You may have heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of Joy?” Well, I beg to differ on this. I believe that Doubt is the thief of Joy. Comparison definitely does its own harm, but for me, at least, doubt is way worse.
This morning I was awakened in the usual manner…my 2 youngest kids came in one soon after the other, about 5am (yep, it’s Sunday, eye roll emoji). Commence the early morning demands….I’m hungry, I wanna watch tv, I need my dance music (which requires me rigging up the very old laptop to run the CD)….and when their demands weren’t immediately met, the melting down began (them, not me). They are nearly 4 and 6. Husband lay there ignoring them and I think pretending he was dead so that the predators wouldn’t consider him as an option of focus for their morning wrath. So I abruptly and without explanation escaped to the shower, behind two locked doors with the shower, a fan and music playing on my cell phone to drown out their crying and door pounding.
I sat there on the cold tile floor of my shower, the hot water spraying over me from the hand-held as I tried to warm the floor and wall so I could relax there, on the floor of my shower, hiding from my kids, determined to stay until the hot water heater was empty of all its beloved, calming goodness…on the floor of my shower! Then DOUBT started in. Was I too harsh? Should I have just gotten up and resigned myself to a few more years of obscenely early mornings every day? Can I do something about rising from my king size nest angry already, nearly every morning? Why are my Littles such unbearable monsters? How did I spoil them? Have I completely ruined them? Am I a terrible mother?
See where this is going? Now I’ll admit, I do have a bit of a self esteem problem. I put others first. ALWAYS. Which means that I generally leave myself until the very end. And so I suffer a lack of self care. And I doubt A. LOT. This is NOT a brag and I don’t expect heralding or congratulations. It’s actually a kind of sad reality, which I am working on with my therapist. For real. Doubt makes me question things I’ve done. It makes me question the things I haven’t done. It makes me question if I’ve done enough. Or if I’ve done too much. Or if I should have done nothing at all! And all this breaks me down.
Doubt is an avalanche. First, there’s the little tumbling of small questions…rolling downhill. And you know things that roll downhill tend to pick up speed and volume as they go. So the first little question or two are small pebbles, but quickly they accelerate and become snowballs, then a snow boulder or two, and then a full on tsunami of snow to overtake, overwhelm, and drown you.
So, how to get on top of this? (And this is certainly meant to be a reminder to myself, as well as hopefully to help you!)
Breathe-remember, most of our daily situations that are causing doubt and its resultant stress are not true emergencies. We tend to play them up in our minds and allow them to become big scary monsters. Close your eyes and take a few yoga breathes. The problem won’t be gone, but maybe you can regain focus and approach it from a different perspective.
Stop blaming-give yourself a break! None of us are perfect. Even if you did explode and scream at the kids, told your teen to shut up, or slammed that precious bathroom door in your spouse’s face….they’ll likely not have incurred long term damage. (Please just don’t make this behavior your constant.). Sincere apologies are very powerful. Acknowledge if you did commit a hurt upon another and resolve to do better, then move on.
Distract-sometimes just finding something else to think about or do for a few minutes will help reduce the size of the doubt looming over you, muddling your ability to solve the problem at hand. (Thus, the shower!). Attentively listen to the words of a song, mindfully feel the warmth of the water and the way it feels as it showers down on your skin, breathe in the steam. And now, try to think about things that you do or have done that are great! Lift yourself up a bit to give yourself a little height above the problem at hand that pulls you down. Congratulate yourself for the project you just completed, keeping your offspring alive until their 3rd birthday, or just getting vertical this morning!
And now, lock the bathroom door. Sit on the floor of your shower, turn the water on as hard and hot as you can handle it, and luxuriate there until your fingers and toes prune. Play some calming tunes like Enya, classical, or whatever calms your soul. Block out the noise, the Littles, and whomever else might disturb your quiet, calming time. And breathe!
Cheers and Love,