Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why I Cried in the Shower #TheBestofMe

Lessons about letting go and power can come when you least expect it. This can be great, as it reminds me that opportunities for growth are present in every difficult moment. Also, that my optimism about growing as a person can make the difficult situation in question easier to bear.

One day I'll be like: something shitty happened. First thought: yay! A chance for growth and enlightenment!

This past weekend was my last weekend before the new semester started. Naturally, this looming "deadline" gave me a pressing urgency to get done some (a lot) house projects that I’d intended to finish over the holiday break. So I spent both days running around from project to project, hardly stopping to catch my breath.

Then on Sunday I had a tantrum (crying and all, I’m ashamed to admit), in my shower. Now…what happened? 

Was it that applying grout was especially challenging? No
Did a giant spider jump on my face? No.
Did I get injured or the house explode? Nope and nope.

Here’s what happened:

1.       I undervalued the importance of self-care.
I ate very little on Saturday or Sunday and yet I worked a lot. Ditto sleep. My body and mind (as that requires calories too) were hungry and tired. And when you’re hungry and tired it is harder to focus, complete projects, problem solve etc. I seem to forget this when I'm working. I neglect my physical needs in order to get the work done.

Sure, one day if I'm on the battlefields slaking my bloodlust, this tendency will come in handy.  But in my current "fat and contented house cat" life, I’m realizing a sandwich and a nap is just as important to Buddhahood as meditating. Sure, one day I may transcend beyond my blood sugar levels, but for now, I’ll just heap on the avocado. This is directly related to the fact that...

2.       I didn’t take enough breaks.
Kim loves to remind me of the time we hiked 12 miles in one day and I was a tyrant because I didn’t want to take any breaks. Well, this is a pretty good example of how I approach life. When I need to do something, I power through. I LOVE to power through and while it is important in some cases, it is equally, if not more important in other cases to break it into smaller bites. Part of it is about taking care of one’s self, but it’s also about being your best in a situation. You are not your most powerful in a moment, if you're worn down. Being fully present, resetting, so that you can go at it again with renewed vigor is a good way to be your strongest in a moment.

3.       My unnecessary standards created “war” where there was none.
No one MADE me do all the house projects this weekend. No one was going to show up at my house and make fun of me if I didn’t finish painting the kitchen. No one was going to take my house away because I “neglected” it. So why did I get so upset? Because I wanted to get it done! I’d put “paint the cabinet doors” on a list! Now it was mocking me every moment I didn’t scratch it off! This kind of false imperative is something I’m quite guilty of. And while it’s true it can be motivating at times, it’s a two-headed beast at best. It can turn on me and control my actions just as easily.  And applying these demands did nothing but stress me out and rob me of a nice quiet weekend before another hectic semester. No one did that to me but me. And this self-policing compulsion seems complex, so I will probably have to explore it more at a later time.

So you might be asking by now, “Kory, what the hell does this have to do with power and your 2016 Power Project?” To which I have an answer:

Sometimes being weak is simply a matter of giving away your power.

This weekend I weakened myself by imposing horrible standards and then not taking care of myself while I powered through tasks. I essentially tied both my hands, skipped meals and said “Now, through the hoops!”

In this case, I didn’t give it away to anyone in particular, but I gave it away nonetheless. And there are some things I could have done differently. I could have employed more positivity and enthusiasm. Instead of getting mad about the work, I could remind myself “working on your house is fun!” Realized that my desire to have it ALL done by 8pm on Sunday was unrealistic and too demanding. So cutting myself some slack was in order too, as well as the self-care and breaks I mentioned before.  Lastly, an appreciation for progress—sure, I didn’t get everything done, but the cabinets look good! The basement is tidy! The sink is fixed!  I could have practiced gratitude that I have a house at all (side-eye to the Syrian refugees. Hope to god they haven’t heard my drivel over here).

All of these actions: enthusiasm, positivity, gratitude and appreciation come from a place of strength. If I’d eaten some breakfast, maybe I would have remembered that.

I think this is also connected to the idea that "you are your own worst enemy". Most of us expect too much of ourselves, are the most critical of ourselves, and cut ourselves the least slack. So perhaps being powerful is about being gentle with myself first and foremost. But I think the intersection of gentleness and power is a contemplation for another day.

For now I'll simply close with what I learned: Letting go of my need to finish all the things--my all or nothing mentality--would have improved my fortitude in that moment. And that sometimes power isn't about acquiring MORE strength and dominance over a situation, but about recognizing the power you already have.

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