Posts Tagged ‘how to be happy with yourself’

This week I fell — for a few days — into a negative mental loop. 

Around and around I go; where I stop — I don’t know!  It was an up-and-down and circle back around — my crazy mind. It was a rocking and rolling emotional session based on what someone else either had or had not done.  It was about expectations. 

Great!

Wheeee! 

Fun! 

Not.

What to do?

I didn’t know what to do — even with all my personal experience with my own brand of mental chaos, even with all my seasoned and supposed wisdoms and emotional acumens — I couldn’t figure it out. 

I have always found that I am — to myself — the most difficult puzzle that exists. So it is for all of us.

I did some research. 

University of Oxford Professor, Mark Williams, teaches that we can move away from negative mental loops by paying attention to our direct sensory experiences. When we focus on what we see, hear and smell — in the everyday salient and the “Oh, so very” beautiful right-now! — we leave little room for obsessive, negative intrusions.

The “Coming To Our Senses” approach has the ability to calm-water our roiling minds. It can ground us in immediate, beautiful and grateful realities.

This morning I put one of my current favorite songs on YouTube and watched and listen to a worship band worship. The simple gorgeous piano chords, those lovely lead voices, that backgrounded rhythm guitar — so orderly, so positively patterned, so soothing, so pointed toward God.  In the moment, using my eyes and ears to experience beauty, I forgot the week’s negativity and trauma.

Better.

I am better — coming-to-my senses better.

This morning, I also called my daughter. She was on a walk with her Australian Shepherd. She texted me a picture of the dog resting for a moment in some of the first spring flowers of the season. We went together on a fun, quick internet search of the name of the wild flower. It was the Scilla siberica, a beautiful ground flower with bright blue petals and lovely green, spear-shaped leaves. As we searched — and trade texted pictures — I was lost in the moment, lost in the little flower, lost in the mental curiosity for life I share with my daughter, and I was at peace with the world. 

I came to my senses! 

One more thing. 

In my morning’s research I also ran across the work of Dr. Daniel Siegel.

Psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, offers what he calls, the “Name It To Tame It” remedy for negativity. The idea is that when unhelpful thought patterns and emotions overcome us, we can respond by naming the narratives we are creating and thus rob them of their power. 

Cool! 

So this morning, I named my current mental zoo. I called it my “The Expectation Loop.”  Sometime, I overly expect people to care for me. And sometimes I expect a competence from others that simply isn’t there. And sometimes I fall into fear and anxiety about what others expect back from me. Wow! The Unrealistic Expectation Loop — that’s my beautiful mess. 

And so to apply Dr. Siegel’s work, this morning I name my kind of crazy. This week I have been suffering from the “Crazy-Making Expectation Loop.”  To tame it, I name it, and I work to free myself of it. I think it through. 

If I don’t express my expectations, then I can’t expect others to meet them. If I don’t let others express their expectations of me, then I can’t fulfill them. If I have unrealistic expectations — perhaps based on my own past unmet needs — I must recognize those, and not let the past trigger my present when what is happening right now is not the same as what happened before. 

Thanks, psychiatrists, professors, you mind-experts. You help me, get sane, or more sane. 

I’m still a puzzle to myself, but with help, I am gradually beginning to understand myself,  better, and I am — just perhaps — coming to my senses. 

ExplosivesToday I noticed that my beautiful skin has sun spots on it, lines and wrinkles too — and one bulgy place, near the middle.

Also, I noticed again that my terra cotta kitchen floor has a dark scratch in it. I have a rug over the scratch, but it slips from time to time, and shows the mar.

Today I ate, steadily — therapy for scratches, and spots —  and I watched Romeo and Juliet die eloquently, in Fanco Zeffirelli’s movie version of Shakespeare’s tragic love story.

Life with or without the Capulets and Montagues, feuding in the background, is often far from perfect. Family isn’t perfect, and we aren’t either. Somebody told me recently, “I don’t like my voice; it’s nasally. It sounds like Yzma, the old lady in the The Emperor’s New Groove.” And there is more than that which is not perfect.

Last week, my uncle Jerry’s wife passed away. I talked with Uncle Jerry on the phone last night. He was watching some nature DVD’s, and feeling lonely —  of course. He said that he had gone out to the a swap meet that morning, looking for art, as he always does on Saturdays. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about American art. He was kind of wondering if going out was okay, seeing how little time had passed. I told him I thought it was.

Life isn’t perfect — or when it is — it doesn’t stay that way for long. Nothing survives the clot and rot of time’s inexorable march into dust.

But in our minds we want it good, better and we want it best. Perhaps we too much want it perfect.

Perhaps we want too much the enviable body, the together look, the perfect floor or family or schooled and accomplished self.

But it’s come to me of late what a fool’s errand perfectionism is, a false companion, to us all.

I’ve noticed lately how beautifully imperfect all things present themselves. I happened across on an old rusted trailer last weekend, rotting in a field. There, in the moment, it was a sort of amazing piece of dying artwork,  colored in rust —  a ripped, deteriorating, eroding, fading wonder. It was splendor in decline, but still splendid.

Take the human body. Most bodies, after the early years, aren’t taut, toned, sculpted, curvy or proportioned perfectly. They aren’t like the ones in the  magazines, they are not like the bodies on TV or in the movies. But bodies, not perfectly shaped, not the advertizing standard, not the current culture’s fickle fashion, are yet all amazingly beautiful.

Small, large, skinny, layered, lumpy, protuberant, muscled, flabby — all good. Skin itself  is always beautiful if we just accept it as it is — in rolls, puckered,  smooth, wrinkled, lined. It is all gorgeous and amazing as the protective human fabric we model for each other everyday.

It would be best to be done with wanting things to be perfect. If they are, we should enjoy them as that, but if they are not, and they will be not perfect longer than they are perfect, we should enjoy them just as well.

Exult in imperfection! Take pleasure in used. Accept scratches. Revel in spots. Even, make friends with death.

And, be particularly kind, I’d say, to family, and avoid feuding, with others and yourself. And most personally, be easy on your body, your own artfully deteriorating trailer. Gentle your needy. Honor your cracking voice. Savor your rust! Tender your fat. Love your jiggly parts. Be kind to your scrawniness. Shepherd your shyness and your sadness too. Make friends with your forgetfulness. And love your skin, that sumptuously beautiful bag that yet retains your lovely, sagging warp and woof.

I’m good with that. I advise you, to be happy, be  good with all that too.