The “Geek’s Guide to finding your Soulmate” is cooking now, at the same time as the “Write a story in a month with a sentence a day” program, and at the same time that I came across a person in deep pain, struggling to make it through his day. I made the suggestion of a Morning Ritual to access their positive emotions, and received the following heartfelt note:
“I know you’re trying to be helpful but — a morning ritual? It’s a victory just to get out of bed, get dressed, and brush my teeth. Often enough, I don’t manage the teeth-brushing.
My family is in a time of extraordinary stress. I’m sorry to subject you to the detail below, but if I just leave it at that, you may not understand that the situation is not something any adult could easily cope with.
After an X-year fight, a corrupt judge just gave joint custody of my two young (ages X andY) grandchildren to their violent, untreated sex offender, twice-convicted child rapist father. Know that one of the convictions was against his X yr old step-daughter on the night he married her mother (a different marriage, he’s had X), so a X yr old definitely isn’t safe from him.
All of the adults involved (on our side of the fight) are struggling, even the ones who aren’t being triggered by all this, as a few of us are. All were blind-sided by the judgment. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I rage. I have flashbacks on a daily basis. If I can snatch some moments of peace in the middle of all this, I do, but then I get word (like I did this morning) that the police have been called. And here we go. Again.
I’d have to be heartless to be in control of my emotions right now.”
This is horrendous. And PRECISELY why and when a “Morning Ritual” or some other practice designed to channel that fear and rage and helplessness is the most important. Yesterday we explored the notion that one of the most malicious things about stress is that it discourages you from doing the very things you need to cope with it.
Note the last sentence: “I’d have to be heartless to be in control of my emotions right now.” In other words, “if I love my family, I CANNOT be functional.”
I would say that the more critical the situation is, the more desperate, the more vital it is to be able to perform. Is it COMMON to be able to perform well under such stress? NO. But at such moments, do the ones you love need a hero the most? YES.
And the problem is that here is where the ego will sabotage you. If depression is the “dark night of the soul”, then the way THROUGH it is “the leap of faith”: faith in yourself, your companions, or a higher power.
If you believe that loving your family means being crushed, you have no leverage.
If you guilt-trip yourself because you cannot act, AND GUILT-TRIPPING WEAKENS YOU, you have no leverage. (While not ideal, it is true that some people can actually motivate themselves with guilt and anger)
This is how stress protects itself. It is NOT your fault, not in the slightest. But it IS your responsibility, because “the ability to respond” is all that makes it possible to act, and action is what creates change.
“Sidney’s” situation, as described, is about as bad as it gets. ANYONE would feel that pressure. t. And this is where “being the hero in the adventure of your lifetime” is what can save your heart, and save your family. While it is best to have integrated a “Morning Ritual” style practice BEFORE you need it, the truth is that any time you start you are starting to build the resource you will need the next time. And if you need it now? If you can see your way to making the decision, you might be able to create a “Ritual Buddy”, someone who will call you daily and remind you. That’s the “Faith in your companions” aspect. It works.
But note how much this ties back to “Love yourself.” Under stress, especially bad things happening to the people you love, a sense of contempt, of anger with yourself for being helpless undermines the very motivations that could create clarity, leading to more efficient and effective actions.
WHEN IN THE STRESS TUNNEL, YOU SEE NO OPTIONS. Even if there ARE no external options, staying free of that tunnel is still the best option. At the very, very least…you now have the capacity to help your FAMILY stay out of the “stress tunnel” so that they can brainstorm answers that no individual can possibly find.
And if there IS no answer? Then a tragedy has occurred, and the rest of the family must protect each other, their hearts and their children, so that the actions of a monster do not destroy an entire network of souls. NO matter what the circumstance, what you and your family needs is as much clarity and positive action as humanly possible.
Maintaining that attitude without excoriating yourself for not having that strength currently is the Inner War. And for the sake of your children, and the child within you and everyone you love, you might be slain, but you cannot surrender.
That is an extreme. But what of those other arenas? Writing a story in 30 days? Finding a soulmate?
Both require the same thing: the capacity to control your state, which makes it possible to define and take actions leading to your solution. How do you control your state? By controlling your mental focus, the language you use, and the way you use your body ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Writing a story? That minimum is a sentence a day.
Finding your Soulmate? If you want a healthy, balanced person with positive energy YOU MUST BE SUCH A PERSON. It is brutally simple.
How do you do that? Start with self love. How can you do that? So many ways, the “Ancient Child” and “Heartbeat Meditation” and dream journaling and a Morning Ritual are just a few. But all that takes time! Well, how much time did you just spend reading THIS? There was your damned time. You have the time. But the stress protects itself with lies.
Five minutes. THAT’S the minimum. Distributed through the day in 60-second increments of deep breathing, so that the “minimum” is actually sixty seconds. One minute.
There are your minimums for creating a story. Finding your Soulmate. There are others for making or protecting money, or becoming fit. But once you see the minimum, if you don’t do it, does that trigger self-loathing and depression..?
THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO START WITH SELF-LOVE. You cannot wire around this, ignore it, postpone it, trick it or lie your way out of it. You have to go into the pale places within you, face the Dark Night, and find some bedrock of faith. Can’t find it? Then find the bedrock of survival. Don’t know where that is? You can find it simply by slowing your breathing down below about 4 breaths per minute, because when the carbon dioxide level rises in your blood you will hit emergency. Then…imagine this is happening to a helpless infant (“The Ancient Child”) and that YOU are his/her only protection.
You’ll find that strength. It IS within you. That ability to fight until the last drop of blood. And whether it is protecting your family or building your dreams, the doorway is ALWAYS there, even though when you are IN the “stress tunnel” you cannot see it and might need someone else to point it out to you and support you.
That’s why there is more than one of us. That’s why, come what may, I will ALWAYS encourage you to believe in yourself. Always. No matter what. If you want someone to agree that you are helpless, you will need to go somewhere else.
But personally? I’m hoping you’ll stay.