Continuing my exploration of Satya, Week 4 Tells me to look at ideas and beliefs that once served me but have now become archaic: What am I holding on to that I no longer need? I am instructed to "pay attention to denial and celebrate movement toward a clearer, more authentic version of myself".
WHY? Truth is fluid, depending on the circumstances. It's important to clean the lenses through which we're seeing the world and people around us, asking if they're still showing us the truth. If we don't, we're in danger of living a lie, at least in some aspects.
This little project of mine is getting deeper and more complicated (and more time-consuming!). Most of these week-long challenges merit months of practice in order to truly understand, much less assimilate, into my life and daily practice. They're intended to have a cumulative effect; the idea is to carry each one with me to support my exploration of the next guideline, but it's become clear just how deceptively complex these simple rules are.
Here are some actions I took to disavow myself of habits and beliefs that may no longer be serving me:
1. Delete facebook app from phone. Social media is not real. There was a time when I looked at this app a few times a day for a brief escape from the monotony of being a stay-at-home mom to a baby who didn't talk to me or do much. I recognized it as a problem and limited my use over time, shocked at how difficult it was to resist a peek whenever I had the chance. I'm not even active on social media, it was just a quick hit escape from boredom. At this point I don't even like fb anymore and I rarely look at it anyway, so taking it off my phone will just remove the temptation to distract myself in mundane situations like waiting in line or riding the subway, when I can be doing something more productive like observing or interacting with the world around me.
2. Cut back on alcohol. Or eliminate it except for special occasions? I go through phases of indulging in a glass (or more, definitely sometime more!) of wine or having a beer at home during the week. Once it's in my system and in my habitual practice (start prepping dinner => pour a glass of wine), it's hard to break. I definitely don't need to be drinking any alcohol during the week, unless I'm out with friends and have a reason to, even if that reason is simply that I want to, which is different from doing it out of habit. The older I get, the more obvious it is that my body isn't metabolizing alcohol the way it used to; I can feel hungover on 2 glasses of wine. But even if I feel fine the next day, there is a cumulative effect of drinking alcohol on my mood and cognition. I could definitely cut back. A lot. "Pay attention to denial and celebrate movement toward a clearer, more authentic version of myself," pretty much translates to: stop drinking. It clouds everything: my head, perception, experiences. Am I in denial about how dependent I am on alcohol to have fun? What's a great dinner out without a glass of wine? What's a girls' night out without drinks? What's a gorgeous summer day on a patio without a delicious beer or margarita? Alcohol has been a integral part of my social life since high school, yet I've been quietly contemplating my relationship with it for years. I've been "sober curious" for a while, wondering how different, particularly in terms of how "successful" I and my life would be if I didn't drink or had never started in the first place. I know that alcohol masks who I really am and keeps my full potential at bay.
3. Possible ideas/beliefs that may no longer serve me: How can I possibly come up with all of these in one week?? I imagine I've got some archaic beliefs that I could let go surrounding:
--Myself, such as believing
1. That I am unremarkable/unsuccessful and destined to remain that way
2. That I'm getting old and therefore my body and my life are going downhill
3. That I don't have control over my circumstances, that I don't have power
4. That I no longer have the drive, self-discipline, and independence that I had in my 20's
Yeah, once I wrote out the above, I can see some work to be done...
--My parents/family This one is really complicated right now. A couple of years ago I was told some crazy shit about my own family by an admittedly unreliable source. As outlandish as the accusations sounded, I had to wonder at their veracity. It was my duty to figure out the truth, for the sake of everyone in my family. I was also blown away by the fact that I could have missed what had allegedly gone on right in front of me (granted, I was a child). In doing my detective work, I did finally gain clarity on the accusations, that they were false, but I also learned additional, true information about my family members and dynamic that I had no idea existed. Suddenly my entire understanding of my own family got turned on its head, twice. Not only is this disorienting, but it makes me question my ability to read people and situations accurately at all.
We all think we know what's going on, that what we perceive is real, that our perspective is the true one, but then something happens that forces us to reevaluate our own judgement, ourselves, and the world around us. I guess it's a logical progression as humans; as we age we gather experience that adds depth to our perspective, and so naturally our views change. I just didn't see any of this coming and I'm still exploring it.
--My husband (that he's uncommunicative and unable to change)
--Friends (I may have grown out of some friendships?)
--Career and abilities (a life-long mediocre performance)
--Fantasies about an alternate life path that I indulge in when bored or unhappy
Reading the above it occurs to me that somewhere along the way my worldview has become pretty negative, almost fatalistic. My biggest fear is that I will never amount to anything I can be proud of, that I'll die in mediocrity, forever unremarkable and easily forgotten.
Is this every mid-life crisis?? Am I that basic?? Maybe. Probably. But at least I'm honest.