My internal weather has felt really gloomy over the past two months.
It started when I had sinus surgery back in March and it went on and on, and got worse and worse.
I have felt feelings of depression, hopelessness, low self worth/self esteem, grief, and anxiety – just to name a few. I’ve largely felt like I’ve been at war with myself internally…not liking what’s happening inside me and going to battle with myself for it.
Here are a couple of major contributing factors:
- My sinus surgery and our subsequent travel plans meant that I couldn’t work out for a month. I am continually blown away (not an exaggeration) at how much of a positive impact working out has on my sense of well being. Even beyond that, I got out of my morning routine and it turns out what I do to start my day really does matter.
- I have been in what our coach Charlie calls a “grief sludge” – missing my mom so deeply and realizing what her loss means to my life. I am homesick for a place that no longer exists – my mom and her home.
Two months is a long stretch for me to feel so shitty – I haven’t felt this heavy for this long in quite some time. I certainly have tough days or weeks but then I return to baseline … and that just wasn’t happening this time.
Part way through, I realized I was doing something that was really helping me continue on in the face of it all:
I was intentionally calling to mind things that I know to be true, but that I was doubting because life felt so hard.
These things are truths that I have experienced at a deep level. Though my low mood or dark mind might try and convince me otherwise, I can see through the illusion and know that it is still true, even if I don’t feel it at the moment. And doing so brings me real comfort.
For example, here are 4 truths I have been intentionally remembering:
- Everything is constantly changing. Nothing lasts forever. This situation, these feelings WILL change.
- I don’t have to believe my thoughts. They’re just thoughts and they come and go. The Buddha encouraged his followers to “not be bothered by their thoughts”. I can notice them and when needed, direct my attention elsewhere.
- I am whole, worthy of love and belonging – just because I am a human being on the planet earth. I don’t have to hussle for my worthiness (as Brene Brown says). I am enough.
- The reason life feels hard is because that’s just how life is sometimes. Like the Buddha taught – in life, there is suffering. We need not take it personally or be surprised when it happens. And we can know that we share this experience of difficulty with everyone in the human race who has ever lived. I’m not alone in that.
Remembering these truths in painful times feels like a lifeline to me. Like a buoy, they’re something I can hold on to and stay afloat until the waves settle down and the storm passes.
So, what do you know to be true that you might call to mind and intentionally remember when life feels hard?
I’ve found that it’s helpful to make a list of these things when life doesn’t feel hard. Start a note in your phone or a page in your journal. You can even write it like you’re writing a letter to yourself when life is hard. What does that version of you need to be reminded of – what is a truth that you know deep in your bones?
(As an aside, I used to do something similar back in my binge-eating cupcake days. I’d write down how awful I felt after ingesting that much sugar at once. The next time I was tempted to buy a dozen cupcakes and down them all, I’d go back and read what I had written, remembering the reality of how it actually made me feel. Doing so really helped me put a stop to this habit and move towards more mindful eating.)
I’m happy to report that I am feeling much better now. I’m so grateful to feel some lightness, capability and aliveness inside of me again. Thank goodness for truth #1!!
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