My God, has it really been almost a year since I last wrote in this thing? (Blows off dust from blog’s Web address.) How embarrassing. Between my job, family, and creative writing endeavors, I haven’t found much time to keep up with this thing, so I’m giving a reboot the old college try. It has to happen sometime.
I read Jen Sincero’s book You Are a Badass recently and found it to be a worthwhile read. I’m not normally a fan of self-help books; as I mentioned in my Amazon review of this book, I’m jaded when it comes to the touchy-feely, and often predictable, tone that self-help writers usually tread.
Sincero’s book treads on familiar ground with the go-for-your-dreams-and-the-rest-will-follow message, but I give her credit for at least giving this well-tread maxim a fresh, no-bullshit treatment. She ladles on the perkiness and spunk a little thickly, but her overall thesis and processes are sound: get the fuck on the fuck, get off your ass, and go for it already, because life is too damned short to wonder why you’re not doing what you love.
So I’ve been taking some of her advice and applying it as I can to my own life. I’m in the process of making changes to my day-to-day routine, lifestyle, and habits that will hopefully become permanent and in themselves more positive habits.
One of these habits is starting each day with an affirmation, but probably not quite the one Sincero had in mind. She recommends printing or handwriting and taping/pinning/pasting positive, affirmative, empowering affirmations all over the place in one’s environment: in the home, in the car, on a corkboard, on the refrigerator, everywhere one can see and mentally repeat them until the affirmations become a reality.
None of the affirmations she suggested in her book really resonated with me—except for one, and it wasn’t even meant as an affirmation (or at least not something to pin up, but I did anyway). It was rather a meditative paragraph that she recommended reading and repeating mentally until it “sunk in,” but for me, it was worthwhile to write down and pin to my wall. A spot on the wall directly facing me, looking me in the eyes when I first wake up in the morning, in fact.
It reads (reworded slightly from Sincero’s original):
Holding on to my bad feelings is doing nothing but harming me, and everyone else, and preventing me from enjoying my life fully. I am a good person. I choose to enjoy my life. I choose to let this go.
I paraphrased it only slightly to fit my own situation, mainly because I have trouble saying (and believing) that I’m an “awesome person,” as Sincero’s original would have had me state. I know I’m a good person, but becoming an “awesome person” is an ongoing process for everyone, and I’m sure, will be proven by my deeds when and if other people in my life look back on them after I am gone. Whether I am “awesome” is not for me to judge. “Good” is more true to me and will have to do in this case.
So I read this and ponder it every morning, and think about releasing the bad things over which I sometimes find myself captive to stewing and ruminating. These “bad feelings” can be depression, self-doubt, worry, annoyance over stupid things that aren’t worth being annoyed over—a myriad of things. But usually, I’ve found, these bad feelings manifest themselves in anger. Anger that, sometimes, is so visceral and penetrating that it almost resembles hatred. Almost.
Anger can an empowering emotion when felt for the right reasons—reasons in which the end game is constructive rather than destructive, or at least with the end goal of destroying that which is destructive. Human inequality, poverty, oppression, the removal of civil rights, the misuse of religions and financial/governmental institutions to keep “the others” down and to force them into extinction by attrition—all of these are elements that justify righteous anger, that should engender anger and result in productive action to counter them.
Anger is often the spark that sets off fights that need to be fought and challenges to power that needs to be dismantled so that the powerless can thrive. In these cases, anger is absolutely necessary. Without this anger, the status quo would continue and the people in positions of wrongful power would continue to exact their damage on millions of others, undeterred. In these cases, anger is a requirement.
However, on a more personal level, anger can be a detriment. Anger at loved ones and family members for past wrongs that simply don’t matter anymore. Anger at myself for opportunities never pursued, of chances never taken, of bad choices I can’t undo, but can only patch up the burned bridges and pathways of my life so that I can find some way to walk on them again. Anger can feel empowering—it feels a hell of a lot more powerful and in control to be angry than to be depressed—and it’s all too easy to feel angry in this manner. But it sure doesn’t feel good.
I went on an outing with some loved ones recently that I was dreading. I dreaded it because I knew old feelings of jealousy and hurt, resentment and grudges, and so on and so on would have to be put at bay, a cork put into the bottle of boiling cauldron, for me to put on a smile and pretend to enjoy the day. However, if one person at the gathering said something familiar, predictable, and reminiscent of these awful emotions even innocently (but maybe only masking itself as an “innocent” remark), I worried that the bottle would explode, the cork would come off, and I’d shout something at the gathering out of anger that I’d regret later. Something that probably would never need to be said, that wouldn’t help matters or make things better, even if, at the moment, I felt perfectly righteous in saying it.
My husband and I talked about my worries, and he told me to just enjoy the gathering and not worry about a situation that probably wouldn’t turn into the worst-case scenario I was building it up to be. As it turned out, he was right. The gathering was actually pleasant and friendly, with my keeping those feelings safely at bay in the back of my mind and not letting them surface in an ugly way. As it turned out, letting them be present at all wasn't even necessary.
At the end of the gathering, I gave one of the others a hug, and she hugged me back in the most loving way I’d ever known her to hug me. Or perhaps, she’d hugged me in a loving way many times before and I’d never allowed myself to feel that love because I’d been so busy letting the old resentment, anger, bitterness, and hurt get in the way. For the first time that I could remember, I allowed the feelings at bay to not remain there, but also not to come out in a mean-spirited or ugly way. Instead, I internally released those ugly feelings to the ocean and let myself feel loved—and love. It was then that I realized that it feels a lot better to love than it does to feel angry all the time. It’s harder to love, but it beats needless, exhausted, tiring, and soul-killing anger. It feels a lot better to love and let oneself be loved.
One of Sincero’s favorite expressions she repeats in her book and website is to “get the fuck on the fuck.” Translation: Get off your ass and start living your life already! Something I feel I’ve learned from Sincero’s lone meditation I have pinned to my wall, though, is that, to start truly living life, it’s important to get the fuck OFF the fuck. In other words, to let the bad feelings out of their moored-up pent and set them to sail somewhere far away. They’re not needed, and they’re doing nothing but harming me and those around me, and really preventing me from enjoying my life.
It’s harder to do, but it simply feels better to let go and to love.
And with that, I’m signing it off with a “badass” song by the Zac Brown Band: “Let It Go.” No—thankfully, not THAT “Let It Go,” but this one: