Not long ago, I introduced my hope to take a few things I’m not too keen on in my practices, actions, or personality – and change the ‘not-so-great’ into ‘now-that’s-better’. It began with coffee. I had a couple of cups a day, most days. The act itself was not my purpose for change, but the literal pain my body would be in with all that caffeine I was pumping into it. So for that sake alone (not a snobbery of coffee or life declaration of its good vs. bad) I decided to cut back. Perhaps you’ve been keeping up with this journey as I’ve chronicled it, so I won’t bore you with repetitive details. I camped on 3 cups a week (instead of 2-3 a day!), and I’m comfortable staying here, at that number. I’m no longer hurting (with the exception of minor headache due to withdrawal) and that being the purpose, I’m happy not torturing myself, trying to do less than that. 3 happens to be my favorite number anyway.
The 2nd stop on what I deemed my “improvement line” will be more difficult for me, I predict.I’m a person who enjoys talking with others. (If you know me, this is NO shocker!) Yet throughout my life, I’ve had a hard time making eye contact while having a conversation. I will briefly meet the eyes of my fellow chatter, but mostly – my eyes are roaming around the room as I speak, or fixed on a neutral point (like a wall or 2 feet to the left or right of the other person’s head). If you are talking, I am “better” at looking into your eyes to illustrate the full attention I am, in fact, giving you at all times (wandering eyes notwithstanding).
Here’s the kicker…looking into someone’s eyes when I talk makes me uncomfortable. Visibly-shifting, reaction-producing uncomfortable. It’s weird…I know. I’ll try my best to explain it. For me, looking into someone’s eyes, dead on, while speaking (usually heightened when the topic is something personal or I’m referencing anything about myself) makes me feel as if they can see straight into my heart. I irrationalize that they can see secrets, fears, insecurities, distractions…you name it, I feel they can just see past all the fluff and flesh and invade my corners within. That’s a graphically awkward experience – does anyone else agree with me on that? So I avoid eye-to-eye steady contact, because I’m uneasy about it. Even though I’m aware that to date – I’ve yet to meet someone with super-powers who can x-ray my subconscious by such an act. I understand this is far-fetched and ungrounded. I understand. So I’m finally ready to throw away this silly habit I’ve dug myself into since probably age 5.
I am pledging to work (and work hard) to stand on top of this silly fear, and look people in the eye. This will take more self-patience to change than I’ve attempted in a while. But it will supply and hopefully stockpile such weapons that I’ll need for the near future – as I tackle much more on the horizon. I’ll also need your help because bad habits become that way due to a dulled sense of awareness. I need to get sharp again. I’ll need some iron-on-iron time to help with that. So if you and I are having a conversation, and I start to veer my eyes too much (because understandably, this will take time along with a severe amount of will power that I usually have to work to keep in stock), challenge me. Call me out on it (lovingly please?). You up for it?
What have I got to lose except something that never helped me to begin with? Oh, I suspect that very sentence will play as a theme for a few things in my near future. Here goes…up, up, and away.