The leaking faucet and the sound of the dripping water that just drives you mad, but you think shouldn’t bother you.
That piece of heinous furniture that you’ve had forever, always hated, swore you would get rid of just as soon as you settled into your new apartment (and that was 5 years ago) and just sort of gotten used to.
That magazine subscription that you just keep, even though you never read the magazine and it just piles up and once every couple of months you take the whole stack to the recycling. Or that auto-charge on your credit card bill every month that you don’t even know what it is for but you just gloss over when you see it.
That friend who always says she misses you and then always insists on doing dinner a block away from her house (which happens to be 45 minutes away from yours), and you keep complying.
Your constant compare-and-despair cycle on social media that leaves you feeling drained and dissatisfied. And knowing you’ll be looking at Facebook again as soon as you finish reading this.
Continuing to eat dark chocolate even though you wake up with a headache every time, and wondering why you keep waking up with headaches. (I did this this week, for several days.)
Staying in that relationship after you know that it’s over, planning swankier and cooler vacations.
Or that job, telling yourself that you’ll just work less and keep milking it for the pay check, and it’s just not that bad, but wake up every morning filled with dread.
These are all HAYWALTs.
The word HAYWALT, is a creation of mine, and a dear friend, V. It is an an acronym that comes from How Are You Walking Around Like That?
It came from a conversation we had where we were laughing at ourselves and just how much we are willing to tolerate. She was describing a time when she had terrible headaches, and they kept getting worse, but she just got used to them, accepting that this pain was just something that was, that she had to adjust to. And she did! For weeks. Because she is a strong, badass woman who could suck it up and handle anything. Until one day, it reached a breaking point, and the pain was more than she could handle, and she finally went to the doctor. The doctor took one look at her raging ear infection, and said, “HOW ARE YOU WALKING AROUND LIKE THAT?!” Within a day, she had antibiotics and steroids and was feeling a million times better. She did not have to spend weeks getting used to excruciating pain when there was a super easy fix!
When I heard this story, which, of course, is completely absurd, I started laughing hysterically, because I had, of course, done this same thing. Not only with my physical health, in my case sinus infections, but I immediately saw how I had done this millions of times in all areas of my life. We all do. We all tolerate so much crap in our lives, that, in fact, often have very straightforward and easy solutions that can improve our lives dramatically and immediately.
Here’s what a HAYWALT sounds like: “Wow, I really don’t enjoy spending time with that person that much. I should probably accept her invitation to dinner again next week.” Why do we do this? There are a million reasons. We think we can trick ourselves into forgetting about it, and paying attention to it and calling it out will cause us more pain. We fear that it cannot be fixed. We fear change, in general, of everything, and we would rather tolerate an uncomfortable situation that we know than to make a change where we don’t totally know the outcome. We think we are not supposed to bothered by “it”, whatever “it” is, and that something is wrong with us because it does. We want to be easygoing. We don’t want to make promises to ourselves we can’t keep. It’s too hard.
The Queen of all the HAYWALTs, the real culprit is the collective HAYWALT: that we think that as “mature and responsible adults”, we have to tolerate things that actively make us unhappy, uncomfortable, take us further away from ourselves, and creating the life that we fulfills us and delights us. Life is hard, and this is just part of the deal, we think. True story that being human is hard, but we do not have to make it harder for ourselves!
The best way to address the Queen HAYWALT is to challenge each individual HAYWALT, as you see it. A sort of, “think globally, act locally” approach. Start small, and the big ones will come tumbling down. Eventually, you will start stopping HAYWALTs before they even start.
Some people might call these complaints. Gaslighters (either external or in our own minds) will say, “Why can’t you just enjoy the moment?” “Why do you let that bother you?” “You should be able to deal with this. It’s just not that big of a deal”, “you’re so picky”.
I spent a long time listening to, and believing, those comments, but it’s actually the opposite. These are the things that keep you from living your life as the truest, realest, most authentic you. They are not complaints, and it’s not negative to notice them. They are HAYWALTs, they take your power and your agency away. They take up space where there could be other much more pleasant, even delightful and joyful, things. You should mine for them, scavenge for them, delight in finding them. They are everywhere. They can be people, places, things, beliefs, thought patterns, behaviors. They can be huge, or tiny. But, no matter what HAYWALTs add up.
Another welcome side effect of disciplined HAYWALT elimination, is that you will be left with so much space to fill with things that you love, and that add to your life, instead of detract from it. In a literal sense, you get rid of the eyesore HAYWALT couch, and there will be space in your apt for the couch you aspirationally pinned a few months ago (and then you will never get off of it, and we will have another HAYWALT on our hands, but let’s cross that bridge!)
HAYWALTs literally, physically, not just psychically, add up, too. A wee bit of layman’s neuroscience to add in here: every time you encounter a HAYWALT of yours, your adrenaline and cortisol and other stress/fear hormones spike. So, biochemically, while you are so busy being so easygoing and unphased by all the HAYWALTs in your life by simply not recognizing them as HAYWALTs, your stress hormones are going haywire. We can meditate all we want, but if we aren’t pairing that with honest acknowledgement of HAYWALTs and addressing them, you’re still going to be carrying around a whole lot of unnecessary stress, discomfort, and irritation.
I ask my clients at every session, “what are the HAYWALTs?” Hell, I ask myself every single damn morning to scan my life for HAYWALTs, write them down, and take action on them. (I stopped eating the dark chocolate, by the way, but only once I identified it as a HAYWALT!).
I dare you, to actively notice every HAYWALT you can find, rejoice in them, and start slaying them, unabashedly.
Bonus points for laughing at yourself in this process! Send me your best ones…