Wise Mind

This is a concept that I’ve learned through counseling. I’ve used it successfully many times before I knew it had a whole name and fancy structure to it; and learning it in therapy has helped solidify it as a tool to make good decisions in tune with my needs and wants. Essentially, you want to balance your emotional reactions with logical solutions to get yourself the best outcome in any situation.

For example, one could use it to make a balanced meal choice or make a judgment call in the office, or anything in between. I most recently used it this past weekend and it didn’t feel great, so I did not recognize it as a successful use of the “wise” mindset. Let me explain.

I was tired on Sunday, like I woke up after 8 hours of sleep and needed a nap 3 hours into my day. George, in contrast, had so much energy. So much enthusiasm that he wanted to share with me, and I could not get up off the couch. He tugged on my fingers to lead me to the next interesting thing, begging for me to engage and play, but I couldn’t summon the energy to stand or crawl around the floor. I felt extraordinarily guilty. Here’s my delightful son asking for my attention and I had nothing to give to him. I felt compelled to savor this moment and share it with him even though the disparity in energy was draining me even more. I felt awful, and I felt worse still every time I told my son “no, I can’t right now.” This little human doesn’t have enough language to understand what I’m saying; and also, he doesn’t have enough life experience to know what fatigue is and how to take it easy. My George is a carbon copy of my pre-cancer energy and his father’s active lifestyle, and here I am an eighth of my normal self, feeling guilty for lacking the enthusiasm and engagement he is asking of me.

There were many tears on my face. And when George saw my sadness, he empathized. He didn’t know why we were sad, but suddenly he was wanting to take mommy out of her sadness with more attempts to engage with me. This sweet gesture only made me feel worse. Suddenly my happy boy is trying to console me. And I cannot pick myself up to collect my emotions in a different room away from him because fatigue.

This is anguish.

Now, I’m just realizing too, that as I was suffering as a mother, and my own mother and father were sitting beside me going through some similar trauma. George may not remember this day, but I bet my parents and I will. Fortunately, the day got much better after I made a hard decision to send George to visit with auntie.

There was a disparity between what I wanted and what I needed. I wanted to be well and play with George; Sundays are the days that I have to spend all day with him. But I could not keep up with him; I needed rest.

Nick had suggested George and he go to his folks’ house to hang out with auntie while she was in town while I stayed home. I cried at that thought. My mom made the same suggestion soon after she arrived, and I wailed against the obvious solution. My own intuition reminded me that I was doing no one any good by feeling depressed in this unchanging situation. It was time for a change in setting, as much as I hated to accept it.

This is wise mind. Reconciling emotions with rationality. Making a compromise despite it not being what made me happy in the moment.

The compromise was that my family would return when I felt better, rested, and they wouldn’t stay away all evening to return just in time for bath and bed. I would stay home and my parents would take care of me.

I wept quietly when my baby and husband left the house, but soon after the pressure to engage and play was gone, my appetite returned and I could take care of my basic human needs. The crying stopped. I could breath again. The decision to move away from the negative headspace was made and I was immediately better for it.

I learned today in counseling that this was wise mindfulness, even though agreeing to the compromise felt horrible.

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