With the ebb and flow of life comes periods of time where we are in deep conflict; when two long roads are in front of us and we are desperate to figure out which one we should choose. It is natural to turn to our closest friends and family – always the ones who will judge us least and who usually offer sound advice. I have been at such a place many times in my life and I expect to be there many, many more times ahead.
Over the past ten years, I believe I have figured out a pretty solid plan when stuck and seeking answers. Today I wanted to share some of the strategies I implement when facing the “abyss”.
The first thing I’ll usually do is get out of my own way as much as possible. When the first signs of stirring come up inside me – the days where I don’t feel like myself, the times when I feel tired in the middle of the day (I’ve grown very familiar with the signs that tell me it’s time to grow, once again) – I pay attention and try to just go through the motions. At this point, the precise reason why I’m feeling off has not presented itself yet – but I know it’s coming right around the bend. Whatever is bothering us will show up in full color and life-sized at some point during this time of waiting.
Beyond waiting, I flip a switch and become ultra-aware and I listen even more carefully to every single conversation – I am looking for my “messenger”. This is often my favorite part of growth. These messengers, these people that pop in and out of my life just to give me a message, have been responsible for some of the most profound growth-changes I’ve experienced. Some pop in and out, some stay a while. But as soon as that person comes in, I immediately identify that person as the gateway to get to my answer of what is really bothering me and what I need to pay attention to in my life.
Most recently, I had a messenger pop in and the purpose was to share a book. The person says it’s a book they’ve read many times – it’s a book I read ages ago. A spark has been created inside me. I wonder if this is “it”. I keep listening because the messenger could point me to a book, a song, an activity – an experience. Inside that experience is my answer. I try to implement everything this messenger talks about that resonates with me while keeping my eyes open for more clues.
In this particular instance, I read the book. I’m excited and curious to see what will unfold for me. Without a doubt, I read or immerse myself in the experience. Without fail, the answer comes. We all know when we are “off”. And the answer is ALWAYS within. Sometimes our mind is cloudy and we can’t pinpoint what is really shifting. This is where a messenger always helps – it gives me full clarity. I get my answer, then, oh then, we start the process of growth.
We usually enter into a cloud of depression and confusion as we search for what to do. Do we stay in the job or leave? Do we talk to our significant other about how we are feeling, or keep pushing it in? Do we stop talking to that best friend or try to heal the wounds that caused separation?
This is when we seek advice. This part is CRUTIAL. We are at our most vulnerable and everyone has an opinion. We get a moment of clarity, then convince ourselves we were wrong, then get more confused than before. Rinse, repeat.
During this time, I listen to people’s advice but take it inside to determine which parts make sense and which parts are not useful to me. I do not take it all in. I know I have to determine what is right for my journey and what isn’t. I’d guess that when I seek the advice of all people, I truly hold onto maybe 30%. The rest I am deeply grateful for, but I have to sort through the advice for the “nuggets” that will get me through this time as quickly but efficiently as possible. We all know issues can last years or a lifetime. I know I am here to get to work and grow, so I need precision when faced with my obstacles.
Once I have talked my circumstance to death, it’s time to pick a path and start heading down it. When beginning a new journey some parts will speed up and some will slow waaay down. Pay attention to you during this time. Sleep if you’re tired, cry if you’re sad and laugh if you’re happy. Take care of you.
Then, day by day you’ll realize it wasn’t quite as hard as you initially imagined. You survived. You grew. You’re no longer that insecure or confused soul – maybe at times, but not nearly as often. It always gets better – that’s the pendulum of life.
If you are going through a challenge in life, take your time. You’ll know in your gut when it’s time to take action. Take care of you during the process of seeking and analyzing. Do what you think is right for YOU and make positive decisions to better your future. Easier said than done, I know. But I know you have the strength to do anything you put your mind to – it’s one of the most beautiful qualities we were all born with.