Mindfulness is Helping... But I'm Still Cranky.
Mindfulness has helped spark a change in my life. I’m able to look at my life and feel proud. I’m more confident in my career, and am able to tackle more on my day to day work because I’ve opened up the capacity to do so. Great, right? It’s not as straightforward as that… I’ve caught myself recently relying on this mindfulness to stick around without the effort, which doesn’t work and I slip right back into old thinking patterns. Potentially even crankier than before. My question now, is why is this happening in my fancy new Mindful State
Mindfulness is a Practice, Not a State
I’ve taken on a plethora of new habits and reminders to help encourage mindfulness in my life. I cannot look at these habits and expect sweeping changes. Mindfulness is not a ‘state’ I can enter and suddenly be an ever-peaceful angelic energy. Instead, it is a practice. Something I must do every single day, and upon every situation I stumble across. It is a tool I have at my disposal that reminds me to alter my state. It can help lift me out of negative energy, and set me softly in a safer headspace.
If I remain consistent with these practices on a daily level, it will help every aspect of my life. In work, mindfulness helps me shut away the outside world and dive into my projects. It helps me reach into the depths of my problem solving skills, and find solutions nobody else can. In my creative endeavors, I am able to channel these tools to help me think critically about my own work, without getting stuck on negatives.
Most importantly, mindfulness can help form stronger relationships in my life. If I stay on top of it, I am able to lock in and be an attentive listener, and I am able to form responses that actually mean something. Without it, my Anxiety Auto Responder takes over, and spits out responses specifically designed to protect my ego alone.
Mindfulness Can’t Clock Out
I equipped myself with these new tools, and got comfortable with them. However, I let myself think that it was a ‘State’ I was putting myself in. I assumed I would feel the benefits throughout the day no matter what. I was very wrong.
I was applying mindfulness to my work days. Personal boundaries, meditation, personable responses, channeling stillness to maintain order in chaotic situations. I was hitting my stride, and feeling great.
Clocking out at the end of the day, and heading home feeling accomplished felt good. The issue is, I then had an hour drive by myself before I got home. Along that drive, I was expelling work from my mind, but also letting mindfulness fall away with it. By the time I got home, the exhaustion from the day set in on the drive and my mind slips into old thought patterns. Unfortunately, those patterns are generally built upon fearing failure, and feeling helpless.
Fending Off Powerful Emotions
When I try to think of times where it is harder to channel mindfulness, there are two emotions that tend to be around. Failure and Helplessness. Two common enemies in my mind, but mindfulness is my greatest weapon against them.
Failure may not be an emotion, but for my entire life, I have used fear of failure to propel myself into great things. My education, and my career stem from a simple fear of failure. On the opposite side of that coin, fear of failure is what has held me back the most. There were risks I could have taken, where the possibility of failure sent me towards a safer, less opportunistic option. I am at a point in my life now, where I no longer need to focus on the idea of failure. Because it’s not possible for me to be a failure. I understand now, that I wasn’t even necessarily afraid of failing, but just so misguided to what a “success” was supposed to be. Success is a tangible sense for me now. When I look at my children, screaming at each other in the backyard, or working their way through the next Lego Video Game level, I see my successes. When I look at my wife asleep beside me, I feel my success pumping through my heart. After struggling with depression for so long, and still working against it every single day, the fact that I am here to tell my story IS my success.
Alongside fear of failure, I’ve always had an ever-present weight of helplessness in certain situations. Most often, when my stress and anxiety reach a fever pitch, I can tack it down to a feeling of helplessness. Whenever I am faced with a situation, large or small, that I just simply cannot change. When I know there is nothing I can do right then to alter the course of the given situation, my mind starts racing. Ramping up and up, trying to convince me to give up by obsessing over the issue in an unhealthy manner. I understand now, that I need to catch this feeling early and stop myself from ramping up. If I feel helpless for some reason, that means I am focusing on the wrong thing, and pouring energy into something that doesn’t need it.
An example of this can easily be shown with my Student Loan debt. When I see the large numbers, my brain jumps directly to helplessness. That train of thought leads right into thinking about how I blew most of it on dumb purchases. Or how I could have had more paid off by now with proper planning. Snowballing until I focus on everything except my debt. If I stop myself before snowballing, I can shift all that energy to be focused in a productive place. I can focus solely on my next payment, and make a stable plan for that payment. This sets the groundwork for being able to look at that large number and make a simple repayment plan, without getting cranky about some couches.
Crankiness and Mindfulness are Pulling on the Same Rope
I love symmetry and balance. So it makes perfect sense that my Mindfulness practices need to be balanced out, and symmetrical with all parts of my life. Since it made such a profound difference in my professional life, it can take us even higher at home. If I continue to practice mindfulness.