Peaks & Valleys

by Carrinicole

The acceptance of peaks and valleys is the most important mindfulness concept I’ve learned this year.

Nothing in our lives is constant — the moon cycles, seasons change — so why would we expect ourselves to be any different?

Without really knowing it, I’ve spent most of my life chasing consistency. To me, consistency = stability. Stability = a valued goal. As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, this was suffocating. I would inevitably slip; there is no way all aspects of anyone’s life can remain evenly stable.

Every time I slipped, I wasn’t kind to myself. I’d feel apocalyptic — everything was bad, how could I let this happen, how can things ever get better. This perfectionism shame-spiral is a habit I’m working on letting go, and cultivating self-compassion in its place. (Thanks to @brenebrown!)

Now, I practice a mantra every time I’m feeling this way: “I will feel differently tomorrow.” Inevitably, my mood or the issue will evolve. One valley doesn’t affect my whole self either. By naming what I’m feeling, I’m able to separate it from the rest of my life. It looks like this:

Peaks

  • Breath work: My job stress was impacting my practice. After a month of struggling, I made some tweaks and I’m back on track.
  • Learning: I’m in a reading / audiobook / podcast rhythm that I’m loving!

 

Valleys

  • Exercise: I stress-strained my neck, and haven’t had a regular workout in a week.
  • Meditation: Feeling increased distraction; I think its work-related, so I need to dig more into this.
  • Career: Covid-related layoffs are like a dog whistle continually going off during the day. It’s hard to drown it out.
  • Diet: Stress is causing some of my emotional snacking to come back.

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