This morning I took two minutes to sit quietly in my chair before I started work.
I close my eyes. I pay attention.
A relentlessly joyful bird sings outside the window. The wind whispers down the chimney. The builders in the next street use a piece of equipment that makes a dull grinding noise and the traffic further afield brings a bass note to the song.
My glasses rest on my nose. My hands are in my lap, fingers interlaced, one thumb on top of the other. The skin is warm and slightly dry. I scan my body looking for tension and remember my yoga teacher telling me to relax my jaw. I relax my jaw, aware of how the lower half juts forward when I am stressed.
I allow the day to begin.
How rare this is. To stop for a moment and be aware of my body. Of how it feels and I how feel in it. I don’t do this enough. So often the day begins at a sprint and never abates.
I tell myself this is not my fault, that this is how fast life is.
But this is a lie.
I choose how fast I live.
And if this moment to take stock of the state of my physical body is rare, how much more unusual is it for me to stop and consider my mind and emotions? Do I take the time to trace my feelings back and discover their origin? To understand that quiet anger or regret, to uncover the truth? To find a place of calm from which to listen and acknowledge how I am?
Often the answer to this is ‘no’.
If I am not careful my emotions will carry me along on their current. They force me to move with ever increasing speed, desperately searching for the affirmation or recognition I desire.
If I don’t take a moment to see what is happening I can easily wear myself out trying to please and achieve. Searching for my sense of self-worth outside of myself, where I can only find respite temporarily.
Cultivating a practice of listening to my emotions helps me to see what is really happening. It allows me to begin to understanding when and where I am being pulled along by my need to find love and acceptance.
When I have committed to attend an event because being in that place with those people will make me feel I have a place to belong, even though I know I won’t enjoy it.
Or when I have volunteered to help out even though I am exhausted because being seen as someone who is capable and has a large capacity bolsters my sense of self-worth.
Or when I stay in a friendship or relationship I know is toxic because the fear of being alone is greater than my concern about being hurt.
Or when I strive for a promotion to make me feel I am somebody even though the job is too demanding, and is affecting my sleep know peace.
I did this for a long time.
I was looked outside of myself to find my worth, to be told I was accepted and had a place to belong.
I didn’t know you only find these treasures by looking inside.
Everything I needed I already had.
I didn’t have to exhaust myself by searching, I had to stop. For me that stop was an enforced one, I became ill with depression and anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you. You can choose to listen now.
What would happen if you were honest? Really honest?
If you started to acknowledge the emotional cost of trying to find acceptance and love through your activity and achievements, through your capacity and reputation.
It is time to stop searching. It is time to listen to yourself.
You are wiser than you think.
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