Unstable – it’s a badge of honor I’ve worn well over the course of my (formative) years. If I’m being brutally honest with myself, up until recently I’ve never had real control over my life. And I’m not naive, the control that I have right now is really only perceived.
Because we can’t control our lives. Which is why you maybe feel like you’re finding it rather difficult to keep your head above water…
But we try – “I’ll go to college,” we say in an effort to control the direction of our career. But with that we welcome the arguably most unstable season of our lives.
We also try to ensure that the person we’re currently in a relationship with will stay with us… forever?
But when things start to go – not our way – we are violently shaken and plunged into this endless pit of instability. In that order.
Stability, & Why We Crave It;
I’m no psychologist (though I’d love to be), but I do know that we don’t just crave stability in our lives… we need it.
If you’re honest with yourself, you can probably boil every decision down to our relenting need for stability. For that feeling of knowing that everything is as it should be, as we want it to be… even if it only lasts for a brief moment.
Stability is the art of mastering the chaos.
It’s the art of building a solid ground or solid foundation in your life – one that things can grow from.
Stability is the art of… dare I say…. accepting yourself. Because we will never be fully stable, but stability is stabilizing the instability; finding peace within the chaos. Learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. If you can manage to find a way to be stable even when nothing is (actually) stable, then you’re really going to start winning at this whole adulting thing.
It’s why I fell in love with yoga… My mat was literally the only place for a very long time where I could find some stability in my life. The difficult postures, the sweat burning your eyes, trying to control your breath while your heart is beating out of your chest – it was all so unstable, but somehow I could be okay within it. The instability stabled me.
I’m actually tearing up a little writing this and reflecting back on how that felt… I was spending all of my off-the-mat time reaching, drowning, chasing, searching, pleasing, trying (really trying)… It was exhausting. It’s exhausting to hold all of the pieces of your life together while also trying to hold yourself together. While also trying to make serious efforts to move forward towards the hope of something better.
What Stability Actually Feels Like
I was just listening to a podcast that featured Ed Mylett. SUPER inspiring guy if you ever get a chance to listen to his stuff.
He was talking about being a thermostat, not a thermometer.
A thermometer measures the temperature of the space it occupies – it reacts. Most people are living life as a thermometer. And quite frankly, I was for a long time. I emotionally reacted to everything; if the temperature got hot – my internal thermometer went up. Sometimes I even reacted physically. I used to struggle with a real anger issue. I once watched my dad throw an entire watermelon at our kitchen cabinets when I was little… It inspired me to go through a temper-tantrum, reactive stage of my own when I became a real adult. I have a really strong urge to grab something and chuck it whenever that thermometer bumps up. It’s very reactive and extremely unstable behavior.
A thermostat monitors the temperature of the space that it occupies, and adjusts accordingly. If the temperature rises, it turns on the AC to cool the space back down. When the temperature dips, the thermostat bumps up the heat. It self regulates. What a cool life skill to have? The ability to regulate thy self. To respond instead of react. It’s a much more stable way to go about your days. It allows you to maintain the same internal temperature, no matter what is thrown your way.
I’ve noticed that the people who seem to constantly be the one that life is happening to are the ones that live like thermometers. Whereas those that life seems to always be happening for them live more like thermostats.
So how do we gain this stability? If we can’t control our lives, how are we supposed to ever have a sense of stability?
Step 1: Reach for the control that you can have.
Make a list of all of the factors in your life that you have a say so in. Your body is a start… Your diet is another. How you begin and end each day is also totally within your control.
If you pick one or two areas to focus on stabilizing, that stability will bleed over into every other area of your life. Stop trying to fix everything all at once – pick two things and the momentum that you gain will be so addicting that you won’t stop. Everything will change.
The other powerful part about stabilizing what you do have control over? No one else can shake you. That stability is yours and it’s not dependent upon anyone else.
Use the need for stability as your “WHY.” Friends & family make comments about the way that I’ve decided to eat. Or the time that I invest in yoga or workouts or this lovely platform. But here’s the thing – it has nothing to do with my weight or how I look or what people think and has everything to do with the level of stability that I like to maintain in my life. Period.
Step 2: Realize that you actually do have a part to play.
There’s an infamous story about the misconception between our part and (insert your Higher Power here). Mine’s God, but that’s irrelevant.
Have you heard the story of the drowning man? In short – a rowboat, motorboat AND a helicopter all come by to save the man, but he resists their help because he’s waiting on God to come rescue him… He dies, goes to heaven and asks God why He didn’t save him. God said “I sent you a rowboat, motorboat AND a helicopter, what else did you expect?”
I’ve fallen for the “let go, and let God” one too many times.
Let me be clear, it’s a powerful statement that holds a lot of truth. But it’s often misunderstood. You could let go, and you could let God, but not with ignorance.
There is a human aspect. Just like the drowning man, God gives us everything that we need… It may not be labeled “from God” and it may not be what you’d think, but it’s right in front of us. Often times reaching out willingly to help. But we shrug it off and puff up our chest with our scriptures and worship songs because GOD IS COMING TO MY RESCUE. No, God is here. Like five minutes ago. And if you don’t wake the F up, you’re going to end up like that drowning man.
Sorry to be blunt, but it’s simply the truth. The truth that most are unwilling to open their eyes to. You can be the nicest person, the most well-behaved Christian, the greatest (dog) mom, the best employee, the ideal daughter, the sweetest wife – on paper… I was. But everything fell apart anyway. I was the drowning man. Ignorance was blissier than bliss. Why? Because I forgot to play my part.
I forgot to be human. I forgot that it’s part of my job here to mess up. I was too busy trying to be perfect, trying to control all of the wrong things. You can’t control things like the way people see you. But you can control things like the way you see yourself.
See the difference? I couldn’t for the longest time. I was blind to the realization that every ounce of stability that I so desperately craved in my life was being blocked by ME and my lack of ability to surrender.
Surrender to the chaos. Surrender to the rowboat, motorboat & the helicopter. Surrender to the little things that are currently causing friction in your life. Surrender, to the instability and somehow things start to feel a whole lot more stable.
All of this to say; the most unstable parts of your everyday are the things that will bring you the most stability. Embrace that which keeps you up at night. Embrace that which brings you to tears. That which seems impossibly difficult. Your instability is like a wild animal; it can sense when you’re afraid of it. Be braver. Why isn’t that ever anyone’s resolution or goal? Be BRAVER. Give in to the mess by accepting that we’re all a mess. & do it with some courage.