Are You Addicted to This Too?
Today’s post is a little longer than usual, because it’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately.
If you are like me, then you probably keep a stack a self-development books by your bedside, visit a few key blogs when you are feeling funky, have gone on a retreat or two in the last 2 years and/or enrolled in a program to improve yourself, your body or your business.
Maybe you treat yourself to a mani/pedi now again or put on a pretty shade of lipstick when you are not feeling so hot.
All things to help make you feel better, do better or be better.
Hoorah! Good for you for being proactive!
However, today, I want to ask you what your life would really be like if all of these feel better tactics were taken away?
I am talking no more journaling, gratitude lists, meditations or programs.
(Car screech. Say what?! Don’t worry. It’s just for the remainder of this post. Then you may have them back.)
In this day and age, we have access to a lot of self-development technology. We have programs that will help us become the happiest person we know, meditations that will help us make more money and exercise to help us not feel fat.
My guess is that this list of TRICKS you have learned to do when you are not feeling your Oprah Winfrey best self varies between:
Taking a walk
Writing in your journal
Going to yoga
Getting a massage
Not having sex
Enrolling in a new online course
Hiring a coach
Quitting your job
Starting a business
And I want to emphasize here that I think many of these things are ABSOLUTELY wonderful. And should be done! In fact, I rattled them off quickly, because they are all things I know intimately.
However, I can’t help but feel that lately we are obsessed with some of these “tools” no differently than how we were obsessed with leg warmers in the 80’s, grunge music in the 90’s all the way to our smartphones of today.
Sure, we might dress these FEEL BETTER tricks up in the “I am just getting in touch with my authentic soulful self” wrapping paper, but really, we often use them not just to feel better, but to avoid feeling crappy. (I mean who’s to say your authentic self doesn’t want to be raving pissed off today? It’s just a thought.)
We desperately want to avoid variations of not feeling good enough, feeling depressed, frustrated, ugly, broke, ashamed or afraid.
Some of the tricks have simply become a way to numb and escape the very real and uncomfortable feelings of our life.
And while sometimes, dear god, avoiding is necessary (ahem, binging on Breaking Bad after a bad day? Yes please), I often wonder what we would be left with if we couldn’t use some of the fancy spiritual machinery we turn to when we feel like crap.
How often do you dig into your spiritual tool kit just so that you don’t have to actually feel, look at, or address what you might be ashamed of feeling or what you may not want to admit to experiencing?
Would you actually still LIKE the person you were if you had to sit with the fact that you were angry, depressed, sad, broke or (gasp!) felt fat?
Lately, I have come to notice that when put in situations that make me feel deeply uncertain, insecure, or frustrated, if I don’t turn to one of “my tools”, it is almost as if I don’t recognize the person I am being. Or if I being honest, I don’t like the looks of her.
“Unacceptable!” my mind shouts. “Figure your stuff out, Stutland. Get it together. Otherwise, you’re gross/boring/lame.”
It’s as if these feelings of inferiority are so overwhelming, so dark, that we cannot, will not, let them live for another moment.
Instead, we will go take a yoga class, sign up for a program, get the latest self-help book, breathe. Return to center. Ah, much better. Now we are good humans again.
But before, when we were all anxious and irritated… unacceptable!
You see, it is very easy (and tempting) to channel that yucky energy into things that are actually GOOD for you.
We feel fat, so we go exercise.
We feel anxious, so we meditate.
We feel like we don’t have enough money/information/confidence so we enroll in a training.
All of these things can be AWESOME. They are AWESOME.
But if you didn’t do them or couldn’t do them, would you still be acceptable? (To yourself, really.)
People get down on others who are materialistic and collect a lot of things. We thumb our noses at them saying, “That guy with the Mercedes and much younger woman on his arm is having a midlife crisis. He just needs those THINGS to make himself feel better. He is so insecure.”
But who would you be without your self-development yoga/journaling/programs?
Probably not all that different than the guy having a midlife crisis. Someone looking to feel better, because life makes you question yourself sometimes. And that’s ok.
If you couldn’t read another self help book again, would you still believe like you were a evolving spiritually?
If you didn’t make 6 figures in your business, would you still believe like you were living up to your potential?
If you gained 10 lbs. while also teaching people about exercise, could you still feel that you and your information were of value?
If your answer is no, well today I am not going to tell you how to make it a yes.
(Because then I would be adding another tool to your toolbox. And today is about not using our tools:)
I am simply going to invite you to sit with. It’s a little uncomfortable. I know.
And guess what. You are still here, reading this next word.
You probably can handle more of it than you think. And maybe THIS is the authentic you. For today.
By now you might be thinking, but Erin, don’t you teach us some of these tools in Shrink Session, Magical Manifesters and on your blog? Well, indeed I do.
I do teach tools. I freakin’ love tools. They have certainly helped me get through some rough times.
But no matter how many tools I collect, I still have to deal with me. The real me. The messy and sometimes gross me.
And hey, baby, so do you.
Because when the stuff hits the fan, if you haven’t spent mano y mano time with you, there are really no tools that will truly make you feel better.
So my hope is that these feel better strategies are used wisely, at the right time and in the right ways. Not in all ways. Not all the time.
Mostly, my hope is that we all get better at being ok with the people we are today. In this body. In this moment.
My wish is that every time we feel the weight of real life, we don’t feel like we need to fix it or run from it but rather we trust deeply that we can handle it.
My dream is that in order to feel seen and acknowledged it doesn’t require us sharing every last detail of our life on Facebook.
My desire is that we let life in a little more rather than trying to control the chaos that it is some time.
Because life IS crazy. It’s wild. It’s unpredictable. And it doesn’t always tie up in a neat….