It’s the 5th week of a self portrait every week for a year. 2 weeks ago I discovered boundaries, and last week I discovered I didn’t need to be nice all the time. So far, those changes have been going pretty well. The boundary thing is tricky, because when you’ve spent your life not having any and then suddenly develop some, it changes personal dynamics with lots of relationships. So does suddenly growing a backbone and standing up for the things I need in my life, (or don’t need). My new phrase is “That doesn’t work for me.” It’s a nice middle ground between “well, I guess that’s OK” and “Oh yeah? F you!”
So really, I’m not bitchier, but I am becoming more assertive, and I like it. And I think, for the first time ever, if push came to shove, I really could be kinda sorta bitchy if someone started trampling over my newly grown boundaries. So that’s a start!
All of that has led to a kind of evolution of thought. Before, I couldn’t stand time to think by myself. I liked yoga for the workout it gave my body, but not for the meditative stuff. I liked to have lots of stuff going on around me, lots of stuff in my life, lots of chaos keeping me from having to sit still for a second. I’m beginning to see why. Because I never really valued my own self, I never really was at peace inside. I never really respected my internal dialogue, but rather judged it pretty harshly. Common thoughts:
“You don’t really need that”
“Don’t be so selfish”
“Why can’t you just deal with it?”
“If you were a better person, it wouldn’t bother you so much”
“You’re supposed to be meditating, why can’t you just stop thinking?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Stop thinking so much and just go do more important stuff.”
“it doesn’t matter, don’t let it bother you.”
“Just get over it. You are so weak!”
My own judgments betrayed me. If the inner me were a real live person, I couldn’t stand her harping and judging and meanness. I was no friend to me.
It’s like my brain was a room full of thought balloons trying to reach the ceiling, and I kept running around popping them back down with my hands. They’d always rise back up again, and I was continually forcing them down. Between the move this year, and getting rid of all the stuff that I kept around me to keep me busy, and moving around in the RV, and just general life stuff, I just couldn’t run around mentally anymore. All the thoughts and feelings just kind of rushed up and exploded like a balloon volcano.
At first, it was extremely uncomfortable to feel so much. But I started reading The Miracle of Mindfulness
(oy, you should see my book pile of stuff I’m reading all at the same time…)
There’s this quote in there:
“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.”
and I love it. I can allow myself to think whatever feelings or wants or needs I have without judging them. They simply are. What I choose to do with them is another thing, but their initial existence simply is.
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz”
Sometimes even the worst of emotions, when only watched without judgment, floats away after a while. It feels marvelous. It feels kind and gentle to myself. Consequently, at the same time that I am getting a little bitchier externally, internally I am softening up.
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
— Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Library)
Be mindful, be gentle, be kind to yourself.
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