When it’s a dull and dreary day it’s so easy to feel that way. But…and there’s always a “but” in our lives, isn’t there? If I’m not careful it’s easy for me, anyway, to join that word up with a couple of others to begin a negative statement like “but, if only..”. If only I had done this or that, or not done this or that! And when it’s a miserable, grey day like today, it’s easy to feel the same way, particularly in this lockdown-life! Never mind, I am determined to find ways to convert those despondent thoughts into constructive solutions. Which reminds me of the phrase used during some memory tests where you must read and repeat later: “No more ifs and or buts” (or something like that!).
Those and similar words can be the genesis of indecision, of wavering, of doubting, and “but”. So, how do we handle those but times? Well, one of my techniques is to convert that questioning alternative and negative thinking into a positive substituted activity; sometimes that’s a mental process or sometimes, more often, a physical action. Sort of reverse psychology, so that I don’t keep reminiscing on our past life, valuable as that is on occasions. When I do find myself, all too often these days, re-visiting the past it usually gives rise to “if only I had…”, and that’s when it’s time to get out of that space and convert my ‘revision of the past’ into “being in the now”, to say to myself, “what can I do, now”.
But (that word again) being in the now isn’t always easy, it requires an effort which admittedly is not always present. What usually works for me is to take a long walk, weather permitting, or a bike ride, being active usually helps me to centre on the present; to smell the roses along the way, so to speak. When that’s not possible, like today, I escape into reading a book, or physically doing or making something, or writing or, perhaps after today, it will be more painting!
Painting? Yes, today I have unexpectedly painted a watercolour picture. Wow! That was fun and kept me engrossed for nearly three hours! Our daughter had all the needed materials sent to me, and she, her husband and three children all participated, remotely and separately at the same time, in an online time of artistry! (Free ad: look up “Cork & Chroma”). The class is conducted using “Zoom” on my iPad, with a direct two-way link to the teacher and a limited number of other students. Later, if I ever finish it, maybe I’ll try to work out how to show it to you on these pages. Since I am now equipped with a second canvas and all those paints and brushes, perhaps I will try it again.
Another trick I find useful when I’m feeling sad and miserable is to phone a friend; not to unload, but to stimulate the called person to tell me how they are. Naturally, in that process, they reciprocate and that forces me to disclose I’m a bit down, without going into long boring details. I find it enough to just have someone ask me, and to respond, briefly. I guess we all need to share just a little, every so often, but (there’s that ‘but’ again), no one wants to listen to a litany of hurts and worries!
How do we all get through our low spots? Not with ‘buts’ or with ‘if only’, nor with trying to predict next week or month or year. Perhaps you, like me most times, also find solace and meaning by mentally and positively moving through those down times by using the technique of learning to be in the ‘now’. I do pray, and then I thank God for ‘now’, because that’s the reality, and it can bring joy – the here and now. Which reminds me to tell you about my favourite book on this topic, sometime soon. And I need to wash out those brushes, but……