Introspection and Inspiration

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“The healing of the spirit has not been completed until openness to challenge becomes a way of life.”
― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

I have to be constantly introspective in order to write.

I think that’s normal. But that’s what my problem was in the year 2016. I just didn’t want to be introspective. It’s hard work. And I spent a few years doing it and then for whatever reason I just didn’t want to last year. It’s not a good thing. Every time something would come up I would scrounge for something sweet, or watch tv, or play a game. And I would ignore whatever it was that really required some introspection on my part. I would ignore the feelings.That’s what I’ve been doing all year long, trying really hard to ignore the feelings. Again.

I have a lot of practice doing that.

That’s why I couldn’t write. I just didn’t want to deal. I have to get back to it. I think I’m ready now. And as upsetting as it’s been that I’ve gone so long without doing it, I’m starting to realize that it is ok. It’s not ok to spend your whole life refusing to look inward and deal with yourself, but it is ok to stop for a while and not do that. It’s ok to not want to always be thinking so hard, just as long as you don’t stay there forever. Staying forever is very bad. Staying is what makes the person who never changes and never grows.

It was an extremely difficult year and I was sick a lot. I didn’t have the mental energy to be introspective enough to write every day or every week or even once a month.

I’m ready though. I’m ready to move on and start really dealing with things again. I think it’s ok I took a break for a while, even though it was a pretty long break. There are some unfortunate consequences to having taken such a long break, and I’m certainly not pleased with some of the things I allowed to happen during this time. But I am human, and I can deal with those consequences. I honestly do feel better prepared to tackle things now so maybe this unintentional break was meant to be.

I have a lot of work to do this year and I’m ready for it. I have goals. A lot of really big goals. And for the first time I’m excited about that. I’ve never really set goals for myself before. I think I was always afraid to set goals. It’s weird. I spent a lot of my childhood and young adulthood just surviving. Just getting through another day aiming to simply keep the peace as much as a young girl is able to. Just hoping that I would wake up to another day of my parents ignoring each other, as that was preferable to them yelling at each other.  Hashtag goals is my motto for the year though. Because I don’t want to just get through another day anymore. All of the goals will be met this year. Just watch me.

I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist for some reason. But as I’ve done a bit of reading, I’ve realized that maybe that is what I’ve always been. I never attempt to try things unless I already know I’m going to do it well and succeed. And I have a rather debilitating fear of failure. I think that’s exactly what perfectionism is. If feels like a personality flaw to me but I am sure there are ways to change that.

I was planning on attending an event recently, the Women’s March on Washington, and I began to get severe anxiety over it starting a week or two ago. So as part of my plan this year to focus on my health, which includes mental, emotional, and spiritual as well as physical, I decided not to go. It was partly because I could not articulate what my reason was for going. I’ve attended marches in DC before, and because I no longer believe in the cause I was marching for at the time, I didn’t want to attend a new march without having some conviction about it.

I am happy to say that I know many women, both friends and family, who were willing and able to march and I am thankful for their participation in something that is a hallmark of the freedom we have in this country. My hope is to better be able to understand what the true goal of the march was and begin to contribute in my own way to the political scene of my local government over the coming years.

I studied political science in school and I notice myself easily forgetting how much I do enjoy it. Politics are emotionally charged and many issues in politics are so charged between the two sides of the aisle that getting involved in discussions is triggering for me. Especially when those discussions happen on social media. I’ve had to click the ‘hide post’ button probably hundreds of times on facebook over the past few months, and I will continue to do so, for my own sanity. For me personally, getting involved in political discussions on social media is a very bad idea. Maybe one day I’ll be able to handle it better, but discussing things that I have very strong personal convictions about with strangers on the internet who believe the complete opposite is not serving myself and my mental and emotional state well.

Practicing self-awareness and self-care is a huge part of being introspective. And is also something that I have very much neglected over the past year.

I, thankfully, haven’t battled with depression in quite a while. But I have been complacent, content with mediocrity, and mostly unwilling to be uncomfortable. And it’s time for that to change. The things that are most worth having are the things that take the most hard work and dedication and yes, a willingness to be uncomfortable with what you’ve been doing.

My uncle asked me to read a book a while back, and while it was excellent, I wasn’t ready to tackle the subject matter and apply it to my own life. One of my favorite quotes from Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”, stabs me right in the heart every time I read it. As painful as it is to admit it, that’s exactly what has been going on with me. I haven’t been doing anything with my time.

Much of the book, The Road Less Traveled, is about discipline. And I have a complicated relationship with that word. Where I came from, discipline meant spanking toddlers for not taking naps, and public declarations of wrongdoing in front of church congregations (a practice I still find extremely bizarre), and standing in a line waiting to be spanked while having to listen to my siblings scream in pain from their own beatings, and listening to parents brag about the bruises they left or how they won out over the stubborn spirit of their child. Hearing the word discipline makes me cringe.

The rod of discipline. Telling everyone your sins. Guilt over not reading my bible or praying well enough or often enough. Feeling responsible for my siblings getting spanked. These are all the things I associate with discipline. When I first listened to The Road Less Traveled, I cried. A lot. I knew everything the author was saying was true, and yet I also knew how horrible “discipline” had been in my life. I somehow have to change what discipline means to me in my life. In order for my to have it myself, it has to be something different.

I greatly admire and am inspired by my sister and sister-in-law. I have seen discipline play out in a positive way in their lives and I need to get there somehow. My sister is raising her son on her own while attending medical school and successfully preparing to become a doctor. As if raising a child, and doing it alone, wasn’t hard enough, she decided to throw ‘become a doctor’ into the mix. That takes some serious grit and dedication. I don’t know how she does it, but I am truly inspired by her perseverance even in the face of so much hardship.

I’m inspired by my sister-in-law as well but in a very different way. She has put so much hard work into relationships. Her marriage with my brother and a lot of other familial relationships have come upon some serious bumps (more like mountains) in the road and I’ve watched as she didn’t just sit by and let things fall apart but truly put all of her effort into repairing and growing and changing. It’s an awesome thing to witness. Working on relationships is harder to come by for me and I only hope I can do it as well as she has so far. That is a goal for me this year as well.

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