There seems to be so much buzz at the moment about happiness and fulfilment and gratitude. What about those times when you just feel shitty? When you try really hard to practice gratitude, and you really do know that you are lucky to have all you do, the opportunities, the roof over your head, the love of your family & friends…to spite your best intentions and your wisest self you are overwhelmed and feel like all is lost. That you are lost. That you have no place doing whatever work it is that you have made your mission.
One of the things I do is teach primary students about the ‘Monster on their Shoulder’ and the ‘Trickster in their Thinker’. It’s a fun workshop about the negative thoughts that can derail us and that by stopping, and thinking we can generally smile and let it pass (I don’t make it quite that simple, but this post is not about that, just understand the concept). So when I had a very dark moment a few weeks back, just days before I was due to visit a school to tell these lovely eager young people how not to let your thoughts overtake you – I felt like a complete fraud. Who am I to tell these kids about this when here I am wallowing…having my own little pity party…giving in to overwhelming negativity…listening to the trickster in my thinker!
I just sat with it for a while. I let the thoughts swirl around, I had a few tears. I didn’t judge them. I didn’t try to stop them. I just let them flow until they had passed right on by. At their worst, I really felt that there was no way I would be able to go on (dramatic I know) – but I knew, sit, let it flow, let it go, this too shall pass.
I understand that it is quite a different experience for somebody suffering from depression and please know that I am by no means trying to diminish that experience – I simply speak for the average person having a blue day. I know that essentially at my core I am a positive person. That feeling felt so wrong and not who I was, yet I couldn’t shake it. The more I tried to force it away, the more it persisted with the nasty talk. The more discord I felt and the more confused.
When I sat with it rather than fighting it things did calm down. Rather like letting the glitter in a snow globe settle (which I use to demonstrate those thoughts to the children in my workshops). I felt slowly better, I started to wonder what it was that I felt so worked up over, I started to believe, I regained my confidence. I shook myself off and got on with my day, and it was fabulous, and confident and filled with plenty of smiles!
Have you ever heard the expression that we teach what we most need to learn? That was the strongest lesson I have had to date on the power of practicing what you preach. Have you ever had an experience where your own teachings slap you in the face like that?