After a few grumpy days of discontent and inner stormy weather, it has come to light, become crystal clear to me that the inner critic, 'the taskmaster' as I call her, otherwise known as the gremlin within, has been putting me through the ringer. She has had her way with me and I allowed her.
Oh, I fought back; but she requires something all together different then clever strategies or muscle power. You can't just punch her, yell at her, or play ' checkmate, gottcha!' She thrives on games. No, much like the wicked witch of the east from the Wizard of Oz will only disintegrate in the face of a bucket of water, the taskmaster, only dissolves with one unsuspecting benign and gentle thing. The taskmaster is not made of sugar so it isn't water that works with this one. Anyone? Superman's kryptonite?
Nope. My inner gremlins, and I am most certain yours as well simply cannot survive against the gentle influence and quiet strength of true compassion.
Gremlins get rowdiest, loudest, ugliest, when I am being least loving with myself. They are opportunists after all, and when self doubt is large, so are they. Self recrimination can be subtle and insidious. It's disguised as 'accidentally' walking into the corner of the bed getting a nasty bruise, then calling yourself all sorts for being clumsy. It leaks out as impatient driving, general irritability focused largely on your own efforts. These things add up; and if and when left unchecked for several days they become, 'unproductive to do lists' growing like mold on your colleague's forgotten coffee mug.
Compassion, the act of self love, kindness, moving into gentleness; is the only way out. And let me tell you, it doesn't come easy once you've done the self recrimination spiral. We've all been there. It's the human condition. Illogical, mean, weird, counterproductive, and yes, still human. We can give and be kind to others all day long and still find fault with ourselves at the end of the exhausted day.
It's a sign of possible resentment. Self neglect. Trouble with a capital T. And maybe, a nudge that you need a holiday, or a deeper rest. You need not despair however, observing the pattern, catching the spiral, is the first step to recovery.
In the aforementioned wee snit I decided to use my aggressive energy for cleaning.
Tidying up and sorting through stuff I came across yet another to do list from the past. My continual relentless self imposed prison of ``not good enough``, `haven`t done enough`, `do more and do it quicker`.
I found a litany of tasks on the list from years ago including such self loving and concrete goals as ``fix my ass``......? Well that sounds both vague and exhausting as well as unkind. (not to mention unlikely!)
Deep l-o-n-g sigh.
Yes, it is time for a much needed exhale.
This list stopped me in my grumpy tracks. I sat, slouched over, looking at this impossible list recognizing how many times, likely several thousand by now, I have done this to myself. All the to do lists and all the paper scraps and day books I have written on could literally bury me alive by now.
Organization tools aside, to do lists can be the modern woman’s tyranny. I literally had every category on that one list, including, (HA!)
-reduce migraines, and then insult to injury,
Like those two things had a snowballs chance in hell of happening following that list!
This brings me deeper into the topic at hand, where in fact, the little things do count. The little things do add up. And, being kind to ourselves, and gentle, does matter. The daily question of how will I get it all done may remain, yet, we must trust and learn that we do get many things done.
We get amazing things done.
We have relationships, dress ourselves, often very well; do errands, cook dinner, clean up, pay bills, do taxes, sort our wills, volunteer, make soup for sick friends, call our moms, pick up our kids, change the cat litter, laugh a bit somewhere in there with the bank teller or grocery clerk, walk, exercise, maybe even get to a movie with our lovie, and oh right, we also go to work! Work, which also required, need I remind you, education, qualifications, interviews, apprenticeships, hard bloody preparation to work. And TIME. Hours upon hours of time investment.
We ARE amazing.... but this is not what we top our lists with. GO me, I am amazing
has never been the first, middle or last item on my list. EVER.
Until now of course. And that is the beauty of small insights. Compassion quietly tames the taskmaster gremlins and puts shame back in its box, shoved back in the proverbial closet. Eventually I hope to incinerate shame for good. But, in the meantime, I take deep breaths, a long walk and a long, relaxing, hot shower.
I recently watched a sweet movie about a chef by Jon Favreau. One of the scene`s involved a montage put together by one of the characters, his 10 yr old son, of 1 second moments from consecutive days of their time together.
And, it is awesome.
And, it is also amazing to be reminded of just how long a second is! The timelessness of time. The spiritual dimensions, the quantum physics of parallel dimensions, (for another blog).
So yes, one second, is surprisingly vivid.
And that my friends, is how we get so bloody much done. Because we are amazing. We are creative channels of cool ideas, heart, elbow grease and capability. 0ne second montages add up.
SO you get my point, one day at a time, we do build empires. We build lives. WE build juicy, messy, full, at times chaotic lives. Some days we may tip over the stress balance, some weeks feel mental and out of control, but ultimately, one day at a time amounts to success. If we can allow ourselves to slow down, allow ourselves to trust the rhythm of energy, nature, ourselves, our needs.
I recently read about Dave Brailsford who was the General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team). Dave believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.”
His belief was that if you improved every area, (in this case related to cycling) by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement. And they did. They increased their performance which resulted in a win, 3 years later.
Just as one hour montages of one second actions amount to a hell of a lot.
Much like a leaky faucet or a small contribution to the bank account, we don't see declines or gains quickly with tiny fractions; they are about long term commitments. Plug that bathtub and you'll see how much energy, $ and water you are losing one drip at a time, much like, ten dollars a day adds up to three hundred in a month. We often miss our small ''successes'' because they don't leave big impact. Small choices may not make much of a difference at the time, but rest assured, they add up over the long-term. Fitness is a prime example of that, so is weight loss.
Just like learning to practice loving kindness for ourselves each day. Good choices. Kind choices. Kinder 'to do' lists! Kinder moments add up, one spacious second at a time.
One percent, (1%) aggregation amounts in potential improvements, most importantly kindness to ourselves and others. The seemingly marginal gains are in fact, immeasurably amazing and impossibly rich if we value ourselves, our choices and our creativity in loving, nurturing ways.
May we be our own best Valentine this year and every year and enjoy our compassionate gains.
Sending a valentine's wish of sweetness and love to all. You are amazing.