Sometimes I feel like life knocks me down with a Rocky-sized punch, and I am down for the count. We have all had this type of day, where nothing seems to go right, everything feels more challenging, and we don’t have the energy for the simplest of things.
For me, these days happen when I have depleted myself so entirely that I crash. The truth is that it isn’t life that has knocked me down. So often, I fall into a trance. I’ll work through mealtimes, as I’ve stopped listening to hunger so many times that I’m numb to hunger pains. The hours can pass well past the sun setting so utterly unnoticed that I am now working in a too dark room to see. I get so tangled up in what I am doing I miss the signs of fatigue. Even when I struggle through complex tasks, I keep going without asking for help or taking a break deep in frustration.
It isn’t life that knocks me down. It is me.
I often don’t even see it coming. We can feel stuck in our pattern, falling further into their destructive autopilot momentum.
Until that magical moment where awareness comes, I can see my pattern. Now what?
The awareness rebound
What do I usually do at this moment? I leap into a complete deep dive into the pool of self-judgement, shame, and isolation until I am suffering so entirely that I crave anything that will numb the pain.
The rebound is equally as destructive. My hunger now recognized turns to a binge. Needing rest turns to over-sleeping or distracting from the thoughts of my mind with a sleep-deprived Netflix binge. My ignored body is now loudly announcing achy inflammation.
What I need to do in these moments is stop, step away from the doing and begin listening to my body communicate its needs and start renourishing and replenishing. I need the community I’ve prevented, so I can speak the truth of my shame story and stop carrying it in my guy.
The problem is this depleted version of me no longer trusts that I even know how anymore. So I question my wisdom.
The danger of awareness rebounds
Edgar Guest says, “when things go wrong as they sometimes will… Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.” His poem is a perfect example of our push culture. “Rest if you must,” as though our body doesn’t need it, “but don’t you quit,” taking our agency. We have been trained that we have to keep going.
We have seen our pattern’s destruction, but “don’t you quit” plays like a mantra. So we deny our body’s wisdom, keep going and farm out our intuition becoming easy prey to the spiritually superior narcissistic guru who knows how to engage our shame. Their words latch onto the deepest dark thoughts within us, that we are broken, that we deserve our experience, that we “need” them—we easily miss the empathic void.
This individual believes they have become somehow enlightened in a way that others have not and operates from a disconnecting stance of spiritual superiority. Which makes it easy to misuse spiritual practices, energies, or experiences to bolster themselves as the guru we must follow.
Whether it is the holistic guru claiming a journey to the “pure consciousness” they have, the fitness industry claims of “hacking our body’s wellness” for the body they have, or the self-development event where we will “master every area of your life,” and live “unleashed fully self-expressed and completely free” we want the life they claim to have.
Blindly following the guru, we are pulled further away from listening to our bodies. When their advice doesn’t work, we are to blame. When it is causing more suffering, we are “sicker than I thought.” Sitting on the “expert” pedestal we envisioned, we blindly follow their advice, even when it causes more suffering so that we can continue the pattern of self-destruction
Let’s go back to that magical moment of awareness where I noticed my pattern. When you look up the meaning of awareness, you will find it means “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.” Did you notice how it doesn’t say a time to self-judge or the moment shame begins? What if this isn’t what follows awareness?
On the other hand, the word pattern comes from the Middle English word patron, ‘something serving as a model’ a repeated design. What if what I do after the awareness has always just been part of the pattern?
This cycle for me begins with either feeling deeply inspired to create or stressed to get something complete. Both cause me to dive into my work with a sense of urgency. I am focused, deeply engaged, and often highly productive. Often it feels like I am in the flow of creation, so when I have that moment of awareness, I’m upset with myself because I have again fallen into my pattern. I feel like something is wrong with me, so I fall into the darkness of shame and begin the phase of destruction.
What if the moment of awareness is an opportunity?
What do I actually need?
I have worked through my body’s needs, and I am tired, hungry, and depleted. I am about to enter the destructive phase, and just before that, I become aware I am in the pattern. We have spent so much time developing our awareness without stopping to ask what we are meant to do with it.
What is preventing me from eating, resting and restoring at this moment?
Awareness is like the wing of an eagle, pound for pound; it is stronger than the wing of an airplane. We spend our lives, especially in a society addicted to self-improvement, developing this wing.
Imagine the eagle’s flight with just one strong wing.
Developing a balancing wing
What I have always needed at this moment is self-compassion—‘being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.’
Love the part of me who can dive so deeply into something. Caring for the part of me who is depleted. Softness for the part of me who believes any of this means anything about my worth. Forgiveness for the part of me who has done this before and still forgets to set a timer for a self-care check-in.
So what have I learned? I am human: I will make mistakes without it lessening my value. Things will go wrong, and self-compassion is the way forward. No matter where I am in my pattern, in that moment of awareness, or drowning in self-loathing, I can choose self-compassion.