“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon to your challenges. So relax” – Bryant McGill
A few months ago I was looking through the iTunes app store and came across an App called “Sleep Cycle”. It sounded interesting and it was free for the first thirty days, so I thought, why not give it a try.
The description sounded promising, because after being abruptly waken up by an alarm clock for the last thirty years, what could hurt giving this App a try? Of course I was initially distrusting of its claims, so I set my normal alarm clock in parallel with the App. Surprisingly enough it not only woke me up on time, but with a softer sound and I was not tired. Additionally, the App also gave me statistics on the actual amount of time I was awake, versus sleep and in deep sleep. It was pretty cool and after two months of use, I am completely sold.
So what I was not planning for was the amount of information I would receive about my sleep patterns. I have learned about the trends of sleep and what countries are getting the best and worst sleep around the world. According to the stats, the United States sleep average is about 73%, while Saudi Arabia’s average is 60% and the highest sleep average goes to the Netherlands with 76% on average.
So what does this have anything to do with pausing and reflecting you ask? Well as I think about how important it is to rest and get a good night sleep so that I am ready for the world, I realized I am not getting enough rest myself. Did I mention that my sleep average for the last two months was a whopping 52%! Ugh, what do I do with this information? Well first I need to start by taking my butt to bed on time, but even deeper than that, I need to recognize what is keeping me up more often than not. What am I doing and why am I up so late doing it in the first place?
Here lies my point. How do we accept news about ourselves that is not so comfortable or encouraging to hear? Do we seek to make excuses once we hear the hard facts, or are we the type that embraces what it is, and begin to look for ways to make improvements? Do we take time to pause and reflect on the important matters of our lives when harsh truths are brought to our attention? Of course our immediate response is to say that, “yes, and we would always do the right thing”. Whatever that may look like.
For myself, I would have never known that my sleep patterns were so poor, and I equally understand that if I intend to be any good to the world for the remainder of my life, I suppose I need to add a few more hours of sleep per night to my slumber.
As much as good information is good to hear or perhaps it is not always good, but more relevant than anything else, we nevertheless cannot do anything purposeful with it unless we choose to first understand a few things about what we are hearing.
Perhaps your entire life you believed that you were one way, only to discover by a few close friends that you have been quite the opposite. The news may be heart breaking, unbelievable and downright annoying, but if is truth it is truth. And the sooner we can begin to accept it and take the steps to really digest it, the sooner we will enable ourselves to learn, grow and make the necessary changes to ourselves.
Life is wonderful because it exposes our imperfections so perfectly. The timing is never right, it is typically never planned and many times we find ourselves in disbelief on what we discover. It is painful and seemingly hurtful, but in that well-known quote, “Don’t kill the messenger”, this applies here.
Our first response is to defend ourselves, then comes denial, but once we give ourselves time to pause and reflect and take responsibility, we can accept whatever it is and become better people.
What becomes critical is the amount of time we take in between denial and acceptance. Unfortunately, some never get to the point of acceptance. It is quite simpler to deflect and blame someone else for what really belongs to us. The work required is not easy and the steps can be humbling, however the benefits can be limitless when we choose to take authentic action.
Everyone is different and has their own set of propensities, internal compasses and thresholds for tolerance, forgiveness, humility, accepting responsibility, taking responsibility and ultimately what causes them to pause and reflect. Often times it is not a place we come to on our own. As we keep living life, a circumstance will come to teach us a lesson, show us our humanity or simply helps us to discover that we need to slow down, humble ourselves or help our neighbor.
Perhaps you have been in denial about an ugly truth about yourself, as much as you wanted to believe that you had that one mastered, you did not. Well it is not too late to change, to grow, to still have hope for a better tomorrow, but it requires work from you.
A good place to start is to pause and then reflect on the information.
1. Dissect what is being said – once you accept it as your truth, begin to take steps to fully understand it. This may require professional help or that same good friend to help you gather more facts for even more clarity.
2. Identify the core issue(s) – Again with help, the key is not to simply talk about what happened, but why it did in the first place. Many times this involves rolling back layers of occurrences and our relationships over a period of time. This will require some digging and skilled people to help you get to the core.
3. Begin to take corrective action to rectify the issue – As you are analyzing the information and working with someone to assist you, layout a game plan on how you will live differently or handle situations more effectively.
4. Give yourself grace (not excuses) to fail – Recognize that this is a journey and no one changes simply because they need to or want to. It takes work and a lifetime of issues rolled up takes years to unravel. Continue to take responsibility for you, but realize it will take some time to look and sound new.
Pausing and reflecting is a critical part of life. Without it we will live like a car driving towards a destination that never stops for a tune up or check. We would never do that unless we became careless. Lets not become careless about our lives, but always willing to accept when it si time to grow or learn more. Give yourself a moment each week to be still, collect your thoughts, pray and exhale. It will do wonders for your tomorrows.