Choosing wellness over wallowing is not always easy.
Especially when we look out our bedroom window in the morning, and it seems like overnight the backyard filled up with a deep, dark, slurry of all the challenging emotions we aren’t quite ready to face without a strong cup of Starbucks in our hand.
It’s what was happening to me these past couple of days as I was adjusting to life after a big passionate project wrapped and I arrived home to cats and their litter boxes, boys and their laundry, and my teen de-planing from an overnight flight from Japan with summer homework still left to type before the first day of school—-TODAY!
I’ve gotten much better at recognizing when life hooks me and draws me into thoughts and patterns of activity that don’t serve me. But sadly, that’s where my skillfulness ends. The lure of jumping into the mud with both feet and splashing around in the mess for a while is still too tempting.
Let’s face it. Wallowing feels good.
For a moment the mud is refreshing and there are people to blame and situations that aren’t our fault, and a whole host of other ways to feel good about being the only human on the planet who is right and sane. It’s even kind of energizing to get all worked up about it.
But today, I didn’t want to wallow.
I know that wallowing never ends well, because at some point you have to climb out of the mud to cook dinner—-and then it can take days to get all the dirt off. You keep finding it behind your ears, and under your fingernails—-even in your belly button. You keep stumbling on reminders of what sent you tumbling, and for a long while, nothing of substance gets done.
So this morning, just as the mud was cresting my knees, I decided to get out.
“What’s going on?” I asked myself. “What is really going on?”
Fear, uncertainty, follow up phone calls, pieces of my life that needed to be put into place, holes I was not sure how I would fill. Feeling overwhelmed. Kind of alone. Weighty. Wallowing.
“Ahhh! I get it. You’ve got a lot going on right now. I get that it doesn’t feel good, and going back to bed seems like a really good idea.”
Simply acknowledging my feelings—-being able to put my finger on what was bothering me—-created space and gave me something to work with. It also gave me just enough energy to be open to the next big anti-wallowing question:
“What can I do right now to feel just a little bit better?”
Of course, my ten-minute walk came to mind, even though I had no faith it would help me out of the pit today. But I gave it a shot, and by the time I reached the other side of the pavement, I felt . . just . . . a little . . . bit . . . better.
I had my phone, so I began snapping pictures of the walking path and my view up to the mountains. Looking through the lens at the Sycamore trees shedding their late summer leaves, I felt a hint of fall. I was reaching, but in that moment, I convinced myself that my favorite season was here.
Then I remembered my best friend from Georgia called yesterday. I’ll call her back as I walk, I thought. We always laugh.
She picked up, and told me that she was on her computer typing with her golden retriever, Jonesy, sitting in her lap. What did I tell you? I imagined Jonesy slobbering all over the keyboard, trying to convince her to play instead of type. It made me smile.
We began to talk about our businesses.
I make people feel good about wellness, she has an amazing product called YogaKnees™ that makes people (and their knees) feel good while practicing yoga! How cool is that? We’re both going through growing pains, but we discussed how we could help each other. She’s a forever friend. The feeling of aloneness I had earlier eased.
And then she said, “Meg. We have a choice not to fall prey to our day. If we go with our spirit, instead of our brains, we’ll be much happier. We’ve got to do this!”
And there it was. Wellness in all its glory. The exact message I needed to hear to stop wallowing and step back into the magnificent messiness of my day and my life.
Later, a funny e-mail from my sister and an offer of help from my brother. Then some time to write the rest of the way through all this wallowing, and a triumphant first day of school for my kids.
By 5 o’clock, the sludge in the backyard was gone and I had enchiladas in the oven for dinner.
Sometimes we have to wallow. In fact, if you don’t get destructive about it, a good pity party while binge watching your favorite series on Netflix can provide some much needed relief from always manning up to life.
But when you’re ready to get productive again—when you’re sick of wallowing and want to feel well—-two simple questions can get you there:
1. “What is really going on?” (Take a moment and feel for the answer. Acknowledge what’s going on using the compassionate voice of your best friend and their slobbering dog.)
and then . . .
2. “What do I need to do right now to feel just a little bit better?” (Be patient. It will come to you.)
Trust me, I still have a ways to go with my anti-wallowing practice, but today was a reminder that wellness trumps wallowing every time—-and there’s no messy clean-up afterwards!
Feel good. Be well. Meg
Is anybody else out there taking a mud bath over something going on in your life? What do you do to step out of the pit? I’d love to know!
. . . or try this week’s wellness prompt on your own:
Wellness Prompt: Try answering the two anti-wallowing questions on paper so you have them handy when you’re knee deep in sludge. Think of something that gets you hooked and makes it difficult for you to lighten up. Then write a go-to list of simple things you can do to feel . . . just . . . a little . . . bit . . . better. Tape it up on your office wall where you can see it and use it to walk your way back to wellness. 10-minute write . . . go!