I recently heard someone say in a self-help YouTube video that she “woke some people up, but it was too early for them and they crashed and burned”. Or words to that effect. Something struck me about that statement and I immediately responded internally that no one can take full responsibility for waking up others. Perhaps a word or action might prompt a flash bulb going off in the other person, but we are not going to wake up or change if we don’t want it or if something inside of us does not allow it. There seems to me to be an inflation of ego in the person who claims to have awakened others.
Take for example a memorable occurrence in my life where the words of a person prompted a change of attitude on my part. I would arrive at work and rush to the coffee pot, rush to the filing room, rush back to answer a phone… rushing, rushing, rushing. This was behavior that was modeled to me while growing up and somehow I absorbed it and made it my own. Of course, there was something in my own nature that grabbed onto this approach and thought nothing about it. This was “normal” behavior to me, but did it look normal to others? One day, my boss took a moment to stop by my desk where I was perched for a brief moment until the next flurry of activity and his words still echo to this day: “Not everything has to be a rush or an emergency”. I thought I was efficient – ask me anything and I would get right to it. No delay in my world. I was on it!
His words penetrated the thick layers of my brain and lit a bunch of neurons off. I had an opportunity for some self-reflection and a teaching moment and I grabbed it without descending into self pity. While I thought I was burning extra calories running here and there to get things done, I probably looked like an insane whirling dervish to others. In an instant it occurred to me that I had picked up some habits and behavior that were par for the course in my upbringing but to be honest, I probably could do without them. If I were honest with myself, these behaviors were probably not serving me in the way that I thought. So my boss gave me a gift! Was he personally 100% responsible for waking me up? No. But his words prompted something inside of me and I answered the call myself. I decided to make a change; I decided to try on a new behavior and see what results might follow.
And so I’ve slowed down. I try to bite my tongue more (hard to do but I am trying) and I try to take more pauses in my day. If I feel rushed or stressed, I stop and take a breath. Am I perfect at this? Never. But the good news in my world is I am aware more. It is humbling to know that I don’t have all the answers and that I can wake up every day and try again. I can be personally gratified and give myself some credit that I didn’t take my boss’ words personally and that I used the words as a catalyst to try on a different behavior.
Other forces are demanding as well that I slow down, and those are the forces of the aging process. Although the energy and consciousness that fills my physical container feels ever vibrant and young, the body it inhabits is feeling a little rickety. The hands and fingers that have worked at a computer for almost three decades are voicing their displeasure; my knees are rebelling, too, and the photographic memory of my youth is less crisp and more of a blur these days. How has this happened in the twinkling of an eye? How did I all of a sudden find myself in my sixth decade, with each day passing quicker than a beam of light, defying the laws of physics? There seems to be no stopping this charging herd of time buffalos and I am powerless in its wake. So I am trying to listen. Do I need extra rest, a dose of ibuprofen, an epsom salts bath, slower yoga? Do I need to just stand still and take some breaths?
Can I face the fact that I am not superwoman and on some days I am going to ache a bit more or need to hit the sack a bit earlier. Can I be humble in the face of these wake up calls, and can I slow down just enough to fully appreciate the little miracles of each day? For if I am rushing around like a tornado, I miss these little but very important miracles, and I am simply not going to do that behavior any more.
I am also free to say “I will get back to you” or “Let me think about that”, and that is a miracle in and of itself.
May you be well,