Embracing the "Struggle"
Happy Spring Sunday!
This evening, I want to share a piece of reflection with all of you in hope of bringing a little more calm and serenity into your lives. This calm pays health and well-being dividends in many ways.
I went to a yoga class last week with one of my favorite instructors, Allison English. Her class is always filled with both mental and physical challenges, so when I'm going, I know I need to be really ready to work! The theme of class was, “Embracing the Struggle,” and resonated a lot with me. I think a lot about this, especially recently.
Struggle is difficult; all of it. It eats up our energy. The mental, emotional and physical kinds. But what if you could embrace or accept the struggle for what it is? Allison mentioned we could even call it something different, brainstorm ways to make it easier or more manageable, and eventually feel, well, less struggle. Would we eventually look back on what was once a struggle and say, wow, that used to bug me all the time and now it’s a breeze? Yes, we would. Let me explain.
Let's Get Physical
Let's start with a physical struggle. Yoga class. It is SO difficult for me to reach my toes when I sit on the ground with my legs straight in front of me. I always reach as far as I possibly can and feel like I’m going to vomit because my hamstrings are SO tight. It's horrible. Misery. A classic “struggle” definition.
But last week, instead of struggling, I took a big breath. I accepted that this stretch hurt and then I let up on my poor legs a little and took another huge breath. And another. I closed my eyes. Then I reached again, slowly, carefully, struggle free. Why was it necessary to put myself through that? I could still make progress, push myself, breathe through it, and prevent struggle. I'll go a little slower.
After class, I asked Allison what I could be doing to loosen my hammies a bit. She gave me some great ideas to try and now I am confident that I will continue improving my strength and flexibility without pushing myself too hard.
Queue The Emotions!
How about an emotional challenge? Let’s say you are a little uncomfortable and maybe anxious about being single while your friends are getting married or having children. How are you responding to these emotions? Do you push them down or pretend like they aren’t happening? Do you go workout to try and get rid of them? Or maybe you eat something sugary or salty (and way too much of it because food really does make you feel better for a little while)? Or drink a cocktail (or 2 or 3)? Whatever it is, I've tried most of them and came to realize I had formed some negative responses to an emotional struggle.
What if you embraced this "struggle," accepted it, and figured out a way to help you feel better about it? Do you need to start dating? Or increase your self-confidence so that you can feel good about yourself when on a date? Are you failing to live the authentic life you dream of and are instead focused on what others think of you? Whatever your reason for the struggle, it's ok. It's more than OK, it's a piece of you and you need to embrace it, accept it, and ask yourself what you can do to constructively handle those emotions. This will help you fix it, instead of building poor habits that can work in the short term, but may harm your health over time.
Ugh, Enough with the Mind Games!
The mental struggle. It's the end of the workday, you’re sitting at your office. You have a deadline in the morning - an assignment you really don't want to do. You're notoriously known as a procrastinator that submits your assignments at the last minute (note: they are always of great quality, but last minute). You can never focus on getting it done until the deadline is 30 minutes away.
Your brain is now hosting WWIII - it's reminding you of every thing you would rather do over the assignment. You know you should focus and get it done, but instead, you let the battle in your head win. Focus is not your strong suit. You leave, meet friends for dinner/drinks, and pick up the laptop at home, at 10PM. You work until midnight, watch some TV and get to sleep at 1AM.
You wake up at 6:30 the next morning feeling awful. And yes, you did this to yourself - you allowed the mental struggle to win instead of accepting, focusing, getting your work done and then going out for drinks for an hour or two and getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. You could of done it all, but the battle won. You control YOUR mind – don’t forget that.
I hope this helps you think through some of the struggles you encounter during your day, big or small. They all count. Owning your struggles allows you to grow, love, and ultimately live a more full, healthier life.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a more peaceful week!