I used to cuss first thing In the morning.
The level of dread I carried into each day was what kept me up at night knowing that tomorrow would too need to be faced. This was a vicious cycle.
I don’t know when exactly it changed, but I know it took these acknowledgements and steps:
1. I realized it was a bad thing. You’re off to a rough start right when the first thing out of your mouth in the morning is “for fuck sakes”.
2. I had reasons to feel that way.
3. It would be the organizing and understanding of these reasons that would allow me to tackle them appropriately.
4. ACTION was the only way forward.
5. Gratitude would see what “was” rather than what “wasn’t”.
6. Compassion allowed me the grace to stumble in my efforts where I didn’t need to be hard on myself and therefore against myself. Instead, I needed to be with myself.
Today, I’m able to sleep given the creation of my own excitement for each tomorrow. ☀️
The above is the caption to an Instagram Reel I posted recently.
In this blog post, I want to highlight step number 3 as I think this is the barrier between problem and solution we fail to cross. I believe we often know we need to organize ourselves and take action, but get hung up at the "how". Acknowledging that this isn't easy, I'm going to take you on the process I went down the time I realized I needed to change my attitude towards how I start my day.
Once we become aware things could be better, I have found the next steps should be to ask questions. The catch is, there are good questions and bad questions, and we don’t know which questions are helpful until we go through the Q&A process. Asking questions is always the path forward - whether it be “how the hell do I write this blog post?” or “how do I stop cussing first thing in the morning?”.
The process is somewhat like the scene from the movie "iRobot" where Will Smith's character is questioning a hologram of the doctor who has died.
Frustrated, Smith asks a series of questions, a couple of different times throughout his investigation. When asked a question he cannot answer, the hologram responds: "I'm sorry, my responses are limited." When asked a question of which the answer will help Smith, he responds "that detective is the right question." This leads Smith towards understanding what he must do. Smith’s search for truth sees him ask many questions -- only some of which render useful responses.
In the case of this blog, I am going to elaborate on my Instagram post to walk you through the exercise I used to pivot away from cussing in the morning.
So here I am: teaching the “discovery process” or process of “self reflection” and what can come of asking oneself questions. The ability or willingness to do so can allow us to make adjustments in our path forward. This is not easy stuff -- we have many reasons to answer our own questions in a way that keeps us the same and therefore to keep us safe and comfortable in our ways that are familiar to us. Oddly enough: we often find ourselves feeling safe and comfortable in situations that are not serving us. It’s what we’re used to and so we stay.
So what might happen if we chose to be courageous, truthful, and hopeful. What if we allowed ourselves to stumble on our way to being better for ourselves and others?
So, what comes first is my acknowledgement that I have observed myself cussing every morning. I must ask myself “why I do this?”, and answer honestly. And, when I lose steam, I’ll ask more questions.
I say this because it is especially important in the moments we notice ourselves feeling uncomfortable, that we keep pushing ourselves. There’s an important phrase “our triggers are our biggest teachers” which means we need to lean in when we’re faced with uncomfortable opportunities for growth.
We’re often on the brink of a breakthrough in these moments of uncomfortable breakdown. So take discomfort as a sign you’re being given the opportunity to level up.
If we don’t, we’ll just stay in a cycle of suffering. In my case, this would mean I still cuss every morning. It would also mean I’ve probably spiraled deeper into a state of resentment, spending everyday in my misery. It scares me to think I could still be in such pain.
Which brings me back to how to make this change for yourself. How to implement “Step 3” as listed in my Instagram post. Within Step 3, there are actually three parts: “Organize, Understand, Tackle Appropriately”.
Part 1: Organize and Acknowledge
You’ve got all kinds of shit on the go. You’ve got all kinds of things weighing you down. You have every reason to feel the ways that you do, but just how much do you carry? Can we quantify it? Can we list everything? What do you downplay? What are you ruminating on or place great emphasis on? How many things make you stressed, anxious, fearful, etc. Take some serious stock of all the frustration that lives inside you. It’s amazing how, once you start to collect your thoughts, you start to notice patterns.
Part 2: Understand
Break down each individual piece, write it all down if you can. How does it make you feel? How did it make you feel? Can you recall other times in your life you felt like this? Do any of these things feel connected? Digging deep here is hard: you got this. Really challenge yourself.
In your organizing, acknowledging, and understanding - you’ve gone far beyond where you typically venture. This is a very big deal and deserves huge credit. Your courage sees that you have spoken or written about the things that make you, you. You’re now turning the unorganized chaos that is “everything”, into different individual (and therefore manageable) problems or tasks. You’ve possibly made big realizations. You’ve had hard conversations. You’ve had big emotions. And now: you have some sense of direction that you get to implement towards a better you.
Part 3: Tackle Appropriately
Now, you take accountability. You look to control what you can and seek not to shame, blame, or judge where maybe you did previously. You look to make a plan so that you can move on to Step 4: Action.
It’s important to acknowledge that during the time I was waking up cussing: I was in weekly therapy. I needed outside support, which is why I stress to everyone that reaching out for help is okay and important. In my case, it was necessary. I expressed rage. I expressed disgust. I expressed how low I felt about myself. I was not able to ask myself the right questions because I was blind. I had a skewed world view and unshakable beliefs that needed challenging. I’d never stepped into Step 3 before -- I’d only ever made it to Step 2. This made me hard to be around. Master complainer. Bitcher and moaner. Victim. I was closed off and loathed in self righteousness. I was convinced my misery and malevolence were warranted and out of my control.
With time and honesty, I was taught by those I’ve sought help from. It was only by seeking help that my mind could be changed. It was only by speaking to a therapist that I could adjust from “I’m always right” to “maybe I have things to reconsider” and it was this shift that would allow my mind to change or grow.
While I don’t always know how to correct issues of my own: I know I must ask questions. If I can’t find the questions or resist asking the right ones: the most important question to ask myself is: “Do I need help with this?” To which, my answer is almost always yes.
I believe I was met with a choice: do I accept the feelings of dread, resentment, pain, overwhelm, bitterness, and hatred? Or do I say: "you know what, man, I feel like shit and I think I'm done feeling this way. I think I want to change for the better. I want to feel better than I have lately. I might need some help.”
Have that conversation. Make that courageous leap that everyone says was the best thing they’ve ever done.
Take Step 3, so you can move forward in combining steps 4, 5, and 6 that bring genuine change and build a reality that shows you why Steps 1,2,3 were the best decision you’ve ever made.