Without getting political, it’s rather glaringly apparent that many people are hurting right now. Heartbroken, horrified, shocked, grieving, swinging between seething rage and hopelessness and back again. I empathize because I’m in the same ocean liner that just slammed into a Glacier Of OMFG WTF Is Happening????
During times of great uncertainty and pain, we need self-care. As many of you know, I’ve lived for many many years with major uncertainty and fear and great pain, the details of which aren’t important right now. What is germane is that I have acquired some coping techniques and self care tips from some great minds along the way. I’m going to offer them (the techniques and tips – not the brains of those great people) to whoever may need them. Take what you’d like and leave the rest.
Yes, I’m seriously gonna start with that one. Sounds cliched as all hell but it’s damn effective. One technique I was taught is this:
- Sit comfortably and no, it doesn’t have to be in the legs crisscrossed, palms up and resting on your knees position, but it can be if that’s what you’d like.
- Think of what you wish for in life, not material things per se, but stuff like hope, peace, healing, health, to be heard, to be seen, to be loved, to have featherless dinosaurs etc. Narrow your choices to three or four per meditation session.
- Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta* for yourself. *metta – (n)
also called maitri. Example:
- May I have peace
- May I have hope
- May I have healing
- Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for someone you are thankful for.
- May (insert person) have peace
- May (insert person) have hope
- May (insert person) have healing
- Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for someone you feel neutral about – neither positive nor negative.
- Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for someone you dislike.
- Breathe in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and then say a metta for everyone universally: e.g. May all beings everywhere have healing.
Repeat these slogans as needed (from al anon)
- One Day at a Time.
- Let Go and Let God.
- Easy Does It.
- Listen and Learn.
- Together We Can Make It.
- First Things First.
One Day at a Time
For me, this slogan means: stop obsessing about the future and all the horrible things that might happen. Stop catastrophizing. Live this day, in this moment, and quietly seek out beauty and peace. Don’t grasp at it, just let it happen. And if I can’t feel peace, then I need reach out to someone I trust and ask for their help, with the expectation that the universe will respond with love.
Let Go And Let God
I’m not a religious person. At all. I rejected the religion of my childhood (Evangelical Southern Baptist) long ago. I don’t believe in a deity of any sort. So for me, “God” means two things:
- The group of fellow human beings whom I have learned to trust
- The belief that hope and loving kindness actually do exist in the universe
When I’m thoroughly stessed to the max, when matters are out of my control, I try to pause. All this raging against the machine or frantic worrying or pacing is getting me exactly nowhere fast. I take a moment and I do one of a few things:
- I think back on conversations I’ve had with wise people, or about quotes that wise people have said. I gather strength from their wise words.
- I ask the universe to “Hey universe, how about sending some of that seemingly illusive peace and loving kindness my way? Thanks, kinda need it right about now.”
For you “God” may mean something different and that is perfectly fine. When you feel overwhelmed, try to Let Go and Let Your God and see if this helps.
Easy Does It
Basically this one means “Relax, already!”. Anger, fear, and worry make us tense. Our muscles contract, we grit our teeth, our heart beats like a crazed horse inside our chest. This is a healthy response in a flight or fight situation. But unless a rabid rhinoceros is bearing down on our ass, this biological stress response isn’t doing us a lot of good if we maintain it for long periods. The flight or fight response was designed for the quick battles, for sprints – not marathons. And as we all know, life is a marathon, not a sprint. If I spend hours getting worked up about the sucktasticness of certain aspects of life, I’m gonna wear myself out in no time. And if I’m worn out, I can’t be of use to myself, my loved ones, or the world at large.
Righteous anger and justified fear are useful and neccessary, but we can’t function 24/7 in MAXED OUT RAGEFEST or HOLY SHIT WE ARE ALL DOOMED mode. So when I feel like roadkill run over by a convoy of ten-ton stressmobiles, I stop and say “Easy does it, You can be a warrior later, self. But for this moment, park your hammer of Thor, and take it easy. Relax. Recoup your strength.”
Listen and Learn
For me this one means: Girl, you do not have the answer, alright? Accept it. You’ve been beating this dead Velociraptor for days now and no matter how hard you whack on this thing, you ain’t bringing it back to life, you hearing me? So what you need to do now is turn to sources outside yourself. Go read. Go listen to others. And I mean listen, not just sit there ruminating on shit while the other people are talking. Listen to them and you’ll be surprised what wisdom you’ll find out there.”
Together We Can Make It
I’ve felt alone in many of my traumas in life. As I look back, I realize this didn’t need to be the case. Now I know that if I am willing to reach out, I will most likely find others who are going through what I am going through. Who are feeling what I am feeling. We humans , no matter how reclusive or introverted, are social beasts. Knowing we are not alone in our pain/anger/fear is therapeutic for us. When I’m angry/scared/worried, I now reach out to those I trust, to people who I know will empathize and listen without judgment. To people who won’t beat me up for my feelings but who will lift me up and – if I ask for it – provide me with advice or words of wisdom.
First Things First
When a great trauma happens, a lot of times our first reaction is to go “OMG LOOK AT ALL THESE PROBLEMS NOW AND OMG I MUST FACE THEM ALL RIGHT NOW RIGHT THIS SECOND OMG THE ENEMY IS EVERYWHERE AND I AM A METAPHORICAL LONE SPARTAN WITH A POCKET KNIFE FACING TWO ZILLION PERSIAN ENEMY FORCES WITH ALL MANNER OF ADVANCED WEAPONRY AND FIGHTING ELEPHANTS AND SHIT ALL BY MY LONESOME SELF OMG! When life feels like this, I have to remember to do One Thing At A Time. AND to do the most important thing first. Sometimes that most important thing is paying a bill. Sometimes it’s putting food in my body because – hello – I can’t face the hordes of fighting elephants when my blood sugar is tanked. Do the most important thing first. Then breathe and do the second most important thing. I often put everything else ahead of me. I let other stuff, other people take priority. But I’ve learned that if I let my physical, mental, and emotional energy be depleted, I’ll shortcircuit. Now I do first things first and if that means taking time for self-care before I take on the BIG SUCKFEST OF RAGING SHIT-COVERED HORDES OF PUKE-WORTHY VILENESS then that is what I prioritize. After my tank is filled, then I can ramp up my engines and face the Suckfest Elephant Horde.
Some other things I’ve found helpful when I’m feeling thoroughly crushed by the ten-ton suckmonkeys of life is to:
play with Fang the Kitten of Destruction
watch a comedy
cry without judging myself for crying
do some small nice thing for myself
distract myself with drawing or doing a mindless craft
listen to upbeat music (music is a powerful mood alterer)
do a good deed for someone
That’s all for now. I need to get out of this chair and get some sunshine. And then I’ll be back, replenished and ready to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT AGAINST THE SUCKTASTIC HORDES OF GROSSNESS!
Before I go, I’ll leave you with some cute shiz. Go, my fellow humans, look at cute shiz, and then FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT AGAINST THE SUCKTASTIC HORDES OF GROSSNESS!
A rare photo of a Hoppy Huskerpupper of Floofhappiness
A baby GrabbyToesLoveyGazeHuggabooGecko
A tiny fuzzy kitty who loves you soooooooooo effing much