Thursday, September 3, 2015

When you feel stuck, start moving your quarks.

Over the years, I've come to realize one of the prevailing emotions people are experiencing when they contact me for help is that of being stuck.

How did I get here? 
What am I going to do?
How can I ever get out of this spot?
I don't have any choices.
I can't do anything to change.
I try to become a better person and I fail.

They are on a path that keeps going forward into the distance, and they don't know why, and they don't know how to stop, or turn around, or get on a new path. They spend a lot of time thinking about steps to take, but here's where I think their efforts become ineffective: they only consider BIG steps in a linear and concrete way.

That's not how the universe works. The universe is not a straight, simple line. It is a maddeningly complex sworl, with many small pieces building upon themselves into larger pieces that then construct something out of nothing. And these building blocks become infinitely smaller, yet are all the more vital to the actual creation of matter.

You might not be strong enough, or have enough money, or enough freedom to move the molecules of your life. But, a quark? You can move a quark.

If you feel stuck today, go smaller. Don't invite more stress into your life, banging your head against atoms. Don't spend the day crying over how to get rid of a bad home purchase, or what to do about an fulfilling marriage while you're raising young children. Don't chase after the rapidly moving protons and electrons, as if you're going to find that dream job through sheer will in a day. You're not going to overhaul decades of unhealthy eating with a 30 day fix. You're not going to transform a mom-body neglected and hurt for years with an expensive shake.

No. Want to change? Then move your quarks. Today, put on a different pair of shoes. Eat something healthy for breakfast. Say hello to a neighbor you usually shuffle by with your head ducked. When you're at the store, buy a new vegetable that you haven't tried before. Go to the library and rent a book about another country. Try a new hairstyle. Buy an article of clothing you normally wouldn't wear.

Start chasing after leptons. Sign up for a class unrelated to your degree. Learn how to curse in another language. Go to that party you would've declined. Try out that hobby you secretly admire but feel guilty considering. Get outside and get your heart beating.

When you hear the voice in your head gearing up for a litany of negative and self-harming rants, change ONE script. Just one. You don't need a whole inspirational lecture, and your brain wouldn't believe something that overdone anyways. Just ONE small script will start to override the foundation of code set in your head.

I am worthy.
I have a right to exist.
I am lovable.
I bring happiness into my world.
I have the tools to be at peace.
I can do this.
I am all that I need to be in this moment.

Parents in a rut, skip that playground you visit every Friday. When your children are driving you insane and you feel that merry go round of fighting starting up again, lie on the ground and pretend you're morphing into a zombie instead of yelling at them. Get in the car and drive to somewhere you've never taken them, and don't tell them where you're going. Buy your child a gift on the way home from work today. Even if it's from the dollar spot. Surprise your children with something new and delightful, no strings attached, no reason for it.

I'm not trying to be 1950s here, but seeing as how much of my friend's list is comprised of SAHMs/WAHMs...when your spouse gets home, don't start droning on and on about how the day was, who pooped, what leftovers are for dinner, etc. Secretly call up a babysitter. Go to the local planetarium for a date. Play truth or dare. Laugh. Don't talk about the kids or the bills. When your partner walks in the door, just silently walk over and start making out. Can you imagine the surprise after years of coming home to a stressed out partner?

Every day is filled with millions of small decisions. The quarks and leptons of your life are right there, waiting for you. Start changing the smallest parts of your universe and you'll begin to realize your entire life can change, too.

For my geneticist friends who aren't into the references here, think of epigenetics and nutrigenomics.

What we eat, our physical activity, where we live, how we sleep, the stimulation of cortisol and adrenaline, all of these alter the genetic expression of our DNA. Every day, every little choice we are making is turning DNA on and off like a billion light switches, creating a big picture.

Simply by adding a new vegetable to your diet, you can change your genetics. Simply by learning a few words in another language, you can alter the synaptic behavior in your brain. Or learning to dance. Or meeting a new person.

Parents, every time YOU make a SMALL CHANGE in your parenting, you are LITERALLY altering your children's DNA. If you're trying to change your parenting, look to the small things. Trying to reconnect? Do you feel as if you don't have the time, the energy, the patience to shower them in love? All it takes is a big hug as they are getting into the car. One hug a day could change an entire lifetime. Instead of buying five parenting books you'll never have time to read, look into your child's eyes in the morning and genuinely SMILE. Say good morning brightly. Make the first words out of your mouth positive, and ignore the pressing, stressing stuff for a few moments.

Try it. Start small, start now, and stick with it. You will think it's silly, your brain will say it's patronizing, the voice in your head might say it's a worthless endeavor. But, over time, you'll start to see the changes build into something, every part of your universe sworling together in a new and beautiful way. You'll realize you were never stuck in the first place.

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