“Freedom is what you do with what’s been performed to you.” ~Jean-Paul Sartre
“So did you determine what your shadow totem is?”
This was the very first thing out of my husband’s buddy’s mouth as I sat right down to dinner at a neighborhood downtown restaurant, throughout from my husband and a pair mates we had been assembly up with.
I laughed on the alternative of query however then paused with broad eyes and replied, “YES, I DID! Oh my gosh. It’s an ant!”
The backstory is that we had beforehand had a dialog about animal symbolism, and the way determining what we establish with (spirit animal) or most concern (shadow totem) will help us achieve deep insights into ourselves. I had no bother with figuring out my spirit animal—an eagle—however couldn’t for the lifetime of me pin down my shadow totem.
As he requested that query that night, a lightweight bulb in my head went off. I had been battling a multi-week-long ant infestation in my dwelling and it had change into the bane of my existence. Each time I noticed a kind of suckers, I received triggered yet again. It ruined many days. So this made excellent sense! Ants are my shadow totem. However why??
Upon reflection about this realization, I mulled over the which means of this and was capable of come away with some fairly unimaginable nuggets. Put merely, the ants struck me at my weakest level: my want for management.
I do know I’m not alone on this quirk—“management points,” as lots of us jokingly confer with them. However the fact is, for those who’re saddled with this deep urge then you realize you reside your life on a excessive wire, attempting to steadiness all the pieces and maintain it completely simply so. And if you find yourself thrown off, you’re taking a reasonably deep dive into psychological chaos till you proper the ship once more. Okay, too many metaphors, however the level is, it sucks.
Again to the ants. Days after the dinner I took time to consider the true which means of them as my shadow totem. The insights I had about my management points weren’t solely useful to me, however I guess would be the similar for you!
I used to be even capable of establish three mindset changes as an accompaniment. I observed they have an inclination towards the Buddhist mind-set however are simply actually strong methods to strategy life. So right here we go!
1. The ants had been popping out of nowhere. And FROM ANYWHERE. It drove me nuts since I couldn’t establish the supply of the issue.
Upon reflection, I linked this to how I usually really feel like a sitting duck in life, simply ready for the subsequent blow to return. The unpredictable nature of issues seems like a relentless menace. Additionally, I discover I usually doggedly seek for the “why” of issues, however sadly am not all the time capable of provide you with a solution.
I’ve felt this sentiment in lots of conditions, starting from the trivial to essentially the most profound, with the latter being when I had a miscarriage. It was (as a lot of them are) not potential to tie to a definitive purpose. On this case, my solely true plan of action (one simpler stated than performed) was to settle for and transfer ahead.
Acceptance, although not a horny response to the above, is de facto the perfect one. You’re gonna get ants in your home (particularly when it’s in a inexperienced neighborhood inbuilt 1936!).
In life, you’re gonna get surprises. And never all the time pleased ones. I as soon as heard that for those who can count on the sudden, when it comes, you’ll settle for it as an “previous buddy.” Sounds significantly better than treating life’s downs (the “ups” are extra simply dealt with, proper?!) as a monster beneath the mattress.
2. The dang ants had been ruining my days. What a waste! However true.
I felt foolish with my outbursts, exclaiming expletives every time I got here throughout a kind of evil little issues. My poor husband (who has the endurance of a saint, zen grasp, and doubtless Jesus, mixed!) listening to me from the subsequent room. I didn’t need this for me (or him).
Similar to in my bigger life, small issues going unsuitable can actually mess me up. The sensation of getting a foul day fairly than simply retaining it a foul second is one I’m accustomed to, sadly.
Enter mindfulness. This useful technique permits for a form of compartmentalization so we will absolutely be within the actuality that’s in entrance of us within the current second. The reality is, the ants had been actually solely in a pair rooms of the home, and I solely encountered them for possibly a pair minutes out of my day. However MAN, you wouldn’t have identified it!
Attaching to our day being or staying a particular manner is definite demise. Okay, that’s excessive, but it surely’s trigger for sure nervousness. And that’s no option to dwell this brief life. Key precept: impermanence. Funnily sufficient, I’ve that phrase tattooed on me! In everlasting ink… however is it “everlasting”? I digress.
3. I selected a therapy possibility for the ants, however nonetheless I walked round in a huff about it. I had performed all I might do—why couldn’t I let it go?
I continuously discover myself ruminating on different issues in life lengthy after I had chosen a plan of action. Appears like a waste of psychological, emotional, and even bodily (for those who’re pacing!) power to me.
Like once I made the choice to modify careers from enterprise to training. Questions lingered, swirling in my head for fairly a while after: “Is that this a mistake?” “What if I need to change my thoughts once more?” “Did I simply waste my bachelor’s diploma?” This made the trail ahead foggy and unsure when what I wanted was readability and clean crusing—which might have been afforded to me had I had self-trust on the time.
Arduous as it’s, the apply—key phrase, PRACTICE—have to be letting go together with the data you can solely accomplish that a lot. There are such a lot of sources of inspiration for this idea. Take your choose: The well-known quote “Let go and let God” or “Let it goooo” a la Frozen (every other dad and mom in the home?). You get the concept.
Additionally, add to the mantra record that nature will all the time win. That is true with the ants (spoiler alert, they got here again) and with life usually, the universe on a broader scale. Suppose entropy. It’s in every single place in all methods. The earlier we align ourselves with the idea, the higher!
I felt oddly grateful to the ants for the chance to mirror. It gave me an opportunity to realize insights that I (and possibly you!) in any other case wouldn’t have had. If you happen to’re nervous about us forgetting this knowledge, don’t be. These little reminders (aka the ants) are all the time across the nook.
Put up-writing edit: Humorous factor is, proper after penning this, I walked into my toilet and noticed an ant making its manner up the facet of my mirror! Poetic, huh?
About Only a Woman & Her Methods
Only a Woman & Her Methods is a self-care fanatic and elementary faculty counselor-turned-temporary-stay at dwelling (new!) mother within the Mid-Atlantic / DC area. Her expertise with high-needs populations and trauma-informed/trauma-responsive work led to a recognition of secondary trauma in herself. This developed into, by necessity, a fervent dedication to self-care. Her present ardour venture is a weblog devoted to sensible methods for private wellness, A Second for Self-Care, discovered at asecondforselfcare.com.