I totally lied to myself about this
As most of you know, I have toned down my coaching practice and have been working in a corporate job since early this summer. For the most part, I’m enjoying it- I have great co-workers and the work is meaningful.
But as I transitioned from a schedule that I built as I pleased into the basic 9-to-5 routine (complete with commute and traffic and parking hassles) I had a really hard time fitting in everything I wanted to do in a day. When I worked for myself I meditated almost daily and could work on side projects whenever I wanted to. I got my exercise in, no problem. If I needed to emotionally process something, I had the time and space to do it. I also had time and space to run errands and take the kids to appointments at pretty much any time.
As most of you who work are probably recognizing, this is not how it went once I transitioned into working for someone else. To say the least!
Back when I was coaching full time I didn’t always understand why some folks had such a hard time making changes – building new habits like adding exercise or eating better. I understood there were challenges from work and family and community, but some folks had a really hard time putting the pieces together that would help them make lasting change. I know it was my job to help coach them on this, and I did, I just didn’t always understand what exactly the hurdle was…until now.
The hurdle is: it’s really fucking hard to add stuff to an over-packed schedule that sucks all your energy out during the day. I like my job and I don’t have much energy left at the end of the day. It’s gotta be 10x worse for folks who hate their job. I get up at 4:40 am three days a week so I can exercise. Alarm goes off at 4:40, I’m exercising by 5:10, done and in the shower by 6:10. By the time I’m dressed and ready to get breakfast, get the kids out the door, and head to work myself, I’ve been up for almost 4 hours…BEFORE I EVEN GET TO WORK. I arrive at work with a lot less energy than I want to.
Now, I do this because exercise is a really important thing to me. It helps me manage my diabetes, it gives me nice endorphins, it helps me feel strong and flexible which I really like. But I have had to be motivated as fuck to keep going with it. And what I realized was that I bullshitted myself about what people are capable of. What I’m capable of. Full time work, part time work, commutes, responsibilities…they add up and they take energy. And who can build a new habit when you have no energy?
I haven’t meditated regularly since I started working. I miss it. And I have tried, on several occasions, to get my practice started again. But, guess what? I don’t have the time or the motivation or the space in my day sometimes to do it. For the first couple of months I beat myself up in my head about it. Wondering why I couldn’t do it, why I couldn’t make the space, why I wasn’t motivated. I did a fair amount of self-shaming. Big surprise, it didn’t work.
Once I started to realize that I really did not have the energy for it, it helped. Being honest, not bullshitting myself about where I actually was, helped a lot. “I don’t have the time or the motivation for meditating every day right now.” When I said that to myself, I didn’t like it, but it also helped me relax and let my shoulders down. Because it was the truth.
The truth I’m working with right now is: I don’t have time to meditate every day, but I will try to meditate twice a week. If I do more, great. If I do less, that’s okay, too. It’s just the fact of being honest with myself about where I am and taking a step that feels doable. In truth, I didn’t meditate this week at all. And I don’t like that, but I’m not shaming myself about it. It’s okay if this goal takes time to develop and integrate, because my life is busier than it was before.
Not bullshitting ourselves is an important thing at mid-life. If we’re in the Sex Surge, it may mean getting deeply honest about what we feel: that the desire is so intense we’d just about fuck anybody, or that we know there’s a hole inside us and the sex is filling it right now, or whatever else, and forgiving ourselves if we feel shame or guilt about it. Whatever is happening is the truth, and there is no shame in telling the truth. If we’re in peri-menopause, let’s also not bullshit ourselves about that. Let’s be honest about how weird it is sometimes: that our periods are getting all screwed up and maybe our emotions along with it, how we could definitely do without a few certain people in our life, how aging can bring up a lot of inner crap. Let’s just tell the truth. We deserve it at this age.
Because the thing about telling the truth is that it can relax and free us. When we tell the truth about where we are really at and what’s really going on in our life, we stand on something more solid than hope and goals and motivation. I’m not against hope or goals or motivation, I just want to be sure to use them well. And they are only used well when we first tell the truth. Truth is our foundation for good work. So, I would encourage you to gently (as gently as you can!) tell yourself the truth about your life right now. Scary as it may be. Frustrating as it may be. But tell the truth and notice if it doesn’t bring some small bit of relief to your mind or body.
Wherever we are, whatever is going on in our lives, I believe we deserve to have the lives we want, to make the changes that help us feel happy. But I also we need to tell the truth about where we are so we can reach for what’s doable, not just what we dream of.