When someone asks you, how are you? Do you ever think to yourself, good question, “I don’t know”? Or, “Not good, but I couldn’t tell you why in any succinct manner, and I don’t know what I need to make it better”?
This bad feeling (call it cranky, needy, or feeling like a helpless child) is what I describe as being out of touch with myself. I’ll call it a BOOT moment (Being. Out. Of. Touch.).
How can I know what I want, when I don’t know who I am? When I am out of touch with my feelings, my mind, my needs?
In moments like these, it feels easier to keep running around, finding tasks to do, like cleaning, shopping, working, exercising, watching something, emailing, texting, etc.
In moments like these, if you asked me what I want to do, I would not know. Operative word being “want”. I might know what I think I should do, but not what I want to do. How can I know what I want, when I don’t know who I am? When I am out of touch with my feelings, my mind, my needs?
Most notably, it is in these moments that I can be most hurtful to the people close to me.
I write this because I got into a Boot moment yesterday, that turned into a Boot three hours, and that caused tension that felt like a hangover this morning.
So, for anyone who gets into Boot moments from time to time, or often, I have some recommendations.
… I often try to prove myself to be what I think someone else would want me to be, or to be who I think I should be, and I lose sight of myself, as I am, in the process.
- Notice what situations trigger you to lose touch with yourself. For me, they are moments when I am trying to perform. To prove to myself and to others that I am good enough. When I do this for a prolonged period of time, then by the end I find myself deeply embedded in a Boot moment!
- Take notice of when you are going into a situation that might trigger a Boot reaction. Perhaps try to do a meditation before, or some sun salutations, or anything that helps you turn inward and makes you feel grounded. For me, these situations would be group social situations. They would be working for somebody else and following instructions, as I often try to prove myself to be what I think someone else would want me to be, or to be who I think I should be, and I lose sight of myself, as I am, in the process.
- When a Boot moment is already occurring, stop. Literally stop moving. Find a place to be alone.
- Communicate to those around you that you are going to take some time alone. For some of us, this is hard. It feels like weakness, or like we are insulting other people. So find a way to say it that feels comfortable. It could be, I am going to take a nap. They don’t need to know exactly what you are doing. You don’t even know what exactly you’ll be doing!
- Lie down. Sit down. Close your eyes. I like to go into Child’s Pose. I like to feel my forehead on the ground. It feels like I am protected and being embraced.
After some time, when the thoughts are quieter and you’ve taken the edge off, ask yourself, what would feel really good? …Remember, the question is what would feel really good? It is Not, what should I do?
- Listen to your thoughts. Warning: they might be mean! (You should be doing X, Why did you get yourself into this bad position to begin with?, you should be doing Y, etc. etc.) Your thoughts might be re-hashing whatever you just did. Don’t get caught up in that. Notice the thoughts, and then concentrate on inhales and exhales. Your thoughts will keep drifting back in, and they can be loud, but keep catching yourself so you don’t get pulled in to actually thinking about your thoughts. Resist the urge to get up and start doing. Concentrate on your inhales and exhales.
- Slowly, your thoughts will stop screaming at you. They might change from a chastising tone, to a more compassionate tone. You may feel sorry for yourself. Keep breathing, and keep going back to the focus on inhale and exhale.
- After some time, when the thoughts are quieter and you’ve taken the edge off, ask yourself what would feel really good. (Is it reading, is it listening to music, dancing, cooking, walking outside, giving a hug to the person you love? These are just some ideas,) and then, do that thing! This is the fun part! Remember, the question is what would feel really good? It is Not, what should I do?
- If you can’t answer that question yet, keep meditating in a way that works for you. This yoga video (55 minutes) works really well for me, because it combines movement with a focus on stilling the mind.
I hope this is helpful. Writing it has been helpful for me.