I found myself in a rotten foul mood for no good reason at all (but we think we need a reason, don’t we!?) In fact, there were lots of reasons on that particular day that I “should” have been happy! The sun was shining, I had nothing but a great day planned, my arm was pain-free for the first time in a long time, on and on and on… And the fact that I “should” have been happy only made it worse that I really wanted to jump out of my own skin! (that never goes well, by the way!)
My mind wanted to make sense of it (as minds do)… if I could understand it, then my brain could categorize it, and tuck it away neatly in a file as that reason for bad moods… My self-care teacher self knew all of the things I COULD do to try to shift it, but I wanted nothing to do with any of them. In fact, these are the times when I want to throw my own book across the room and I tell my own teachings to “F%$K off!” My Buddhist teachings kicked in to remind me to just be with it. That really didn’t feel great, but in the end, that’s the path I took.
Being human is messy. Life is messy. Bad moods will come. Good moods will come. Inspiration will rise up and at other times, like the other day, we will find ourselves flailing and floundering in the dark... feeling we have nothing to offer the world. In those dark pit of ick moments it’s hard to see the way out and the last thing we want to hear is “This too shall pass…” Will it!? I’m sure it will, but right now, this is where I am – let me be!
Even today as I reflected on it in my journaling, I noted that I am feeling “more like myself” with some small sense of relief. Then I noticed the implied judgement in that… as if “myself” is the one who is uplifting and inspired and feeling good… as if the me who is down, depressed, pissy, and just irritable for no good reason is not really me.
Whew! This being human is not for the faint of heart, especially if, like me, you love exploring this inner landscape which can get oh so messy and confusing at times!
But what’s really important is for each of us to remember that human happens. Human isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always what we prefer, it includes all the feelings and all the thoughts and worries, and it can swoop in unexpected and uninvited. When it does, what we do with it matters. How we treat ourselves in these moments matters.
There is a movement out there that supports the idea that we should feel good all the time and that the goal is to get to that feel good state at all costs and as soon as possible. This, my friends, is spiritual BS, spiritual bypassing. Even if we buy into the idea that peace is our natural inherent state and that love is what we’re made of, we are still going to have terrible, rotten, no good days for no obvious reason. And it is OK!!
Self-care doesn’t mean do all the things so you can feel better as soon as possible. Self-care means sit with yourself, as you are in your current state of exhaustion, confusion, anger, sadness, or ugliness… that’s it. Just be with yourself there and give yourself tender loving care and acceptance. OK, this is how it’s gonna be right now. I don’t like it, but I’m willing to sit with this discomfort. You’re not doing life wrong. You’re not doing anything wrong. You are simply being your very real, very vulnerable, very tender, open-hearted self. Cause, damn it, the more open our hearts are, the more we will feel! (I offer you this meditation – Befriending Yourself – to help you sit with yourself lovingly).
Now, might my bad mood be a natural after-effect from the happenings in the world, the relief and coming down after Wednesday’s inauguration and the end of an intensive 5-day training? Might I have just simply hit a wall of exhaustion after 11 months of COVID? Sure, maybe… And, who cares? What I want to do is to normalize bad days. To give each of us permission to just have a bad day… without apology, without explanation, without worry, without shame. And, actually, to even expect them. They are part of riding the waves… it’s unsustainable to stay in the crest all the time. The dip, the fall, the drop will inevitably come, until the next swell.
To think that we are “less than” on these days, that we should somehow apologize for ourselves, hide away, and pretend to be ok when we are not is the very opposite of loving self-care. To put up a false front is to chop off a very real part of ourselves and that’s just cruel…
Human happens. You’re human. I’m human. It’s OK. Some days are just like this. This too shall pass… (cue the throwing of the book or tomatoes, or whatever! 😊)
And, here's the secret and the truth... the more we are able to sit with these times of discomfort, to wait them out in all of their ickiness, the less we stay stuck in them. We are better able to move through when we lean into what's here than when we try to stuff our feelings down, hide them away, or banish them from the building.