In yoga teacher training we all had to come up with our “power word/phrase.” It was supposed to keep us motivated and focused. We would repeat it constantly and often yell it out (it seems weirder describing than it did to do it). In yoga teacher training my word was “growth” and I really did embody that idea throughout the process (even if it meant accidentally basting myself with toasted sesame oil). I might have grown throughout the process without me yelling the word in a circle at my fellow trainees, but perhaps staying focused on it helped the growth process.
My phrase for the past six months that I continue to try to focus on when I feel anxious or down is “be content.” I wrote it on the whiteboard in my office and try to keep reminding myself of it. I need this reminder because I hear my thought process and often feel like I am personifying the phrase that the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” When I was so busy in the fall studying for my comprehensive exams for my PhD program I dreamed of being done with my exams and “free.” Now that I am “free” I feel like I am floating in the program and don’t know what I should be doing. I know this is not how I want to live my life, but I am working on breaking the cycle.
The idea of being content does not mean that I need to always be happy. It is the goal of being okay with what I am doing in a particular moment. This is in contrast to the feeling that I should be doing a certain thing at a certain time. Even when I am trying to take a break for a week (like this upcoming Christmas break) I think about what that should look like and try to plan it out. Then when it doesn’t meet expectations because for example I remember I hate DIY projects and crafts (as mentioned in my last post) or I am really not able to focus on reading that non-fiction book that I “should” read, I feel disappointed.
The times I especially need to work on being content are in moments of stillness or unstructured time. I occasionally experience FOMO (fear of missing out) when I am not a part of certain social events (either by choice or circumstances) but my issue is mainly “Fear of the Shoulds” (#FOTS?). If everyone is at holiday parties and busy this week, should I be doing those things? If everyone is studying for finals should I be busy doing school work even though I don’t have finals (luckily)? It is unclear how everyone can both be at parties and in finals, but rationality easily gets lost in the should.
My mom has always told me to take should out of my vocabulary. What if I didn’t even let my brain go there? It is in line with the idea that sometimes the more options you have the worse off you are. I could reduce my options by not thinking about what everyone else is doing or what I envisioned I would be doing and just be present in what I am actually doing in that moment.
I am currently blogging on a Tuesday night, while some friends are at holiday parties, other friends are studying for finals, and other friends are finishing at their jobs. I am doing my best to not judge which options or better or worse or what I am used to and feel okay with blogging away. Anyway, I should stick to my goal of blogging more regularly anyway…