There was something strangely wonderful that occurred to me as I was doing my qigong exercises this morning. I was attempting a challenging balance exercise, but instead of over-thinking the movement, thus making it harder than it really was, I just did it. Voilà! I was able to hold steady and move through a roadblock that previously had me ready to do a "Humpty Dumpty!"
PS. I have a post "brewing," in which I discuss the importance of working on proprioception to prevent falls. Now, I do it!
On my Holly dog walk, I started thinking about the road blocks we put up that prevent us from getting things done.
Roadblocks Come in Different Guises
Now, while roadblocks keep us safe and prevent us from straying into dangerous zones, they can also prevent us from going where we really need and/or want to go.
Over-thinking how to do a task, like my qiong move, is one example. Fortunately, I realized that if I got out of my head, I could trust my body to know what to do
Someone I know often overestimates the time a job will take. Of course, when something simple seems to take an inordinate amount of time, there's a good reason why starting to work on it requires a great deal of effort. That often leads to "Nah, I'd rather not do it."
Perfectionism is another obstruction that can wring the desire out of getting something done. On page 90 of The Perfection Deception, Luria describes her exhausting way of thinking:
"Here's how my head goes: There's a point system in life. The idea is to accumulate as many points as possible but, unlike many systems, I have to figure out the rules myself. No one will tell them to me because that would be cheating. My job is to avoid getting zinged because that means losing points and losing points equates to misery and poverty. Sometimes I just don't want to even start because I know I'll get wrong and I'll get zinged anyway. Aside from the anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and assorted intestinal issues, I've become very good at surmounting obstacles. I wonder if I can just stop my obstacle-surmounting and just live."
Apathy - a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern that what you do won't make a difference, so why bother doing anything at all.
You may be surprised to learn that a chronic illness can throw up roadblocks, as well. There's a fine line between your limitations and your abilities. Learning to respect both is key. So is learning when it's safe to strive to do better and/or more. Learn to listen to your body!
In the quote from The Perfection Deception, Luria hinted at feature that is common to the above scenarios. In one way or another, roadblocks can be stress-producing.
Some people take the sweep-it-under-the-rug approach. I can't see it, therefore it's not there. Wrong! On some level, you know that it needs to be done. While there's justification to support the initial construction of those roadblocks, they can morph into something quite different. Something that creates stress. Stress that ties you up in knots and often creates bigger problems. Problems that arise from incomplete tasks, whether at work or at home, arguments and unsavory consequences.
Stress or no stress?
- We become aware of something through our senses. We see, hear, smell, feel and/or taste something that reminds us of an earlier experience.
- Signals are then sent from the heart to the brain. The quality of those signals determines what happens next.
- If the earlier experience was unpleasant, dangerous or negative in some way, your brain perceives a threat. That threat can be real (a cougar is stalking you - the 4-legged kind, although...) or imaginary (endless worries about what could happen if...). The stress response is then activated.
- If the signals are smooth, the message is that all is well. Nothing wrong here. Carry on, folks.
Think of your heart as the conductor of an orchestra. The orchestra is represented by the various systems in your body: hormonal, respiratory, cardiac, etc. When the rhythm from your heart to the brain is smooth, the orchestra starts playing together efficiently and harmoniously. This means that you feel better because you are no longer wasting energy, literally and figuratively. Now, isn't that music for your ears?
Are your curious about those heart rhythms?
I sell technology that shows you, in real-time, how your heart speeds up and slows down based on how you think and feel. It's more than that, though.
It's a training tool to help you manage your emotions so that they don't manage you. The smoother the rhythm, the less reactive you feel. The better you feel. The more you get done. Calmly. Efficiently.
Dismantling Your Roadblocks
What if those roadblocks were as simply-flattened as one of those play-doh sculptures that you made as a child?
Pull up the three-legged stool of knowledge, self-awareness and techniques for a short explanation on how to dismantle your roadblocks:
It makes it difficult to effect change if you don't know or understand why you are doing something or what is happening in your body. Learning how stress impacts you is a powerful agent of change.
Practice noticing when you react to something. Dig a little deeper. Get curious. Is this because...? Does s/he remind me of...? How is this keeping me safe?
Onboard stress techniques that are simple to do. In fact, you can do these techniques anywhere and anytime. You don't have to wait for the weekend, your vacation or until you pay the "health toll." Nor do you want to wait until your life becomes so unmanageable that recovery requires a Herculean effort. Remember that the longer you entrench a bad habit, the more difficult it is to break its hold on you.
As you finish reading this post, place your hand over your heart, which is in the centre of your chest; it's slightly tipped to the left. Close your eyes and feel grateful for what your "conductor" is doing for you.
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