Today, my aim is to engage in a little self-care. I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, but I’m certain of my purpose. I want to get a few things off my chest. I want to look at myself in a kind of metaphorical “mirror” and write about what I see when I gaze into the looking glass.
When I was younger, I didn’t believe a lot in the power of “mood.” I felt like I could overcome sadness or any sort of emotional distress by simply willing the feelings away. “Mind over matter” became a kind of mantra. I would simply push through and past whatever might be pulling me down or holding me back.
Youth is full of such headstrong resolution. It occurs to me now, as I’m now well past the youthful phase of my life, that willfulness and energy go hand in hand. I’m more tired than I used to be and have fewer energy reserves. And I have less faith in my ability to simply ignore or conquer “mood” in the way I used to be able to do.
One of the things I’ve heard time and time again during the past couple of years is that the pandemic has been bad for everyone’s mental health. For the longest time I thought this was an overstatement. Now, I’m not so sure.
Lately, I’ve been feeling something like melancholia. (But that’s too strong a word.) I’m trying to find the best way to put it, but I’m discovering I need a larger, more nuanced vocabulary. Is it a kind of fatigue? It’s hard to name and even harder to pinpoint when it got started what the catalyst was.
In a recent post, I wrote about work. I think it’s safe to say my workplace and work life certainly play a role in these feelings I’ve been having.
I feel like things have become unbalanced. I’m caring more than I need to about things which I should be able to keep in proper perspective. (Caring too much about too many things has long been a fault of mine.)
I think I need to relearn what it means to relax, to go slower, to be more rigorous in my ability to prioritize. I need to disentangle myself too. I feel like I need to go back and reread Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
Some would shy away from doing such a self-dissection in such a public way, but I’ve long believed in the power of doing some kinds of healings acts out in the open.
Today, I’m telling you that I’ve been feeling a little lost lately but that I’m determined to find my way. Trying to find the right words and sharing my recent struggles with you are important steps in the process…
Thank you very much for listening.
When I first finished this piece several hours ago, I never imagined that a postscript would be necessary.
But a funny thing happened. Not long after I penned the blog, I began to feel better—like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. Any step forward in life must begin as an idea about stepping forward. Simply speaking the idea gives it life and begins to relieve the pressure.
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.
If you’d like to see some of Troy’s art, have a look.
31 thoughts on “Finding My Way”
Thank you! And I love your user name. Do you write a blog on intentional living? If so, leave a link so I (and others) can check it out.
https://justunapologeticallyauthentic.wordpress.com/ Thank you!
I am glad that you didn’t shy away from public dissection because what you shared in the post has the power to help others who may currently be experiencing similar feelings/moods. I will not pretend to know what you are going through; but I do know how it felt when life provided me with ample challenges years ago. I would balance the teeter-totter that was masquerading as my life–and then it would tip to the other end again! For me it was daily meditation and going within that proved immensely helpful.
One question that helped me, during some of the greatest stresses, came to me via watching some Eckhart Tolle presentations on YouTube. When my mind was racing with, “this shouldn’t be happening,” or “that should be happening,” I remembered to ask myself what Eckhart had suggested: To get still, take a couple of deep breaths, and ask, “What’s wrong with now?”
Quite often, I would just look and realize that the drama in my mind wasn’t actually happening…now. I might have been in a warm place, with a coffee to drink, and food in my belly. I hope you know that I’m not preaching–only sharing that that helped me.
Thank you again for sharing so openly. Sincerely, Art
I totally appreciate your thoughts, Art. And, no, I didn’t find you the least bit preachy. I totally agree that we often “imagine ourselves” into crises, often by working ourselves into an emotional state and then getting overwrought. When I find myself doing this sort of thing, I often slow down, stop, and ask myself how much is really happening and how much is me imagining that something terrible is going on. (I find that if my mind is racing, that’s a real sign that I need to do a “reality check.”) I’ve also found that when problems seem overwhelming that they become less so, it we break them down into actionable bits. So rather than looking at the whole thing, we say, what small action can I do today that will help me make a bit of progress. As someone who has worked in education a long time, I often find students coming to me because they are in crisis because they’ve got too much to do. Actually, they do have too much to do IN ONE SITTING. So I help them break big challenges into small ones. I really love your thinking, Art. When did you get interested in writing and thinking about wellness and such?
Great to hear from you, Troy. I’m glad that you didn’t find my note to you preachy–that’s definitely not me. It’s just that I could relate (more so a few years ago) to what you shared. One thing that I didn’t mention was that I “happened” upon information back in 2011 that proved most useful, especially as it related to those down days. What was it? Mercury in my tooth fillings! I had no idea. Long story short: had the fillings removed, and everything improved. Digestive issues–gone. Down days basically wiped away. Is it an answer for everyone? I don’t know; but I share the info in case it can help.
What you’ve shared about breaking tasks/life down into small actionable pieces makes great sense. It seems to pull the rug out from the Heaviness of the Whole that may be weighing us down.
I’ve been interested in writing since I was a teenager. Poems, etc, began pouring out of me about a year after the passing of my father. The wellness part may be related to my formal career as a paramedic (retired in 2019), and now I’m free to pursue my real passion–sharing about our essential nature beyond name and form–Nonduality.
Wishing you a great week, Troy. I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading more of your work.
I was pleased, and not entirely surprised, to read your PS about feeling better. Unloading, or just writing it down and looking at it, often helps me. But another thing that helps me (more than meditation and all those other things regularly recommended) is just to admit to myself that I over-commit to too many good causes, go in too many directions at once, write about too many unrelated topics – – and it’s okay. The next week I might be right back in the same funk, but every time I just acknowledge that’s who I am, and forgive myself for it, things brighten up.
I love your comment, Fran Johns. I think it takes a long time for most folks to get to know themselves. When I was young, I used to think that I had something “wrong” with me when, in fact, those flaws were simply features of my personality. I guess I had to make peace with who I was and am. Unfortunately, some people always try to get rid of those “flaws” and never truly get to know themselves or be at peace with themselves, warts and all.
I believe the proper word for this is “languishing.”
When you’re alone more than you are used to, your mind starts wandering into strange and often unhappy territory. You become psychologically vulnerable. People need something to keep their mind anchored. For most of us, that’s other people. Even a loner-introvert like me feels it after years of COVID. Lately I have become vulnerable to anxiety over things I need not be anxious about. I am normally a stranger to such anxiety.
Lately I have realized that we often get lost in the conundrum of life. Too many deadlines, too many tasks to complete. We try to seek the success path but we don’t know which is the best direction. And it makes us mentally lethargic. Last week I was feeling down, I blamed covid and took rest for few days. I was not positive and there was no symptoms except the fatigue, and now I am realizing it was more of the mental fatigue. I felt much better after three days. During these days, I didn’t see the emails, didn’t looked into the news. Took rest, tried to finish a novel. May be as you have pointed out using the words of Eckhart Tolle, we all need is the slow pace and enjoying the present moment.
Hi. I’ve often found that I get sort of “paralyzed” when I have more things to do that I feel I can do. What we’re describing is life in “first world.” (I don’t like the whole first-world/third-world designations. (I sometimes wonder if we who live in this “developed” couldn’t learn a lot from those who live in less “developed” place.) Thanks for the comment.
I guess writing and pen down those chaotic unending thoughts is a great way to thanks your brain.
Sometimes I feel, I just want do all those things that I will remember when I grow old. I know, past couple of years has definitely impacted me, but still it isn’t too late.
It is often said that at the end of life people don’t really regret things they did; they’re more likely to regret things they DIDN’T do. This makes perfect sense, don’t you think? Thanks for the comment.
Writing can be cathartic. I remember reading an article where the author asks us to pen down our troubles on a piece of paper, make a paper plane out of it and release it to the wind!
We all need moments to wind down and just be; with so much happening around us it isn’t always easy to be at the pink of one’s mood at all hours, things get to us and we try hard to point our finger at that source of trigger not knowing what exactly led to the sombre mood. A bar of chocolate, talking to a loved one, watching a funny video, playing with your pet can make such a difference.
Yes. Absolutely. Writing and confessing can be cathartic. I especially like your “bar of chocolate” suggestion. When in doubt, go for a bit of something sweet. Thanks so much for the comment.
It’s heartening to read something like this, Troy. Though we each have our own experiences and challenges that we have overcome, the general feeling of ‘being tired’ is well understood. After reading your post I have realized that strength and resilience come with a price (a heavy one). The two can’t be applied without stretching one’s mental and physical limits. And every time we stretch, we threaten the elasticity of our inner spirit, wearing it out with time to such an extent that even the mundane and ordinary problems seem bigger than life. Always being okay and always moving forward drains a lot of energy which can only be replenished in more settled times of life. But do we ever get enough time to heal and bounce back? I doubt it. Your sharing has deeply touched my heart. Thank you and you are definitely not alone in this. Take care. 🙂
Hi, Terveen. I love the image of the “elasticity of our inner spirit.” (That’s such a cool way to put it, and there are many wonderful lines in your comment.) You seem to perfectly understand the sort of situation I’m currently in. The feeling I have is similar to the one you get when you know you’re “coming down” with a sickness but you aren’t deathly sick yet (and you want to ward off the worst). Thank you so much for your intelligent comment. I always learn much from what you have to say.
I moved self-care to the number one thing I am focusing on for 2022 so you’re not along. Good Luck on your Journey.
Thank you, Jameson. I suppose it all begins with self-care, especially in times like these. Good luck to you too, friend.
I’m with you! One of the things that I have learned in my path of self-discovery is that giving myself “out loud” permission to feel lousy about one thing or another comes bundled with the freedom to let it go. Today, for example, I’m having one of my “worthless slug” days when I feel good for nothing. Rather than beating myself up over it, I am allowing the feeling to be there, and doing so gives me permission to move on—and love myself in spite of me. It takes a lot of courage to show one’s soft underbelly—certainly not for the faint of heart. Your willingness to do so gives permission to those who are not. Thank you!
Many of us grow up in countries and cultures where self-criticism is taught and reinforced at an early age. So, is there any wonder so many of us grow up as perfectionists with all sorts of complexes? I actually think we are damaged more from suffering in silence than we are when we openly confess and acknowledge our troubles and imperfections. (You’ve actually said the same thing in even better words than I used.) Thanks so much for the comment.
Writing is a powerful tool! I am sure you will find your “new” way!
Writing is a powerful tool–one of the most powerful ones out there! Have you noticed that psychologists work to get people to talk through their problems? Psychologist never tell their patients to hold things inside. What we hold in has the potential to destroy us. Few are ever destroyed by being honest and authentic and forthcoming. Thanks for the comment.
I consider it the ultimate generosity to share what is uncovered in honest self examination. Thank You, Troy
I love your ending, “Any step forward in life must begin as an idea about stepping forward. Simply speaking the idea gives it life and begins to relieve the pressure.” There is a magic of intention that begins when it’s said out loud. Thank you for sharing your process with us!
Troy, Like you I too have been feeling a bit lost lately. The word I have found that fits me best is languishing – as though I am treading water and going absolutely nowhere and having nothing to show for the half century of life lived thus far. AND like you, I have found that when I let myself be vulnerable in my writing – writing about real life and not the life I would like my readers to read about – not only do I feel freer and more alive – but people respond in kind!! Happy to share this journey of finding with you. Very much enjoyed your post.
I appreciate that you added the post script. Sometimes I write and then reflect, realizing that what I wrote helped me to get through whatever it was that was on my mind. Keep sharing!
The post script is everything!
I feel like my younger self can relate to your younger self. I was so headstrong, believed I could do anything I set my mind to, didn’t believe in mental health, and had much less empathy for others… Completely opposite of how I’d describe myself now…. Crazy to think that was only 5 years ago, but lots of things changed and life experiences happened in those crucial 5 years of beginning adulthood.
This is what people need to hear and see Troy. I believe it has the power to help others in the same boat – which we all are. I’m glad to hear it helped too. I write for this reason. It is a powerful form of self-therapy. BTW I think the word you are looking for is languishing “a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life or the things that typically bring you joy.” Many of us have felt during this pandemic. Wishing you well Troy🙏
I was happy to read the post script. I’m glad you’re feeling better. It’s such a relief the pandemic is letting up, because (at least for me, and I’m sure many others) it took such a strange toll on me. It created this warped sense of time in me, first over-working on my freelance start-up to the point of burning out, then stepping back and (like you mentioned) relearning to relax and take it easy, and the whole time feeling like I’m not doing enough. A general sense of inadequacy.