Dying Daily Project #5: Mindfulness When You Want to Kill Everything

Staying up Wednesday night is definitely catching up with me this morning. I feel physically and mentally tired, but where I can really feel the effects is in my thoughts, my attitude and my emotions. The physical part will sort itself out as the day goes by, but I have to be conscious about the other three.

First, my thoughts. I have wasted so much of my life being caught up in and believing what I think. It’s like watching a movie, only forgetting you are watching a movie. Right now, my thoughts are circling this drain of anger and resentment. I don’t even really have a specific target for this anger and resentment, but I will find one if I let myself, and that is sure to turn out well. The worst part is that in these situations, those closest to us are the easiest and most available targets if we are not mindful of what we are thinking. It is interesting to watch just how far into the past our thoughts will go to find justification for what we are feeling.

My attitude. The central antagonist of my life story. I am among the most fortunate people I know. I have always had people who love and support me and tolerate my bullshit, but for the first 30 years of my life my attitude managed to remain staunchly unaffected by this. I think I have a pretty good attitude these days, but my bad attitude tries to take advantage of these days when I am exhausted or sick or both to reassert itself into prominence and run the show straight into the ground.

And my emotions – this is where it’s really at. Years back, before I was aware I have emotions and lived with about the same level of consciousness as a not-very-smart dog (I may be a smart dog by this point), I was driven to all sorts of behaviors to deal with these things I wasn’t even consciously aware of having. This is where much of the previously mentioned (with more to still be mentioned) poor behavior and life choices emerged from.

So let’s pull this all together and see what that is.

This week has brought me a pretty consistent lack of sleep. Max kept me up on Saturday, and a few minor work crises kept me up late on Monday and Tuesday, and then Wednesday was waking up at 2 AM and never going back to sleep. This lack of sleep is generating difficult emotions. Primarily anxiety, which leads to a vague, simmering anger and despair. My thoughts seek to explain these feelings, and they land on blaming others for them, and these things together seek to inform my attitude.

But this is where I can step in.

I cannot help that I am exhausted, and I cannot change the anxiety or anger or despair. I can choose not feed the negative thoughts, but I cannot force them to leave. However, by being mindful of what I am experiencing, I can accept that these things are present and choose my attitude toward the day and toward those I love and toward everyone who comes to me for something, and this makes all the difference in the world.

I have wasted vast tracts of time and energy being caught up in thoughts and emotions and the consequences of being driven by these things. I won’t do it anymore. The world is still a bright, beautiful place full of possibility – the windows I am looking out of have just gotten a little dirty.