How do you set goals, when you’re not sure what you really want – and maybe not even sure who you really are anymore?
How are you supposed to figure out where you want to be in a year, when it’s a chore to even figure out what to cook for dinner?
Sometimes it seems so hard. Days drag, but years fly. And here we are. So you try to plan a little – “ok, this weekend, I will sit down and write my goals.” And you try. And that blank piece of paper stares back. Time passes. Now it’s time to clean the house, time to do the laundry, time to take kids to soccer practice. I don’t have time. Not now. Knot. Now.
And so it goes.
How do you get clear on what you really want when you don’t take the time to ask yourself meaningful questions and – more importantly – listen to the answers? Because life is answering, but we’re not necessarily listening.
Try this. It takes 3 minutes. If you have a pet, look at her (or him). If you have more than one pet, look at the one closest to you. Or look at a baby, or a bird. Anything you love (that’s alive – except an adult person). And, without saying or doing anything, show them how much you love them. Send your love to whatever you chose. Send it with your eyes – send it with your heart. Now, with the same eyes, hold up a mirror. And send that love to yourself.
Go easy on yourself. It’s ok not to know right now. But, it’s not ok to ignore that small whisper inside of you that’s asking you to listen.
Imagine I’ve given you a gift. It’s wrapped in a beautiful green box with a large yellow ribbon around it. It’s special, you can feel it. You untie the ribbon, lift the lid, and look inside. What do you see?
Is it that new sweater you’ve always wanted? A new book? A kindle? Could it be keys to a new car that’s parked outside? Look more closely. Go on, you can even reach inside.
That’s odd, you may think. “I don’t feel anything.” Bewildered, you turn the box upside down. Nothing. There is nothing in the box. Oh, you might get upset at first – “what is this, some kind of joke?!?”
But look again. I’ve given you no-thing. I’ve given you space. Space that you can either dismiss or see as the greatest gift that can be given. Then, rather than putting on that new sweater, or holding a new book, you can invite this gift of space inside – inside our head that is over-crowded with thoughts. Try it now. Inhale. Invite the gift of space inside. Pause. Exhale. Release all that you no longer need to hold. Try it again.
The gift of space is more valuable, more precious, and, in our culture, more rare than any thing in this world. It’s yours now.
We go to school. Earn the certifications. Fill our heads and our notebooks with inspirational quotes and “you can do it” bravado. Then, the first day on the job, we forget it all.
The quotes disappear, the 5-step process doesn’t apply to this situation. We stumble along and realize, that even though we knew the material intellectually, and could spout the facts to any stranger we pass, we don’t know how to LIVE the process. And we think, if I just read this next book, I’ll find my answers. If I just take this course, I’ll know what to do.
Many of us our comfortable here. Committed to a life of learning, of compiling information and even sharing it with others when given the chance. We can analyze the path we are taking, but so few of us are comfortable actually walking it.
What if we could see inside our head – and we could see thoughts as things. The thoughts we think at any given moment – tangible.
What if you could open your head and see those thoughts. Here’s what my thoughts in my head might look like.
Not a pretty site. Is that a desk or a chair leg in there? I can’t tell. Should I take this job or that job? I have no idea. There is no room for anything else – there is no space. My rice bowl is full (to paraphrase the Zen saying). What needs to happen?
I need to invite space in. Space between my thoughts so I can see more clearly. If I can create space, I can see the chair, for example. I can see that it’s a chair with only 3 legs and is made of oak. And I can decide that I don’t want to sit there. Or I can more clearly see that job “A” has great qualities, but I value “x and y”, I don’t want job “A”.
Space between our thoughts not only allows us to see things (thoughts) more clearly, but it allows room for something else to come thru. A softer answer – more like a whisper.
It’s weird isn’t it. How many self-help books there are. How many free e-books there are. How many experts there are. All telling us we can do it. We can be successful, we can have it all. But what if we can’t. What if we have to be where we are – for now. Can we accept that? What’s the alternative?
We can be where we are, accept it, and work from a source deep within us to grow. Or we can react against whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. We can scream, and swear, and fight all night. Or we can curl in a ball and let the world go by. It’s ok. No matter what you choose. It’s ok. Maybe we’re supposed to give up – give up trying so damn hard. Give up the struggle. And for once, step outside at midnight and let the stars guide us.
We all know how important breathing is. Everyone tells us to “take a deep breath” when we’re feeling stressed, and, if we listen, we feel better. Deep breaths help us get into deeper yoga postures. Deep breaths give us a moment to think rather than react. Classes are designed to help us breathe better – to focus on our breathing. I even include breathing techniques in courses I teach.
But, last week, I, sadly, was with my childhood friend as her mom took her last breath. I didn’t know how important breathing is.
So, rather than write a post now, I’d like to take a moment and breathe. Invite space in. Invite no-thing in. And just be with that space. Just breathe.
This post is dedicated to Mrs. Reyna Cheslick.
We are more than just the thoughts in our head But how much more? What else is there besides everything floating around in our head on any given day? Let’s see…. try to draw a picture of the thoughts in your head. Go on, grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Draw a circle. And inside that circle, draw an image of the contents in your mind.
Remember this image. We will come back to it.
Is it Fear? Love? Anxiety? Anger? Optimism? Choose one. Describe that emotion. Go ahead and grab a pen and paper.
If that emotion were a person what kind of person would it be? What is it wearing? Describe the environment – what does the air feel like? What do you smell? How do you feel?
If you want to change the way this emotion is affecting your life. Talk with it. Personalize it and have a conversation with it. Why not? This might just work, and you have nothing to lose.
If you want to hang a picture, you know the tools you need. But if you want to pursue your childhood dream, or find peace in your heart, or have confidence in your own voice, where do you begin? What do you need?
Overall, I want to understand the psychological barriers at play, because they stand in the way of solving problems that must be solved. –Dan Ariely writing in US Airways magazine about our “Irrational Fear of the Unnatural”.
A $300 dollar house is not charity – it’s a challenge. The poor should not be viewed as beneficiaries, but as principal participants. Let’s put them at the center and create ecosystems – from US Airwairways magazine.
Changing the view of the poor – making them contributors – participants. Not passive recipients.