Today’s post is a tag-on to my neurotic series on self-care. If you want to read the preivios posts you can find them here and here and here and here. Be forewarned, I am no expert on self-care. In fact, I pretty much fail at it. I’ve only become aware of this sorry fact recently, so I’ve decided to share my stumbling steps to better health on my blog (lucky you!). These post are mostly musings, so if you want a day-by-day update, go follow my Acts of Bravery page. While you’re there, say hi and share your daily brave with me.
I’ve never been a girl who likes change. I fight it with everything within me. I’m that person who picks a restaurant because the one item I always order on the menu sounds good.
Maybe it’s because I moved around so much as a kid. I know what sudden and irrevocable life-change feels like first hand. Maybe it’s a personality thing. I move slow, think deep, and take my time making decisions. Or maybe it’s because I’m such a type-A, driven, highly motivated personality. I have goals. I’ve planned out steps to accomplish them. If my plans get changed, it throws off the whole achievement time-frame.
I despise wasting time. Unless I planned to, of course. And I’m a genius at creating systems to make life run smoothly, efficiently, and productively.
These systems are beautiful things, magnificent to look at. People always ask me to help them create systems for them. I live by systems and it’s a wonderful thing. Until it isn’t.
My adversary—change—and my hatred of wasting time, gets me stuck in ruts. Deep ones. Sometimes I stand on my tip-toes to try to see out of them. Sometimes I sink to the bottom, burrow in, and make a day of it.
Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about.
Let’s define ruts as a system that no longer serves us well.
As I’ve contemplated my ruts over the last few weeks, I’ve identified two disastrous ones that no longer serve me well.
Let’s start with my morning routine. Years ago, I used to wake up early, make a steaming cup of coffee, have my quiet time, meditate, and slowly start my day. It invigorated me physically, emotionally, and mentally for the rest of the day.
Now every morning, I make my cup of steaming coffee, sit on the couch and stare into space trying to work up the energy to do something productive. Usually, I scroll through Facebook (gasp) wondering, since I’m royally wasting my morning, why I ever got out of bed in the first place.
So stop it, right?
If only it was that easy. This system is a deeply entrenched habit. Those aren’t so easy to break.
“So how do we break the rut?” we wail together.
I have no idea. But over the last week, I’ve given it a ton of thought and came to a conclusion. It starts with grace. It starts with patience. It starts with self-forgiveness.
I see you staring at me blankly. What does grace and patience and self-forgiveness have to do with changing a habit.
Maybe you’re kinder to yourself than I am, but when I get those signs that I’m about to crash (fatigue, lack of motivation, getting sick, the “I don’t wanna” feeling, pain, on the verge of tears, etc.), my MO is to suck it up and press on. Who has time to take a nap? Or deal with a sore throat? Or have feelings? Ridiculous! Man up soldier!
But that’s SO MEAN!
I would never tell my daughter or my best friend or even someone I just met that their feeling are ridiculous. I would tell them to take care of themselves.
We know we need to be nice to ourselves, we know we need rest, and self-care, and sometimes we are great at it. But sometimes we fail miserably. This is where patience and self-forgiveness come in. Habits take time to break. I’ve sat in that same spot on the couch, drinking my coffee for ten years.
It’s automatic. It’s not even a thought. Sometimes I find myself staring and scrolling without any awareness of making a conscious decision. Instead of getting pissed off and spiraling into the “I’ve wasted my whole day and now everything is ruined” poisonous thoughts, how about a mental pat on the back? How about a, “That’s okay, Rachelle, you got this. Put down that phone, now it’s time to write”? How about smiling because I know I’m slowly making progress to break the habit?
Hard, I know.
The second kind of rut feels too vulnerable to share. But this is the worst kind of rut and steals life, so I’m going to flay myself open once again. I don’t even know what to call this rut. Maybe we’ll call it the nameless rut, because I bet we all have one, but it manifests in different ways.
Let me describe it. It’s a longing for the past. A yearning for something that is gone. Not letting go. It’s living every day, holding onto that something or someone or someplace that is gone and never will be again, unable to embrace the reality of what is now.
Let’s use me as an example. About three years ago I had a life altering crime committed against my family. I lost relationship with my sister, three of my closet friends (we dubbed each other our tribe), and an entire church family because of it. Victims of a crime, losing everyone in my life because of it?
But did I?
As I look around me now, I have an army of people who love me. I have deep and true relationships with six amazing women, not to mention my college friends who would die for me. My relationships with my husband, son, and daughter have never been closer. My life is exactly how I want it. I write, I travel, I work with my dad and make a little extra spending money that’ funds my indie publishing career goals, I have the best kids ever, my husband adores me, I love my neighborhood. Life is good.
No, life is AMAZING.
Which begs the question: Why am I holding onto a past that no longer exists at the expense of my current amazing life?
Your guess is as good as mine.
We’ll call it a rut.
I wish this rut could be easily climbed out of and left behind. God knows I’ve tried doing that a few times. But I keep waking up and finding myself right back in it.
Maybe I need to fill it in with dirt. Like a grave. Deep breath. Because that’s what it is right? A grave. What I’m holding onto is dead. Nothing will bring it back to life. And why would I want it to?
What I had then was amazing. I was all in.
What I have now is different, but just as amazing.
How do I fill in that rut/grave and jump all in to my current amazing life?
Maybe it starts with those other things I said above. Grace, self-forgiveness. Maybe it’s looking at the past as a fond memory, like baby pictures of your kids or that vacation you loved. And maybe it’s time to stop fighting against it and accept it. Yes, life was good. Yes, the loss of it hurts. But let’s stop bottling up the pain. Let’s stop fighting it. It exists, like it or not. The loss will never go away, but maybe the sting will? Maybe, if we release the pain, if we look at it for what it really is, let the pain wash over us, feel it, and choose to smile anyway it will lose some of its power? Because right now, in this moment, with this current life, what isn’t there to smile about?
How about you? What rut keeps you locked into habits that no longer serve you? In what ways can you give yourself grace and self-forgiveness enough to start making those small changes to climb into the light? And remember, you are not alone. I’m with you! We got this!