Scared I Might Be Eaten By a Bear!
"You are one thought away from happiness, one thought away from sadness. The secret lies in thought." Sydney Banks. I will open up with sharing an experience from my life that is an example of this simple truth.
Be forewarned, you may find snark and humor in how I describe my personal experiences of family. My snark is a way I show my humanness and share the ordinary aspect of parenting and wifing. I love my family dearly and they know this because I tell them and show them consistently.
Me and my family had recently returned from our family's annual summer camping trip which was 5 days of soaking in beautiful nature, going on hikes, swimming, NO electronics, enjoying campfire games and S'mores, lots of connection time, created sweet new memories, me and my daughter having irrational fear of bears eating us (ridiculous, I know) and the sweet absence of a lot of stirred up thinking about to-dos .
When we returned home after the 6 hour drive, it was after 10pm. I asked the kids to get showers and get into bed after they brought in the camping gear with us. My husband had to work early the next morning so he hopped in the shower and laid in bed looking at his Facebook page (He had to catch up after 5 days of electronics detox).
You may or may not have guessed that I had some stirred up thinking about him getting showered first, hopping into bed while I wrangled and directed the herd of feral cats I call my children, and then being on his phone instead of getting to sleep or getting up to help. Yeah, those thoughts popped in and out.
As I write this, I hear him defending himself by explaining he needed to decompress after driving all day (fair enough). This is where the evidence that my happy camper self started not being in my heart but in my head.
Instead of following suit with my family and getting the rest needed, I started putting stuff away and placed stuff by the laundry to be washed the next day. I knew waking to my living room filled with camping gear was not my idea of fun and would most likely not set a relaxed tone for my day. I also visualized how in the morning my kids would simply sit on or navigate around the camping gear to play their video games. Thinking about it started to ignite frustration. Straightening up was my attempt at setting me and my family up for a win. Ironically, after having a clear idea of how to set us up all for a win, I moved deeper into my head about "getting busy doing instead of being".
I spent the next two days on my feet literally all day "doing" stuff. I cleaned (Oh yeah, we came home to the house smelling like throw up and my large freezer door slightly opened and all the food defrosted.), I cleared out the freezer, threw away a lot of food and cleaned it, pulled freezer out from wall and cleaned behind, underneath, and around, did laundry, made meals throughout the days for family and their friends, did coaching sessions, obsessed about the smell more and actively seeking out the cause, answered needs of kids while they played video games all day (to be fair they did help when I asked them to clean the bathrooms or straighten up or do litter box and other miscellaneous things), did more laundry, drove my daughter to swim team practice, went to grocery store, picked up my daughter from swim team practice, cooked dinner, drove my daughter to her dad's for the weekend after picking her up from swim team, obsessed even more about the smell because cleaning was not fixing it and I could not identify the source (still can't!), hosted friends two days after our return and whatever other laundry list of to-do items I can add to show my lack of slowing down.
By the way, I speed up inside myself when I am feeling my insecure thinking about being productive or unproductive in life. It seems like a good idea but the evidence clearly shows this is not high level thinking and simply not a great idea to explore this thinking further. Evidence of this comes next.
I am not sure if you can see the foreshadowing at this point but I hit a wall and the result was me in crazy mom/wife mode. It started with the kids saying they spent $75 ordering Indian food the night before. We had left them $40 for dinner since we had an event that evening and it would have been too early to cook dinner and leave out until they ate. (That was me justifying not cooking my kids a healthy homemade meal and spending extra money.) We told them if they wanted anything over the $40 they had to use their own money and so they did. Seems simple and rational.
Apparently, rational was not the direction I was looking in at this moment. I was exhausted, tired of taking care of my "families' needs", and running other stories such as I need to find that smell!, need a clean home, I need get back to work, I need work, I need to write and vblog, build my business, give my husband a financial break, make sure my kids head down a good path for the rest of their lives, and I become perfect in all aspects of life (Seems reasonable and acceptable?). As you may be able to see, the overwhelm was building and I really was on my mind about me a lot! The pressure cooker was in full force and I finally exploded.
It was really simply how it all went down, they spent money, the oldest did not put money in the pot, I jumped into misunderstandings and told my oldest he needs to learn to be responsible around money because he is 16 now and going to be out in the world on his own soon. I explained to the other two boys that he was trailblazing for them and it would help if they supported him instead of "protect" him from responsibility. Youngest had said he did not need to contribute any money because his brother's part of dinner was covered by the money we left and did not understand why I even cared.
This triggered me even more because of stories I hold onto around my family. I elevated my intensity along with my voice when asking them to simply let me parent as it is my job to get them ready for life. (If you are a parent or remember being a child, than you might be able to imagine the confused looks on their faces.) I continued on my crazy rant with them all getting frustrate with me due to being completely confused. Which was my cue to increase my intensity so they could clearly see what I speak is truth, I am right and I am the parent.
I hid out in my bedroom most of the day after my outburst of my messy humanity. I had identified that I was feeling my thinking intensely along with my insecurity. In attempt to keep my family safe from any more emotional takedowns, I kept a distance and attempted to settle back into neutral. My husband pops in the room and asks if I am cooking dinner tonight. I said "no" and he asked if in the future I could let him know so he can be prepared. I exploded inside even more and hightailed it out of our house and got a massage! My well-being did me a solid with this bit of inspiration and I came home much calmer.
So this was pretty much an all day experience of me really feeling my thinking and chasing the low level thinking believing it had some good answers for me. My relaxed mind has never come from me looking towards low level thinking. It has come from me looking in the direction of my innate mental health/well-being. In these really stirred up moments, it can look like mental health is absent. With my present understanding, I constantly wake up to seeing my stirred up thinking is not my truth. I can see I am putting a lot of important meaning to made up ideas/thoughts of myself leading to anxiety, stress, pressure, overwhelm and panic.
As I was experiencing my human self most of the day, I could see my mental health supporting me. First, I ended the ridiculous conversation quicker than I had in the past because I was aware my thinking was not elevated or clear. From there, I took myself out of the situation and gave myself and my family space. My husband kindly sent the kids to the movies in support of both of us getting quiet time. I could at least understand that I needed to rest and return to neutral space within me. Even after I was triggered by the dinner question, I went an got a massage instead of following my low quality thinking. My mental health sees and accounts for my humanity and supports me to getting to more quality thinking. I came home way more relaxed within myself.
The next day, I apologized to my kids for being intense with them and that it was not about them at all but simply poor quality thinking from a tired physical state and a stirred up mental state. I am still fluctuating between seeing my mental health/well-being and buying into my stirred up thinking. The simple truth is I am one thought away from peace and because of having understanding, I know well-being will lead the way when I looked in that direction.