A Quick Fix Guide To Emotional Self Maintenance

A Quick Fix Guide To Emotional Self Maintenance

The blood was everywhere.

The sharpened edge of the paint scraper I was using to get the front window ready for a new coat of paint caught the index finger on my left hand. Ouch.

Summer. The beach, cookouts, endless sunshine, and house painting. Our house, now almost 30 years old, is at that stage where something always needs to be painted. Windows, doors, trim, siding. The weather extremes here in New England certainly push paint to it’s limits.

I actually enjoy the painting part of painting. What I really don’t enjoy is the preparation before hand.

The painting part goes pretty quickly. And it’s rather gratifying. Sometimes the temptation is to throw on a fresh coat of paint to spruce things up a bit. A quick fix. But unless I properly prepare the surface for painting, I will find myself doing a lot more repainting sooner than later.

Quick fixes usually don’t fix things for very long.

Experience has taught me that a good paint job requires a lot of sanding and scraping. Sanding and scraping are not something I look forward to. It’s difficult, tedious work, but unless I am willing to do the hard work and address the stuff underneath first I’m never going to get the results I am looking for.

I’ve found that in my life, house painting is a perfect metaphor for my own self maintenance. I’ve often gone with the quick fix approach when dealing with some of the challenges that life has presented. Instead of sanding and scraping to address my own inner unseen issues, I’d simply thrown on a fresh coat of whatever I thought would spruce me up emotionally. Shopping, denial, blame, alcohol…all fresh coats of distraction to cover what was peeling and cracking underneath. Going deeper into yourself isn’t easy, often very daunting, yet unless I was able and willing to get down to the bare wood of the problems I was dealing with, no new coat of anything was ever going to last.

And they never did.

I’ve now learned to sand and scape, to seek that emotional bare wood, to work to understand as to why the new version of me I tell myself I want to create never quite sticks. I work to resolve those lurking unseen issues and to then build a base in which the new paint, the new me, can adhere to and last. But unless I do the work and have honest, often difficult conversations with myself, compassionately, I find myself repeating patterns and behaviors which at some point will require me to fix them yet again.

How about you? When it comes to growing more fully into who you really are, what’s peeling and cracking underneath that may be preventing your highest vision of your life from adhering?  What needs to be sanded and scraped in order for you to prepare yourself to be elevated to that place you’ve always longed to be?

I’d grow tired of simply re-fixing the same broken parts of me over and over again.

I deserved better from me.

You deserve better from you, too.

Photo by Amauri Mejía on Unsplash