I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like “hmm, that’s odd.” Or, “hmm, that doesn’t make any sense.” Or, “hmm, is that right?” It’s that subtle. And if you don’t pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it’s like getting thumped upside the head. If you don’t pay attention to that, it’s like getting a brick upside your head. You don’t pay attention to that – the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people’s lives. And so, I ask people, “What are the whispers? What’s whispering to you now?” —Oprah Winfrey
This is probably quite evident to even those who don’t know me very well, but I overthink EVERYTHING. I also happen to be rather emotional and kind of sensitive, even though I like to pretend that I’m not. I can be so anxious about something on the inside that I want to vomit, while simultaneously broadcasting the outward facade of sublime confidence and calm. I can hold myself together in the face of upsetting circumstances in front of others, only to utterly disintegrate into sobs and snot once I’m alone.
Yesterday was a sob and snot day. I almost broke my personal code of ethics against crying at work more than once. Even though it is a new day today and I am feeling much better, I really couldn’t put my finger on any one thing that made me so upset. I think that it is really a constellation of things that I had been ignoring.
Despite not being an Oprah fan, I really like this quote. When something is bothering me and festering, I have realized there are always warning signs. Some examples include:
- Watching a lot of TV
- Sleeping/napping/daydreaming a lot
- Eating things I wouldn’t normally eat (aka, junk food) or overeating healthy food
- Avoiding social interaction/isolating
Usually, these things signal that I am trying to escape something – a feeling or a thought – so I use these things as a distraction to keep myself occupied and unable to actually process whatever it is I am experiencing. Eventually, if I let these warning signs go unheeded, one day, I just have an emotional meltdown over nothing in particular, which I think is kind of what happened yesterday. Yes, there was a specific stressor that triggered it, but my emotional reaction was not proportionate to the significance of the stressor. It was exaggerated.
It’s difficult for me to tell the difference between the times when thinking will help solve the problem and the times when thinking will just exacerbate the problem. That’s still a crapshoot for me. So when I do not heed those warning signs, it’s often because I mistakenly thought that thinking about it would make it worse, not better. So then, I get thumped on the head with a brick because I ignored the whispers for too long.
Here’s to hoping I’m not the only person who sometimes gets upset over seemingly nothing! However, I’ve figured out that usually this is all related to one underlying problem – not living life in alignment with my values. There are things I know that I need in order to maintain equilibrium. If I let any of these things get out of whack for too long, I start experiencing cognitive dissonance that starts as a whisper, progresses to a shout, and then ultimately morphs into some hard, blunt object that has an uncanny affinity for my head.
So, I decided to write down some guidelines for myself to help me remember what keeps me happy and balanced:
- Eat quality, healthy food in moderation (this also means minimal alcohol consumption – in addition to making me feel physically ill, I also find that it affects my mood negatively for 2-3 days afterward)
- Exercise consistently, but not excessively
- Sleep well and enough
- Spend quality time with friends
- Spend quality time alone
- Don’t take my job too seriously – it’s just a means to an end
- Stay present – don’t become too caught up in either the past or the future
- Be grateful
- Practice self-love, unconditional acceptance, and positive self-talk
These may seem like gimme’s, but I find that sometimes I get sucked down into the muck of life and lose perspective. I know that when I am incorporating the ten principles above, I am a much happier person. I am living life in alignment with my values and priorities.
More to come in my next post about my post-competition progress and my forray into Primal living…