ve actually managed to sit down at my computer two days in a row. Whether I’m able to write anything remotely shareable remains to be seen. This may just be another draft to add to my growing collection. (In a later edit, it’s actually been another day because I wasn’t able to finish my thought processes yesterday).
I talked the other day about the need for us to have a safe space to share our struggles, our overwhelm, and to receive support. A way for us to feel less alone. We can be so very connected today, yet at the same time incredibly isolated, and fall prey – basically – to the feeling that everybody but us is having the time of their lives (thanks Facebook and Instagram!). I’ve been thinking about all that for several days now, and I feel like there’s more to say on the subject. I think it’s very easy to translate the need to vent and reach out for support and solidarity into something dangerous and poisonous.
The poison to which I refer is that in our minds. It’s what happens when we continuously allow ourselves to engage in negative self-talk. Let me give some examples: “I’m not enough,” and “I’m a bad parent/person/friend,” and “I’m not worthy”. The last one is particularly venomous, and I’ll get to that in a minute. The problems with these thoughts, and all their many variations, is they start to circulate through our minds, and as they circulate, they begin to carve deep, deep grooves in our brain. This is not a metaphor. Neuroscience has shown how our thoughts actually change the physical shape of our brain. Just like the paths you walk the most in your house become worn and the carpet becomes mashed and matted, so do the pathways in your brain. The truly miraculous thing in all this? We can actually change the paths in our mind. We can replace these harmful, hurtful thoughts with uplifting, hopeful thoughts and, literally, change our minds.
In my yoga classes, part of what I try and impart to my clients is the concept of self-gratitude, and self-love. I often ask my class to place a hand on their hearts, or abdomen, or anywhere on their bodies they feel comfortable, and, in their minds, speak a kindness to themselves. Just one kind phrase, as simple as “I am here for you,” or “You can do this.” This simple act can be immeasurably powerful. Try it now. Close your eyes, and give yourself a little mental love. It doesn’t have to be anything major. Feeling your hair today? Really proud of the dinner you cooked for the kids (whether they ate it or not)? Give yourself a little love and gratitude for it. A big misconception people have is that to make big, dramatic change you have to have to have big, dramatic actions. In reality, small, powerful actions, practiced over and over can create amazing, lasting change – for the good!
As some people may know, my personal mantra is “you are enough”. My goal is to repeat it, over and over throughout my day. When I start to forget, my thoughts start to be taken over by other, less constructive thought. Sometimes (often) I do forget, and get caught in the dangerous circular pattern of negativity. When this happens, I find my fuse shortening to, well, very short. My patience with my children becomes nonexistent, I’m ill-at-ease with everything and find myself flying off the handle – constantly. It’s very exhausting to be this crazy. The real bummer about all this is that I know I possess the tools to help with these kinds of feelings, but sometimes I just find myself unable to use them. As I’ve said many times recently, sometimes life is just freaking overwhelming, and we need a little (or a lot of) help to get back on track.
My favorite ways to help myself when I get caught in these cycles of destruction is to immerse myself in my yoga practice and meditation. Unfortunately, I am a person living in the modern world. In addition, I am a mother of three children, one of whom is still at home with me – all the livelong day. Total immersion in my yoga practice, and long meditation sessions are a distant dream. So I squeeze it in where I can get it, meditate for fifteen or twenty minutes here and there, and try and remember to repeat to myself, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day: “you are enough”. You. Are. Enough.