As promised, I am keeping people updated during this process via my blog, and thought I'd "check in" after my first week or so. Upon reading my last blog, someone asked me what my first step was, and that's an excellent question. Besides the obvious answer of deciding to do this, my first step is to start to adjust my thinking. Actually, before I can even do that, I have to know what thinking to adjust. On closer observation throughout this past week, I caught causing my own stress, in a variety of ways, numerous times. Whether it was doing something for someone else at the expense of myself, letting my brain get ahead of me and extrapolating a long list of difficulties that hadn't happened yet, or just not taking a step back and taking a deep breath, I was amazed at how aware one can become of their actions if they only look for them. I was further amazed at the number of times that the cause of the stress was me, and how much I could help myself if I just focused on these more closely. As the old adage goes, though, easier said than done.
I do want to be clear on one point before I continue: I'm in no way saying that I was exaggerating things that weren't actual concerns. I've had a lot of major personal blows in the past few years and I certainly have had every right to be upset, frustrated, stressed out, hurt, you name it. However, in paying attention to myself, I realized that some of my reactions to these did more harm than good, and that in dealing with the situations, I was hurting myself further. I can't necessarily help it if others hurt me (other addressing it with the persons involved to prevent it from happening again). I can, though, not make it tougher on myself.
With that out of the way, I'll continue. I've realized that observing myself in this way could take a few weeks. It's one thing to notice an action or thought in a particular instance - that's a great start. But building the capacity to catch oneself regularly and make adjustments, until you notice those actions occurring less and less, is quite a process. Furthermore, making these changes in a wide variety of situations - good moods, bad moods, at home, away from home, alone, in the company of others, and so on adds to the complexity. I'm considering documenting the actions I notice to see what trends I find, so that I can break down the various actions and situations. They say it takes six weeks to form a habit, and I'd say that's probably right. For someone with a lot of energy and little ability to wait like me, this practice of patience could be the most troublesome part of the task. I'm hoping to resurrect my meditation and yoga practices (or at least one of the two at the moment) to assist with this patience issue. My inability to have patience comes from, I believe, my need to feel I am always moving forward in a process. Even if it's just one tiny baby step a day, this forward progress gives me the motivation to keep moving and the confidence that I'm on the right track. Does anyone have any tool for working on patience or lack thereof? I'd love to hear it!
Now for something slightly unrelated but not completely, I leave for Peru Wednesday (the 29th). It's a combination of business and pleasure, and it certainly fills the "do something for yourself" requisite. I'm incredibly excited. Travel virtually always helps me reflect, clear my mind, and just have fun, and I think this trip will be great for that. If I don't get to post while I'm away, I'll update when I return. Until then, thanks for reading and I look forward to your thoughts!