Monday, April 02, 2012

Self Care, Holy Week, and Difficult People

How's that for a post title?

It's all I could think of as I sit here to start writing.

Those are the three topics on my mind today - self care, the arrival of Holy Week, and dealing with challenging people.

I spent most of my usual Sunday morning sabbath yesterday sleeping, and then emerged to enjoy an hour or so of quiet, curled up in an armchair in my parent's living room, enjoying the sun.  Because the last few weeks of school have been so incredibly challenging, I am in some ways quite aware of the need to increase my efforts at self-care.  I am reminding myself of ways to be gentle with myself.  I'm working to be aware of my own self-talk.  I'm increasing my effort to focus on finding things that need to be on my daily five lists at the end of the day.  I'm reading articles that remind me of these truths, and am conscious of the need to build time into my week for silence, and time with the friends who fill me instead of drain me.  I'm thinking about things like scheduling - the need for me to be aware of my schedule, and to bring some semblance of order and control to it, rather than to let it be something that just happens to me.  School gets to rule my life from 8:00-4:00 Tuesday-Friday, but I choose whether it controls the time outside of that, and I'm unwilling to let it have all of me.  That means I need to be diligent about scheduling and about time usage, so that I can have the time that I need for silence and rest.

And this is Holy Week - the most important week of the year if you believe in Jesus.  I'm more aware than ever this week of the need for school to not consume all of who I am.  This week of all weeks, there needs to be time and space for me to be in quiet, with Jesus.  To rest into that.  To meditate and contemplate the enormity of what it is that this week commemorates.  A number of years back, the most profound understanding of Christ's sacrifice that I've ever had came as I sat in a Catholic Palm Sunday mass.  It was profound, and I find myself revisiting and resting in that experience each year.  I need the space to do that this week - to set aside the myriad of stressors that school has held lately - to set aside the stressors I know it will hold in the coming week - and to rest into this chance to sit with Christ.  To walk the journey towards the cross, and then towards resurrection.  I'm thankful that the university doesn't schedule classes on Good Friday - that that day at least, I will be able to rest and pray and meditate quietly.

I suppose it is the challenge of interacting with people who could at times be termed "difficult" that has me so aware of the need for self-care, and the need, this week especially, to be conscious of carving out space for the things that are so much more important to the length and breadth of my life than school.  The challenges of hours and hours of group work remain immense, and the existence of varying personalities plays into that.  Even as I read and remind myself of coping techniques for "dealing with difficult people", I remind myself that I can only be accountable for my own actions and attitudes.  That how I respond is more important for me to be aware of than the challenges presented by the attitudes of others.  I don't get to control the universe (which I laughingly add is a pity - I think I'd be good at it!).  I do get to control ME.  Which means I need to choose joy and peace and kindness, even when I don't feel like it.  It means that yes, I'm aware of all the underlying currents in the room.  Yes, I feel those currents in a physical way.  And yes, that means it's that much harder for me to set them aside, that much harder for me to not be overwhelmed by them.  But I have choices.  I can choose where I focus.  I can choose what I believe I'm responsible for - I need to choose to remember that I'm only responsible for myself.  It's really easy to write those statements on a day when I don't have to go to school and spend 8 hours in a challenging atmosphere that is at times physically painful to me - almost oppressively so.  And I suppose that's why I'm thinking so much about self-care today.  I am better at choosing how those atmospheres affect me when I am making the time to meet my own needs.  I am more resilient when I have paid attention to being gentle with myself. And in Holy Week, particularly, I need that.

So I'm thinking today about self-care, Holy Week, and difficult people, and how, for me, those three things are inextricably linked this year.


terri said...

you inspire me.

Lisa said...

aw. thanks Terri! The feeling is mutual :)