Before I sit down to write anything, unless it’s just a personal narrative, I take to google. This month, we’re talking about Overcomers, and here’s what google says about “overcoming adversity”:
Here are four proven ways to overcome adversity (adversity: n. difficulties or misfortune):
Surround yourself with positive people. Be selective with the people you surround yourself with.
Be in nature.
Start investing in yourself.
I’m a big believer in the universe. She’s amazing. She’s always sending you people, and topics, and books, and ideas, and challenge, and growth. She’s sure as heck not easy on us though. Writing has always been a huge part of my healing. So I’m… excited doesn’t feel like the right word… I’m feeling universally connected to the fact that, when I first got an email asking me to write about overcoming, I couldn’t respond because I was too depressed to even consider writing about anything, and now here I am… writing again. About overcoming. At just the right moment.
PsychCentral.com‘s “Four Proven Ways to Overcome Adversity” sounds a lot like resilience to me. The theme at getFIT615 in March was resilience (Hello Universe. I see you). When we came up with the theme, I couldn’t write about it. I couldn’t quite grasp the idea of how it could be a theme. In the past, we’ve had themes like: gratitude, privilege, compassion, self-care… but I just didn’t know how to talk about resilience (because at the time, I wasn’t feeling too resilient)… so Elly, a teacher at getFIT615, wrote about it for us instead. (link: http://www.getfit615.com/blog//resilience)
Let’s back up to February when our theme was self-care: By the time February hit, I was burned out, sick, my SI joint was painfully stuck and made it hard to move, and I was smack-dab in the middle of seasonal depression and I thought, “Awesome! I’ll get to work so I can feel “good” again!” So I started adding self-care things to my to do list: boundaries in work and relationships, rest, light movement, more vegetables, wake up 30 minutes earlier to sit down with myself before I have to leave the house… and what came with all of those things was failure. Complete failure. I couldn’t set boundaries because I could hardly leave my house – so having a conversation seemed like the hardest possible thing I could do. Rest? Well, that I could do. Light movement? Do you mean get out of bed and put on a good face for a few hours at a time when I needed to be at the gym teaching classes? Ok. More vegetables? I could hardly eat anything at all for a while and the last thing in the world I wanted was vegetables. Nope. And as far as getting out of bed earlier was going, I could hardly get up at all. I failed at almost all of my self-care initiatives.
Finally, unwillingly but exhaustedly, I abandoned this whole idea of self-care. I was tired of failing so I just stopped trying. I got in bed and decided to let go of everything that I had put on my to-do list. I decided to lean into the part of me that wasn’t feeling “good.” I told friends that I was doing the bare minimum and reached out to very few people. I started writing in my journal again. I set up an out-of-office email. I crashed a friend’s beach trip, got myself a hotel room, and spent a few days in the sun. And I cried a whole lot. Looking back, I leaned into self-care – I leaned into my self, and started taking care of her.
I had been approaching self-care like something I could check off a list. I was feeling “bad” and I wanted that to stop – I wanted to feel “good” so I figured that I needed to do a, b, and c on my self-care list and then I’d be back up and running! Maybe not literally running, but kettlebell swinging at least!
When we started talking about resilience, something flipped energetically for me. I decided to allow myself to feel the way I was feeling about everything that was happening. I’ve been depressed before – and I’ve been ok. I’ve been injured before – and I’ve healed. I’ve been sad, and lonely, and overwhelmed before – and it turns out, I’m actually really loved. I’ve felt stuck before – and I’ve been the one who’s gotten myself unstuck. I needed to lean into the parts of me that were hurting physically, spiritually, emotionally… I went to see a chiropractor and while I was on the verge of crying in his office he looked at me and said, “This is not a chronic issue. You will not always feel this immobile. We are going to heal this.” In that moment, I felt it: resilience. Knowing that I would be able to overcome this… maybe not today, but with consistency and compassion, eventually.
I got rid of the bad vs. good dichotomy. If someone asked me how I was (and it was someone that I wanted to be honest with), I’d tell them the truth – “I’m having a really hard time – I feel heavy and I’m hurting and I feel lonely.” But I wouldn’t say that I was doing “badly.” Because what if having a hard time isn’t a “bad” thing? What if feeling heavy and hurting and lonely isn’t “bad”? What if it just… is. Because the truth is that everything changes. Knowing that, it’s safe to assume that there will be more times in my life where I feel heavy and hurting and lonely. There will also be more times in my life where I feel light and joy and connection.
As the sun has occasionally decided to grace us with her presence here in Nashville, I’m being actively selective with my time and energy, I’m writing a lot more, and I’m getting curious with how I’m feeling, I can feel a fog lifting. I can feel myself coming back into my body. For a while there, it was just like my body was doing stuff and there was some stranger inside making sure it was going to work and the chiropractor.
I think the first step to anything, is to see what is. What are we working with here? What is this “adversity”? I feel like I’ve heard parents and teachers all over the world say to a crying child, “I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s hurting!” And that’s the first step. Because if a child comes to you in pain and you try to cure a headache, they may always have a scar because they actually scraped their knee.
The next part is to care tenderly for what hurts – to believe that it hurts. And that it’s not a bad thing or something to be fixed. It just is and I love you when it hurts. I love you when it does’t, and I don’t love you any more or any less depending on your level of hurt. Dang… if that’s not self-care.
And what I’m available for now is, “how did I get here?” (I tried to start here (because I’ve been here before) which is why boundaries was the first thing on my self-care to-do list… but that didn’t work) I have a grandiose idea of what is my responsibility and what I should have the capacity to be responsible for. According to my Clifton Strengths Finder, Responsibility is one of my top 5 strengths… also, when I don’t take care of that strength, I burnout, become overwhelmed, and have a really hard time getting out of bed. I often notice myself feeling like I SHOULD be able to… whatever it is. I should be able to make time for everyone. I should know more about this particular topic than I already do. I should like them. I should be more kind, I should care about this, I should be softer, I should be more patient… but that’s so unreasonable. And what unreasonable expectations for myself lead to are burnout, physical pain, depression, illness. It’s like my body, heart, and mind are all at once screaming: “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE STOP THIS.”
The “how did I get here” part is really important. Because we can pay off all of our credit card debt, but if we don’t address the habits that got us to that point, the chances of us creating debt again are pretty high. We can get out of a relationship that isn’t serving us and that’s great, but if we don’t take a look at why we were drawn to that person in the first place, we may be drawn to someone like that again. AND THE GOOD NEWS IS that when we rack up more credit card debt, or again find ourselves in a relationship that isn’t serving us, (or when I find myself experiencing burnout/depression/injury/illness/overwhelm again) we’ll know what to do! And maybe next time, we’ll see it coming sooner and will be able to care ourselves sooner rather than later.
Growth is tricky, and it’s not always bubbles and rainbows… in fact, in 7th grade I remember having growing pains in my knees. They hurt so badly that I thought that I was going to have to be on crutches forever! I think it’s safe to say that growth never feels like bubbles and rainbows. But that’s ok – because you can do challenging stuff and you can be kind to yourself through any painful process! Pain isn’t “bad”… it just is. So lean into what is and care for that. You can overcome anything.
I’ll leave you with this recent journal entry:
Kate. Listen. I’m going to be firm because you need to hear this: you are awesome and I need you to get on board here. This world needs you – all of you. You are smart and outspoken and charismatic and wonderful AF – without you, who!? Learn to trust yourself please honey. Learn to let love IN. The world needs you. And as somebody who loves you, I need you. Please. You’re not perfect, and I don’t need for you to be. I just need you to be whole. Be brave. Be alive.
I love you babe.
Originally posted on Creative Souls Tribe April 10, 2019