Persistence. I'm not sure what that webster guy would define persistence as. I do know that it is hard to keep it. Persistence seems fleeting. Persistence seems like something that 'those' people have. You know, those 'other' people. I see myself as a relatively determined and hard-working person, in some things. I'll admit to gladly taking the easier road on occasion. Although, the easier road is a great deal subjective. Persistence. Persistence seems to me like something only to be explained by Yoda.
I've thought a lot about what persistence is. I had a dog in high school that I would define as persistent. He knew how to get your attention. He would come up and nudge your hand hoping you would slip your hand on top of his head. Inevitably upon first, second, even possibly third attempt, he would get dismissed. He never quit. He would keep returning until you gave in. He would get those ears scratched. His persistence paid off.
It's interesting to consider where I've been persistent in my life and where I've fallen short. How does persistence tie into what we perceive as success? How do we value whether or not our persistence has paid off? I've worked to jump the biggest, run the fastest, be the thinnest. While I may have achieved some relative success, each of those efforts was set up to win some sort of external recognition or accolade. None of them had the internal effect I really needed or desired. So, what was missing?
Persistence exists intrinsically and defines success through an internal barometer. Having to look inwards to define how hard I need to work for something allows me to make my own decisions about success and to create a persistent effort in taking care of myself. I don't have to jump bigger, run the fastest, or be the thinnest. The consequences of trying to meet the expectations of a moving bar are toxic. That's a game changer.
I get it, right. Everyone has hard parts of their day. I'm lucky. I really enjoy my job. Sure, I don't want to go sometimes; but, I really enjoy what I do. I'm always glad to be in the room. The hard part of my job is having been there.
Some cases hit closer to home than others. While having had an eating disorder, I can relate to parts of what most people bring in, there are those cases that just really stare right back at me like a mirror. I love those cases. It reminds me why I do what I do. It also reminds me how F%$#ing hard it is to battle an eating disorder. The cases where I end up going toe to toe with someone else's eating disorder are rewarding and exhausting. It's most of the time mitigated by the fact that I have multiple people on different parts of the journey at any given point. Those that are further along remind me that there is healing. Having been through it, without seeing others, I would begin to feel like an unlikely anomally.
And then there are those who are a mirror of my past. It's a deep, dark, twisting road of a past. Listening to how desperately they want help, to be told the magic fix, I'm reminded often how hard it is to let go. I remember going to my own therapy appointments and coming home. I was angry that they couldn't fix it. I don't know how my therapists felt back then. I am clearly aware that change isn't about control, willpower, or motivation. It's about the buy-in.
The buy-in is what the eating disorder promises. We are used to hearing if I weigh less I'll be happy. That's the buy-in. For some even it's the idea that if we gain enough weight we can disappear. It's sitting across from someone listening to their stories that they tell themselves and remembering the exact moment that I believed the same things they are telling themselves. It's knowing the pattern they are doing with food is the same pattern I used to do. I'd hold myself to the same punishment. It's knowing that I fought back against my eating disorder. Somehow. Someway. I stood up. It's knowing that they will too. And it may not be with me and it may not be today; but, through the tears in their eyes and the holding back of my own, I know that they can recover.
If I asked you to paint me one snapshot of your day, what would you tell me? If a photographer was following you around capturing moments at random, which photograph would represent most accurately your entire day? Is it a snapshot that is clearly happy? Is it a snapshot of the one second of your day that you found a smile? Is it a snapshot that shows your internal struggle? Is it a snapshot of you?
It's hard to think about. I have moments of significance to me because they are calming. I have moments of significance to me because they are empowering. I have moments of significance to me because they are messy and real. Each day I would pick a different snapshot of my day to represent my most accurately. It's the practice of looking for these moments where we can find a place that's ours. It's what I remember most about my day, whether it's from the back of a horse, in my office chair, or snuggling with my kid.
There's something to what kind of snapshots we chose to remember. Which snapshots are you choosing to carry around? Some of us carry around snapshots of today. Others carry around snapshots of the future and some carry around snapshots from the past. The feelings we associate with each picture can shade the glasses through which we see everything.
I thought about this blog subject yesterday, since I'm still working at the ole daily blog idea. Yesterday's snapshot would have been of a gift. I was given an hour of time I didn't expect and got to escape to the back of my horse. While in the past I would have been upset that I couldn't make it to the barn because of boxes to check or an activity level to keep, I felt the warmth of my heart on the back of my horse. I changed the association to my snapshot and empowered myself in doing so.
It's the snapshots that we carry around that are affecting us daily. Be your own photographer and decide which snapshots you want to keep. Leave the rest behind.
There's that moment. There's that split second that makes a difference. There's a million of them that happen everyday. And they make the difference between one road or the other. The next series of steps come out of that split second decision. Not that I would know anyone like this, but from what I've heard, there are people out there who tend to let themselves get in the way of those split second decisions.
There is a moment where a choice to be brave, to be fearless, to not buy into old negative ideas about ourselves exists. Yet, we tend to choose to buy into those insecurities, to hide, to run, to stay quiet. I wonder what holds us back. I wonder if it's the insecurities we hold dear or is it the fear of being great, accomplished, proud, brave, and being bold. It's easy to listen to the voice that says don't try, don't go, don't risk, and don't make noise. It's easy to back up. It's easy to hide in the background. I notice that I am constantly faced with these split second decisions.
I've spent way more time than I would like to admit being the person who gets in my own way. Obviously, many years of an eating disorder can account for that. I've chosen isolation. I've chosen to believe in irrational ideas of if this would only happen, then I could finally do that. The this would only happen doesn't happen. For an eating disorder it's never enough until you die. It's the slowest form of suicide whether you are starving, purging, or over-eating. At the extremes of any of those serious consequences exist and can be deadly. It's those split seconds over and over again.
Today was about those split seconds. I've learned to second guess when I have a quick impulse. My default is set to hide, to run, to blend in the background, to buy into my insecurities. It's the action of removing the insecurities that feels like being great, accomplished, brave, and bold. It's the walking away from that person who would have taken the easier route that changes that split second. And in that moment it becomes easy to be brave, to be fearless, to not buy into old negative ideas about myself.
I like the idea of blogging everyday. I like the idea of having something to say everyday. It feels important. However, with as many things that I am good at doing everyday, blogging is not one of them. Some days my case notes have more 'blog' notes on them then actual notes about the client. Hey, no one is supposed to be able to really read my notes, but me. No judgement. With all that, I find it daunting and hard to blog.
I am sure there are a number of reasons. The scariest of all may be that I am slightly afraid of my own voice. I've learned not to be afraid of it in session. I've learned there are times when a client starts a story that references something I said last session, or a few months ago, and it's way different than anything I could have possibly said. After this happening a few times I realized that my clients hear, in part, what they want to hear. This is slightly more frightening because I see how little power I have. It is also liberating. No matter how hard I try to say the right thing, or at least stay away from the wrong thing, there is sometimes little I can do to transmit the message directly into their brain without a slight game of telephone at hand. I also know that I am really good in the room. I am good when there is only the possibility of one just one judger.
Blogs feel a bit more visceral. Or maybe it is that I want it to be more visceral. I want the words I'm sharing to be the best words anybody has heard all day. Did I mention I can be pretty hard on myself? Written there in black and white it can be read over and over. With the way social media works there is also the chance that putting it out there leaves it available for professionals and other experts to disagree. In my room I am under a little bit of a safety net.
Yet my admiration for those who have something to say everyday seems important. I want to believe in my own voice. I know I have something to say, both personally and professionally. Today it hit me. It hit me that I could just write about something that I saw today. I could just write. I could just involve myself in the practice of writing, instead of the practice of goal setting. Writing is too often for others. The idea is that unless everyone applauds it isn't worth it. That's the act of goal setting. I think I've been living my life this way, even if the only one who is in any position to do the applauding is me. I move through life secretly checking the boxes.
Today, though, we just practiced life. Yesterday we had a new puppy enter our life. With every emotion I could feel from sheer panic to glimpses of joy, we still have her today. We are a little unprepared; but, nonetheless here she is. And I don't know how you handle a new puppy, but I seem to handle her the same way I handled a new baby. I just tried to take her places to create some form of entertainment/please get worn out so you will nap. In the process of this I found life practice. I found time. I found laughs. I found pause. I found stillness when I was still moving, even playing.
I found something to write about. I found just that one thing different that happened today.
The problem with time is that it is finite. There are the same number of seconds, minutes, and hours in every day. What this means is that we have to fill up those seconds, minutes, and hours with something. And some of it boils down to simple math. Let's take a look.
There are those people that we all know who live very full lives. They have very packed days. Their days probably require a great deal of structure to keep it all together. They may change topics ten to twenty times a day. They go to work. They go to lunch. They talk to co-workers. They run an errand. They have a doctor's appointment. They go to the gym. They meet a friend for dinner after work. They do some of their laundry. They read a book. They have a bedtime routine. They go to bed. Their days may be so packed, in fact, they may even forget a couple of things on their list or find there are still things they didn't get to.
There are also those people who have much smaller worlds. Some people have a lot less things to do. They may work less. They may no have as many friends. They may not have errands to run or choose not to do them. They don't workout. They don't have plans after work. They may or may not do their laundry. They may not change topics many times throughout the day. Whatever it looks like, I think you get my drift. The point is they fill a lot less seconds, minutes, and hours of their day. But... these days needs to be filled.
If our thoughts are constantly moving from one thing to the next we may not spend very much time thinking about any one thing. Filling on average sixteen waking hours with sixteen different topics can keep our minds bouncing. While there are plenty arguments to suggest a day can be too full, look closer at the opposite. If the opposite is an isolated life it leaves a lot of time to spend on a very few subjects. It leaves a lot of room to take a small thought and make it very, very big. Take a minute to sprinkle in a little extra dash of OCD and you've got an entire day that can be filled with a nothing problem gone haywire.
Depression and other related issues, such as anxiety, can cause the desire to shrink away from things in life leaving a lot of hours to fill. Structure and adding things to your life can help combat these ever growing thoughts. The structure shrinks the amount of time one thought can ruminate and can keep it contained. If you leave the space open ruminating creates an illusion of a full life. There key is paying attention to the difference between when a life is full and healthy or full and destructive.