Its one of those days where I feel
not quite good enough.
It starts with comparison.
I see someone else succeeding,
I see their incredible affect on the people around them, I see the pride and joy they take in their work. I think about how I've had similar ideas, but I didn't follow through on them.
Why didn't I?
On better days I would think to myself "we needed this person, thank god someone followed through on this." And I truly feel that. But on these not-so-happy-with-myself days, I feel envy. Even some kind of anger sneaks in. I feel it in the space just surrounding my heart, like a disease working its way through my cells, tearing down my defenses in a weak moment. On these nasty days, one negative thought takes over and then everything is shot to sh*t. Thoughts really do affect your reality. Ever heard of the placebo effect? Guess what, the adverse is true as well. In the medical field they have a term for it, it's called the "nocebo effect." It's when a patient's negative expectations of a inert substance manifest in their body or mind, causing harmful effects. When you start thinking negatively about your own situation - your own life - imagine the variety of maleficent effects you could create!
The next sensation I notice when I'm thinking this way is a tension around my forehead-a pressure- feels like its building behind and between my eyes. The muscles that surround my eyes squeeze in, it’s a pretty frustrated look. Thing is, this happens to all of us, the feeling feeds the muscles and the contraction feeds the feeling. The whole world starts to feel dim, colors change, smells and sounds are dulled down. When this happens, even your face changes. Sometimes for longer than you'd think, in the subtlest way. Who's in control here? This isn't the world you came from, this isn't what you were born into, this isn't who you are. But you're here, you know you're here, and it’s sad and you might want to leave. This is the time to ask yourself some questions. Have you forgotten who you are? Is that what this place is? Have you lost sight of yourself? Of reality? Are you forgetting your line of action? Your purpose? Is this how you always feel?
If the answer is no, then its safe to say......
Its a FUNK.
Yup, you're in a FUNK.
That's what I call it. When I set up shop in the negative self-view for longer than expected. AS IF you expect it. As with any road to progress, identifying the issue, acknowledging it, is the first step to improvement. So if you can get to that point before your train of thought goes on then you're better off than most people. But the thing is, a lot of times you're not so quick to call yourself out.
Personally, when I'm in a funk I start looking for things to blame. When things just don't feel right, there's just gotta be some outside reason right? Think about it, do you ever want to see yourself as the bad guy? As the reason for your own dismay? Ironically, whether you are the cause of your own issues or not is pretty much impossible to pinpoint. The truth is that the world is full of infinite possible causes for every single effect, the only causes we can ever find are assumptions. Self-imposed, self-created, self-defined. As a self-identified, self-critic, my assumptions usually go like this
"Is it my relationship? My job?
My lack of formal education? Is it my tattoos? My lack of things to say? Am I too content? Am I boring? Am I bored?"
To give you a picture, the foundation of my thinking comes from this: I dropped
out of college when I was 19. I was feeling critical of that style of education, and honestly, afraid of taking the necessary math courses. At first I reasoned with myself, "I'll just take a break, school will always be there if I want to return."
True as that may be, my
break turned into 6 years.
I knew I never wanted to end up stuck in a corporate job so I started getting tattoos in all the most visible places as "insurance" to keep myself from a boring desk-job. I knew I wanted to be my own boss, and I had to do something meaningful. Something that
could touch people, and add to the movement of wellness and consciousness for our planet. I wanted to be a leader, a warrior. But, at the time however,
the knowledge, drive, and dedication just wasn't there.
I had yet to develop it, and I was way too easily distracted. This is one of the first things I allow myself regret when I'm not so satisfied with the now. The negative voice goes off as I reflect about my laziness and my inability to do things that I don't like, I tell
myself "I'm too short, I'm not smart enough, I can't focus, I'm too poor, I'm not attractive, I can't accomplish anything worthwhile..." What a list! Seems like my brain gets a little off-topic when it's in that dark place. If you relate to any of this, think about how much of your history you are cramming into the present moment. You could be a single mom, a felon, a recovering drug-addict, a businessman, a pastor, a struggling artist, a successful artist, a homeless person.... Whatever your history, it doesn't have to control the NOW. It's like the partner in a relationship who brings up every single thing you've done wrong over the years, whether it relates or not, struggling to get the upper hand. Notice if you use tactics on yourself you wouldn't want others to use on you. I'd like to add to the old saying: "treat others as you want to be treated, and treat yourself how you'd like others to treat you too."
The second point I catch myself is negative internal dialogue. About myself, and the world around me. Like an abusive relationship, finally I realize, I've got to come around. If I stay too long, I risk too much. This headspace is a flesh-eating virus when your body is made of positive, loving, people. The most terrifying thing is when the blame and negativity effects friends, coworkers, and family. For me, the big shift comes from inside, an under-cover deal. I get tired of the blame game. It exhausts me, or I exhaust it. I loosen my grip on the blame-ship. I let go of my identity a little bit. I think bigger. A little more abstract. Beneath the sheath of my personality, my titles, my reputation. Beneath the name I've been called these 26 years... There is something, something that's not this "me", something much wiser, older, more eloquent, less attached, truly undisturbed by all these unfolding events. Its the big "I". The spacious, blank, before I lived and learned Me. Just consciousness, being. It's me, it's him, it's her, it's them, it's us, it's them too, its YOU, and that guy, and that kid, and those people, and that dog and that tree, and that river, and those clouds, and everything, and nothing, and yeah, its STILL YOU. You have to tap into that wisdom. You have to tell yourself the truth. The truth that you might not want to believe in this moment. Thats the crazy thing! You could hear it from the most important person in your life, the person who speaks your language, knows all your "oohs" and "ahhs," but nothing changes til you make it change. Nothing. Now, I don't know about you, but when I'm in the FUNK, shine lights on me, on the situation, shine your love. But in these moments, I AM the darkness, the despair. I embody, I create, I give it life and control, I even embrace it at times. Covet it, protect it. Almost like I've been hungry for this side of the pendulum, and I have to get my fill.
The binge of bummerhood.
Do you ever get cravings for heartache? For pain? For severe depression? Ask yourself, and be honest. Do you want to feel this way? I know I do. I suppose that's why I let it linger. In a way, I want this discomfort and frustration from time to time. I wonder, is it part of the drama of being human? On some level, do we enjoy this? The intensity, the battle, the story? It's so wild to me. So what could snap you out of it? Notice the negativity spreading, infecting your surroundings, your loved ones, even your reputation, hear the alarm go off.
Why not sooner? Why not nip it in the bud? Probably because it it is SO paradoxically motivating!
Its time to start the ascent, escape from the downside. Whats a good remedy? A walk by the water, a sweat, or self-exhaustion? It couldn't be to simply find a good distraction, but sure, that helps sometimes. Honestly, I like to get down in my core and recall why I keep at this life, why I chose this path in the first place.
I think about how methodically and mindfully I chose the route I did. Drop-out, get certified to teach yoga, work in the health realm, help people improve their lives, make my community and possibly
the world better,
a little bit better.. Or A LOT better.
I remind myself how powerful I am, how capable, how ready. I remind myself how many people I've been able to uplift thus far. Most of all, I save myself with time travel. I go back, WAY back, to a place in my mind when I was full of belief. When I had nothing, was no one, and was satisfied. I crawl back through the tunnels of thought, the woven fabric of my identity, into a clearing. Plain, open, ever-expansive space. Self-fulfilled, glorious, SPACE. This place, is unnecessary to comprehend, it IS comprehension. This is the place YOU and I both are, ALWAYS. The underlying truth. This place, does not need change or growth, it IS change and growth. No doing, just BEing. Adaptable, flexible, transformative. I remember that this is
everything. I am everything. YOU are everything. Everything is everything. Under the metal, under the plastic, under grass, skin, and sky- the energetic network of existence- all the same, the very same yet seeming so different. Dancing. Is not matter just energy dancing? Forming, dispersing, exchanging, arranging itself finely and messily-always divinely- confusing, and enlightening? So well we distract ourSelves from our Self. But why? After all, it’s so very lovely. This open space, however confusing and hard to comprehend. So inviting, enchanting, captivating...Mysterious, seductive even.
Yes, I seduce myself back into life's embrace.
Just like the most engaging relationships I've found, attraction proceeds resistance, allure combats contention, love builds into submission. For things to work and flow in life you have to let go of the need to struggle and force things to be a certain way. Like an instrument you tune and tame yourself to the circumstances of life, learning adaptation, endurance, and persistence. At the same time - strange as it may sound -I think Love also (in terms of life in general) learns to defy, in order to survive. No matter how logical it seems to give in to nothingness and despair. Love is the thing in me that stands up courageously. Beyond all reason, love drives forward, creatively, kindly, for the greater good. Love is the thing in me and you that keeps you active and curiously participating in life. What is love? At the very least it is sure of itself, sure of its own goodness and worth. Are there fears and pains that come along with it? Yes, but Love can travel through those. YOU can travel through those. The risk is worth the gain.
Moments of darkness can serve as the most strengthening inspiration.
Finally I ponder and feel, and decide to take on those qualities of love. I start to realize MY own worth. I remember all those crazy decisions I made; to drop-out of college, be a yoga teacher, to get these tattoos that remind me of the immense love, depth, varieties of lessons, and possibilities in this life.... All along my motivation has been the wild, creative, innovative love I feel. It’s been my compassionate way of challenging and questioning the current paradigm. From the very beginning, I wanted to lead a life that could inspire others just like me, to always exist as uniquely and lovingly as they like, despite the lack of understanding and acceptance we encounter.
To display that kindness, intelligence, and power come in all shapes and sizes with every variety of experience and life story. That freedom, that ability to stand for ALL in creation drives us forward. Embrace it, take a step towards joy, fall in love with the simplicity of it all, the forgiving nature of being. Take another step toward what feels good for you,
in this body,
in this mind,
in this life.
Allow yourself to feel excited about "little" things you find interesting. Learn as many details as you can. Seek to master and hone the skills that excite you. What else to do but dive in fully! Focusing on the tiniest spark of passion, you can find grounding, you can RISE ABOVE THE FUNK. You could learn a craft, a trade, volunteer, start a new hobby - or begin practicing yoga or dance or meditation or martial arts. A little taste of something good creates a hunger, an ache for more. Without defining whats possible, give yourself room to wonder. Ask yourself, "Does it make me feel lightness and glee, a sense of purpose? Does this add to my self-worth? Am I excited to share this with others?" If the answers are yes, all systems GO! Drive forward and develop yourself with this new point of focus. Become it. Give yourself purpose and meaning and take pride in the abilities refine. Of course, time will pass and you might find yourself feeling tired, even questioning yourself again. But even doubt is an important part of the growth cycle. Its like an endurance challenge. To overcome it you have to decide that the memory of passion is enough, to keep your attention. With a spirit of playfulness, practice, through thick and thin, harvest every last bit of knowledge and experience. Despite momentarily feeling raw, or frustrated, or bored- it seems just when you think there's nothing else to learn, some bit of gold comes out of the woodworks.
Is this what its like to discover perseverance? I think so.
And though we can draw strength, purpose, and comfort from our hobbies, tasks, and practices it is most important, and beneficial to recall that this cycle is bound to reoccur. Acknowledging the FUNK as a normal part of being human, opens up the opportunity to better identify which part of the cycle we are in, each time it occurs. Though we may not always be able to shift things quickly, at the very least, we might find more comfort and ease within the flow. At best, we might use the highs and funky lows to make big changes and improvements in our lives. One day to the next, appreciating the perspectives of our roles and transitions, and those of the people around us as well. Pleasantly welcoming change. Next time you get caught in a FUNK, take it as an invitation, a chance to embody the INCREDIBLE, innate resilience of your body, mind, and soul.