Before I left for the holidays, I was pretty bogged down with obligations. Every morning I would tell myself, “Just get through ‘x’ and you can come home and rest again.” I may or may not have sang Gotta Get Thru This.(Yes, I know that song isn’t about having too many things on your to do list.) I sang it loudly and repeatedly…you know..to get through…that. Just get through this class, this appointment, this meeting, and THEN you can do what you want…THEN you can rest…THEN you can start living. As I watched myself white-knuckling and fist-pumping, it became clear that this was not a display of my awesome will power. It was a hostage negotiation. So, I said to my inner-hostage taker, “We aren’t going to just get through today. We are going to THRIVE.”
Yeah…positive thinking! Right? RIGHT?
During my lengthy day, every time I heard the beginnings of Daniel Bedingfield’s melodious voice urging me to “get thru this,” I replied with, “Oh, no. We will thrive, Daniel!” My Mondays were good. My Tuesdays were pretty decent. Making the decision that I was a survivor and a thriver was going to turn all this crap on it’s head. Then, Wednesdays would hit. I was exhausted. I was actually exhausted Monday, but my willful delusion of “THRIVE BABY THRIVE” allowed me to brace myself all the way to Wednesday where a brick wall was waiting, and I hit it. I hit it hard. Then, I would spend the next three days blundering toward Sunday. My one day off.
I was teaching on average about 15 yoga classes a week, and when I add up time before and after classes setting up and cleaning up, talking to students, planning classes, transportation, etc. I had somehow created a 50+ hour work week for myself. I overcommitted, and while I thought having this monkey on my back reminding me that I said I would do all of these things would be enough to get me through, it wasn’t. Much of my self-worth is tied up in being able to do whatever I am asked. There’s a phrase for this. What is it? Oh yeah: a glutton for punishment. There’s that part that says, “Yes, pile it on. I can take it.” But as much as I would like to take it, I can’t. I’m not a pack mule; I’m a person. I’m a lady who doesn’t want to be a mule, but is somehow subconsciously compelled to transform into a jackass.
So, I slowly started to unpack my mule-self. What did I want to spend my time doing? Where was I needed the most? Am I doing certain activities out of guilt and responsibility, or because it seems like an amazing thing I need to do? There’s a lot of fear when you are a pack mule. One thing that keeps me signing up for stuff I may not want to do is that I am afraid of losing money. Teaching more means more money, and if I were to give up some of my classes, I would have less money, right? Yet, that fear doesn’t really take into account that there are other things out there that could bring me money that I haven’t thought of or been available for that are very exciting. I can’t be available for unknown opportunities if I’m just keeping my head down to lug my ton of obligations up this mountain.
The moment that I began to loosen my grip on my guilt, fear, and all the things I had to do, those new exciting things found me. I made room for them, and they appeared. Some people will say it’s the magic of the universe, but I’m a concrete kind of gal. I think that it isn’t possible for me to see any opportunity for creativity, growth, imagination, and yes, money when I’m walking around thinking and openly declaring that my plate is full.
What are we saying yes to? And what are we saying no to? Are we holding onto busy schedules and stress because we are afraid of missing out? Afraid of losing money? Disappointing someone? When we get all filled up on guilt and doubt, we don’t leave any room for things that excite us. And that excitement thing isn’t just for kids, it’s a big deal. It’s the thing that provides us with daily inspiration, joy, and creativity. When we have that joy, we don’t have to will ourselves through the day anymore. There will be no more “gotta get through this,” before we can live the life we want to live. The life you want begins now.