From Paula at “Don’t Be a Pickle Bump.” I thought this was a particularly good prompt for today in light of my recent interest and participation in some yoga classes.
Do you have any rituals that you use to calm and center yourself when you are tired, frustrated or angry? What are they? If you don’t have any rituals for yourself, take a few minutes and think about what kind of rituals could you allow yourself to enjoy and describe them.
The hardest thing about having tough emotions- sadness, anger, frustration, worry- is that in order to get through them, I have to recognize them and sit with them.
And it’s easiest to want to make someone else feel that emotion with me or let them take some responsibility for it (not blame, those things are different). It’s is easiest for everyone to say “I feel crummy and I just want someone else to fix it.” I think that comes from the fact that these tougher emotions are draining and working through them and eventually up and out them takes so much effort sometimes.
But I have learned something very important about being a part of the support system for those around me going through tough times, and that is this: That person feels like they are on a roller coaster and they feel like they can no longer control the ups and downs, the twists and turns that are flying at them. And different feelings and thoughts come and go so quickly, that someone in emotional distress cannot really make heads or tails of how they feel before they are feeling something completely different. The roller coaster is normal and it is not our job as a support system to stop the car on the tracks. In essence, the rider has to stay in, with arms and legs inside the car, until the ride has come to a complete stop. And, the most important thing for everyone is, do not get in the car with them. I repeat, when someone comes to you because they are on an emotional roller coaster, DO NOT GET IN THE CAR. They want you to, and you might want to also, but it will not make things better.
So when it’s me, and I realize that I am click-click-clicking up to the top of the coaster, about to drop over the first big hill, I try very hard to remember not to invite someone into the car with me. I also have to work very hard to remember that if someone declines my errant invite into the car, it is really the best for both of us.
Which now leads me to answer today’s prompt. As extroverted and socially-centric as I can be, when I need to calm and center myself I have to do it myself. Otherwise I will fill my roller coaster car with any damn person that will get in.
There are some things I sort of just do on a regular basis that keep me centered and balanced, regardless of what is going on around me. Most Sunday mornings, I make a big strong pot of coffee, fetch the newspaper off my front step, and sit on my bright red couch and read the paper. It’s a quiet experience. The news articles remind me I am a part of a bigger world. The travel section reminds me of how much of that world I have yet to see. The comics remind me that there is always a time and place for laughter. My yoga class has also started to be a weekly occurrence and I can physically feel my mood lift during 60 minutes of beginner’s yoga. Even though the poses have become somewhat easy after going for a few weeks, the mind/soul benefits make me keep wanting to go back.
Sometimes though, I need an extra oomph! of calming and centering. My favorite way to recenter is a long run, especially along the Mississippi River. It’s one of the most beautiful, relaxing places in my urban environment. My other go-to is making a list. If you read this blog at all, you know I love a good list. If I feel particularly worried or anxious I make a list of the things I can do to accomplish whatever has me upset. Like a lot of people, anxiety hits me especially hard at night. On those nights, I get out of bed, make my list(s), and resolve that I can start to tackle those things in the morning. Once there is a game plan, I can relax. Truthfully, the best ‘game plans’ include a long run along the river!