When I go to India for my various yoga-related studies, I usually stay somewhere pretty basic. Given that I’m out all day and all I need is somewhere to rest my head, I don’t really see the value of fancy bedding and an in-room jacuzzi.
On my most recent visit, while air-conditioning was provided, hot water was not. Chennai is pretty baking most of the year, so a colder-than-normal shower probably isn’t a deal-breaker for most people. Nevertheless, facing a cold bucket of water at the crack of dawn, isn’t exactly an exciting prospect.
While I could grit my teeth in the mornings, the evenings were a different matter. All sweaty and tired after a hard day at school, cold water was the last thing I was in the mood for.
This is when I finally bit the bullet; I really did need to go to sleep clean.
By day 6, I didn’t mind the “showers” and by day 12, I could even have three a day, if it had been a particularly sweltering day. I was proud of myself.
And then I got back to Nairobi, home to my hot rain-shower – and I hated it.
The hot water felt uncomfortable on my skin and made me feel claustrophobic. I persevered; it didn’t make sense. A long, hot shower had been one of my ultimate creature comforts for as long as I could remember.
It took a little over two weeks for me to thoroughly enjoy a hot shower again.
Sometimes, we find ourselves in a situation where we know something doesn’t feel good. We know that a basic need of ours isn’t being met. Nevertheless, we persevere, not wanting to look soft, and keep going until it feels normal. Then, when we are once again back in the situation where that “need” of ours is met, we recoil. We recoil because normal/healthy/functional, now feels acutely abnormal.
Think of a rescue dog who has forgotten how much she would actually thrive with play and stroking. (In the words of Professor Dumbledore, “indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike”.)
It’s not about whether what you think you need makes an appearance on Maslow’s hierarchy; it’s about whether you feel the quality of your life is affected by not having that thing. It’s entirely about what your internal GPS says, and honouring that feeling when it first comes up. We are not looking to boil any frogs*.
Imagine a pilot sticking duct tape over a flashing light in the cockpit. How would you expect that situation to turn out? Red flags are not pretty decorations (trust me, I know).
So the next time you get used to something that, on the face of it, doesn’t feel right, get really intentional: is sucking it up, even in the short-term, really in your best interest?