Saturday, 1 February 2014

On 14:44 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
“I just don’t feel like doing it today.”
Image by Emilie Ogez

Have you ever had that thought?

It springs up on you just when you know you should be doing something that is “good” for you. And I’m not talking of the idle procrastination excuse. I’m talking about the times when the thought appears almost like a physical plea for non-action. It creates a terrible battle within you. If you ignore it and do the thing anyway, it’s like you betrayed your deepest longing just to stick to your rule. If you heed it and not to what you’re supposed to do, guilt comes crashing down on you.

That was my situation yesterday as I ruminated on writing my blog. “It’s the end of the year. I’m tired. Nobody’s reading anyway, not at this time of the year anyway…” My list of excuses went on and on, but they were meaningless, the truth was, “I really just don’t feel like it today”, even though I had it half-written in my head, and it was about a topic I love talking about: ends, means and mirrors.

But, “I just don’t feel like it today.”

Then I stopped and really listened to what I was telling myself. “I just don’t feel like it today.” Interesting choice of words. True, I didn’t feel like it at all just then. I felt more like taking a long nap (which I did), pigging out on snacks (which I did too) and reading a novel to zone out for a while (ditto). I went to bed at night feeling slightly guilty, promising myself I’d write my blog the next day.

Saturday. Woke up and did a whole bunch of nothing for quite a while. And still the nagging thought “You should write your blog Vicky” kept popping up in my mind. “I don’t feel like it today either,” I brightly said to myself, so I squashed the pestering thought under a few more chapters of reading. But up it popped again and again. I finally decided to look the thing squarely in the face.

You see, I’m all about listening to myself and taking all my inner-voices seriously. They argue and disagree with each other quite a bit, but I try to find which one is holding my best interests in mind that day… and which are just old habits asserting themselves.

Now yesterday it was true, I really was exhausted, I wasn’t feeling well, my mind was all mush… I really needed a break (and when I nap for several hours straight I know my body really needs a rest… I very seldom nap at all). So yesterday it was true, I didn’t feel like writing my blog, and it was a whole body feeling, a sort of message from my whole self that screamed “TAKE A BREAK OR YOU’LL BREAK”.

But today, today was different. The feeling of not wanting to write my blog was more of a habitual reaction, a typical resistance to work that was piggy-backing on my very honest capitulation to my higher good of yesterday. So I got the pesky little gremlin by the ear and told it to behave itself or I’d have it writing blogs every day for a month. It skulked off into a corner and I felt free to turn on my computer to write this down.

What has this all got to do with the Alexander Technique?

We all have feelings, and they are wonderful guides to bear in mind. 

However, feelings can be tricky little gremlins, and we should take them with a grain of salt before heeding their advice. That’s why it helps to have your higher goals or principles clear, something you can look towards for guidance when your feelings try to go “gremlin” on you.

Your higher goals or principles are like your mirror or your teacher, they’ll let you know immediately when you’re running off-course. Of course, you’re free to run anywhere you want, but they’ll be there to remind you what your original intention was, and they’ll hold that standard for you as long as you need it. They’re a shining beacon to guide you back on track whenever you’re ready. No judgments, just reminders of what you said you wanted.

In my case it was clear. Yesterday, my feelings were being champions of my higher goals: I believe in looking after myself, in taking care of my body, mind and soul, and that sometimes means taking a REST. Today, my feelings were being pesky little gremlins: I believe in self-discipline, in following through on my commitments; and after a full night’s rest and a day-off yesterday I really had no valid excuse in the “too tired” department to justify my procrastination.

So how do you distinguish a champion-feeling from a gremlin-feeling?

Three things to do:

1.      Listen to your self. Not to the excuses in your head: your mind is great at giving you justifications for any course of action you take, so you cannot really take your thoughts all that seriously. I mean listen to your whole self. Is the feeling a whole body, overpowering feeling or just a pesky little gremlin?

2.    Remember your principles and goals in life. How does this overpowering feeling measure up to your higher ideals? Remember that an addiction can make you really feel like you need something that goes against your higher principles.

3.    Look for outside help. It’s hard sometimes to decide on your own, because we are so stuck in our habits of thought, body and emotion that we cannot perceive the wider picture. So find somebody who can help you shed some light on areas you might be missing.

It’s almost the end of the year, and we’re all tired and frazzled (at least it seems that way here in Montevideo). So remember to listen to your body when it asks you to stop, to keep your higher goals in mind when you feel like just quitting and sending everyone and everything to hell in a handbasket, and to go have a cup of tea or coffee with a friend when you just can’t handle your own confusion anymore.

And if my gremlins don’t get the best of me next week, I’ll be writing soon that wonderful new blog on ends, means, and mirrors.

Happy holidays!


Victoria

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