Ever know someone — a friend, an ex, a relative, what-have you — who makes you feel kind of shitty about yourself? I think we all have that, no?
People are mirrors, and sometimes it’s not always easy to understand why we’re attracted to certain personalities (ever look back at a past relationship and think, “Gah, what was I thinking?”). Or maybe you’re tangled up with someone in your family who puts you down, but they’re in your family, so, changing the dynamic …. that’s complicated.
Sometimes, we get into relationships not because it makes us feel good, or that we think they’re good people, but because — and I’m just going to get to brass tacks on the matter — they make us feel insecure. When people make us feel insecure, it’s quite seductive when they give us their attention and sporadic approval — maybe if we change, we can get more of that approval, then we’re really winning.
(Warning: it’s a trap, the game is rigged!)
If you know what I’m talking about, you also know that this is what they refer to as a toxic relationship. It is not self- and life-affirming, and if the relationship is important enough, a person can find oneself in a negative spiral that is very hard to get out of. This on my mind today because I ran into an old friend who I once found myself in a negative spiral with — I’ve not talked to this person in some time and thought it would be nice to catch up, being at peace with people is always better than carrying around regret, but for days, I just felt kinda icky about it all. Having worked hard to be in a positive spiral for several years now … I found myself slipping back into this feeling of utter worthlessness and confusion.
But the great thing is, I have soul-deep and enlightened friends who remind me when I am giving my power away. And because I have so many incredible blessings in my life and great people around me, I can quickly snap out of it. I know I won’t ever get stuck there. Still, I was up in the middle of the night thinking about this, about power, and about what makes us feel good and what makes us feel bad, and why don’t we only ever gravitate toward the good? Like, isn’t that a “duh!?”
Then I read this post on Facebook about a friend who is making big changes in her life — she and her husband have started eating healthier and they’ve lost a lot of weight (congrats!!!), but most importantly, they are eating to feel good. This is a paradigm shift that I’m working on as well — understanding hunger vs. emotional hunger, what cravings are really all about and all that jazz. Why don’t we only eat the foods that we know make us feel good and healthy?
Then it all started to click for me. I know what makes me feel good. Doing yoga, eating “clean”, meditation, reading a great book, practicing self-discipline and working toward achieving some goal, learning, giving my best for my clients, taking time for myself and treating myself to the expensive soap rather than the bottom shelf stuff, talking and laughing with Michel … you get the point. Healthy things. I also know what makes me feel bad. Drinking too much, eating junk food, interacting with toxic people, laying around all day watching “Orange is the New Black” marathon-style. Unhealthy things.
It’s so simple, but still, so many of us have our vices — we smoke, drink too much, get into toxic romantic relationships, sit around eating cheetos rather than going for a walk. It’s not complicated to see that we gravitate toward things that make us feel bad, though we may not be self-aware enough to realize that we even feel bad, it’s just auto-pilot and we’re soothing deep pains (and creating more) without realizing it.
I’ve come to a realization after this sleepness night that feeling bad just sometimes feels good. We are complex creatures, we humans, and it’s not always so easy to be 100% happy, 100% healthy and 100% well-adjusted. I don’t know about you but sometimes when I am on a really great “healthy/happy/yay” streak, I feel a little anxious. Like, is this it? I kinda miss my cheetos.
I know people who live their lives as Very Happy and Cheerful People™. I am fascinated by them. Never a bad mood, never a bad habit, never a setback, never a wrong turn. And I think about this, a lot, because I am the kind of person who thinks about things a lot. And as I observe these Very Happy and Cheerful People™ I wonder, where is it broken? It must break down somewhere, this is not really human nature, is it? It’s not our default setting. It takes a certain kind of discipline, or more likely, a certain kind of denial or escape from reality to be all-happy-all-the-time.
Do I want to be perfectly well-adjusted, perfectly perfect? I just don’t know. I think the dark things, the bad things, the weaknesses — there are lessons there, and understanding what it means to be human, and flawed, and overcoming obstacles — this is just life, and making peace with that is where I’m at, man.
Do Very Happy and Cheerful People™ ever evolve? I just don’t think so, but I don’t think it’s because they’re “there.” I would never exchange the full range of human emotion for being in denial about the unpleasantries and disappointments of this weird thing called life. I rather enjoy observing the whole thing, the good and the bad.
But I decided something. I think accepting that sometimes bad things feel very good, maybe feeling insecure or lazy or binge eating feels good in a bizarre way, otherwise we’d never indulge. Accepting that sort of takes the power away from the bad things. If I can look at an experience from outside the experience and say, “this just feels good, but it’s going to make me feel worse in the long run, so don’t indulge for too long, self” and just let it happen and then move forward, then progress is possible, so long as we take more steps forward than steps back. Right?