do we even love hard?
we definitely hate hard
sometimes we even make our yoga hard
Why does everything have to be so HARD?
We’re a culture of extremists, intensity junkies. We go-go-go until we drop. We hold on as long as we can, and then we fall. We hold it together as long as we can, and then we crash.
What about softness, gentleness, rest, innocence, ease, peace, spaciousness, kindness, love, tenderness, curiosity, slowness?
Not as words or ideas or trite clichés, but as things we do every.day.
Things we make time for. Qualities we bring into our lives. Now — not when it’s the second before too late.
when hard shows up
Of course, I am thinking about this because I see it in myself. I justify it because the things I’m doing are (I think) “good” and worthy things. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s too much.
The other day I canceled a monthly lunch with friends because I had an overwhelming amount of work to do. Both women gently came back with, Really? You’re canceling lunch to … work.
In my overly stressed state, I was pouring lighter fluid on the fire. Yes, I had a ton to do and there are times to block out the world, hole up, and get to it. But my state was more chaotic than clear. More self-loathing than focused. And by avoiding the one thing in my day that could offer spaciousness and love, I was buying into hard.
extremes are easy
It’s really easy to tell when you’ve worked yourself to exhaustion.
It’s easy to justify a week-long vacation when you haven’t taken a day off in three years.
It’s not so easy to identify the first signs of overwhelm. Or to build mini breaks into your day/week when you don’t feel like you’ve earned them. Or to be soft and slower-paced… because that doesn’t feel like 100%, and boy, do you always give 120.
Extremes give us something to rub up against. We can feel them (as they slam the nervous system back and forth).
Middle ground is much harder to navigate. It’s broader and doesn’t give such a strong sense signal.
how to tell?
Hard feels urgent.
It’s also LOUD. And aggressive.
I have to keep working or else…
I need a day off now or else…
Or your body tells you — the heart races, you get sick, injured, clumsy.
Middle ground is… well, kind of boring. There’s no big drama. No panic. No bright and shiny.
It’s quieter. It’s wide. You may feel resistant to it (I would much rather work than take care of myself).
One way we can develop sensitivity to middle ground is to practice tuning into the subtle. Even now: notice the sounds around you. There are obvious ones, sure. See if you can begin to listen underneath those louder sounds. Are there softer ones? More far away? Closer? A lower tone?
Or go outside. Not for a power walk, but to sit and watch the leaves dance on a tree. Look at the sky. Plop your tush down in the grass and do nothing. No, you can’t take your phone with you.
We’re talking about feeling spacious. Feeling ease. Feeling soft. What would that feel like?
do the little things before you need a big thing
Take a break before you need it. Rest. Go slower. For God’s sake, go to lunch with your friends (which, by the way, I did—tears and all).
Because here’s the thing: you do not have an endless resource of energy. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to do this good and worthy work, at least not well or with joy.
What one thing can you do right now to come into middle ground, to get out of hard, to take care of yourself?