When the Hot Mess of Life Trips You Up

Using self-care, mindfulness and yoga to stay on track with your goals

Warrior pose

Whether it’s a resolution or you’re just getting back into your routine after a bit of break, we all have that moment that throws us off track. It usually happens early on, too. You get stuck in a traffic jam on your way to an important meeting. Or that guy who you were certain liked you and flirted with you just posted a picture of himself with a pretty girl on Facebook.

Yeah, you know how life goes. Some stupid something throws your whole day off. Then your whole routine. Before you know it, you’re eating Ben & Jerry’s and watching reruns of Friends for three days straight.

I would like to say that being mindful, doing yoga, and taking care of yourself eliminates those bad moments in your life. That you’ll never have detractors from the goodness of self love. But, I hate to break it to you, shiz still happens no matter how much you love yourself.

It’s the way of the universe, I’m afraid to say. Checks and balances — that’s what it’s all about.

But, we don’t have to let those things screw us over. Of course, I can say the positive thing here, “Use it as motivation.” Let’s be honest, though, when you see the photo of the guy you liked with another girl, motivation and happiness kind of go down the drain.

Let me say, it’s perfectly OK to feel that way. In fact, you should feel that way … or at least you should feel something. Don’t push your emotions down. Don’t ignore them. Feel them. Experience them. Breath through them and then let them go.

Otherwise, they’re just going to eat at you. Then you’re going to wake up at 3 a.m. sad or angry and wonder why you’re not sleeping. It ain’t caffeine, my friend. It’s unresolved emotions. That will throw you off track more than anything.

Lesson 1: Believe it or not, when bad things happen, acknowledge them. Feel them. Experience them. It helps more than it hurts.

Breathing through the emotions is sometimes easier said that done. I know that to be true myself. Letting things roll off my back isn’t exactly my strong suit. I’m working on it, though.

In fact, if you have trouble with that initial knee-jerk reaction, I highly recommend checking out Pema Chodron’s Udemy course, Sounds True’s Freedom to Choose Something Different.

She’s funny. She’s down to earth. She’s struggles with the same things we all do. I thoroughly enjoyed this course. The last section with one of her students wasn’t as great. If you don’t care about the certificate, you could skip that part. I wanted the certificate, so I listened.

In this series, she talks about shenpa, a Tibetan term. For anyone who has taken an Emotional Intelligence course, shenpa is your trigger. Or for anyone who hasn’t taken one of those courses, shenpa is that moment or that thing that sets you off and you lose your cool. Or at least you start down the path of being bitter and angry for few hours.

Really it’s all about acknowledging these triggers when they happen and choosing to not go down that same path you always go down. It’s hard as hell not to go down that path, though. I’m not gonna lie. But Pema says the same thing, so I’m in good company.

The course can help you recognize it, though. Makes you more conscious of it, and helps you “breath through it,” rather than breathing fire.

Of course, you can also meditate when someone or something triggers you. If you can’t do it in that moment, then do it before you go to bed. Just like a marriage, if you shouldn’t go to bed angry at a spouse, you probably shouldn’t go to bed angry at someone else or upset that you let some tiny insignificance throw you off your game.

Meditate. Or journal about it. Or both. Think about why it made you angry. Why it made you sad. Why you wanted to smack that smarmy smile off his face. Get in touch with the reasons the trigger upset you and then ask yourself if it is really worth being that upset. Is it worth not taking care of yourself?

It usually isn’t. And if it’s not, why lose a good night’s sleep over something that doesn’t really matter in the long run? Or stop exercising or eating right? If you can let it go before going to bed, I will guarantee that you’ll wake up more motivated to renew your efforts the next day.

Lesson 2: Don’t go to bed angry at your spouse, partner or anyone else, including yourself. Resolving something and getting a good night’s sleep helps motivate you.

For me, the thing that really works to get me back on track is yoga. I do the other stuff, too. It’s all good. It takes a whole caboose of self-care tricks to keep this train wreck on the rails.

Specifically, though, the warrior poses. I love those poses. They’re pretty basic. Simple. But I feel like I can kick some butt when I do those. If you stand low enough and strong enough, you’re going to feel them.

And boy do you feel grounded and strong. And suddenly, you realize that thing that upset you has got nothing on you. You can take anything. You’re a friggin’ warrior.

I recently read an article from The Path Magazine that explains the story behind the three warrior poses. It’s a little violent — revenge and all that juicy stuff. Then it comes around to something that fits exactly what I’m talking about here. The poses and the story, (which you can read in full detail here) signify “our posture as fallible souls who all engender completely natural human responses to emotions. We all make mistakes. Sometimes, life gets confusing. There is often an innate urge to overlook natural human emotions like anger, jealousy, and bitterness in spiritual pursuits like yoga. At times, we think that in the interest of becoming a true yogi, we must be devoid of all negativity. But, we’re all human. Things happen. Eliminating all hardship from our lives just isn’t feasible.”

Amen to that. That’s exactly why these poses work for me. Yes, I let stupid things upset me. Yes, I let them mess up my day and tweak my peace of mind. I may even forget about my self-care routine for a moment.

Knowing this story makes these poses even more powerful for me. But even before I read this, there is just something about these poses that connects me to something greater. Something within me and within the universe. It makes me feel stronger, bolder, quieter. And when I feel that way, that stupid stuff rolls right off my back.

Lesson 3: We’re all human and we all get upset. Strike a pose — a warrior pose — to help you cope, refocus and strengthen your resolve.

Some days the world is a hot mess. Or maybe we’re the hot mess. But if we take a few simple steps to acknowledge what’s bothering us. Understand it. Face it. Then we can find our way back to our path of consciousness, mindfulness and self-love.

6 thoughts on “When the Hot Mess of Life Trips You Up”

  1. The mess I always thought of as a stepping stone toward better and greater things. I always to a moment and see what I can learn or at least try too. I do not like the mess but it is part of success. Take care

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True. It is a stepping stone. That’s a very positive way of looking at it. If you have recommendations for how to keep this perspective in the midst of “the mess,” please share. We’re all learning here.

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      1. I have been told I would not walk within a year wow what an encouraging thing I thought. I never went back to the doctor but I decided I would walk as long as God would allow me,. 20 years later still walking but with challenges at times as the pain can be tough. I learnt that it made me stronger.

        My wife left me and my 4 small children leaving me a single parent starting over in life. It had some real hard days but I learned no one can take my joy or happiness unless I surrendered it. I chose to find the joy in my children and even the beauty of the day.

        I told myself growing for a while that my father never taught me anything as he was not present. I changed that as I began to see my dad taught me a lot. I learnt that I would never leave my kids. i learned what not to do in many situations, thanks dad for your help..

        Life in all of its mess has taught me a great deal about many things including it is never as bad as it seems. We are not alone we have someone to go through these things with. That has been powerful in my life.

        Our attitude and response to good and bad things will produce the outcome in much of life. I have worked hard to practice how I react to things and what my attitude is toward them in check as well.

        One thing I am sure of we are all created special with gifts and abilities to impact the world around us, we are in fact priceless.

        Never allow situations to define you but your response. Fight, fight and never quit. We do not fail until we stop trying… Hope that helps some

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      2. That is an incredible story. Thank you for sharing. I get lost in my own ups and downs sometimes, and I can say I have had few compared to what you shared here. You are a role model in attitude. Stick with it, and always feel welcome to share here. I think many of us can learn from you.

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