[Aug 2013] Denial and Forcing

I didn’t go to work today. This was the third day this week when I stayed home. I am writing and answering e-mails, arranging a few things, but I don’t have any errand to take care personally or any meeting to attend, and I don’t feel like meeting people anyway, so I rather stay home. Besides, the temperature outside is extremely high, that convinces me even more not to leave the apartment.

I was working, reading, meditating, taking a nap, and I enjoyed these a lot. Then I started to feel a little guilt for not doing anything to move my life forward, to make me feel better. I didn’t deal with my grief, with my negative thoughts, with my fears, or with my shame. But then I realized that I might have seen things with the wrong attitude. I always tried to grieve aggressively, forcing myself to “do” it. I tried to force myself to beat my fears, pushing them into my face, overwhelming myself with them every day. If I had had an easy day, if I had felt like I had no problem, I quickly found myself one and forced myself to deal with it. I was telling myself angrily that I should solve them instead of sweeping them under the carpet.

But now I realized something important. Denying problems and always forcing myself to deal with them right away are the two opposite extremes, far away from each other, with a huge gap in between! And neither of these extremes are particularly healthy. Besides, some problems cannot be solved overnight, even with all the willpower in the world. In fact, most my problems have this nature. They need resilience, hard work, lots of time, and patience.

Forcing myself to solve everything at once, reminding myself in all my happy and carefree moments to think about my problems and feel guilt about them, this is not a very kind and loving attitude toward myself. This is actually very unkind and inappropriate. What would I say to a dear friend of mine in the same situation? “Give yourself time! Do what feels right for you! Do only the bare minimum about your duties! Feel good! Don’t give a shit about anything! Don’t deal with your problems right now! Don’t overthink! Just relax!” But somehow, I can’t tell myself the same.

Today I felt good. I had a good night sleep. It felt good to read. It felt good to write. It felt so pleasant to have a nap in the afternoon. It felt amazing to bask in the sun. And that’s it, nothing more! I shouldn’t think any further than this! I have been working enough on my problems, and I will work on them for sure when the time comes. But now, I only want to relax, nothing more!

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I am trying to be aware of my feelings, and I am getting good at it. I can identify almost all of my feelings immediately, much better than ever before. What I am still struggling with is accepting them. I am aware of how important this is, to accept my emotions and give myself permission to feel them. But I am unable to switch off my judging mind that always evaluates, labels, and “rates” everything. It gives instant judgments about my feelings: this is “normal” (for example being sad, tired, or angry), or that is “abnormal” (for example being frozen, in panic, or empty). This makes it very difficult or rather impossible to accept certain feelings. It makes me react with an instinctive aversion, that strengthens those feelings even further and drifts me even further away from myself.

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Mindfulness practice is a lot like learning a new language. Although I shouldn’t evaluate my progress in mindfulness and meditation, I can’t stop myself doing it all the time. In certain moments (just like with learning a language) I feel like I am good, I have changed and improved a lot, I feel calm and balanced (like when I feel that I can speak very well and fluently), but other days I feel like I am still where I started, I have improved nothing, nothing has changed a single bit (like when I feel that I am unable to express myself and put together a sensible sentence).

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