Changing moods appear to be the new fashion in my life, their colorful shapes hanging like Prêt-à-Porter clothes on a store rack. I pick up one, and then another, and another until is time to try a pile. The less I go into the fitting room the better. A couple of hours later I am leaving the store empty-handed and bewildered about how long it took me to come with such a disappointing result!
We all have our preferences, after comfort and simplicity, my clothes choices are usually monochromatic, and simple in lines. Shopping is not an activity I usually enjoy. I like being able to acquire beautiful things or supply my needs, it is the process that gets to me.
When I find something I really like, I buy it in pairs, or half a dozen, in different colors, and voilà, I am done for a long time! My sense of fashion might be too personal, yet I embody it with ease and confidence. I find pleasure in admiring taste and well-done pieces, is an art not only to create but to wear fashion, thus it is quite interesting that despite my love for aesthetics and poise, I wear my probably outdated outfits and styles with such confidence.
There is a sense of total acceptance and joy in feeling comfortable in my skin, combining what I have, or bring something new and bold into the mix.
But clothes are not the real topic I am exploring today…
Would you be so kind to wrap them for me, please?
Boy, it has been a weird time, if moods were clothes things might be easier. I would prefer to “shop” for my moods instead of having them imposed on me! Even if the imposer is me.
Spiritual growth paths, peak performance, consciousness studies, and quantum physics, all speak of the power of the mind to keeps us on track or derailed us. As someone trying to be mindful and invested in personal quests, I have spent thousands of hours reading and experimenting with tools and skills acquisition. However, it seems I still do not get it!
Quitting is not a choice either as there is something “strong” within me that allows numbness for a period, but is merciless concerning giving up.
The 7 years Itch?
While wondering when I have felt so helplessly down before, I was reminded of a period of drastic and unexpected change 7 years ago that somehow determined the path reaching an end today. Many good ideas came to be after the pain had been rescinded that helped me achieved a new level of understanding about life. Nevertheless, the long and lonely “crossing” was as tough to endeavor then, as it is today.
The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. Although mine has changed positively over the years, I am not satisfied. I reckon it is an important gain to be able to mindfully acknowledge when I am questioning or judging myself or role-playing the troublemaker characters in the repertoire or “inner critics and protectors,” living for free in my head. (They should pay rent). Evidently, I am starting a new period of change and all the old and new fears are acting out.
Being moody is a symptom that I crossed the threshold into a dimension where my doppelganger reigns and does as she sees fits while I, frozen in place, watch a movie I would never buy a ticket to. “If at least she could pick better scripts,” a voice in my head yells at the female lead who is no other than me.
Being stuck in a non-ending “life” class with no college degree at sight is frustrating and debilitating.
How to turn these feelings-thoughts around into something that would move me forward?
Selective shopper! Identifying, and cataloging moods
I might not be able to shop for my moods, but I can at least organize them by colors in my inner closet and spend some time ’indecisively’ choosing which to wear. At least I would a clear view of what they look like and where they come from.
Misery loves company!
It has been a long time since I heard this one, it is a particularly obnoxious truth as the drama queen asking for attention is no other than an identity, I have difficulty shaking off: the victim. Why would someone who finds drama queens extremely annoying is so tempted to whine and complain, is beyond me. Many “black moods” come from this rack. There seems to be a kind of alter ego with great escape skills that go loose and wreak havoc when triggered. The worst part is the addictive pleasure that such pain begets.
Chemistry of emotions
Emotional pain produces subtle changes in the body which create a dependency on stress-related chemistry. We become hooked on the familiar ways to respond to the powerful pull of innate emotions and our perception of events is not only biased but probably out of line.
Whew! My inability to break with habits is not just laziness!
Paying attention to patterns of thoughts, actions, posture, words, i.e., and understanding where they come from can help transcend the default responses and open ourselves to make sensible decisions, rather than react to impulses.
Survival is the root of my victim archetype
Humans fear not only physical literal death, but the demise of hopes and dreams weighs heavily too. We fear the loss of our identity, the sense of self.There is a strong belief deep within the victim that we do not deserve to shine, to succeed in life. Playing Victim is a way to have passive control over our life by surrendering our responsibility for outcomes and avoiding risks that could shake our comfort zones.
I have great expertise playing both roles: victim and villain, beating and treating myself with subtle disdain and self-loathing. If I am not careful and can be dragged by the past or the uncertain future and become my worst enemy. Self-victimization says: “I will never have what I need and want because there is something wrong with me.”
My shadow victim clings to old injuries because it feels familiar, and I am not sure who I would be without the pain. Remaining unconsciously stuck activates a powerful reward center in the brain that feeds on struggles. I used to be good at chemistry! This suck!
Inner wisdom exists in all of us, we have tendencies brought by deep emotions and attitudes that cannot be explained by reasoning, that is where intuition and awareness come in handy, to helps us balance our heartfelt feelings with knowledge and insight brought by experience and knowledge.
Reaching a plateau
The process of growing and evolving is not linear. We advance in stages that usually reach a plateau (a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress) before we can move on to the next one. I had not noticed I was bathing in the mud of plateaus and allowed old stories to pull me down. The decision to take on some dreams and build a new life triggered many foes and caught me off guard.
The first step to breaking through a plateau and old patterns is to identify if what it is that we are avoiding. Resistance has a “flavor’, I might not be able to name the ingredients, but I know what I am tasting. My routines of avoidance are clearly identifiable. I jump into a mental merry-go-round, eat chocolate, binge-watch TV-series and run past my studio or office as fast as I can.
What if the voice in my head is right and I do not have what it takes to achieve my dreams? What if I fail and do not know how to get back up? What if everybody sees I am a fraud? Will I lose everything and everyone? Will I ever be alone? Starve?
A pretty fearful scenario that has never been real and still hunts me.
Be it a plateau or a “wrong” turn, getting frustrated over being stuck does nothing but overwhelm me. Figuring out simple ways to modify my default actions is a better use of my time. I am choosing tiny things that make me smile or working out small chunks of a problem driving me crazy for a minute or two. It is fascinating to see how I usually go for longer periods when instead of berating myself I assume the task at hand as exploration, play, and not as something I should do.
Indulging my “lava cake”
Pilling up knowledge, research, and skills topped with a wide array of emotions is part of how I process things and come up with solutions. It might feel and look pitiful, but if I go back and look at other instances when I have become a “volcano about to explode” the result has been encouraging. It sucks to be in a blurry space without landmarks, but I find relief when I remember “it shall pass, it is only you “being You” and bubbling something new!”
Back to the basics
Be it because it comes naturally to us or we learned it a long time ago, we might take for granted the importance of ‘first” lessons: the steps we took to acquire a skill and make it our own. When I feel stuck and have no energy to deal with “what’s next” I go for “easy” and practice the basic “movements and actions” of whatever I am trying to work through. It is astounding how after many years of doing something I can still find things to “polish.”
Knowledge takes time to settle, and we are not always completely aware of how we are learning, what is it that our minds, body, and hearts are “recording” in the hard drive of different types of memories.
As a musician, I go for playing scales and arpeggios and find myself wanting. Talking the time to deliberately adjust whatever is that is messing up my “basics” has proven to be effective when moving on to higher levels. My awareness helps intuition and long-stored memories to join hands and pieces come together.
Getting out of a stump is about tough honesty and sharp focus, choosing a chunk of the “problem” and tackling it from different angles until is solved. It requires being goal/intention-oriented and getting immediate feedback on the performance.
Compassion and forgiveness are the vocabularies of the soul
To overcome aversion to risk we must give ourselves permission to fail and be mediocre. Whew, do I hate that! Instead of avoiding the things that are the hardest, the greatest of the world specifically focus on those. The great purposefully concentrate on the areas in which they make the most mistakes. This keeps them from getting stuck and propels their progress. If they can do it, why not me?
Ask for feedback
Learning to accept criticism is something that simply takes discipline and practice. First step: choose wisely who then consider taking on their criticism. I suppose the next stage is to skip the urge to punch the friend or mentor giving you feedback. Then explore your initial reaction and try to adjust your thinking. Little by little you will be able to calmly reflect and see if there is any value in their responses.
I am not there yet, but it does help to know that the people I am allowing to give me feedback are people who believe and care for me. As I see the value of the information given, I build a stronger skin.
Think long term
Short-term thinking can make plateaus feel permanent, by thinking long term, we give ourselves more latitude to take risks and fail because we see that missteps are just momentary setbacks in the long journey of life.
Only for today, only for this minute…
Sliding Doors is a 1998 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Peter Howitt and starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. The film alternates between two story lines, showing two paths the central character’s life could take depending on whether or not she catches a train.
Exploring my moods with this premise can help me make better decisions and move past the grogginess of old beliefs and emotions burdening me. I might not succeed today, but tomorrow is another day, plus imagine how big the repertory of articles I could write while exercising my imagination!
Simple things as photos that make me smile, quotes that remind me I am not alone in the quest, and actions that take just a minute can make a difference in overcoming the slumber.
Only for today … is a war cry! Only for today…I will listen to nice music, I will eat something delicious, I will write two words, I’ll check for an inspiring story. And if it does not work:
Only for today I will treat myself compassionately and leave the berating for another day.
Image Credit: Photo by Parker Burchfield on Unsplash