On Tuesday night, I lay in bed and thought to myself “I did good today.” It wasn’t like I did anything extraordinary but I was lying there and I realized that I was having one of those looking-at-myself-from-the-outside moments and feeling like I had managed to do okay. I accomplished what I needed at work, I wasn’t mean to my kids, I spent time with them and I tried to do right by my clients. It was just contentment. That feeling of gratitude over an ordinary day. One where nothing goes terribly wrong and where I don’t feel defeated by my inability to measure up to the person I wish to be in the world.
Since I am trying to be present and pay attention to the good more this year, I paused to let the moment sink in. I fully appreciated it and locked in it.
I woke up the next morning still feeling good. I went through the day doing a good job, feeling strong, being kind, generous. It felt like maybe it was here to stay.
And then, last night, it all fell apart.
And this morning I was right back to the small-Karen who is sad, worried, scared. The one who messes up too often. The one who just can’t seem to do right. And, of course, as it’s wont to happen, more bad stuff happened. I struggled through the whole morning and barely made it through this day.
Now I’m sitting here, thinking about how quickly it all changed. Wondering which feeling was right. Worrying about what all this means. Trying to make sense of it.
And here’s what’s coming up: I don’t think either feeling was completely “right.” What was fundamentally different in the two days was the way I felt about myself. The way I looked at the world. The way I approached things, people, my goals. Even the way I approached how I judge things like success and failure. What differed was my attitude, my approach and my way of interpreting life.
All of which are in my control.
Even when it doesn’t feel like it is. It is. What I do, how I think and feel is always in my control. Even my sense of my place in the world is in my control. I was listening to Tara the other day and she said “What would you be without this thought?” which reminded me of Katie Byron and her four questions. I have a lot of fundamentals thoughts and viewpoints that don’t serve me. They are not productive. Actually, worse than that, they are counter-productive. They keep the small-Karen fed. They help me stay constricted, scared, worried. Without them I’d be calmer, more open, more generous, kinder and more peaceful.
March is coming tomorrow and I took a look at the intention I’d set for the month: kindly present.
I don’t know how it worked out to be so magical and appropriate but this is exactly what I need right now. The first sentence reads: “be kind to yourself.” I think it’s time for me to put some of these negative thoughts down. Maybe part of me is worried that putting them down will mean I might get hurt. Maybe I am worried that they are what keep me working so hard and trying so much. But deep down in my heart, I know it’s not the case. Because when you make decisions or act from a place of fear and worry, those actions are not genuine. They are not heartfelt. They are not generous. They are protective. They are defensive. They are selfish.
But when I feel solid and grounded, that’s when true wholeheartedness emerges. When I think that I belong, I actually act like I belong. And I believe that’s how the true belonging starts. If I don’t believe it for myself, how will anyone else?
So that’s my goal for March. Paying attention to the negative thoughts. The deep worries around what I lack. Fundamental beliefs that are keeping me small.
And putting them down to rest.
Even if just for thirty-one days.
There’s no limit to what thirty-one days of positive outlook and wholeheartedness might do for my life.