With palms together, I wish you all a good afternoon.
I woke this morning after a fitful night of sleep. It needed to find me or I to find it; either way sleep was not to happen.
It took me several hours of fighting with sleep or perhaps to sleep to realize, or should I say admit the cause of my restlessness was right inside my own head. I work in a profession which I love, for which I share a tremendous passion. That passion, if left unchecked turns into burnout. My problem is I have a tendency when I allow myself to go on autopilot to miss or perhaps more accurately ignore the signs which lead me down the road to destruction.
I teach mindfulness and pride my own mindfulness practice, but lately this practice has been anything but mindful. Mindless would be more accurate.
Three or four times each year this happens. I allow myself to go on autopilot and neglect to watch the road in front of me. Thoughts speed up and slow down. There are on-ramps and off-ramps all relatively safe if we pay attention to what is ahead of us, on either side of us and behind us. I am usually pretty good at spotting when a breakdown might occur but this time I had taken my eyes off the road for a period of time which was in hindsight, too long. You know what happens next. That’s right, I was involved in an emotional accident. This year it was allowing myself to miss both of my trips to the Adirondacks. The winter trip was missed, well for reasons which I can no longer recall. The summer trip was missed because of many, too many excuses and rationalizations. This summer trip has been greatly missed. These trips, especially the summer trip have been an anchor for more than a decade. When the anchor is lifted, moved or is neglected, the ship will drift. I knew something was wrong when I saw my 4 AM runs dwindle from 5-6 times each week to three times if I was lucky. My alarm sounded and running was never the problem, getting out of bed was. I was emotionally exhausted yet I refused to acknowledge this. I refused to look within. If I had, the answer would have been within arms reach. I would have only had to reach out and grasp it.
Typically we become angry and quickly look around for someone to blame for if we search hard enough there is always someone to blame. Unfortunately, we never look in the right direction as the blame falls squarely on our shoulders. Sure there are other, outside contributing factors but it is our responsibility to pay attention and when we don’t…well it’s safe to say we all know what happens next.
It is important not only for us to pay attention to what lies ahead and around us but to take our proverbial pulse several times each day. I remind patients within my therapy practice of the importance of self-care and forgot about myself.