I recently made a commitment to make some drastic changes in my life. I removed the excess clutter in my home and began new daily habits of writing, meditating, reading, and exercising. I removed the TV from my bedroom and sold it. I removed social media from my phone, and I temporarily deleted my Facebook account in order to break the terrible habit of staring mindless at unimportant status updates from people I don’t actually have relationships with.
I began practicing not having my phone around me when playing with my daughter. My time with her is meant to be meaningful, purposeful, and without the distraction of checking my phone every five minutes. My job is to be present for her, not for the spam emails that keep causing my phone to ding. Learning that I could turn of my email alerts was extremely helpful for this.
Here is what I discovered. That like everything else in my life that I engage in, I struggle in giving it my full attention. Even though I adore my daughter and I am grateful for every moment that I have with her, I am distracted by the thoughts, judgements, and fears that are racing through my mind. Judgements of myself and my ability to parent.
As we are playing with Little People I suddenly realize that I have forgotten how to play. I forget how to use my imagination. How to think outside the box. I become so wrapped up in these thoughts about how I am not creative enough or not engaging enough, that I am no longer present in the moment. I am wrapped up in my thoughts and thinking only of myself and how the situation reflects on me.
My awareness of my thoughts and negative beliefs has become stronger since implementing these new daily habits into my life. What has become abundantly clear is that my negative view of myself and my abilities blocks me from everyone and everything in my life. It blocks me from my daughter, my family, my friends, my co-workers, the patients I care for – absolutely everyone.
My thoughts and negative beliefs block me from finding enjoyment in activities. Something as simple as taking a walk or reading a book has negative self-judgements attached to it. I think to myself, “why can’t you walk further than this” and “why isn’t your running improving “. Or, “Why haven’t you finished this book yet” and “why aren’t you smart enough to follow the reading”.
The increased awareness of how pervasive these thoughts and negative beliefs is a blessing. Sitting with my discomfort has been a powerful experience. I have been able to identify my judgmental and fearful thoughts when they occur and allow them to pass freely through my mind without attachment. I am no longer willing to give them the power to block me from the people I love and the activities I enjoy.
Today I spent the whole day home with my daughter. She was not feeling well and it was quite cold and windy outside. A full day in the house with toddler can be exhausting for many reasons and these days often make those thoughts and negative beliefs seem so much louder.
However, this afternoon I had an interesting realization. I was having an amazing time playing with my daughter. I was truly happy and in the moment. I was being silly, fun, imaginative and exciting. I was being the parent I have been so afraid I was incapable of being.
I realize this all sounds absurd. Even writing it I immediate think to myself – oh ok, sure, just let the thoughts pass through, no problem! – but it’s not that simple. What has been the true vehicle that allowed this shift is the implementation of new daily habits. In this case, the implementation of the meditation and writing have been particularly helpful.
I have done a great deal of meditation and writing in the past, however my writing was always formatted a specific way vs. now, I write freely without guidelines or structure. What has happened is I have been able to work through specific scenarios and the beliefs attached to them only to realize the beliefs just are not true. My thinking is dishonest in nature.
My dishonesty and fear have always given me permission to stay isolated from people. A protective coping mechanism in many ways. Most days I would go through life on autopilot, avoiding uncomfortable interactions and keeping myself busy. But when the chaos stops and you slow down, you no longer have the external noise to block out the internal noise.
It’s easy to lose yourself when life is moving so fast. Taking the time to remove the excess clutter and the distractions allows you the freedom to sit quietly and breathe. With that comes the awareness of where change needs to begin. More difficult is finding the willingness to change and the commitment to continue on this path. It’s so easy to allow those old patterns and habits to creep back in.
I have the ability to scrutinize and over analyze everything. To critique it, change it, poke holes in it, and alter it according to my mood and current desires. I can spin anything around to prove to you why it doesn’t work for me or why I do or do not need it in my life. I am the master at getting what I want out of any situation.
However today I am sticking with the basics. No over analyzing, no scrutinizing, no criticizing, and no unreasonable expectations of perfection.
Today I will meditate, write, read, and exerciser the best of my ability. I will continue to remove the excess clutter and distraction from my life and I will sit quietly and breathe. I will practice showing up without judgement, and when judgement arises I will acknowledge and let go. I will demonstrate living as I would want my daughter to live – with calmness, presence, purpose, and happiness.