I finished working as set costumer on my first feature film, and rather than feel my usual depleted of all energy and on the edge of sickness or post-project depression, I am mentally energized to jump back into all the good things I had started to do for myself. Which is awesome, and while I am honestly nervous about seizing control of my destiny and not having a reliable routine, life is too brief to settle.
I had another one of those profound self-reflections during the work on the film, and that is that I have always had a really easy time stepping outside of the chaos of our shared reality and becoming an observer of it. This ability used to make me feel really uncomfortable on occasion, as I would feel like an outsider for not being a part of the group (not participating in the “crazy”), and I would get really upset that I wasn’t able to fix the pain people were inflicting on themselves or others. But in the long run, this is a gift, and I have been able to utilize it so much more, which really does give me more opportunities to live a healthier life myself and to encourage others to find their own path when they feel ready themselves.
I shared my painting of “The Inner Maelstrom” above to show how chaos feels to me.
So, I wanted to offer some tips to you for practicing lifting yourself out of the stream. Even just trying to do this for 30 seconds in a stressful situation can help you immensely.
- Turn off the guilt. Is whatever chaos going on your fault? Probably not. If it is, then learn from your mistake and stop creating chaos. If it isn’t, then don’t create more problems by internalizing it.
- Remember not to take things personally. This goes with the above. People bubble over with anger and stress. Acknowledge any truth you can see to what they are saying, but don’t engage unless it’s to defend yourself or another in an abusive situation.
- Take a few deep breathes, focus on the quiet spaces between your heartbeats, and find stillness.
- Really think about the situation. Observe what is going on. Is there anything helpful you can offer to what is going on? If so, do it, but most of the time, people are creating the chaos for reasons that are beyond your control (lack of communication, lack of planning, sheer exhaustion). I am a firm believer in helping as much as possible, but you also have to protect your integrity and safety as well.
Anyway, normal organic chaos can be beautiful. I’m really talking about the disorganized extra chaos people bring to themselves and others. We don’t need to engage in that. Again, life is way too short for that nonsense in our lives.