The Best We Can
What can we do to avoid entering this sometimes dangerous cavern of numb or overstimulated?
Not too long ago we moved, and possibilities felt endless. I could shape my space, my schedule, build a local community. With technology I could keep in touch with all of my friends. Sounds pretty incredible, right? I felt pretty content, but I was having trouble experiencing the passion I felt before. My spark was absent. I was getting more and more frustrated with myself. Why wasn't I doing more? Writing more? Going to more yoga classes? Meeting more people? In general, why wasn't I working harder? You can see the slippery slope I was on. With the work I had done, and my educational background I quickly recognized what I was doing. But, I felt stuck. I felt some of the tamasic qualities of darkness and inertness. Like there was an invisible force weighing me down. But, at the same time I felt okay, and these contradictory feelings were confusing. I sought out support, which I recommend to anyone and everyone. When we are in the middle of our own story it can be challenging to see the bigger picture.
“Sometimes, we are doing the best we can....yes, our very best.”
She made a suggestion that surprised me. She asked if I was grieving the loss of all that I had left behind in my move. And...that made me pause. It felt so obvious. I was, and I am. I just hadn't allowed myself to consider that I could be excited about my new adventure, and experience the other emotions that accompany change at the same time. For anyone that has experienced something in their environment shift, it is not easy. With any change there is loss in order to make way for the new to spring forward. Think of the seasons, dying and decay is a natural part of the cycle. In all of my time working with others to manage grief, loss, and change I hadn't considered it for myself. I downplayed my experience, and kept expecting more.
I was doing the best I could. Doing my best sometimes means I am not as productive in my work, but I sit and reflect more often. It may mean that in order to be more effective, I need more downtime to be sad or lonely. It was liberating. It allowed me to let go of a little of the shame and guilt. I want to share it with you, Oprah style. "You are doing the best you can", and " you are doing the best you can." I think you get the picture. Because, permission to accept what you need, what you are feeling and experiencing on any given day is a gift.
You are doing the best you can.
We are surrounded by the achievements of others, their expectations of us, and our own expectations of ourselves. We walk a fine line between being determined, having discipline, and entering the dangerous behavior zone of pushing through. We become so determined, it can move us out of balance, and the subtle, deeper wisdom is drowned out by the noise of everything else. In my work I have seen many people dip a toe, or fully jump into burnout. "If I could just get through the week"..."once this project is done then I will"...."once everyone one else is settled, fed, happy I will"..."see to my own needs", "slow down", or "take a break". When this type of mentality continues for too long emotional and psychological exhaustion results. Clarity takes a backseat, our container becomes weak. It can impact our immune system, the quality of our sleep, and our relationships.
When we aren't clear and steady we may be unable to establish boundaries (dangerous for many reasons), and we may avoid our own feelings by focusing on the experiences of others. We may not feel we have the supports in place to deal with what arises. On the other end of the spectrum our ability to be empathetic may be dampened. When we are exhausted it is impossible to have space to connect deeply with others. There isn't energy for it. This is not uncommon in industries that involve a lot of trauma work, rigorous schedules, and/or lack prioritization for self-care. But, remember, we are doing the best we can with the circumstance we are in. So, what can we do to avoid entering this sometimes dangerous cavern of numb or overstimulated? What can we do if we are already there?
Let's keep it simple. Begin by being gentle. Approach yourself as you would a child. Maybe even imagine yourself as a child. Remember, we know you can get things done. This is not a suggestion to give up, and stop trying. Instead, it is an invitation to cultivate a sweet, forgiving, and loving relationship with yourself. As you become more sensitive you will start to see your emotions and physical reactions as indicators and messages from Divine inner wisdom. She wants to communicate with you.
Place you hand on your heart and take a moment to just be. Be with your breath. There is nothing you need to do, change, or achieve. Offer yourself forgiveness for the harsh way you demand more and more from yourself. Most importantly, I would like to encourage you to give yourself permission to acknowledge you are doing the best you can. If you are feeling overwhelmed it can be helpful to create some space for softness. Set a timer 5, maybe 10 minutes, and let yourself write down all the ridiculous thoughts as they arrive. They are shaping your story. Do not edit. Get them out of your body. NO ONE EVER HAS TO READ THESE THOUGHTS. And then, offer them to the fire of transformation (this can be a metaphorical fire). Ask yourself, what does it feel like to acknowledge that you are doing your very best in that moment? When you pause for a moment to check-in does the story change? Most of our thoughts and stories are not rational. We just haven't made time to check-in to realize the journey the mind takes. Are there shifts in your self-talk?
My path is one of developing a deeper compassion and love, and it begins with myself. I invite you to join me.