Have you heard of June Gloom?
It's a term used in Southern California for a weather pattern that produces less-than-ideal conditions in early summer. The skies are gray and the air is much cooler than one would expect in a place so popular for its sunshine and warmth. I wonder why there isn't a quirky term for the other 11 months of the year?
Why is it so much easier to be consumed by the challenges and obstacles in life than it is to bask in the wins?
On the surface level of everyday life, we can easily come forward with what's good and what's working well. When someone asks, "How are things?" the typical answer is, "Good." This makes sense because most of us don't want to burden others with our problems. It isn't always comfortable or appropriate to share the truth, right? Having the option to hide is good and at times, in fact, it is much needed.
With all of the change present in my life, daily circumstances have nudged me towards sharing what happens underneath the surface level, during the times when we feel safe enough to be real.
Go deep inside. Do you easily lean toward what's "wrong"?
It's easy to see what's "wrong" with everything and to latch onto a critical perspective. In fact, it’s a built-in feature of the human brain. Negative experiences have a greater impact on our brains. This is because of our brain's "negativity bias." It's a survival thing. Experiences that weren’t ‘right’ or that felt challenging take up greater real estate in our memory in the hope that we will respond better next time. If we remember that the cookie tray burns our fingers when we pull it out of the oven, we’ll opt for oven mits the next time. Our brain has the best intentions for us. It seeks to protect us. Protection is good --it's just not always needed. Most adult humans have the tendency to overprotect. This is how we miss out on what is happening in the big picture. Our protective tendencies can keep us fixed on searching for the negative so much, that it narrows our ability to fully see and include all that is happening. What if we could expand our awareness to include more?
It takes will, courage, and effort to expand our behavioural repertoire. It isn’t easy, but it’s totally worth it.
As human beings, we have the potential to cultivate a broad range of behaviours that help us to function in the world. When we expand this range, we have access to more choices and a greater ability to adapt to whatever is present. This means we can expand our capacity and therefore, are less likely to “blow our lid” when shit hits the fan!
Let me give you an example of a recent experience that I had, where I chose to put my efforts toward expanding into a challenging situation (that I had the initial tendency to contract and retreat from) in order to get through it with some grace. Some of you are following along with the happenings in my life on my Instagram stories (@messinamovement). If not, here is a brief overview: I live in a trailer on a property that my fiance, Adam, and I recently purchased in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County. This property came with a few structures, some that we deemed were best to disposed of, and one that we have been encouraged to save and work with. We are slowly bringing the entire property back to life from years of neglect. We are restoring the oldest structure, a part of which dates back to the mid 1800’s, to eventually become our home. This is no small feat. Everyday we face major challenges and surprises as our land, and soon-to-be-home, are being transformed. Our basic needs are consistently compromised. Many days are spent without access to water and power. Last night, we noticed that our toilet was backed up. After a full day’s work, we teamed up to tackle the shitty situation before dark. It was extremely gross and time consuming and it’s not even entirely fixed. At first, I was like…’the toilet is clogged. Period. That’s all I got. Someone (Adam) please fix this. Make it go away. Call me when it’s over.’ If I had stayed zoomed in, all I could see was a total and literal shit show. It was another thing gone wrong that needs to be dealt with. I would have much preferred to be making and enjoying a meal, getting to bed early enough for the demands of the following day, etc. And then I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes and I put my energy toward zooming out. I chose to expand my awareness. This is a learning experience, an opportunity for me to get to know the workings of our trailer toilet, holding tank, and septic system. This will change how I view toilets forever! This is happening because we are temporarily living in a trailer on our beautiful property while we build our dream home. We are in the mud, where the lotus grows. It is hard, dirty, AND beautiful. We can step away from the very centre of a situation in order to see the big, colourful picture. This silly moment shines a light on the privileged life I live. I am grateful for my toilet backing up. Another opportunity to expand my capacity to move through hard times and to build resilience.
I am sharing the process as it unfolds with you. I am so grateful for the incoming messages with emojis of clapping hands, party poppers, and confetti. It is easy to get caught up in the hardships that living in a trailer surrounded by major construction can present. It is worth the effort it takes to see the whole, beautiful picture. Thank you for cheering me on.