A few hours ago, I had a meltdown. The “knock down, drag out, go sit in the bathroom, close the door and scream” kind. Now that I’m sitting in the coffee shop and I’ve had a few civil conversations, I can write about it.
Now, why would I want to write about it? Well, in part, writing for me is like therapy. As a teenager and well into my college and post-college years, I kept a journal. My journal, after a while, took a backseat to my blog, which although now is part of my website, was originally a training log for my first marathon in 2008. But today’s event seemed like an opportunity to write about something I don’t usually write about: the not-so-pretty side of (my) human nature.
Yoga teaches us that every day is different. Every day on the mat we can do the same poses but they can feel completely different. Your downward dog can feel spacious one day and tight the next but it’s just the transient nature of things. The same with our moods; we can feel happy and inspired one minute and then helpless and angry the next; what gives?
My situation today was triggered by a walk with the dog that was so frustrating; she was pulling and resisting and just being difficult. Add in a car repair, paying bills, an unexpected printer problem, the crappy weather and it was all I could do from screaming on the street. When I came home, I let it out and the dog looked alarmed; what was wrong with me? I took a few deep breaths and called her over. We had a conversation, with me apologizing and hugging and kissing her. She nodded, wagged her tail and cuddled into me in complete forgiveness. Honestly, I don’t think I deserve her but thank god she is in my life. After leaving her with a bit of lunch to enjoy, I walked to the coffee shop to do some work and mull over what happened.
I know that underneath my explosion was worry and concern. Bailey has not been feeling well the past few days and I’m worried about her. That concern is really fear about her health, which I am sure will get better but when someone you love is ill, well, it can be scary. I realized after a few hours had passed that I’m not a horrible person for letting things get to me; I’m human. I tried in that moment of realization to send myself a feeling of compassion and forgiveness. It was hard because I didn’t like what I saw and I certainly didn’t like what I felt. But I had to admit; it’s part of being human. It doesn’t define me; it isn’t who I am at my core (that is, to be screaming and yelling) but it is natural to get upset when things get overwhelming.
Yoga does help us see that things pass, feelings pass and tomorrow will be a new day. The pose you hate today, you could love tomorrow; the fear you have today can evaporate in tomorrow’s light. The challenge is to see yourself through the ups and downs, without being your harshest critic. But how? Here are some things that I have found help:
– in the moment, try to stop yourself from continuing the cycle of frustration. If that means removing yourself from the trigger situation and going off by yourself, do it.
– Take several deep breaths, close your eyes and listen for your breathing.
– Do something immediately that brings you happiness or at least will shift your perspective. Any yoga pose, especially a forward bend, downward dog or headstand would be ideal, as it’ll bring fresh oxygenated blood to your head. But really, any pose to stretch you out will do. Another option might be to call someone that cheers you up. Go for a walk. Like me, go to your favorite coffee shop. Listen to a song. Eat a cupcake. Think of what you need and do it.
– After a few hours have passed, close your eyes and be still. Connect to the trigger event and notice the sensations that it brings up in your body. Then go deeper. What feelings are really under there? For me, it was fear about my dog’s health. When you have a freak out session, what is really underneath it? If we never take the time to dig deep, we’ll constantly be a bundle of reactions without any learning coming from the experience.
– Write down your thoughts. Even if it’s just a “stream of consciousness” document that you do on your computer and then delete, writing your feelings down can be very cathartic.
– Be compassionate with yourself. Recognize that you’re only human and tomorrow is another day.