I had a complete meltdown on friday afternoon after a member of a helping profession pointed out to me that "none of us have any control over what happens in our lives, despite the persistent illusion to the contrary." I don't think she knew I was an Atheist when she said this to me, because if she had she might have sugar-coated it or softened it a bit. The only thing that separates an Atheist from a Nihilist (in my opinion) is the belief that we have at least some measure of control over our lives. In essence, one could also say that this is the core difference between Atheism and Theism.
In relation to the car accident, this was a relevant concept to explain that despite all of my efforts to be a safe driver (never caused an accident in 11 years of driving), and all of my efforts to be on the lookout for dumbass people behind the wheel, at the end of the day it means nothing because someone can always hit ME. And there isn't really a damn thing I can do about it. There was nothing I could have done to prevent the accident I was in.
It seems so simple, doesn't it? But not for me. I started realizing that this explains why bad things happen to good people, why people who do everything they're supposed to do just can't get ahead, etc. She tried to make this idea a little more palatable for me by adding "The only things we can control are our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior."
But given all that I know about psychology, I'm pretty sure this is bullshit too. Implicit associations and priming, attempting to control intrusive thoughts, the daunting task of trying to self-soothe during an anxiety attack, trying to keep from crying, etc., - I think the only thing we really can control is our own behavior. Because our thoughts and emotions often have minds of their own. I have oodles of studies to back this up.
So I found myself in a crisis, asking things like "What is the fucking POINT, then??" I am not a spiritualist by any means, but it took listening to Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart to calm me down. (Thanks AA, for the post title the other day. That's what made me think of it.)
Chodron talks about how life is filled with distractions to keep us from feeling emotions that have been labeled as negative. We don't want to feel bored, lonely, sad, etc., so we find things to distract us from feeling that way. Instead, she says we should try and sit with it for as long as we can stand it as often as we can, to build up a sort of tolerance for it. Just sit and feel it.
So I figured, what the hell, and I tried it. I sat with the feeling of helplessness and anxiety. I sat with the sadness, the anger, and the panic. The only distraction was the sound of her voice telling me why I needed to do it. It took about 1-2 hours, but it went away. I didn't need to try and resolve it, think it through, find ways to fix it. I just acknowledged that I was feeling miserable, let myself feel miserable, and it went away like when one of my cats is desperate for attention but only wants it for 5 minutes before he or she is content to move on.
I guess this post is more substantial than I thought it was going to be. LOL. Anyway, my point is that I recommend the audio version of Chodron's book for times of emotional upheaval like that. Her voice alone is very soothing.
In other news, I got to video chat with my husband yesterday through gchat. It was awesome. Unfortunately he can't do it again today because the internet at the base is down.
The Wii Active Personal Trainer is awesome, but it hates me. I went out dancing on friday night so my thighs were nice and sore yesterday. I turn on the Wii Active, and it made me do 6 sets of 20 lunges in all directions and variations. Now my legs really hurt. But on the bright side, I have lost 4 inches off my waist and 3 inches off my hips since I posted about being frustrated by my lack of progress, and about 6lbs or so since I bought that new scale. I have accomplished this through a daily combination of the Wii Fit, Wii Active Personal Trainer, and Zumba Fitness Latin dancing. I increased my calorie intake slightly by eating less food more often: 1 piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and a glass of V8 Frusion in the morning, a yogurt or one of those Green Giant Steamers veggie things for lunch, my favorite sandwich ever for dinner (see below), a small bowl of macaroni salad with tuna after working out, and some Doritos for a nighttime snack. I also drink a shitload more water.
Best Sandwich Ever:
I used to love this sandwich from Panera Bread until they posted their nutrition facts and I discovered that their version has about 1100 calories in it. I might as well eat McDonald's. I knew I could make a much, much healthier version of it at home. Here are the results:
Chipotle Mayonnaise - I bought a bottle of Chipotle hot sauce from the marinade/steak sauce section of the grocery store. I combined 1 cup of Helmann's mayo with 1 clove of minced garlic in a tupperware bowl (I didn't want to have to make this every day). I added the hot sauce to taste while stirring, then added Roasted Garlic & Bell Pepper seasoning and some Cayenne pepper until I achieved my desired level of spiciness.
The Sandwich - 2 slices of Wonder 100% Whole Grain bread (total 160 calories), 1 tbsp of the Chipotle mayo (80 calories), 1 slice of Kraft Deli Deluxe american cheese (70 calories), thinly sliced red onion, lettuce (both with negligible calorie content), and 6 slices of Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh shaved turkey breast (45 calories).
Fuckin YUMMY at a total calorie content of about 355 calories. Fuck Panera Bread.
Their version. Image from WebMD's article about the worst sandwiches ever.
***Update: Totally forgot to add this. When I started working out I could do like 2-3 push-ups (the real way) on a good day, 0.5 pull-ups, and couldn't run for shit. Now I can do 10 push-ups putting my nose to the floor, 3 pull-ups, and the Wii Fit is telling me I could probably run 1.5 miles in slightly less than 11 minutes. I feel diesel. ;)***