These last few weeks have been a bit tough. Nothing terrible has happened, but I've been going through some transitions (like moving in with my partner) that have made it hard for me to keep up with my usual routines. My self-confidence dropped due to a business set-back (I almost didn't get accepted into the craft fair that I count on for holiday income) and it's been hard to get back the momentum that I've been working so hard to build up. I came across an old blog post and it seemed like a very timely reminder that living this life - running my own business, committing to creativity, building relationships and community - requires the very best of me. And that the very best comes, not from sitting back and hoping that things turn out okay, but from consistently choosing, in every moment, what sort of reality I want to create. I wrote this a year and a half ago on my blog about dealing with anxiety and I wanted to publish it here as a sort of self-care manifesto. As a statement that I'm committed to living this life with intention and purpose. Every minute of it:
Something I'm learning:
If you want to feel good, if you want to be happy, if you want to love yourself and the life you've created, if you want to feel confident, if you want to feel brave, if you want to feel joy...
You must work on these things.
Relentlessly. Every minute, every hour, every day.
If you want to settle for feeling okay, and living a sort of good life, then let your self-improvement efforts slide, don't worry too much about self-care. Work till you drop, use up all your energy, leave no room for contemplation or reflection. Allow the negative thoughts to run like a freight train through your mind, chugging and chugging until your world fills with black smoke and you can't see the people you love and can barely take a breath.
If, however, you want to feel peace, you have to LIVE peace. You have to spend time every day, many times a day, feeling peaceful. You must read peaceful stories, think peaceful thoughts, hear peaceful songs.
If you want to feel love you have to LIVE love. You have to hold the beauty of the people you care about right in front of your eyes in every moment because it's so easy to forget how good they make you feel.
If you want to feel confident you have to LIVE confidence. You have to stand confidently, speak confidently, remind yourself constantly of all the confident things you have ever done and then go do more confident things.
You cannot wait for these things to come to you, hoping that someone will drop a little joy in the mailbox today. You must create these things in your life, at every turn. It's entirely up to you.
At the same time, if there's something you don't want to feel, you can't scrunch it up like a ball of tinfoil and throw it in the trash. It will fly back like a grimy newspaper, stuck to your face in the wind and choking you. If there's something you don't want to feel, you have to call upon your reserves, call up your knowledge, remember all the times you've felt better than this, and sit there with those feelings, remind yourself of the good, over and over and over and over again until light seeps into dark and you can feel something start to crack and give way. Then you must continue soaking your consciousness with light and love and all good things until whatever it was that was bothering you crumbles like dried up paint and falls to the ground.
This past week I have felt by turns terrified, lonely, depressed, anxious, stuck, frustrated, and insecure. And I turned each of those challenges into feeling safe, loved, excited, peaceful, creative, joyful, and confident. In the past I used to think that once I overcame a problem that it was gone for good. And it's true that we can diminish our problems, our negative emotions, and move in a general positive direction. But there will always be things that drag us down, and there will always be sudden sneak-attacks from our subconscious of things we'd long since dealt with. I've learned that the process of feeling good is the most important process and the most satisfying process. Without these positive emotions nothing else in my life matters as much. If I don't deal with my terror and loneliness I will not be able to love effectively. If I don't deal with my depression and anxiety I will not be able to appreciate beauty and experience wonder or appreciation. If I don't deal with my frustration and insecurity, I will not be able to create a business or live an inspired life - and I certainly won't be able to inspire others to do the same.
Right now I am making a commitment to myself to make feeling good the number one priority. Even if it takes an entire day, or an entire week, even if I have to go through my entire list of things that make me feel good (I recommend that you make this kind of list), I commit to doing whatever it takes. I will not be selfish, thinking someone else has to solve these problems for me and I will not allow myself to believe that these emotions "happen to me" and that I have no control. I'm better than that, and I'm stronger than that. I will relentlessly pursue the best possible life for myself, and thereby ensure that I will have the best possible impact on the world.
Will you join me in being relentless?