Hell in the Hallways

When one door closes another one opens… but the hallway is hell.


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the IMPORTANCE of BALANCE

Balance…   ah….

There are entire books out there that are jealous of that one simple word.

I consider balance an unseen force.  Stand up for a second.  Hopefully you have a limb that has fallen asleep that will make this demonstration even easier.  Turn off one side of your body and push hard with the other.  Yes.  Fall over.  Tell me it isn’t an unseen force…

A sense of balance goes a long way in our physical lives but is also a necessary part of our emotional and mental self-awareness.  Of course, in our self-awareness the absence or presence of balance is more of a private matter but this isn’t always helpful.  If you fall over in the street you are going to wonder why.  Someone will ask (hopefully you!) what made you lose your balance.  Yet emotionally and mentally we can make ourselves insane (uh, literally), sick, exhausted, or my personal favorite- bitterly resentful- without even once asking ourselves the question- Hey lady- what made you lose your balance?

When we seek balance, as in a yoga position, we turn our attention to the push and pull of our bodies.  While it may seem like a simple matter of weighing one side of the body against the other side, it is never actually one side of the body AGAINST the other.  Both sides work together to keep the body upright.  Depending on the position- one side gives and the other takes- but the purpose of the shifting is a shared gentle purpose of maintaining ourselves upright.   Within self-awareness we may not actually fall over (although some of us might) but we do fall into annoying habits.  We do fall into closed-mindedness.  We fall into fear, and arrogance, or both.   “Too much of anything is harmful.”  Even good things in excess become troublesome, and when we lean too far in one direction, we tend to veer impressively in that direction until we forget where it was we turned.

So when we take a look at the SELF-SHELF we are really speaking of balancing our internal and external worlds.  Respect and Self-Respect.  Love and Self-Love.  Self-Awareness and Awareness of Others.  But often we see this as SELF versus OTHERS.  When we try to stay balanced our left side is not waging war on our right side- they are working together.  But when we are over-tired, over-worked, and over-consulted you know it starts to feel like a lot like SELF versus OTHERS.   In fact I start feeling like it is me or them.  However, this is not a helpful way of thinking.  Thinking of balance as a battlefield encourages negative thinking and negative reactions.  If we choose to see it more as a signal, a message of weariness from our internal world to our external world, we may respond differently.

Imagine that you are the translator between your inner and outer peace.  One is asking for more freedom, and the other one will have to make a sacrifice to provide that freedom.  The deal is once that request is fulfilled the two must return to their balanced positions.  Now most of the time both sides are asking for your attention and we must listen carefully.  Which one is speaking sincerely?  Only you know.  Or maybe you don’t, but I assure you that your guess is the only one that actually matters.

That is the last thing about balance.  It is absolutely personal.  There is not a person on the planet that can tell you what will work for you.  Do not be afraid of trial and error.  Trial and error is pretty much the way things are done.  Don’t trust anyone who tries to tell you differently.  But it is always much easier if we start small.  That being said, here is an example of questions that you can ask yourself…

Do I spend too much time worrying?  It might be time to let go.  It may be time to try and let go even if I can’t let go just yet.  It may be time to look for something that is the opposite of worry.  Toss a penny in a fountain.  Donate a dollar.  Go out without doing your hair or with two different socks (just take the garbage out like this then- you stiff!)

Do I play all the time, or lose time in distraction?  It might help to dive into something serious, or something challenging that demands my focus.  Watch a disturbing video about the less fortunate, for example those living in slavery.  Investigate a disease.  Take on a small project.   Do some bizarre one day diet.

Do I spend too much time explaining myself to other people?  Why I am late?  Why I am early?  Why I exist?  Try not saying a word-  just try it.  It’s okay if you start spilling your guts immediately afterwards, but you might just enjoy the silence.

Do I think I know best always?  This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can overgrow itself… so to be sure- let someone else order, pick the movie, bring dessert, tell you their opinion.

These are only examples… the options are endless.

 


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THE SELFS

Grouped together this is a mysterious, barely penetrable package.  Not exactly the list of titles that the downtrodden are eager to digest over lunch.  The SELF-SHELF has a mix of vague titles and and often these subjects intertwine and overlap.  Self-confidence can look like self-esteem or self-trust but they are not always on the same page.  Confidence in one’s abilities is often just that- confidence in the ability, but not necessarily in the self.   Confidence, trust, and love can come from very different places and not all of them are self-based.   Self-acceptance which is an extraordinary truce between self-absorption and selflessness can feel like we are giving up on ourselves.   Self-love can feel like self-absorption, and self-absorption can be hidden behind self-love.

These are some of the categories of self-knowledge and the more familiar we are with them the more we can figure what area has the uproar.  Some of the SELFS are tricksters- not self-knowledge at all but distorted thinking.   It is helpful to know them for what they are as well so when they appear on the stage they can be ignored or discarded (whatever works!).   The true SELFS are meant to guide us towards a happiness that only we can recognize but to recognize it we must first fine tune our own way of thinking.  Despite their elusive qualities these titles carry some weight when put to good solid use.  They develop with ease when we take a time to be or become self-aware.   The trick is to dedicate a moment or two to ourselves because although the world believes differently our only chance to truly see ourselves is from the inside out.

selflessness- understanding your place in the world with courage and humility.  Accepting that you are not all-important but you are, nevertheless, of importance.

self-acceptance- tell yourself you are good enough.  Mean it.

self-awareness- listen to yourself carefully.  Remember what you said.  Look for patterns.

self-confidence- feel good about your abilities in any certain area or a multitude of areas.

self-esteem- firm awareness of how much you matter in your own life.

self-love- like yourself.  Feel heaps of compassion for yourself.  Appreciate your efforts.

self-trust- believe you make wise healthy decisions.  Relax about what you might do next.

(other tricky titles… )

self-doubt- beating yourself up for not having insider information about the universe.

self-image- the way we see ourselves, or a dangerous mix of how we see ourselves and how we think others see us.

self-consciousness- awareness, often exaggerated, of how one might look or seem to others  (sometimes confused with self-awareness).

self-righteousness-  inflated conviction that you know more than everyone else (sometimes confused with self-respect or self-confidence).

self-pity- love and compassion for yourself but distorted without the balance of self-respect, self-trust and self-awareness.

self-absorption- seeing oneself as the center of the world instead of part of the world (can be mistaken for self-love or self-confidence).


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the Hallway

Let’s see if you can recognize it from this description…Image

You just get a door slammed.  It shuts with a loud clap that echoes in the back of your head.  Maybe it isn’t slammed… but somehow the softly slowly closed door is harsher.  That quiet little click of the mechanics of the doorknob confirms- you have just been thrown out of your own dream.  You react to this.  Wail, weep, whine.  Either way- where you perceive yourself is crumpled in a heap outside that door.  And the door is perched on a ledge and upon that ledge you sit.  And for a moment there is nothing in the world except for you, that ledge, that door, and darkness. Still, affectionately it is your door, your ledge, your darkness.  It can last an hour.  It can last years.  But whether it takes us an hour or 3 years the process of getting up is often the same.

We sit outside the door waiting for that single door to open as if our life depended upon it.   We do not even see that we are in a hallway.  I personally did not want to see  and kept my eyes shut.  But as the lights brightened I talked myself into taking a look around.  My self pity had lost its power kick.  Crying outside a door in the midst of what was beginning to look like an infinite supply of doors seemed idiotic despite my grief.  I marked my door with a big X so I could keep my eye on it, and I started investigating.

And it is like an old house, doors open into closets that open into other hallways.  Sometimes those other hallways lead back into the same room I sat outside of grieving, and I find myself saying- why!  Why so much time wept away on that one single door?  Most rooms have at least two entrances.  Yes, some require travel upon rooftops, but isn’t that where life gets interesting?  I have climbed through a lot of windows to get where I want to go so why is that one door, shut tight, such an emotional obstacle? I think it has a lot to do with not realizing I am in the hallway. And that a hallway is a good place.  It is the gathering place for all the options that I cannot see, options that I may not yet be willing to consider, but options.  Endless options.   The ‘shut door experience’ has an unfortunate but brief resemblance to the end of all happiness, but once that wave of vanishing joy ripples through there is yet another step to take.  If the shut door is the end, the hallway is the beginning.  It is just a matter of turning around and finding a light-switch or two.

Once the lights are on it is just a matter of time before I start remaking the map.    Yes- the map to find that other way around- the other entrance to the room I was just thrown out of.  We don’t have to miraculously change our dream. Keep it- just find another way to reach it.  But then again, stay drastically open-minded because half the time as I search to find the other way around, I discover a whole new destination.  The destination I was never looking for is one of my favorite tricks of the hallway.

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