The following is a guest post by Yvette Erasmus.
Some days, I am simply not ready to be a grown up. At all.
Waking up with anxiety recently, I buried myself deeper into bed. Free floating thoughts about finances, major life decisions, relationships and a harsh, critical voice pointing out all my failings and failures wafted through my mind as I lingered between sleep and wakefulness.
Although I decided years ago to stop indulging in self-blame and fear, judgmental and critical thoughts still arise. Regularly.
So, you can imagine my pleasant surprise on this recent morning to discover a gentler part of me speaking up, taking stock and responding to the various complaints with tenderness. “No, we aren’t doing that anymore. What do you need?”
It’s like I had come upon an inner Florence Nightingale tending to my inner suffering. I know she didn’t just appear magically; I’ve been practicing this shift for a while.
I’ve learned to watch critical, judgmental and fearful thoughts arise and then embrace them with compassion, but I simply don’t allow myself to camp out with them anymore. Self-blame is not the same as self-responsibility. It is exhausting and draining.
Grounding myself in the wisdom of being open to outcome, but not attached to outcome, I remind myself to feel my feelings, to attend to my needs and to focus on what will help move me in a direction of my choosing.
Self-responsibility is an empowered way of both perceiving and responding to life. It grows out of disciplined attention to four transformative questions:
- What is happening right now? (I am lying in my bed, dreading my whole life this morning. The dog is wagging her tail at me. I am thinking she needs to pee and that, if I don’t get up, she will. Here in my room. This thought fills me with urgency to take her outside.
- What feelings are activated in me right now? (Anxiety, fear weariness, heaviness, urgency, activation.)
- What is deeply important to me? (Security, clarity, purpose, growth, contribution.)
- What will help? (taking my day one step at a time, focusing on gratitude for all that is present now, asking for help, getting the information I need to make high-stake decisions, practicing being comfortable with uncertainty.)
Building inner resources allows me to cope with the heaviness that life sometimes brings, with more fortitude, strength and resilience.
As a soul-friend of mine recently reminded me: I want to respond to life with grace. With love. With faith. With hope. With courage.
The more I practice compassion instead of judgement, self-care instead of self-recrimination, openness to outcome instead of attachment to predictability, the more I am able to truly live in alignment with my deeper values and my more soulful self.