There is a saying that you can’t fill a God-sized hole with man-sized things. I’ve come to learn what that means – when I have a void in my life, food, shopping, sleep, or anything else superficial won’t fill it. Going inside, deep inside, finding the root cause, reaching out to whatever form of spirituality I connect with and taking action are the only things that help. Sounds like an easy recipe, right? The only challenge is that my feelings can take over and control my actions. Instead of responding, I end up reacting.
There have been some recent examples of what happens when I react rather than respond. After recently returning from a business trip, Facebook let me know a lady I went through chemo with passed away. Without going into details, multitudes of feelings including sadness, guilt, and anger quickly boiled to the top. I woke up the next morning and spent hours shopping and justifying every purchase. In another instance, when things didn’t go as I was sure they should have, I took my anger out on food. When it was over, I felt physically sick from what I had consumed, and nothing about the situation changed. In a third case, I was feeling inadequate in a situation and sleeping became a way to avoid what needed to be done.
All three instances have a common thread. My reaction didn’t solve anything. In fact, it created a bigger void. When I have dug a hole for myself or feel like someone else has, reacting makes the hole grow deeper. On a positive note, the last thing I want to do is beat myself up for my reactions. I want to have at least as much compassion for myself as I would for someone else. But now what do I do?
I have been travelling for work for weeks and haven’t had time to address any of this beyond my initial reactions until now. In the instance of my friend passing, I am going to write her a letter this weekend and see where it takes me. In the example of things not going the way I thought they should, I am going to create a plan that moves my head and body in a positive direction. As the Serenity Prayer says, “accept the things I cannot change.” In the final instance, using sleep for avoidance was more about awareness than anything else. The truth is that things worked out quite well in the end. However, that doesn’t mean the end justifies the means.
Feelings aren’t fact, and they change. I had a chat with someone this morning in the middle of writing this. They said something quite powerful… don’t let any instance take you somewhere you don’t want to go. Each situation gave me the opportunity to use it as a reason or an excuse. I chose the latter initially. Now I am going to use them as a reason to look inside and find another path.