I want talk about something that happens to everybody but everybody is super discreet about. Pooping. Yes. Poop. Everybody poops. (There is a children’s book with this same title and it is both educational and hilarious. You should check it out.) But nobody talks about it, people are particular about it, and it is something we don’t talk about. This is the thing though, in the medical field pooping is actually super important and necessary for the human body to function. If something happens and you stop pooping it gets really bad really fast. Regularly getting rid of crap is literally and actually keeping you healthy and alive.
Do you see where I’m going with this? We don’t need a reason other than keeping ourselves healthy to deal with the crap in our lives. It takes very regular, even daily attention. We have to get rid of what is toxic in our lives and choose to eliminate it on a regular basis.
We are given choices every day whether we realize it or not and we have to be intentional about choosing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we must be intentional or indecision will make our choices for us. We must give ourselves permission to pursue health and get rid of the crap. If we don’t it will build up and make us sick, allowing toxins to infuse every area of our life.
What is your crap? What is the stuff that keeps coming up that you would rather ignore? What are the negative words you say to yourself in your thoughts? What are the issues that seem too big to deal with but will only get bigger if you continue to ignore them? Look at them in the face and deal with them head on.
Since when did facing the truth become something to fear? It isn’t something that will crush you; it is something that will free you. Facing these things will force you to realize that yes, there is darkness but the only reason we know there is darkness is because we have something to contrast it with- light.
The truth is you are worth being free. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. There are amazing seeds inside of you waiting to be planted and cultivated and tended.
The truth is also that some of those seeds will be weeds. Everyone has crap they need to deal with, weeds that will grow and need attention even while we are tending the good plants in our garden. Just because weeds grow doesn’t mean you aren’t a good gardener or don’t have a good garden. Weeds grow in every garden, but the best gardeners are the ones who are watchful and aware and continually weeding as the unwanted sprouts up. Pretending they don’t exist doesn’t help.
I want to emphasize I’m not approaching this as an expert, as someone who is perfect. I am approaching this as someone on the path with you. What exactly am I doing? This:
-After years of denial and distraction I’m allowing myself to pay attention to my emotions, my reactions, my heart. If something is negative or uncomfortable or messy I force myself to look at it. To examine the emotion or my reaction even if it is negative and I would rather ignore it or distract myself.
-I’m paying attention to where I spend my time and energy. I often find myself filling up my time with watching shows or reading novel or eating sweets or drinking wine or staying busy. When I notice this I try to stop and ask myself what I am trying to distract myself from, what I am trying to avoid, or what void am I trying to fill. Sometimes I’m just tired and looking for a break, but often it is that I am bothered by something and subconsciously avoiding something painful or negative.
-If it is painful or confusing, little or big, I invite good friends who love me to be aware of my struggles. I open up to them about my crap, even if it would feel more comfortable to pretend I am fine. In doing so I actively refuse to isolate myself from others. I firmly believe healing is achieved through relationships and often when I am resisting being open in my relationships it is because I feel like I have something shameful I need to hide. When I can be open with my crap the power is shifted away from my issue and back into my hands. At the same time this transfer of power is assisted and even more importantly witnessed by a loving and supportive friend (or group of friends) who can remind me of who I am when I forget.
-I pray and daily invite God into the mess. Every recovery group I am aware of- Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, etc all acknowledge a higher power in the process of positive change and I am no different. I ask for help, wisdom, bravery, power, and even hope and joy to deal with the negative stuff in my daily life. I trust that the One who gives daily bread will also help me let go of the daily crap.
-Although I am not currently going to a counselor I have been in counseling and therapy multiple times in my life. There is actual science and tools that can empower and improve our lives, and there is no use waiting till you arrive at the end of your rope to ask for help. I am a firm believer in planning and being systematic, and if there is a triggering event (could be positive or negative change of any kind- marriage, birth, death, new home, new job, trauma, negative emotional experience, whatever you can imagine) then find a counselor or therapist- someone who has dedicated their education and career curating tools for this very thing.
-I am starting to give myself permission despite not being perfect, despite having crap I need to deal with. Next week I’m going to talk more about permission but for now, just start looking for what in your life you stopped giving yourself permission to do. You may need to look for excuses and then work backwards. I’m not only talking about tasks or things, but even how you allow yourself to think. “I have to worry about this situation because…” “I can’t be happy because..” etc.
What will it take to force us to pay attention to ourselves? To wake up? Do we have to hit rock bottom every time we need to make a change? What if we don’t wait till it might be too late? Don’t let your life get so messy that it takes years to clean. The sooner you start, the less you have to deal with later.
Friend, we all have crap in our life. It’s not an excuse so don’t use it as an excuse any longer. Let’s not pretend or hide any longer. Let’s learn how to face it, deal with it, and stop holding ourselves back from the fullness life has to offer.