“Did you want those cigarettes regular or organic?” the cashier asked the man in front of me at the gas station this morning.
A laugh burst from my lips before my brain could catch it.
“Organic, huh?” I thought to myself. “Because if you’re going to poison your body, it’s worth doing it with the highest quality ingredients.”
And just when I’m about to pull out the full-strength judgmentalism, I’m wrecked. Because I do the Organic Cigarette Guy thing, too. I try to dress up the ways I’m lying to myself about what’s unhealthy in my life.
Like when I get irritated and nag my child who is running late for school because I didn’t wake her on time… because I stayed up too late doing a project which I’ve needed to let go, but didn’t have the courage to do yet.
Ever been there? That place where you’re stressed and maybe even upset at someone else because you’ve been ignoring something in your own life that’s a mess?
How do we stop lying to ourselves, and invite God’s best in our lives again?
Notice our triggers.
- What consistently gets you worked up or upset?
- What times of day are you more likely to lose it?
- What happened before that stressed moment?
- Were you hungry, lonely, or tired beforehand?
Keep a small notebook handy to mark the “whens” and “whats” of those high-stress moments. I even have a couple of colored pens available and use them to highlight trends I’m noticing—times when I was tired (grey), sad (blue), mad (red) or hungry (yellow). However we keep track of the high-stress moments, simply seeing them is the beginning of telling ourselves the truth so we can pursue something better.
Listen to our bodies.
As women, we’re masters of ignoring the need to eat, sleep, pee, get a hug or anything else our bodies tell us they need. We push and push through the many tasks and relationships we encounter until our bodies are screaming at us and we end up sick or laid flat with a migraine. What if we listened to our bodies sooner?
For me and the project I needed to let go, if I’d listened to my body, I’d have noticed how tense my neck was when I’d work on it. I’d notice I had trouble focusing, and that my stomach was upset because of the stress. Looking back, I recall these symptoms at times, but what I needed to do was listen to them. To take a moment and consider the patterns I saw, and ask God to help me make sense of them and make the needed changes sooner.
Ask ourselves (and others) good questions.
Talk with someone you trust, who knows your dreams and can help you objectively compare those dreams with how you’re living life today.
- Are your daily activities and long-term dreams in line with one another?
- Is it time to take it a little slower in some areas, or pick up the pace in others?
- Do your days need to be structured differently?
- What’s missing right now that would help you to both pursue your goals and take care of yourself so you’re not stressed as much?
By seeking input from people we trust, and seeking wisdom from the One who knows us better than we even know ourselves, we limit our ability to lie to ourselves. When I started asking people I trust what they thought of this project I’d been involved in, it became clear that it wasn’t a good fit anymore. For a few years, it had been. I’d learned and grown because of involvement with that team. But life had grown and moved on, and it was time to let go of it now.
I had to stop trying to make it work. Stop buying the “organic cigarettes” to mitigate the stress and overwhelm that outgrown project was creating in my life. Getting honest was scary. Letting go was scary. I keep wishing there was a nicotine-patch equivalent that would make the change feel easier. But the longer I press in to the change, the more free I feel.
To ponder: What are you holding on to today that needs a little honesty… and maybe to be let go? What’s your next step to do what’s best for you?