Monday morning I had the thought, “I miss chocolate.”.
It’s kind of strange I would be thinking about chocolate on a hectic Monday morning. Really? Who’s got time for that? The temptation is to tackle that thought like a linebacker rushing the opposing team’s quarterback who’s heading for the end zone with the ball. MUST.NOT.THINK.ABOUT.CHOCOLATE. Because I know if I start my day with chocolate or sugar, it’s a downhill slide for the rest of the day, and I’ll lose an opportunity to score on some of my most important goals.
But instead of tackling and squelching that thought, I took a mental step back as I made lunches for the day and asked myself “Why?” One of my favorite encouragements from researcher and author Brene Brown is to “get curious.” Don’t judge, don’t avoid, get curious. Why would I be thinking about chocolate right now? Do I really need, or want chocolate, or do I need something else?
I realized I was stressed, tired and overwhelmed. Monday hit hard after a nice week of Ellianna being on Fall break. All the to-do’s of the coming week and the fatigue from a busy weekend crashed over me like a wave. I was in the pileup with a hundred scattered thoughts about my week. I didn’t need chocolate, I needed to take ten minutes to clear my head, to pray and to make a plan.
As my mom always says, “The problem is not the problem.” I am not a hopeless chocolate addict, instead, my heart is sending me signals that it needs attention. My brain is busily and urgently asking me for a distraction from my heart’s angst.
When I start feeling unsettled and anxious and start craving that treat, I want to hit the “ignore” button because, come on now, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” But as much as I would like it to, the stress, anxiety or pain my heart is holding doesn’t magically disappear. It spills out into unplanned, unhealthy coping mechanisms, whether that’s overeating, getting on social media too much, snapping at my family (cringe), or finding that chocolate fix.
All these short-term fixes undermine my productivity and my goals, and lead to much greater loss than a few minutes of face-time with my heart. I simply can’t create a peaceful home/haven environment for my family when my heart is spilling over with unresolved irritability, stress, anxiety, anger or discouragement.
A sudden impulse to eat chocolate (or potato chips or fill in the blank___________) is usually a signal something else is needed. Maybe I need connection –to call a friend to lift my perspective. Maybe I need to take some time to organize my thoughts and make a list for myself. Maybe a hurtful conversation happened yesterday that I don’t want to think about, and I need to take ten minutes to journal and pray to process my feelings about it. Maybe I need to ensure I get a good night’s sleep, or to look at the calendar and realize it’s that time of the month and give myself extra grace.
Tomorrow I’m going to dive into more strategies for cultivating a peaceful heart. These have been born out of my own experiences and frustrations. I’ll also share some resources that have been very helpful for me.