The other morning as I drove to work, I once again began to define myself by my circumstances and surroundings. All I could focus on was what was going wrong. When I’d finally stop focusing on what was going wrong, I would start thinking about what wasn’t going right. I felt failure sitting heavy on my shoulders and it had me mentally walking in circles, but physically stuck in one place.
Like most, I carry around some heavy mental stuff!! Let’s see… what do we have here? Hmmm, I’ve got a dozen of my past failures, quite a few of my current disappointments… and, just for good measure, I’ve throw in some of my future worries … We do this more often than we even consciously realize. It’s no wonder we’re all so exhausted!
When things are going well, which they rarely ever do, then I feel as if I have value. However, when things are going poorly, like I want to hide in a hole and just remove myself from public viewing, I feel worthless! Everything I do feels wrong because nothing is going right. It's almost like the force of gravity has doubled and everything is too heavy. It’s hard to get out from under the crushing stress and anxiety of my perceived reality.
So often I’ve been able to bounce back rather quickly from these melancholy moods. However, this time the heaviness was so real and I just couldn’t climb out of this shadowy place. Hopelessness, anger, despair and sadness were wrapped around me like a wet, muddy blanket. The feeling of failure permeated everything I did… even down to the most mundane of tasks.
How was I going to fix this? I knew that I could not continue to live this way. It’s not what God intended for me. It felt wrong. But, how could I change it? I have always heard people say that we should stay in the present. We need to live in the moment. Geez... I'd be happy to just visit the moment! I don't actually need to live there. :)
I figured I’d give it a shot. It was time to try to be in the present... to find my peace in the moment. It sounded so Zen! I tried to focus on breathing and calm my mind… but it wasn’t working for me. At the moment, my brain was more like the white water rapids than a calm, serene lake. Meditation has always been just out of my reach, like the name of a song that is on the tip of your tongue.
This was one of those make-it-or-break-it moments. I had to do something. But I also had to get ready for work and finish blow drying my hair. Seriously, who has time to sit and search for inner peace? Certainly not this girl! I can barely find the time to search for my shoes in the morning! That's when it hit me... I didn't have to find inner peace; I just had to find some type of current happiness. Ohhhh…. Sure! That will be so easy in my state of mind. Naturally, my mind went blank! However, blank was better than sad, angry and hopeless! OK… that’s a start.
I had to concentrate: What the heck could I be happy about right now…. I took a moment and actually stopped and looked at myself in the mirror. I knew that I physically needed to put the brakes on what I was doing~ so I could mentally do the about-face that I so desperately needed. I had to re-set my mind.
Suddenly I knew that what I needed to do was come up with a question. It had to be easy to answer; nothing philosophical or mysterious… certainly nothing that involved a lot of thought… I had to keep in mind that I still had to get to work. So, I came up with a quick and easy question to ask myself:
Where are you right this very minute?
I looked around. I was in my home using my hair dryer in front of my dresser mirror. Hmmm… I could see the reflection of my purple bedroom behind me. I love the color purple. Actually, I love that I was able to freely choose the exact shade that I wanted. I love that I wake up each day to see my kids' artwork hanging on those purple walls.
While I was looking in that same mirror I realized that my hair looked pretty good today. Great cut and color... thanks to my awesome stylist, Stacey, who had recently worked her magic. Guess what that means? That means that I could afford to get my hair styled. This meant that I had a job that could not only sustain a home, electricity and food, but I had a little left over to get my hair done. OK… I was on a roll!
Once I started thinking about my job, it made me think of how blessed I am to have the most amazing friends with whom I'm lucky enough to work with every single day. They are my work family! They listen to me without judgment and believe in me with an amazing unconditional faith. They are people that know who I am and love me anyway! I’m pretty blessed!
This was a bit easier than I thought! I had to dig deeper. What else could I come up with? Well, you know what's funny? At that point, within seconds, I had distracted myself from the negativity and worry of past, present and future 'stuff' and replaced it with my 'right here in this very moment' stuff. It worked!!
Here's the trick: We have to stop to take a look at our current, right-this-very-minute, surroundings. We have to ask ourselves to describe where we are and what we are doing at this very moment. Don’t attach any judgment to the thought. Don’t try to analyze or be insightful. Just keep it simple by stating the obvious. It’s sort of like brainstorming. Just let the ideas flow so you can create a set of thoughts that are stronger than the ones currently residing in your head, even if it's just for a little while.
So, when you are down, stressed, sad, anxious, overwhelmed, just stop for a moment. Give yourself the gift of sixty seconds so you can see your reality for what it truly is at this moment in time!
Where are you right this very minute?
Cindy Gagne Teixeira
Just like you, I wear many hats. I'm a mom, a teacher, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer. I choose to laugh (and talk... and write) about my problems because crying takes too much time.