Archive | February, 2015

Of course it’s happening in your head…but why on earth should that mean it’s not real?

28 Feb

 Once I have a conversation more than three times in a week about the same subject, I decide it’s time to write a blog post about it. The recurring topic this week was all about choices, reality, and being responsible for your life.

I have a few snippets from songs and quotes that have been looping through my brain related to this subject. One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite artists, Janelle Monae, is “You’re free but in your mind, your freedom’s in a bind.”

Let that sink in.

I see it everywhere. In myself and in others. It’s so easy to feel stuck—to think you are in an inescapable situation. A job that you just can’t quit. A relationship that you just can’t leave. A negative thought pattern about yourself that you can’t stop. I call BS. Every day you make a choice to continue those actions.

Yes, we live in a culture where there are societal norms. Yes, we are taught that the path to success looks a certain way or that we should strive to have certain things—a “good” job, a “great” relationship, an adorable dog.

But every day you wake up and choose to go through the motions of your life. Nobody is forcing you to do anything really. Yes, bills need to get paid, food needs to be eaten, we can’t all just sit around and binge watch “Orange Is The New Black,” on Netflix, but regardless, we have an incredible amount of freedom in our lives.

Nobody is forcing you to do anything. I had to repeat that because it’s so important. You are unequivocally in charge of your existence. You can’t control the world, but you can choose how you are going to live within it.

I’m a firm believer that the biggest obstacle in your path is yourself. I hold myself back constantly… “Oh, I can’t write a novel because I don’t write fiction,” or “I can’t make a website because I don’t have any design skills.” Any number of ridiculous and limiting excuses will come up when I want to do something— all created and plated by moi.

So we have the power to hold ourselves back indefinitely, but the flip side of that is that we have an amazing power to create our own realities. For me, the best illustration of this comes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Dumbledore says, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

I’ve already written about how Dumbledore is a very yogic figure (“Guru Dumbledore”), so I won’t get into that, but his words are striking.

You’re in the driver’s seat. This is your life. What’s in your head doesn’t have to stay there…it can be your reality. “You’re free but in your mind, your freedom’s in a bind.”

Take action to live fully and freely. How have you put your own freedom in a bind? Am I being too idealistic? Too millennial? Is our society not as free as we think it is?

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In the Valley

16 Feb

         Depression is a somewhat taboo subject in our society, but it’s something that we all go through and shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about. I’ve been in the valley for the last few months—depressed, drained, exhausted and generally not myself. Accomplishing the littlest tasks took an incredible amount of willpower and hitting the snooze button for at least an hour every morning before dragging myself out of bed became the norm.

I had weekends where I spent all day in bed, watching T.V. or reading, beating myself up for being lazy and withdrawn but feeling unable to get up and do anything about it. I felt stressed and apathetic, alone yet over-stimulated by the demands of friends, family, and work. At my parents urging, I started seeing a psychiatrist and have been actively working on well, myself.

I believe we’re not taught to take care of ourselves. Our value is measured on what we accomplish—how many widgets we produce daily, how many meetings and tasks we can cram into a week. We’re not taught that you don’t have to push yourself to breaking to be successful. We’re constantly connected, expected to be on point and available almost 24 hours a day. I got caught up in the overwhelm, unable to let myself slow down and just breathe. My energy dragged and I found out that I was anemic. I think it was my body trying to force me to stop, to reexamine what was and wasn’t working for me.

I’ve been working every day on trying to restore balance. The only way to get right with yourself is to get to know yourself. I’ve been focusing on introspection and self-awareness, spending time to check in and really examine what’s going on. It’s not necessarily comfortable. It’s not easy. It takes time, effort, and discipline, but the payoff is that I’m starting to feel like myself again.

A mentor of mine recommends a morning success routine that involves spending five minutes just free writing. “Downloading” whatever is in your brain. I’ve started doing that, and just scribbling down a few pages of stream of consciousness over a cup of coffee has transformed the way that I approach every day. I get things out on paper and I start to find patterns, I pick a theme for the day and focus on it as I go about my activities. I can’t recommend that ritual enough, and I am eternally grateful I’ve adopted it.

My best friend told me about a study where people were paired up and asked each other a series of questions and the study showed how feelings of intimacy were rapidly increased by asking those questions. One of my favorites was “If you knew you only had a year left to live, what would you do differently?” Thinking about that question has radically shifted the way I view my life. If I knew I only had one year left to live, I would love every moment, express gratitude for everything I had, and honestly just not really care as much. I’m not advocating being irresponsible or unreliable,but it’s the whole idea of not being attached to the outcome. Just do your thing and keep moving.

I’ve been in the valley but I think I’m on the upswing. I’ve felt like this before and I know I’ll feel like this again, but without the lows, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the highs. This post is for anyone who has been depressed, anxious, burnt-out, or just over it…so, everyone basically. Just take care of yourself, because honestly—nobody else will.