Trying to Find Peace When The World is Bananas
I don't know if you guys have heard, but there's a global pandemic happening. The news mentions it every once in awhile, and it sounds pretty serious. People have been like, punching each other and stuff over face masks. There have also been these big protests responding to police brutality and racial injustice. Fires, looting, lots of arguing from both sides, the whole shebang. What else? There's a Presidential election in November. Not sure if you have seen the ads or not, but Person 1 says Person 2 is stupid and Person 2 says Person 1 is stupid. It doesn't get heated at all. Oh! The Pentagon also released UFO videos (you might have missed that, because no one cared due to the global pandemic). Agh! One more thing. If you haven't been following the Epstein situation, it sounds like some pretty big people are being accused of some pretty disturbing things. (I can go deeper into this, but will stop with Epstein so I don't get too off track. Email me if you want to chat about this further). I would be remiss if I didn't mention all of the single use plastic being thrown out and all of the masks and gloves ending up on the streets and in the oceans because of CoVid. And don't even think about bringing your reusable bag to the store anymore, you germ carrying freak.
Needless to say, it seems like the world has a decent amount of craziness going on- batshit, dumpster fire, train wreck, B-A-N-A-N-A-S, straight up panic button hysteria. Like, does peace even exist anymore? It can give a person a touch or two of anxiety, no? I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced some toss and turn nights over world events. A good thing about chaos, however, is that it is a handy dandy opportunity for growth. Personally, I feel like I have been stretched and tested in so many ways since the middle of March. Depending on what news or information you are following, supposedly we are in the midst of a Great Awakening, and I am hoping what I have been following is right- that on the other side of all this chaos, uncomfortable-ness, and turmoil, we will come out on the other side a more peaceful and enlightened society. Please, for the love of God, let this be true.
One big theme over the past few months for me has been managing my anxiety better. By better, I mean that before I was doing a piss poor job of letting cortisol take over my body, turning me into a high strung, bad tempered witch person. Thank you quarantine, for shedding light on this for me. Sometimes you need to step back to have a better view. Once I realized that the craziness of the world didn't stop during quarantine, I have mandated for myself that stress management be a top priority. I thought I would share with you what I have been doing to find peace inside this bonkers clown house we call society.
1.) Notice my feelings. I know, I know, totally original concept I thought up all by myself. What quarantine showed me, however, was that I would get totally caught up in the tornado of busy-ness and doing things, and acting like I didn't have one second to do anything for myself, resulting in snappy and unpleasant behavior. I would know that I was stressed, but acted like I couldn't do anything about it. Now, I am able to recognize the cyclone of anxiety during the beginning stages. I try to lasso the cyclone before it gets out of control and takes down mental power lines and tosses emotional vehicles all over the place.
2.) Lasso the emotional cyclone. How do I do this? As stated above, noticing is the first step or else I'll be in the middle of it flailing around and stress eating cheesecake bites that my neighbor made me before I know it. Once I have noticed that I am getting anxious, I have a little chat with myself. Is what I am getting stressed over worth it? (Usually no). Does it have to get done this second? (Again, usually no, I just like to pretend my life is urgent and important). Can I ask (nicely) for help if I need it? (Yes. Stop being a bitch). Is it as big of a deal as I am making it in my head (No. I can be pretty dramatic). Honestly, the questioning alone has led to so much more inner chill. I am a clean freak and one of my biggest things would be letting myself get all worked up over folding laundry and cleaning the bathroom. Is freaking out over crumbs and oil spills on the stovetop worth my mental sanity? I have found out not really, and I am trying to develop a better balance with cleaning so that I can enjoy my space but not go on a rampage if I haven't vacuumed in two days. This has carried over into other areas of former stress. I realized it is my CHOICE whether I want to let a situation send me over the edge, and I'm choosing peace, man.
3.) Slow down. Slow down? This is the last thing I want to do- I have to GET. THINGS. DONE. The other day I was in a semi-manic state of wanting to get things done for BusyBody. I feel like I go through cycles where I have no good ideas or motivation and then there will be a week where I want to write 100 Instagram posts, send out a newsletter, put out a blog, and create a new product. I must take advantage of my fickle motivation before it leaves me and all I want to do is eat dill pickle potato chips and watch Property Brothers! But I did a really off the wall thing when I was in that manic, creative mode. I made myself meditate. Normally, I would say to myself, "I don't have time to meditate! I won't be able to concentrate because I have all these thoughts and ideas swirling about in my head! It will be a waste of time unless I can sit there as still as Buddha and achieve enlightenment in 15 minutes"! Which brings me to...
4.) Mindfulness practice. This can mean many things. For me, it's meditation, yoga, (which I haven't been able to do for months due to a chronic shoulder injury. ::slowly dying inside::), a walk in nature, brushing my cats, reading, journaling, watering my plants, or really anything where I root myself in the present moment and get out of my own head for a few minutes.
Back to my example above where I stopped during a flurry of activity and made myself meditate, I have to share a really important discovery that I have made about meditation: STOP THINKING YOU HAVE TO BE "GOOD" AT IT. Whaaaaaaat. It's true. If I had a "bad" meditation session where I felt like I couldn't concentrate, was thinking too much, or generally couldn't drop into that chill space that I find sometimes, my timer would go off and I would be a dick to myself and say stuff like, "You suck at meditation. That was a waste of time. Why can't you just RELAX, idiot"?! Side note: being a dick to yourself helps nothing, ever. Slowly learning that. I am discovering that it's more important to just take the time and TRY to center myself. It's the practice of catching my thoughts and focusing on my breath even if it lasts 5 seconds before the next thought comes in. I'm a beginner meditator, how can I expect myself to be "good" at it without practicing? I believe this stems from a natural athletic ability where I could pick up sports quite easily when I was younger and have brainwashed myself into thinking that this should carry over into all other aspects of my life. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.
5.) Setting boundaries. Again, thank you to quarantine for the ability to turn a critical eye on "pre-quarantine" behavior and lifestyle. It made me really evaluate what was important to me, especially in the "money vs. happiness" debate. Contrary to the programming that America has beat into us, I am choosing more happiness. I am over the American philosophy of working as much as possible, being seen as lazy if you aren't working a certain number of hours a week, and keeping up with the Joneses. Why do we think we are so cool for working 80 hours a week and never taking our vacation days? (Obviously this is a different story if you literally must do that to survive and put food on the table, and I am saddened to think that this is the case for some people in a country where we have so much wealth). What has this meant for me? Re-evaluating my work schedule, seeing where I can cut costs in my budget without changing my lifestyle too much instead of freaking out about bringing in more income, trusting that when I am working and living from a place of happiness and flow that money will flow to me as well, enjoying and having gratitude for all that I have right now, noticing and taking part in simple pleasures, and knowing myself and my limitations when it comes to creating work/life balance. Is there anywhere you can set boundaries around your time or energy? Can you carve out space for things that bring you joy? This has really brought me so much peace.
6.) Cutting down time on social media and reading news stories. Dude. This one is huge. I have watched a few videos on social media addiction and what the algorithms are doing to our behavior as a society and it is pretty profound. It has a huge impact on the spread of negativity and on our mood and self worth. It's pretty obvious any time you hop on any social media sites- lots of opinions, and lots of negativity if you don't share the same opinion. If you want to learn more about this, check out Jaron Lanier. Ironically, you can find his videos on social media outlets, but his information is very eye opening. The social media piece is hard, as I use it a fair amount to promote my business, and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do going forward. It is a fantastic free resource, but also a huge time suck if I am not careful, and it is really easy to get lost in comment sections while reading the sheer venom and unkindness that people spew at each other. Holy cow. I already am not on Facebook or Twitter, but am still active on Instagram. As of right now, I am really trying to just post what I need to post and not scroll. This is so hard. It's like my thumb has a mind of its own. I am also considering doing some big pushes to grow my newsletter list and almost exclusively connect with people that way, but we will see what I end up doing.
Besides cutting down social media time, I am also being careful about ingesting too many news stories. I have some issues with the mainstream media, and I am also prone to getting sucked into researching a lot of alternative theories, both of which can have a big impact on my mental space and personal energy. Whether you are consumed with conventional news or otherwise, you might find a little more peace by taking a break and doing something else that brings you pleasure- I bought myself a beginner's embroidery kit! I have been craving doing more creative things lately, it is so satisfying to create something with your own hands.
There you have it. All of my peace practices laid out for you. How have you been feeling? Unsettled? Or are you working hard to find peace as well? What's working for you? I want to know! Let me know how it's going in the comments below.
With all of the heated opposing thoughts and opinions running rampant out there, I hope that we can all continue to work on improving ourselves and our own reactions to negativity and unkindness. I hope we can be more gentle on people with different views than ourselves, knowing that our opinions and worldview came to be formed by our own experiences and what we have been taught to believe through our upbringing and certain institutions. I hope we can bring more of an open mind as things change and we continue to grow and evolve. I am learning to not have such hard and fast rules when it comes to what I think I know is right about the world. Perfect example- when I was younger, flared jeans came into style and I was vehemently opposed. I thought they were the dumbest, ugliest jeans in the world. "I will NEVER buy flared jeans!" I thought indignantly. Fast forward three weeks, and I was walking out of the mall with some flared jeans. This also happened when skinny jeans came into style. I didn't learn yet from the flared jeans scenario, and scoffed at how weird skinny jeans were. We can deduce that I now have a closet full of skinny jeans. Now, I know this is a flippant example, but I think it can be applied to many areas of our lives. It's a good learning lesson about taking it easy on the "ALWAYS" and "NEVER" declarations we like to make.
Sending you lots of PEACE and I hope we are all holding hands in a kumbaya circle someday soon wearing flared jeans or skinny jeans, or whatever kind of jeans you want.