Ever have a day where you leave work and the entire time you’re walking, driving, metro-ing, biking, you’re consumed with a replay of a rough day at work and a series of frustrating conversations? Even though you’ve physically left the building and are at last blissfully solitary, you find yourself somehow still present “there” and not present “here.”
This happens to me a lot–almost on a daily basis. Compartmentalizing or practicing mindful containment in my life is not my strong suit. When something has bothered me, it affects me and permeates every aspect of my life. My mind replays the moment, conversation, email, text, etc. My body tenses, my breathing becomes shallow, and my concentration wanes. I become stuck in a cycle of reliving something when I am no longer being asked or required to participate.
Why is this so hard?
Before you know it I’ve walked half a mile to my car and not once bothered to take a deep breath, be grateful that it’s the end of my day, or listened to the sounds of the birds or the wind rustling through the forested trail. I’m completely wrapped up in the same stuff I have been all day. A work day is no longer 8 to 10 hours because there is a never-ending dialogue that’s rehashing anxieties and stressors long after you’ve left the physical office.
In my latest life coaching session on my journey as a recovering control freak (see this recent blogpost) she challenged me to a 30 day challenge of “just being,” “just living.” As I’m sure you can imagine, I had lots of questions about that. What do you mean “just be?” Am I supposed to not go into work? Do I stop making plans for things that are happening in the future? Do I stop running errands? Do I only do things I want even if they aren’t healthy or the “right” thing to do?
The first 48 hours of this “challenge” have been absolute hell. All the ideas of being zen-like, peaceful, and calm, going with the flow, floating through my days saluting the sun and breathing deeply has literally flown out the window. This is what the first 48 hours looked like:
Recurring dreams continue about going back to college and running around it because I’m trying to reach a goal or be on time for a class or help my roommate win a scholarship and subsequently meet Phil Collins all while profusely sweating (yep.)
45 minutes to get into work on Day 1. I live 5 miles away.
Lock keys in car while still running on Day 2. Have to pay for roadside assistance.
Retrieve car, A/C seems to be broken. It’s the beginning of summer. Get home smelling ripe.
Feel guilty about stress eating. Think about going to the gym. Remind self that the couch is far more welcoming than the gym.
15 minutes into the practice decide to call it quits.
Feel guilty about quitting after 15 minutes.
Relive work for past 48 hours. Anticipate all work to happen in the next 48 hours. Replay frustrating conversations and decide how I want to respond to them in all future instances from now until the end of time.
Reminded by my own handwriting on sassy whiteboard about my challenge / affirmation for the next 30 days and realize that I have to just be.
…30 days feels impossible.