“Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream.”
These are some of the lyrics to A Day in the Life by The Beatles and written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1967. Even back then the essence of a life on fast forward was established. If that was fast forward, today we are in hyper-speed. People are burning out, relationships and families suffering and our best friend is sometimes Facebook.
People often ask me how to balance all the crazy movement in their lives. They have too many responsibilities for too many things or too many places to be, without enough time to get there. Perhaps, not enough time to finish projects either at home or at work. The list could go on. Any crisis or transition in life upsets the apple cart and chaos happens.
My answer, altered a bit per person, is basically the same. Easy to tell you, yes I know, but developing these with practice into your way of thinking will ease your troubled mind and fatigued body.
Here is what I tell them:
Pay ATTENTION, be AWARE, have ACCEPTANCE
Pay attention to you. What are you doing and why? What is driving you to have the schedule or responsibilities you have? Are you a person who can’t say no to something? Are you trying to impress anyone, a parent, a boss, a significant other? Are you afraid of the consequences if you slow down? Are you over compensating for something else or trying to give your kids things you never had and believe they must have? Are you caught up in the idea of more means better? What drives you? What behaviors are you doing because of that drive? Is it realistic and healthy or is it killing you?
Be aware. Notice the behaviors you do over and over and get negative results. You stay up too late and can’t get motivated in the morning for example. Are you a creative, right brained person trying to fit into a left brained system without tools to help you compensate? Do you always get a double espresso and curse yourself for feeling jittery and snapping at people? Do you sign the kids up for too many activities and fine you live in your car and everyone is always exhausted? Do you believe you have a crystal ball or can mind read and try to base your decisions on faulty logic? We all have mindless behaviors. Behaviors we do all the time that cause us more harm than good. Be aware of them. Take a few moments every day (doesn’t have to be long) and mindfully explore a different, better way of doing something. Also, be aware that everything you think, feel and do are because of you and not someone else. Take total responsibility for your actions.
Have acceptance. Accept this is who you currently are and this is your life. It is yours of your making. Even if things have happened to you that have shaped your life, it is still yours. Accept what you can’t change and strategize a way to make the best of what you have. Harping, complaining, griping and gossiping are all maladaptive, often harmful behaviors. They typically accomplish nothing but more negativity and skewed realities. Remember the Salem witch trials?
Stop judging yourself or others for mistakes, thoughts of should have, ought to, must, have to, bad, good, stupid, idiot are all judgment words with lots of power. You don’t need them. They don’t help you or anyone else. All they do is add negativity and weight to your already haired life. You have a problem, accept it and be proactive in solving it to the best of your ability with what you have at this moment. This moment is all you have. The next moment may not be here. It’s now or never. You don’t like what someone else is doing, let it go. Getting angry and yelling at the driver ahead of you for going slow is your problem not theirs. Yelling at them won’t correct the fact that your behavior made time so tight an incident will flip your apple cart.
In essence, what I try to teach is to be mindful not mindless. Celebrate each moment. Find something good in everything even if on the surface, even if it’s not evident. If concentration camp survivors and prisoners of war can find enough positive thoughts to keep them sane, so can you.
Take five minutes today and sit someplace quiet, preferably with nature. Observe with your eyes, ears, nose and skin. Really pay attention to the stillness in the storm of our current society. Believe it or not, it is possible to have degrees if not complete stillness in our culture. You have to want it, look for it within you by becoming aware of who you are and what you want. Deciding what is really important to you. Be aware of the conflict between what you really want and what you are doing. Accept this is who you are and what your life is like now and start to strategize to make mindful decisions about it.
It’s your life and your responsibility. Own it, live it. Life is short and no one can take it with them.
ATTENTION, AWARENESS, ACCEPTANCE, BE MINDFUL NOT MINDLESS, LET IT GO
I see books all the time about the five types of relationship killers. It’s ashamed we stop at five because naming the top five may not hit on the bumps in a relationship. If you look at a lot of the social and psychological data on relationships, the list looks more like this. (Note these are not in order of most damaging to least. There is no way to do that as each entry has its own dimensions and they differ couple to couple).
- Communication issues
- Dependency vs independency
- Ineffective problem solving or arguments
- Changes in sexual desire
- Affairs/one night stands/porn/excessive flirting
- Life Stress: job/unemployment/death/chronic illness/sudden illness/mental illness/increase in responsibilities/aging/moving/life style changes
- Taking the other for granted
- Rushing into a phase in the relationship too quickly: weddings/babies/retirement
- Lack of trust
- Lack of Intimacy: feeling like you have to hide who you are due to fear of being unlovable/ no physical intimacy (touching)/ feeling like you have to be someone else to be loved
- Lack of care: feeling like you are uncared for or your partner does not understand you
- Judgementalism: feeling like you are always scrutinized, you can’t do anything right or being perfectionist and believing you can’t do anything right.
- Tests: partner sets up little tests to see if you pass and are worthy of trust/love
- Unrealistic expectations: if this is love, why am I so miserable – expecting partner to meet or fix your inner emptiness or meet unrealistic expectations or fantasies
- Lack of contributions in household, family responsibilities
- Raising kids
- Comfort levels
- Different goals in life
- Step parenting
- Mistakes: shutting down due to fear of making a mistake, making things worse
- Living in the past
In the next couple weeks, I’m going to address each of these risks and discus them in more detail. In the mean time, what is important to know is that while these can range in metaphor as a splinter, dagger or serial stabbing.
What one couple sees as a serial stabbing another might see as a splinter. Why the difference and which couple is going to ride the wave and come out feeling connected? The quick and easy answer is in fluidity and desire to the commitment.
Fluidity means the ability to bend and not brake, to see the whole picture and not hyper-focus on one detail. Think about your relationship as a porcelain bowl, for example. If you drop the bowl into a swimming pool full of water, it will get wet, but most likely will stay intact. If you drop it in the sand, depending on the height you drop it; it might stay intact or crack. If you drop it on concrete – it’s shattered – almost every time.
There are ways to make you more mindful – more fluid. Keep in mind, however, that you are only one person in a relationship. The strongest relationships have fluidity in both partners.
Until next time….