Guru Pathik: The water flows through this creek much like the energy flows through your body. If nothing else were around, this creek would flow pure and clear. However, life is messy, and things tend to fall in the creek, and then what happens?
Aang: The creek can’t flow?
Guru Pathik: Yes. But if we open the paths between the pools...[clears some moss clogging the water with his stick. The water pours quickly into the next pool, and soon all of them are running clean and clear.]
Aang: The energy flows!
Life is like that isn’t it? When we allow bad habits to develop as means of dealing with difficult life experiences we create blocks to our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical development and well being. When I quit drinking I quickly found out that I had let alcohol become a habitual way to deal with so many emotions: anger, hurt, loneliness, frustration, fear. Of course, I wasn’t really dealing with any emotion. I was in the “efficient” habit of numbing what I felt. In actuality, the numbing and “escaping” only served to push the difficult emotions deep down into my psyche, where they prevented any real growth on my part.
Alcohol never made anything better. Sure, the first couple of drinks felt good because all the pleasure centers in my brain were tickled, tricking me into believing that this high meant I was happy. But the warning bells would already be going off by the end of glass two. I would choose to ignore them and the switch would be flipped. Now that the alcohol induced fog is no more and I’m allowing myself time to see, recognize and sit with the difficult emotions, slowly but surely I am creating new ways of dealing with them. Bit by bit I am forming new habits. Instead of paying attention to the “I am feeling (insert difficult emotion here), so I want / need / deserve a drink” thoughts, I shifted my focus because I know drinking never really made anything better.
For many of us, self-criticism and self-judgment are also habits we develop, which do us tremendous harm. Learning to love and be gentle with ourselves is the hardest thing we will have to learn and that’s understandable actually. Because it means reversing years and years of habitually telling ourselves we’re not worth it. Even the way we have become accustomed to perceiving and talking about our past stories can change. I know I’ve accumulated many blocks over the years and I’m working on clearing away the moss and weeds and emotional buildup, so my true self can shine through.
Yes, sometimes I don’t want to sit with my feelings. Yes, sometimes I get tired of the over-thinking, and the mantras, and the pep talks to myself. But you know what? I’ll take being ‘frustrated with myself for brooding too much’ over ‘frustrated with myself for drinking’ any day. I know the brooding won’t last. I know that it’s all part of the process. I know it’s part of developing new habits, which instead of harming me, are actually helping me this time.
This is Post B, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the beautifully developed characters and kick-ass story lines) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.
The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.