Paper is patient…
“I wanted to let you know that I’ve kept at the journaling stuff. Man, I sound so mad at myself and disappointed.”-C.
I received this text from a friend who’s trying to make some substantial changes in her life. I suggested she start keeping a diary, to understand all the thoughts swirling around in her head, on the theory that before she can make any lasting, significant change, she has to be honest about where she is, and how she got to this moment. True change, in a sense, requires true stasis: the time and commitment to take things slow, and understand the forces (within us) in play. This, of course, for many people, is pretty much everything they’re determined to avoid in their lives. A lot of video game developers have made bank out of humanity’s 24/7 need to be distracted from ourselves. All of this is why, unfortunately, many people talk endlessly about change, even as they make a lifetime out of being stuck.
Is this process–the process of being honest with ourselves–harder for women rather than men? I do think that women are still programmed to be afraid of any emotion that isn’t happy or helpful or “pretty.” I believe that many people are terrified of women’s emotions, and in that sense, this process can be more difficult for women. The premium placed on women is to be nice and fun, in order to be lovable. Being nice is great, but at what cost? But I coach as many men as women, and yes, men are also burdened by the fear of their emotions. I seriously have had male clients, wrestling with suicide, who, when I strongly suggested getting therapy, immediately snapped, “But if people know I’m in therapy, that’ll ruin my career!” Um, no. You killing yourself because you’re in so much pain, that’ll ruin your career. You being dead will bring your career to a screeching halt.
Let’s admit it: being human is damn hard. We all want to be taken care of, and many of us have a hard time taking care of ourselves.
“But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.”- Anne Frank
The New Year is a popular season for change…or at least for talking earnestly about change. If you, Dear Reader, are thinking about making some true, sea changes in your own life, you know that it’s going to take gut-wrenching honesty about yourself, your emotions and how they (i.e. YOU) got you here. Understanding ourselves is always crucial. I personally wouldn’t have succeed with this business, but for my decision to take responsibility for my feelings.
A good way to get started? Decide today that you’re going to spend even just 15 minutes, every single day, writing in a journal, whether it’s a new notebook or a password-protected Word document. You need regular, repeated time and effort to start making sense of your overheated brain. You think you don’t know what you’ll write, but I suspect that once you set that egg-timer, the words will spill out. Write this for yourself: no likes, or favorites. (That, right there, is kind of frightening, yes? Only going off your own gut, without other people’s approval to guide you…)
This is your space to be angry, jealous, heartbroken, lonely, amused, stupid, irritating, and above all, to be honest. Don’t make excuses, don’t worry about what other people will think, and above all, don’t make a whole list of resolutions, claiming that 2016 is your time, if you can’t even spend 15 minutes a day to listen to yourself. This really is your time, and it starts with your emotions and your actions.
Now. Why should you bother with any of this? Good question. But then again, why should you bother with a long laundry list of superficial changes, if you won’t take the time to understand who you are, and what you really want? How many of your resolutions comes from yourself, as opposed to what you think you should want? And how can you know what you want if you don’t know what you’re thinking?
This is your time. Get to work.
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