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?