Like most people who wake up and check social media, I’m bombarded with well-designed memes, inspirational stories, personal words of affirmation, Man Crush Monday, Transformation Tuesday, Woman Crush Wednesday,Throwback Thursday, Flashback Friday, Sunday Funday, and Deepak Chopra’s exquisite mantras. No matter how much hipster font is used, how many hashtags I see, I still can’t help but feel left out. Somedays, all this positivity just gets on my nerves. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty happy person. I wake up cheerful and upbeat 90% of the time, but seeing these “reminders” actually causes me self-doubt sometimes. I love seeing funny anecdotes on instagram and my friends’ dogs, food, flowers, and workouts (and yes, I post this stuff too), but the memes sometimes get crazy.
Last year, 2014, was one of my most challenging years and I grasped onto anything available that would make me feel good, or even normal. And now, I feel better than my old self. I feel really upbeat again. And it’s not from reading memes, watching upworthy and buzzfeed videos, or attending self-help conventions. It’s from connecting deeply with a few of my closest friends, looking inward, and letting go of how I thought things were supposed to be. I suffered like this when I was 29 and could not picture life at age 30 as an unmarried woman. I envisioned a cliff. Seriously. And then my birthday occurred and I didn’t fall off Mt. Baldy. Rather, it was another day. In fact, many, many more days passed and I was fine being unmarried.
I’ve also started a meditation practice and have been reminded of the Buddhist practice of impermanence. I can’t believe silent, quiet meditation actually works, but so far, so good. I don’t really feel like I’m a “good” meditator yet (clearly I’m still casting self-judgment if I label my practice in any way), but I feel like I’m developing new pathways to be more gentle on myself I’m letting go of the tightly wound beliefs that certain things have to end up a specific way. I don’t actually know how anything is going to “end up.” I only know who and how I am today. I know I’m more than a colorful square with black block print telling me to believe in myself. I know that my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and stories can change on a dime, and that when I loosen my hands on the outcome, it usually turns out in a manageable way. I still feel deep sadness and some regret for some of the events I experienced in 2014, but now I’m not clinging to them. It’s really awesome to wake up and feel confident again, rather than lost and panicked.
For about a year, I felt extreme panic and anxiety. I could not make “progress.” I was stuck. Today, I’m moving forward, whatever that means. I’m speaking up for what I need and living more gently. It feels great. Today, just today, I’m having a human experience and accepting my flaws, noticing my challenges, being honest with myself about them and moving on. OK, so I’m just letting the ideas go as quickly as they came in. How? I guess I do it with steady, deep breathing, a gaze on the periphery as much as on the road ahead, and a relaxed posture when I’m still or moving. I feel lighter and move lithely. I can’t believe it myself, but this letting go thing is working.
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