How can two ingredients be this difficult? I asked myself as I cleaned up the oatmeal disaster. Naturally, negative self-talk followed. In my mind I had gone from confident entrepreneur to failed human in two seconds flat.
I call it “going splat.”
This is the moment the downward spiral begins. It’s the moment when everything seems to fall apart. And it’s a moment of danger as you hear your inner critic urging you to give up on your goals and revert to unwanted behavior.
Everyone hits the wall from time to time experiencing temporary physical and/or mental overwhelm. Thankfully, this can be countered and even reversed. Although I judged myself harshly in the moment, temporary mindlessness that results in a kitchen mess is not a sign of life failure. When I regained rational thinking I was able to put the incident in proportion.
There are times, however, when going splat is a signal of something deeper, as was the oatmeal incident for me. This splat was one of many occurring with increasing frequency in the past few days trying to get my attention.
It’s easy to ignore the signs and push through. Maybe you don’t want to be a wimp, you’re up against a deadline, or there’s no one readily available who can give you support.
In my case, I had just returned from a long trip back home to the United States. From previous trips I have learned to plan in flexibility for unexpected events that inevitably arise whether it’s urgent business or a head cold. But I had failed to recognize the need for time to process unexpected emotion. And almost every day of this trip included multiple grief triggers, emotionally difficult decisions, and emotional goodbyes.
Emotional blows like these can easily go unnoticed, especially if you’re used to pushing emotion away. Emotional blows are often behind those times when you feel you don’t know what hit you. And they create the conditions for unwanted eating to overwhelm your coping mechanisms.
Because of my inner work, I didn’t need to push emotion away with food. But I failed to plan in self-care for the emotional exhaustion. I had considered only time management in my planning and not energy management.
This should have become apparent upon my returning home when I slept for 15 hours, then could hardly get out of bed for the next few days. In retrospect it’s not surprising that my husband and I snapped at each other all weekend And it isn’t surprising that none of my scheduled messages posted on the blog last week due to some still unknown mistake. Still, it took the inability to make oatmeal to get my attention.
Life is a journey of a million splats. They don’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. They do mean that you need to step back and figure out what’s going on. Whether you call it exhaustion, stress, or burnout, it’s important to honor your body’s need for physical rest, mental re-evaluation, and emotional processing. Pay attention to all three to avoid inviting bigger splats and longer term aftereffects.
Your body has a brilliant wisdom, even if that’s not easily apparent when breakfast results in oatmeal everywhere.
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I’d love to hear about your splats! To get on my schedule for an informal talk with no agenda other than understanding your struggles and helping you get unstuck click here. If you need other times, use the contact form linked below.
This week I’m reading The Longevity Code – Secrets to Living Well for Longer from the Front Lines of Science by Kris Verburgh, MD. It’s a fascinating discussion of why and how we age, including his take on how food impacts aging.
For more resources, check out our Resources page.