This week was one of those weeks where I felt that I was moving against the wind. With the best intentions, I did nothing but push and push in my work. The result: conflicts with my students, misunderstandings with my colleagues and at the end of the week I was exhausted, confused and frustrated. An old and recurring question floated in my mind on Saturday morning when I woke up: Why is everyone so frustrated when I’m doing the best I can?
“Slow down, I’m in a hurry,” my grandmother used to say.
There are days, weeks, months and even years in which we feel we do nothing but run against the stream. Every day feels like a mini battle between us and the rest of the world.
There are days, weeks, months and even years in which when we go to bed, we feel that we were pushing invisible obstacles that felt very heavy.
And we keep pushing, and the body feels tired and the mind feels tired.
Our interactions with others feel heavy and a new conflict situation arises at every turn of the corner.
Unwanted words come out of our mouth, we lose patience, we lose control.
How long are we going to keep pushing? How much energy do we think we have to waste in this way?
One tool that we have and which I forgot about this week, is to slow down. Take a break, take two breaks, take lots of breaks. Play the game of paying attention to each movement we make, walk a little slower, move a little slower. In conversations, count to five or ten before answering and observe the words that come to our mind before opening our mouth. Which words are the most appropriate? Which ones will help bring the conversation to a place of dialogue and solution? And which ones won’t?
Against what and against whom are we pushing? Sometimes we behave like Don Quixote, we are fighting against monsters that do not exist. Because by going so fast, by forgetting that we have the ability of patience, our perception of the outside world and the ‘other’ is distorted.
In our hurry, we forget that everyone around us wants the same thing we do, inner peace, a happy life and freedom to be.
It is a good practice, when we feel that we are pushing, struggling and we are not going anywhere, to take the time to sit down, close our eyes and see inside ourselves. What are we really pushing against? What can we change inside ourself to help us flow and stop pushing?
Some of us find it hard to accept that in every situation, in every conflict, the best solution is to look inward. What can we change in our perception, in our desires, in our expectations to better flow? It does not mean that we should not fight for a good cause, or work hard towards some goal or dream, but pushing and pushing without getting anywhere will not help us at all. By slowing down, by giving us time to look inward, we can:
- Find clarity. We must take time to reflect and be clear about our objective. Take time to ask ourselves why am I doing this? Sometimes, in the rush of everyday life, we do things that we don’t even want to do, we do not have to do, and even worse, we do not even know why we are doing. We have to have our intentions clear.
- Filter and let go of everything we do that does not belong to that clarity. We can adjust our attitudes, our actions so that we stop pushing and start to flow.
- Find time to do what we consider necessary and let the rest flow. Find patience and trust that what arrives is what has to come. If what arrives is not what we want, we can ask ourselves what we can change in our way of seeing things, or doing things to be more aligned with reality. Maybe it’s not the time, maybe it’s not the best for us, maybe there’s a lesson to be learned.
- Take care of ourself and pay attention to our emotions. In order to do your part, you need to be well. You need to take time to reset and rest. Don’t ignore your feelings or push them away. Those emotions that you don’t like, are the ones that will teach you a lesson. Let them come, observe them, and try to understand them. Where do they come from. With practice and patience, you will see that they come from inside, from your imprints in your mind. Once you recognise the internal source, you will be able to heal them. Only taking the time to be with yourself will allow for this.
- Save energy and stop trying to convince others of our way of seeing things. If we make a mistake, apologise, if someone perceives our actions differently from our intention, instead of trying to convince, try to understand that perception and keep flowing.
So, my week ended with apologies given to those who were shaken by my speed, conviction that the conflict with my students was necessary to learn a lesson (from both sides), and hope that next time, I will remember to move slower.