You: Uncensored and Unwound

With summertime knocking at the door, it’s time for us to return to long, lazy, twilight evenings, warm breezes, and ice cold drinks. Of course, unlike Santa Barbara, not every clime is conducive to hours spent outdoors—I, for one, must go to enormous lengths to keep the mosquitos at bay—but I generally consider summer to be the time of the year when I feel most relaxed, unburdened by concerns of fighting off the cold and the dark. Such seasonal fantasies lead me to reflect on which individuals in my life make me feel most at ease, whose smile and genial presence draws out those parts of myself too often locked away.

Who brings out the most relaxed, playful version of you?

Alas, some of us have forgotten what it’s like to be at ease—we are so consumed with worries that we barely recall a time when life didn’t feel like a burden. I can sympathize. Before I began my re-booting journey, I was wound so tightly that it was a chore to be in my company–it was worse for me, I assure you. In those dark days, my happiness crumbled beneath the relentless pressure to contort myself into somebody I barely recognized. The barbed wire of ambition and craving for acceptance twisted itself around my heart and mind, constricting everything and making me hurt. In the worst of it, aside from time spent with my yellow lab, there was not a single moment where I felt at peace. How’s that for friendless?

I hope you’ve never experienced anything close to that, but my guess is that at least some of you have. Despair can pollute our veins and cloud our vision. Those who love and care about us become collateral damage when we are suffering so greatly—sometimes, those same people are the source of our concern. Being unable to fully predict what bad things might happen triggers enormous anxiety. But what I have learned time and time and time again is that the fear is far worse than the actual event. In the meantime, we’ve worked ourselves into such a frenzy that we lose perspective about everything. Any of this ring a bell?

It requires a supreme effort to summon the discipline to keep our worries in check. Being smart and creative, we can envision a variety of catastrophic scenarios. I remember how bleak everything felt in the year preceding my life turning upside down. My perspective was so out of whack and I was so panicky and confused as to what to do about it that I was no longer me. I was some other, tortured person.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case! Re-booting has shown me that a key to retaining sanity is to seek out joy, even in the darkest of dark days, no matter how small or fleeting the pleasure. Now, I relish and am grateful for time spent with people who put me at ease and make me laugh, recognizing that such moments don’t occur everyday. When trouble arrives at my doorstep, I do my utmost to manage my fear, remembering that blowing things out of proportion or tearing my hair out makes it all worse. When things get bad for you, what do you tell yourself? Would you say you do a good job at managing your stress?

But, back to my initial question, I want you to think about the person(s) you feel comfortable with and happy. Who are you looking forward to seeing again? What is it about them that makes your chest relax and your insides unwind?

Who gets to see the uncensored version of you?

 

If you’re anything like me, you probably relax in different ways depending on who you’re with, but what I want you to get is a clear idea about is what characteristics or ways of being make you so comfortable that you can actually close your eyes, let down your guard, and tap into that fundamental part of yourself you don’t always show. Hanging with friends is different from kicking back with family or time alone with someone special. Each of these interactions brings out a different part of ourselves—so which version of you do you like the best, that you wish you got to enjoy more often? Who makes you feel most yourself? Why? What is it, specifically, about how they are that makes you feel safe? Do you have someone like this in your life today? If not, it’s time to start looking…

 

Relaxing

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