When did “me time” become penitent? Defragmenting our mind.
I sat out on my balcony enjoying the fall weather and sun, listening to all of the noises around me and a slight hint of music. Before long I began pondering why I even have time to sit and enjoy a moment like this. When did this kind of an activity become an Okay thing to do? To relax and take time for myself… boy doesn’t that sound so distant.
I sat out for an hour trying to heal a headache and caught myself fading away into thoughts of “maybe I shouldn’t be wasting time like this and reading up on more homework, working on-line, or indulging in my chores.” However, is me time a waste of time? Since when did I begin punishing myself for enjoying nature and freely conversing inside of my head? Frankly, I do not remember a day in my mind telling myself “You know, you should take a break and sit out on the balcony for longer than 14 minutes.” No. This doesn’t happen, and I am more than certain that many people can relate. Perhaps when we were kids this type of leisure activity was automatic. I believe our urge to become perfect and gain automaticity in tasks is the reason why we forget that doing nothing is a reward and it is alright to take a break.
By “me time” I mean sitting alone like I am, no friends or family around, maybe a pet, and just enjoying and letting the mind freely venture where ever it wants to go (not thinking about something is impossible). No texting or calling either, no on-line browsing. I am a sucker for staying connected to the outside world. I came out to heal a headache and I brought my blackberry with me. Huh? Every time it lit up I would practically awake and pick it up. A “me time” activity to other’s may be laying in a dark room, listening to ocean noises, gazing out into the ocean, river or lake, or laying in a hammock you set up in your backyard. Or like me, sitting in a fold out chair with my feet pushing against the railing gazing out at the trees sometimes even closing my eyes and listening to people do chores outside, dogs barking, the trees weeping, birds racing by, and some relax Techno-Spanish Guitar type of music. This is perfect, this is what we are supposed to think is okay to do. I may even get wild on occasion and bring a cup of tea out (I’m European) to plunge into with all of my thoughts.
The former sounds simply remarkable. Then, why do I punish myself for it? Why does this at the same time as feeling so right feels so wrong? We have an infamous amount of lingering deadlines and people to attend to; it is impossible to truly find that equilibrium and get to know yourself if you cannot overcome the simplest task of relaxing. The sun, the trees, the dark room, the tea, the whatever it is, it all makes you come together like a puzzle. Another good analogy would be defragmenting your computer. You can watch the spaces open up while your computer puts files that belong together near each other and organizes everything back to how it should be after a tough work week, all to enable free space for those new ideas and knowledge. Essentially it is a personal maintenance. I bet some people are reading this and saying that this behavior is natural and simple and that they do it all the time. Possible, but do you really? And, is it really that simple? Hanging out with those you love and drinking beer/wine does not count (although this is fun and takes you away from the rumbles of everyday). Unless you have time around your friends to drink some beer/wine and wind down inside of your head and own brain in order to come back to that “you” level, then, yes you are doing it, living the dream! I applaud those who actually do it constantly.
An important idea to keep in mind is that this activity should by no means be regretful or difficult. If you have already or just begun doing this, do not punish yourself for missing a couple of “me time” sessions. Like any behavior modification or reinforcement, you have to keep going with your plan because dips in action are unavoidable and it is okay to miss the “me time” a couple of times. The golden key is to get back into it when you are ready again. This is not another task for you to do on your list!!! This is something you should be doing all along. The other priorities and goals are TASKS! Coming down to it, you and your inner self and how you feel is what matters! Are you happy? We do not realize how important “we” are to ourselves. Similarly, folks say you have to love yourself before you can love someone else.
In fact, how many times has hanging out with friends or family set you back a few steps? How wrong is it to think about that this way? Let’s see, if I go out and enjoy myself, the next day I will be tired and I will have 22 things lingering and waiting to be accomplished. Inside of this hurricane, the mind confuses itself and all of the sudden that indulgence we had the day before becomes some kind of punishment and elicits a negative affect. All of the sudden, we think we should not have done that because it is inhibiting us to get all of the daily tasks completed. This is wrong thinking but we do it regularly. That outing or movie night enables your mind to come to peace. (I am not talking about going out every weekend and drinking with friends then regretting it because your too hung-over to do anything the next day.) In relation to this topic, what about when we come back to work sun burnt after a weekend or a holiday and everyone looks at us as if we committed a crime. Accurately this can be described as follows, “How dare you enjoy your weekend and then show it off in public?” What is up with this type of mentality?
“Me time” that is described here, is a phenomena that should not be made into a task, it is a natural necessity. Today is Sunday and I should be allowed to sit here for an hour to catch my thoughts, some sun, dose off, and not do homework or talk to anyone. In light of this precious time I spent on my balcony I made some stir fry. Witness the effects of “me time” in the next post.
Peace and Love,