Are you overwhelmed by stress? Do you feel frustrated, sad, scared, hopeless or some mix of these elements? You don’t have to fix it. Try SWIT: sit with it.
It’s my new philosophy. I used to rush in so hard to every emotion, situation, relationship or problem I faced. I had the solution, dammit, and I’d make it fit no matter what.
One of the great benefits of getting older is not giving so many shits about what isn’t actually my business. And even when it is my business, I’m not God and I often can’t see the forest for the trees, so when I hurry a fix to a complicated issue, I’m making it worse instead of better.
Try it. Simply sit with what is bugging you.
Feel fat? So do I. Rather than obsessing or shaming or radically changing your diet or exercise plan, just sit with it for a little while. Allow it to be near you. Notice why it bothers you. Don’t fix it. Sit with it.
It works like meditation does: by slowing down and cutting across the mental noise we experience every day. Ever notice how much bigger and harder something seems when you are trying not to focus on it? The SWIT plan invites the worry, person, concept or problem in rather than forcing it out.
Speak gently to the areas that bother you the most. Allow your fear to come and sit with you. Offer it a place (let’s be honest, it has one anyway, and when you don’t acknowledge the terror it only takes up more of your mental space) and show it some grace and love. You don’t have to interact with it or make it disappear. Soothe it. Breathe through it until you achieve a bit of comfort with it so close to you.
This idea of sitting with what makes me uncomfortable has really moved the needle forward on my ability to love myself. It’s given me a practical way to extend care to my wounded heart. I’m working on loving my body, exactly as it is right now, thirty pounds more than I want it to be, and simply sitting with it and offering no judgement or solutions has been so freeing.
Most of us live like scared rabbits in 2017. Technology has taken over and we are held tightly in its iron fist. Turning off our digital devices requires a heroic amount of courage. Many times I fail to do what I long to do (hit the off button). I’m practicing SWIT with my technology, too. The addiction is so big – too far gone to fix it with one simple measure. Breathing, closing my eyes and inviting my dependence on my technology to be near me is enough for now.
When I struggle with another person, I’m trying to use the SWIT idea to bring them near. Alone, I summon them in a soft voice and tell them why I’m hurt or upset. I practice wishing them well and extending the type of care and affection I have no problem offering to those I love.
I speak in a reassuring voice, saying, “It will be all right. We’re going to make it through this.” I know that this is for me and not for them, but it helps to smooth out the rough edges in our next interaction. While I’m sitting with people who bug me, I also remember to remind myself that I’m not responsible for their side of our relationship – only mine.
When we acknowledge what frightens us, we immediately loosen its grip. Bring it slowly into the light. Break the secrecy and the shame that blooms in the dark like a fungus. Anything that hurts you, learn to sit with it until you can begin to work with it.
Baby steps are required. But strength comes when we talk openly about what matters, what injures our souls, what steals our precious time, attention and resources. I’m learning to sit with the hard stuff, without giving in to the pressure I feel to have the answers and the solutions. Anyone joining me in my mission to SWIT?