Flexibility and being judgmental
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
I am not talking about physical flexibility (although that is good too), but rather mental and emotional flexibility. Am I able to bend with under the weight of what comes my way... without breaking? Am I able to handle the vagaries of life with grace and poise? Am I able to find a balance between my needs and my responsibilities? Can I be what I need to be for myself, as well as what I believe I need to be for others? (which is a whole other topic, because I often get that one wrong!). And can I do all of that without getting on my high horse and passing judgement on other people’s choices and decisions? (Light topics, huh?)
Eight years ago I would have had to answer in the negative to ALL of the questions posed. I had no foundation of self esteem to support a healthy mental or emotional balance between my needs and others needs. I would swing from one extreme to the other... either I was solely focused on myself and my needs/wants, or I was so focused on others that I neglected myself and my needs. There was nothing approaching balance. I couldn’t bend (physically, or mentally) because I was drowning in fear. I am not saying that the fear is gone. Oh no, not at all... in fact, I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder that seems to be getting worse in the last year or so, but I believe I am handling even that with more poise than I was handling my everyday life 8 years ago.
I have a need for time alone (Well, time with just my dog), and I have a need for quiet companionship. For the most part I have found ways to achieve that on a daily or weekly basis. (I also have a need for simple, nutritious food.). But I have responsibilities in my family (out of love), to my friends (out of affection), to my fellow tenants ( out of proximity and simple compassion), and recently I have come to face the responsibility I will be facing as health care proxy to an old friend in rapidly deteriorating condition.
Do I bend or break?
I want to say that I bend like a flower stem in a high wind, not blowing over, or breaking... but simply bending over to raise my head once the storms have passed. I am not certain how accurate that description is though.
I get so overwhelmed emotionally and mentally that I have to find ways to escape for a little while.
I read a lot, and sometimes I just have to escape into a novel that I know has a happy ending no matter the travails that get to the happy ending... I don’t like reading depressing or really dark novels with no good outcome for any of the characters (and I dislike getting emotionally invested in a character only to have the author kill them off!) and a bleak or uncertain ending. I think that is why I like romance novels... happy ever after is a guaranteed outcome. I know it’s wildly unrealistic, but it feeds my optimistic side, and combats my cynicism.
Walking my dog is another form of emotional escape. Being outside with him, and seeing his joy at being in the world lifts my spirits and I focus almost solely on him and his needs, and get out of my own head, without having to meet any conversational expectations, or emotional demands. I just have to do my best to keep him safe and provide him with enough exercise and outside time to keep him healthy and happy... and he is generally pretty clear about what those boundaries are.
And the big hurdle/roadblock I need to watch for is being judgmental. I have found myself at various times saying or thinking things that were judgmental about another persons choices or decisions, without knowing where they were coming from mentally, or what was going on in their life. I keep telling myself that I don’t know what is going on in someone’s life unless they tell me, and I shouldn’t pass judgment on someone else no matter what their situation is, because they are generally doing the best they can given their circumstances. I may not agree with them or their choices and decisions, but I am woefully ignorant about what is going on behind the scenes of anyone else’s life (and sometimes even my own life!)... problem is I am human. We are hardwired to make snap judgements. Is this person safe to be around? Will this person help or hinder me? Questions like that zip through our brains and are answered one way or the other all the time. I believe it’s a defense mechanism? I know for me it’s self protection from being hurt again.
I have to pose the question to myself often “is this person/situation truly a threat?” And often they/it is nota a threat, though initially I perceived it as such due to past experiences.
So what changed eight years ago? For one thing, I found SparkPeople. I read the original book, got involved in the site, made friends, got active, changed my diet (though slowly at first), and began building one success on another. I found it life changing to see that one small seemingly inconsequential success could lead to another slightly more grand success... leading to tremendous successes. I am not solving world peace, becoming famous, or anything like that, but I am generally content within myself most days. I feel like I am allowed to have pride in my accomplishments, and my self esteem is higher than its been in my life (hopefully without being too prideful!)... I am working on balancing needs with responsibilities, and being a flower in the wind. Some days I am more successful than others. Just as some days I am better at not passing judgment than others. (I find when I am less content with myself, the more I tend to be judgmental towards others... hmmmm). I am definitely not aiming for perfection with any of this... just an awareness, and a good faith effort.
Are you a flower in the wind?