Lately, I’ve been thinking – what if we stopped trying so hard to fight life?
How much energy would we free in our lives if we focused on living in the present?
Let me back up.
A few days ago I woke up annoyed. Just really irritated by the fact my alarm was blaring and I had to wake up.
It was Saturday, and the workweek had been brutal. I was feeling inexplicably tired and it took all of my energy just to swipe my pin across the screen of my cell phone.
Even though I was aching to roll over and get back to my dreams of Ryan Gosling and I playing beach volleyball, I had set a pretty hefty to-do list that I knew I had to wrestle with.
So, even though I was tired, and not feeling in the best of spirits, I forced myself to get up anyway.
First, I prepared breakfast for my fiancée and myself. When he said he wasn’t hungry, I snapped at him.
I was as hot as the eggs still sizzling in the pan. How dare he refuse my breakfast! How could he not appreciate all of the effort I had put in to start his day off right? Didn’t he know how tired I was?
Here I was sacrificing my time and energy and he didn’t even have the decency to force himself to eat.
Next, I debated with myself for an hour about getting started with my to-do list.
Every time I would begin, I decided that I needed to check Facebook really quickly or respond to a funny email. “I have plenty of time to do everything,” I began to rationalize.
But as soon as the thought appeared in my mind, my inner critic stepped right in to remind me that I was being lazy and selfish.
So I buckled down, because being lazy and selfish are not admirable qualities.
And again, the resistance to getting to work bubbled up from my chest into my throat. I wanted to scream. I AM TIRED!
But then, my parent voice took over. I know you want to rest, but you can’t because you have commitments. And life isn’t always about doing what you want, when you want to.
And on and on it went until I realized the truth:
So much of my time and mental energy was spent on trying to fix and resist the truth that would have been so much easier to simply accept.
Yes, just accept it. Without the harsh criticism. Without wishing for things to be different. Without rationalizing, blaming, or exploding.
We live in a world where self-care is seen as a luxury. We are taught to feel guilty if we want to take a day off or spend our time just relaxing.
And, while it is true that we can’t always do what we want, is it possible to find a balance to accept how we are feeling and what we need, and to try to honor those emotions for what they are?
It comes down to making a choice in perspective.
I can choose to beat myself up for feeling tired and unmotivated, and view it as some sort of weakness or moral failing.
However, this doesn’t make the feelings any less present or real.
They are there, in my face, happening in the now. I could continue the endless battle against what it, or I can accept the fact that those emotions are completely natural and normal, and they do not reflect on my value as a person.
Letting go of how I “should” feel allows me to focus on how I do feel, and then a world of choices opens up. Let’s take my tired example from above. After acknowledging my exhaustion, there are several directions in which I could go:
- I can take a short nap and try to work later.
- I can do one or two tasks on my list, take a break, and then continue with the rest of my list.
- I can review my list to see what is crucial to get done today and leave the rest for another time.
- I can choose to honor my need for some relaxation and leave all the work for Monday.
The simply act of acceptance magically changes me from a helpless, whining mess without options to feeling in control.
This horrible thing isn’t happening TO me.
By accepting what I feel and learning to work with it, as opposed to repressing the emotion or trying to change it, I become empowered in my current reality.
It’s really that easy.
And if you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a little resistance to that word. If it’s too easy, it can’t be the “right” way.
But is there a right way?
And if there is, why does it have to be so hard? Does the route to joy really need to be filled with potholes and detours and torrential downpours?
I’m voting no. What about you?
Today, I’m waving my white flag. I am surrendering to my emotions and accepting them as they come.
I want you to ponder this:
What would it feel like for you to stop fighting your feelings?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!