Walking away from conflict, nurturing the self and inflating your balloon

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I had some challenging days last week.  Upon retrospection, I realized the reason the days were challenging is that I had lost my solid footing. I allowed someone else to set my tone, define my rules and draw me out of my comfort zone. I had given someone else power over my emotions by listening to hateful discourse. I slipped, as we all do from time to time.

Yet, I am proud that I didn’t play the game that was set before me. I turned the other cheek and left someone to their negativity. It wasn’t easy in the moment, but the right thing to do. Even so, the experience was unsettling, and as with all challenges, I learned some things about myself in the process. I’m proud to realize that I am no longer someone who can easily be drawn into a clearly fruitless and heated debate.

In choosing to walk away from a conflict, I observed something interesting: ignoring a tyrant may be the most powerful, most discrediting and unchallengeable thing one can do. In my case, the tyrant reeled when he realized he had lost his audience.

In a sense, by refusing to play the game, I won it.

Still, I was left in a funk. How to unfunk myself? Perhaps a visualization will help. Imagine yourself as a balloon. External stress – one or many sources of stress – can compress and stretch us inward. A dear friend of mine from India has an expression I love: “he stood on my head”. Yes, at first, adjusting and shifting to accommodate the stress may be enough to alleviate a temporary change in pressure. But sometimes the pressure is so great it’s as if someone is standing on your head; it feels like your balloon will pop. Sure, you could go to others for help, but sometimes even well-meaning advice may even feel like more pressure.

So, what to do? Since all emotions originate from within us, a good way to overcome the demands of external forces is to strengthen yourself from the inside. Inflate your balloon to be full enough to counteract the outside pressure.

The way to inflate one’s balloon is very unique to the individual. Below are some of the ways that I inflate myself when I feel that external demands are too much to be resisted with normal positive thinking and choosing the best in life to be happy. For me, it means re-defining my boundaries and centering myself, re-discovering the things that move me. For example:

  • I listen to music and dance with my music-loving toddler.
  • I make juice, which always brings such a healthy boost I feel like I could fly. My current favorite? Kale-carrot-celery-garlic-apple juice.
  • I’ve started carrying a small notebook and a pen with me so I could write my thoughts. It’s a wonderful and simple way to value and distill the inner churning of ideas.
  • I immerse myself in nature: lie in the grass, sit on a rock in the river, look at the stars. I listen and look and feel. I meditation and breathe.
  • I share foot massages with my husband.
  • I snuggle under a blanket and read with my children.
  • I work in the garden and get dirt on my hands.
  • I commit random acts of kindness.
  • I commit random acts of art.
  • I swim and feel strong.
  • I write on the pages of Nurturing and Nature to share with you.

What do you do to self-nurture and find yourself after a stressful encounter? How do you inflate your balloon?

river meditation

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4 thoughts on “Walking away from conflict, nurturing the self and inflating your balloon

  1. Ooh, you’re spot on with advice sometimes feeling like more pressure – I’d never really thought about it until I just read it, but it makes sense and is true. I had a really hard time wrapping my head around/accepting that my emotions come from within ME, that *I* was in sole control of them; but I’ve done a lot of learning and growing in the past couple of years, and it’s getting easier to both realize and accept.

    I never really had a good outlet when I’d feel the pressure of the outside world: my tried and true (although not necessarily healthy or successful!) reaction was to withdraw and shut myself down. Again, with growing and learning, I usually turn to meditation (when I can – if it happens at work, I just breathe breathe breathe until I can meditate at home). I like the idea of working it out through art, too; I’m doing the Brave Girls Soul Restoration camp right now and am starting to feel my creativity bloom again – I can totally see turning to art journalling when I need relief. I also REALLY need to get back to reading.

    Excellent post, my friend.

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    1. Learning how to deal with emotions is a lifelong process, I think. It was a revelation for me to really *feel* rather than just *know* how much of our experiences originate within us. I’m not there yet and I wonder if anyone is ever really “done”…

      I started writing again when I could no longer do pottery. The things that fill our balloon change with time and circumstances…thanks so much for sharing, C! xo

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  2. I love this post. I fall victim to negativity ALL THE TIME (mostly from family members) and it’s very hard to find my own footing and the strength to “unfunk myself”. I struggle with this all the time. I love the analogy of the balloon. Some ways that I inflate my own balloon are: reading a good book, exercising, reaching out to friends, spending time outside with my little guy, and cooking. Oh, the feeling of creating a good meal fills me with some of my favorite feelings: pride, the ability to nurture my family, and a sense of accomplishment. Not to mention that eating is quite soul-soothing as well. :) Great post!

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    1. I love this comment! What great ways to defunk. I find that cooking is nurturing for all the reasons you give…it feels good while doing it and while enjoying the result. :)

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