Two weeks ago, tucked under my covers and cursing the still-too-cold-April, attempting to sleep after a tough discussion, I felt crushed and thought “I’ve had enough of feeling like this” as I stared at the ceiling. I turned over and managed to count backwards until I fell asleep. When I awoke the next morning, the “I’ve had enough" feeling persisted, along with a desire for change. Before I climbed out of bed, I committed myself to making space for more positive thinking and dreaming. Moment by moment, day by day, I decided to commit myself to beginning a process. A process that I had put off (unintentionally), with a variety excuses such as well “this is a time of transition (i.e. in two months you don’t know where you will be living, what you will be doing, or how you will be getting by), of course it is hard” or “your life isn’t exactly as you had imagined it, of course you feel this way.” But two weeks ago, I decided enough with the platitudes, I’m striving for great, not just getting by, and I’m not waiting to start. Two weeks isn’t enough time to show consistency or deep change worthy of earnest reflection.
However, making a public commitment to a process of loving yourself fiercely and re-writing an openly positive narrative takes brave words, quiet trusting moments, and the accountability of self and friends.
Quieting the voices
Long discussions with friends [and, just about everyone I meet] have left me certain that I am not the only one who battles internal voices. Much of the time, these voices urge me forward, empowering me, nudging me to take a risk---but every once in a while, they catch me off-guard and fill my heart and mind with self-doubt. On the suggestion of a friend, who recommended a new practice, I am spending a few minutes a day in front of the mirror. The goal is to repeat the phrase “I love you” to myself, until the self-judgment fades and my softer, self-caring side emerges. While it appears obvious, being accountable for loving yourself, actively, shifts your frame of reference to a more whole, more loving version of yourself. As Brene Brown says, this is where the “whole hearted” begin from.
The pesky surprise voices of doubt are now meeting some resistance.
Training and un-training muscles
Some of the cycles of thinking I fall into [or rather, allow myself to fall into], I have developed and practiced over years. Their less than blissful cycles interrupt my day. As one of my favorite blogs wisely notes, “years and years of training were required in order for your mind to reach its current level. This is your work. And just as it was trained, it can also be untrained.” As I try to re-formulate my brain around positive thinking, I feel resistance from old patterns of thinking. I feel that I am attempting to change the channel before an old show, one of self-doubt that I have seen before, plays a re-run in my mind. What does it take to break these and reconfigure the cycle? What if instead of thinking through the same pattern of thoughts, ending at the point I began, I vary the questions: What is the worst thing that can happen? I try to get underneath what is really going on.
However, some of the thought patterns are old habits, in some way comforting. They need to be thrown out the window into the beautiful spring air. Each time I break a cycle, I celebrate being one step closer to the person I want to be. Each minor win is a victory.
How do we dream new dreams? How do we know what to aim for? And, then how do we build the path there? Now, facing the end of my formal education, I am realizing that I don’t have set dreams for the next step or even the steps beyond that. Where I sit today was, in essence, the end of the “dream plan.” I don’t take it for granted that I have accomplished some of the goals I set for myself. Yet, this wonderful life must be bigger than that, there must be more I want. Of course, there are hazy visions of things I’d like to do and the person I want to become, but I want to continue to strive for understanding and visualizing that person and that place.
I want to put a stake in the ground and fight. One step at a time and the active decision to be happy, made at every second of every day.