Yesterday, I needed to sit down for a few hours to write a take-home school exam. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t do; I had studied all of the material already. I knew what I was getting into and how much I was supposed to write, and the questions for the exam were not tricky. I was supposed to choose one of the three question options and write an essay response. But I couldn’t shake the nerves that had built up a bit of tension in my muscles in the time I had waited to get started.
Luckily, the exam was not timed. I decided to use that opportunity to destress by getting out of my mind and releasing some of the tension that had built up in my muscles through a workout. Focusing on exercise, especially movements that require control and mental focus, has been an effective way for me to change my train of thought and get out of my mind. When I am focused on keeping good form while performing different moves, it’s easier to let go of anything else that might be vying for my mental attention, and it becomes possible to just be in the present moment.
Spirituality is an important part of my life. I like to know that this isn’t everything there is, that there’s more than what meets the eye in this world… It brings me peace. My spirituality is something I turn to even more anytime I am going through something difficult.
As cheesy as it sounds, and especially because I was not brought up Christian, I can always count on stories of individuals choosing good over evil, overcoming through humility and God’s grace and forgiveness that characterize much of the Bible to lift me up and rejuvenate my spirit. I don’t think the Bible or religion are the only sources of spiritual health, and I know there are other options for spiritual fulfillment.
However, I do want to share my negative experience with a type of spirituality that is basically a scam. And more so, it can very easily turn toxic to our mental health. It’s a spirituality of complete autonomy, based on the idea that we are not only responsible for what we do but also responsible for everything that happens to us. There is no empirical evidence for this, of course. But then again, there isn’t any for a benevolent God wanting the best for us either.
If you’re going through this, you’re not alone. What is referred to as Law of Attraction, which informs this type of thinking, has taken over so much of our culture, and it’s based on a couple of compelling but false claims.
This morning, I woke up an hour before my alarm, at about 7:45 a.m. That’s still about an hour later than I usually get up, but after a day filled with two exams, I wanted to set myself up for a good day today and get a ton of rest.
I knew I’d be going for a jog this morning, even though I hadn’t decided on the specifics. I’ve just gotten back into running with the warming April weather, and so far, I’ve played it by ear each time I’ve gone, setting a goal for myself based on how my body feels within the first minute or so of the jog.
I had a few procrastinate-y thoughts as I got up and sat in bed, thinking about the chilly 5-degree weather (41 degrees Fahrenheit, for reference) waiting for me outside. And things got even (a little) more challenging when I started getting dressed and realized, after digging deep into my closet, that I’d have to wear knee-length pants/shorts because all of my workout pants (I don’t own many) were in the laundry basket.
A few days ago, I was feeling a little bit down. I had been going through a job recruitment process that tested me in a way that well clarified my intentions and desires in terms of the kind of employment relationships I want to create in my life. That is, I desire an employer that values my time just as much as they expect me to value theirs in the recruitment and interview stage.
During the interview stage, if I took a day to think about something, I would let these people know. If I had to create a sample of work for them, I had a deadline to follow. In return, however, I was given no timeline or expectation for when I would hear back regarding their decision. In the days following, I received many Linkedin notifications of the same two people from the company looking at my (empty!) profile multiple times without any contact to give me any type of feedback. I decided it was enough and withdrew from the process.
Part of the experience is due to the fact that I cared so much about this job. I was really excited. Before choosing to submit my candidacy for the role, I took time to research the firm and really think about whether I could see myself doing the work. I could—really well!