Being a disciple of The Artist’s Way means I write “Morning Pages”; a free-flowing, unedited series of pages in which I dump my brain on to at least 3 pages of handwritten musing. Today’s musing concerned what I’ve come to understand about asking life to “give me a break”.
Almost every time in my life that I have uttered (or screamed) those words, no real break was forthcoming. I’ve made this plea, at one time or another, to family members and employers, to lovers and friends, to life in general, and to God. Rarely did I experience the receiver of my petition saying, “You know, Debra, you’re right. I should give you a break. Here you go”. Nope. My demand for “you” to “give” me a break usually landed of deaf ears.
And then I discovered what may very well be the reason. I started from the false premise that I needed you to be the giver of whatever solution I sought. I do need you – for a lot of things – but when I need a “break” – it turns out that I need to give it to myself. And, even if others wanted to give me a break, none can do so completely.
If we are arguing, you are most likely going to stand your ground, continue to try to prove your point or to somehow make me see the issue your way. If we are arguing, I am very likely to take the same stance from my point of view. If I need “a break” from that argument, you are not in a position to give it to me. I must provide my own solution. Ironically, in this scenario, my solution seems to be to give YOU a break. To consider your point of view as equally valid as my own, whether I agree or not. When I do so, my own internal tension subsides and the “break” I seek begins.
I am an active, energetic, and often intense person. That describes my core. A side-effect of my personality is to let things spin around in my head (and heart), and, if I am not conscious of it, begin to twist on itself, like a spring being squeezed tighter and tighter. As I feel the need to demand that something or someone give me a break is the very moment that internal spring is about to be suddenly released from its coil. If you’ve ever compressed a spring and suddenly let it go – you know the result. It flies off in some unpredictable direction and if it’s been squeezed tightly enough – it will likely break whatever it encounters.
As I realize that I am the only one who is responsible for giving myself a break, I can reduce the tension on that spring and let it uncoil gently. The result is always in my favor. Always. How, you might ask, do I begin the process of giving myself a break?
Most of my techniques are not news, and all are simple. Breathing deeply helps. As does exercise (especially yoga). Routine healthy nourishment reduces the frequency of my internal coil tightening. Journaling. Meditating. Talking with a friend. All things we hear suggested as stress relievers. But for me – and this is the point of today’s monologue – the biggest thing is to REMEMBER to GIVE MYSELF a break, and to stop looking for that from some external source. Just the very words, “Debra, give yourself a break” seem to trigger the beginning of the relief I seek. Just that. Remembering that it is MY job to give myself a break. And reminding myself that I do, indeed, deserve one.