I’m trying to calm myself down as I stare at my husband tossing snacks into a ziplock bag while making the kids’ lunches before heading off to work.
My emotions flare up as I continue the narrative that I’m the only one that cares about the state of our planet and resent that my husband doesn’t care enough. I keep deep breathing to distract myself from the eternal nagging to start lecturing him on behalf of Mother Nature. Doesn’t he know that this single-use plastic bag housing our child’s flavor-blasted goldfish will be entering its final resting place in a landfill unable to decompose for centuries? Doesn’t he care?
My husband puts the lunches in their backpacks without another thought, and I’m still processing what to do next after what feels like an absorbent amount of wasted time. The fate of the planet is a heavy burden I must carry.
Logically, I know I probably need to let it go. Emotionally, I can’t.
When I’m focused on the despair of our planet, I completely negate the fact that my husband gets up early to help the kids get ready for school to let me sleep in a little longer. Why? Because it’s easier to be critical of others than to focus on myself. I’m not proud of it, but there was a time where I’d rather blame my bad mood on my husband using plastic bags rather than pausing long enough to recognize bad habits and emotional patterns I was holding onto.
Sure, single-use plastic is terrible for the environment. But saving the planet from plastic was not my first step on my personal growth journey… learning how to breathe was.
The fact of the matter was I wasn’t breathing correctly. I wasn’t doing one of the most basic, fundamental necessities of life and it was affecting the quality of my life in everything I did. It affected my sleep, my attitude, my energy, my personality, and my relationships with the ones I loved the most.
I tried a lot of things to help relieve my insomnia, low-energy, and hot temper - nothing really stuck because the root cause of my issue was not being addressed. Instead of focusing my energy on the root cause of why I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, I'd place my attention towards someone else’s shortcomings in order to distract myself from the inner work I needed to do.
It was terrifying to retrain myself to breathe because our breath is tied to EVERYTHING. And since I had been doing it wrong for most of my life, it was frustrating and scary to have to relearn something as fundamental as breathing. There were many times I felt like I was too far gone, but now I know this was my first step and it’s still the step I come back to time and time again.
When I feel out of control, overwhelmed, reactionary, I go back to my breath.
When I can’t sleep and anxiety takes over, I go to my breath.
When things don’t go how I’ve planned and relationships seem strained, I go to my breath.
When I cannot stop myself from scrolling social media and wish my kids would just leave me the F*ck alone, I go to my breath.
Discovering my first step has given me back control of my life. It has given me the ability to heal myself when I thought it was hopeless. It has given me the confidence to stay on track and know where to invest my time, energy and money without guilt.
It’s been only a few years since I discovered my first step and it’s been an emotional journey, but I have seen significant changes in my life as soon as I started to focus more on me and less on judging others around me.
Today, it still makes my heart ache when I reach for a single-use plastic item, but now with some deep breaths, I have found that perspective and forgiveness come much quicker. It’s okay if I can’t save the world today. Knowing my first step has taught me how to shift, let go, and give grace, which is something I couldn’t do without my breath. And as soon as I grow into a stronger, healthier version of myself, I will then turn my attention back to saving the world.