You know what? I realized something kind of funny about myself recently (and huge thanks to my therapist for this – you rock Teri!). I realized that I spend so much time tending to my demons that I’ve forgotten completely to spend time tending to my angels.
But I don’t mean winged and glowing heralds of Jesus. If I haven’t mentioned it previously, I guess now is the time to tell you that I am not a Christian. I am not religious at all, actually, though I am quite spiritual indeed.
My beliefs fall somewhere between Buddhism and Earth worship, but I don’t believe in an almighty and powerful god and I’m OK with that.
I’m not talking about Satan and his minions either.
I’m talking about internal demons.
Shame. Guilt. Anger. Greed. Pride. Depression. Anxiety. Trauma. Negative Self-Talk.
Pick your poison.
I write often about getting in touch with your demons. Learning about their wants and needs and tending to that darkness. Showing yourself some grace. Taking care of yourself. And I think because I’ve personally been doing this for quite a while, that’s why this is at the forefront of my mind.
But in my excitement about our dark parts, I’ve completely neglected to tend to my angels. My light.
I’m loosely using that word as well, to refer to the lighter parts of yourself, because, well, light and darkness are intertwined.
We are all both yin and yang, sun and moon, light and dark, good and bad.
So what do we do with that truth?
We find a balance. Or, at least, we try.
But what does balancing your angels with your demons – your light and your darkness – look like?
Before you even start trying to find balance, answer this question for yourself. What does balance look like in your life? What do you want it to look like?
Right now, for me, it looks like doing a whole lot less.
It looks like not beating myself up when I don’t finish my to-do list, and instead celebrating the few things I actually accomplished.
It looks like letting myself cry if I need to cry, and not shaming myself for being emotional, and instead congratulating myself for allowing hard feelings to surface.
It looks like doing something for myself, and only myself, just for joy, with no other motive but joy, and being OK with it – instead of chastising myself for “wasting time.”
It looks like taking a walk and that being ENOUGH, instead of gut punching myself because it wasn’t a 90-minute HIIT workout.
It looks like patting myself on the back when I choose to eat the cupcake instead of not eating the cupcake, and not giving into an “all or nothing” attitude about dieting.
It looks like practicing patience and accepting that I can only control me.
It looks like giving myself a little grace, because life is hard when you weren’t emotionally or mentally prepared.
What does balance look like for you? How are you prioritizing joy in your life?
I didn’t get it either until I read this article and realized that I was letting “society”, “others”, “peers”, and “norms”, dictate what kind of joy I was allowed to experience in my own life.
As an adult, it’s considered “strange” or “off-beat”, “eclectic” or “childish” to continue finding joy in things we once sought out as children, such as cartoons, comic books, fantasy, figurines, etc.
Well, to be frank, screw that.
To quote the article: “You are not superior because you collect items from the Sharper Image catalog rather than Comic Con. You have just allowed what others think of you to dictate a narrow range of joy you are allowed to experience.”
And to add a more poignant reality…
Ultimately, let no one dictate your definition of yourself, or your definition of joy.
If you’re 45 and you find joy in collecting Star Wars memorabilia, collect! Collect!
If you’re 28 and you love video games, play them! Win!
If you’re 70 and you still love make up and colorful skirts, wear it! Shine!
If you’re not making a practice of seeking joy (without shame or embarrassment) then my friend you are missing out, and I’m not afraid to tell you that you’re probably not finding the balance.
If you’re not prioritizing joy, I encourage you to start now.
We live short lives, in a world where optimizing every minute of that life is the norm.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a little life hacking – productivity tools, scheduling, planning…
But don’t let that be your whole life. Don’t let that be who you become.
You get to choose.
And I firmly believe that we need to choose joy.
Not sure where to start?
Start by asking yourself what you find truly FUN. And don’t get embarrassed. It’s just you and us here, and I’m certainly not judging your love of all things Anime.
Find a way to sprinkle that into your life more often.
But don’t over-do it either! Balance is key.
I might spend an hour playing League of Legends after work, or an hour reading a book, or an hour watching TV. Maybe two, hell, I’ve got all night.
But I also make time to cook a meal, practice some self-care, stretch… other things that are necessary to feeling joy and relaxation.
And if it isn’t obvious, joy and relaxation are #MAJORKEYS (is that still a thing?) to not burning out… to living a full and happy life… to being able to focus on work when it’s time… to tending to your demons…
That’s right, you can’t fight the darkness without first turning on the light in your heart.
So I encourage you again, start now.
Don’t waste your life letting your demons run the show.