On being Stoppable

For a long time, I tried to be Unstoppable.

In other words: I tried to pretend that I didn’t need to Stop. If you’re trying to be successful in school or your career, maintain relationships, do “extra-curricular” activities, and keep up normal-human-maintenance like exercise or laundry, there’s often just not a lot of room time left over.

And if there wasn’t a lot of time or flexibility in my day, then I certainly didn’t have time to be Stopped by feelings or thoughts.

Instead, I often had to push through to get the paper or the analysis or the presentation done. My days, too, and nights were often jam-packed without time to Stop: I gotta get home from work, shower, eat something, maybe exercise, and get to that party.

And yet, I wasn’t Unstoppable. No one is.

So many things are supposed to Stop us — intense feelings like fear, anxiety, insecurity, and more, but also more “mundane” feelings like boredom, mental or emotional or physical fatigue, and more. They don’t exist to be glossed over.

But processing feelings — really being with them, feeling the (often intense) physical sensations, and figuring out what to do about them — takes time.

As I mentioned, I didn’t have a lot of time.

So, instead of feeling all that stuff, I often ate. To be clear, it usually wasn’t always a full-on “binge.” More often, it was a cookie here or a mini candy bar there. Oh, did I just eat that slightly stale biscotti from the break room on my way to my next meeting, or was that my imagination?

When I did my own personal examination, I realized that each time I was eating in this way, something else was going on.

When I wanted to eat that slightly stale biscotti, what was actually happening was that I was tired from my day and needed a break to process my frustration and fatigue.

Or, in other words: I needed to let myself Stop.

Acknowledging that we are “Stoppable” means acknowledging:

  • That we are not machines put on this earth to complete to-do lists as efficiently as possible.
  • That we often can’t do as much in a day as our brains think we can or should do.
  • That we might not be able to be as “perfect” a friend, employee, student, boss, partner, girlfriend, or friend as we would like to be.
  • That we might have more feelings than we thought.

Here are some things that you can do when you Stop:

  • Feel your body (is it sweaty? Is your heart racing? Do you have a zinging or a tightness in your chest?).
  • Write in a journal or a random piece of paper (or even on the notes app on your phone).
  • Have a mental conversation with yourself (What are you feeling? What are you resisting? What do you need?)

If this sounds like it would take “a lot” of time, you’re not wrong. Stopping will take a some time, especially if you are inexperienced with checking in with yourself on a moment-to-moment basis.  

If it frustrates you to think that you might not be able to “do” as much as you thought, I feel you. That realization was tough for me, as well.

But please know that I am here with you, just another normal woman with a barrel-ful of feelings.

And I promise: Stopping is worth it.