Over the past few weeks, I have been in a state of feeling unsettled and restless. I hear questions bubbling up within me, and I am tempted to throw up my hands and sigh loudly, ‘Is there no direction for me?’
The questions tumble around in my head like the socks and towels in the dryer. They buzz annoyingly like a fly trapped between the screen and the window in my living room. They have no rhyme or reason, just a jumble of unanswered and seemingly unrelated wonderings.
What is happening to my body? Where does the tension come from? Why is my digestive system so unsettled? Who is that woman I see in the mirror? Why is she frowning? What is causing her slumped posture?
What is the matter with my sleep? Why do I have such vivid and disturbing dreams? Why do I wake up feeling more tired than when I went to bed?
Why can’t I think of a topic for a blog post? How do I know anyone even reads my blog posts? What is my reason for writing? Why does my writing feel like a duty these days? What happened to my creativity?
What will happen with my book sales? What if I do not make any money? Why did I have to release a book just before COVID-19 showed up in the world? Why does it seem as if I am a failure as an author?
What will happen now that the restrictions are lifting for physical distancing? What will it look like for me to be actively engaged with others in close proximity? Why do I hesitate about being with a group when I have been feeling lonely and isolated? Why can’t I figure out what I want?
As I look over my list, I see that the recurring question underlying my jumble of thoughts is:
What is wrong with me?
Wow! No wonder I am feeling unsettled and unhappy. I know that my thoughts have an impact on my emotions and my body. I have been focusing on questions that cause me unrest and fear.
What do I do now? I am ready to shift my energy towards a life-giving focus. But how? Is there a plan I could follow? Something I can do to feel better? It seemed like I still had more questions than answers!
What happened next was an example of how I am led and cared for. Even without me planning or striving for it to happen. I am intrigued when synchronicity shows up in my life.
In the midst of my confusion, I was scrolling through my social media feed. I ‘just happened’ to see a post by Bronwen Sciortino, author, mentor, and dear friend. She posted this thoughtful query:
Do I need to change my questions or the way I answer the ones I have?
The words jumped out at me and I knew there was something here for me to explore. I wrote the words in my journal, and they rumbled around in my soul as I went about my day. I started to feel a renewed sense of curiosity and willingness to try a different approach to my way of being. A new question came up for me.
What might happen if I looked at my questions from a different perspective?
I decided to experiment with this approach, knowing that I had nothing to lose and maybe something to gain in how I experienced my life.
Question number 1: What is wrong with my body?
Instead of comparing myself unfavourably with others and labelling myself as lazy when I feel exhausted, I ask myself this question:
What would it look like if I would accept myself just as I am? No judgment, no shaming, no pushing myself. What would be different if I listened to the messages my body was giving me?
I pay attention to my physical needs for nurturing food, regular walks in nature and times of rest. I recognize the stress that is happening for me with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, and I offer compassion to myself. I plan a walk and a picnic with my husband. I find an entertaining Netflix series, and start reading a mystery novel just for fun. I bake bread and find satisfaction in the tantalizing aroma and the delicious taste. I let go of improving myself, embarking on a rigorous exercise program or starting a new hobby. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for these things down the road. Now is not the time.
Question number 2: What is wrong with my sleep?
Rather than looking at my sleep as a problem, here is what I ask instead: What messages might my dreams have for me? Could it be that I do not need as much sleep as I think I do?
I share my dreams with a friend and am reminded that my unconscious has messages for me that my conscious mind is unaware of. I am inspired to write down my dreams and do some research on what they might symbolize. Instead of tossing and turning, I get up at night, have a cup of tea and sit quietly with a book of poetry or spiritual reflections. My schedule allows for a nap the next day if I need it, and I feel more rested when I am not fighting my sleep rhythms.
Question number 3: Why can’t I think of a topic for a blog post?
I realize that the bigger question for me is: Am I creating from a place of lightness and pleasure?
When I was writing my book last summer, I wrote when I felt energized. The words flowed and I had fun. Could I trust that this was also true for me now? I remember the times when I am inspired by my own writing, and I know that it is worthwhile to wait until I feel ready to write. I refuse to force myself to write from a place of duty and obligation.
Question number 4: What about my book sales? Why does it seem as if I am a failure as an author?
I have not been able to book speaking engagements to promote my book or have author signings at bookstores. How will people ever hear about my book? Why am I not successful?
I feel into these questions and here is what comes to my mind. The deeper question is:
What does success look like?
This question stops me in my tracks. I am not sure what to think. Success according to whom? Measured by what standards? Is it how much money I make? How many ‘likes’ I receive on social media?
Here is what I have come up with for my definition of Success. It may be different from yours. That is okay. Each person is able to listen to their inner wisdom and find a way of living into their own measure of success.
- Success is present when I am contented and excited about using my gifts of creativity. This could be publishing a guest blog post or being a guest on a podcast.
- Success happens when I trust that this is a time for me to plant seeds for the future of my book. I am reminded that I may not see what is happening underground. I think of the seeds in my flower garden that are germinating and getting ready to break through the soil at the perfect time. I am encouraged to be patient and sit in the uncertainty of my books’ future.
- Success includes a time to stop and acknowledge the work I have done. My tendency is to complete one project and then rush on to the next one without taking a break. It is when I stop and celebrate that I open up to receive affirmation from others (and myself). As I do this, I create space for future abundance and creativity.
Question number 5: What will happen now that the restrictions are being lifted for physical distancing?
I fall into a pattern of worry and fear as I think about getting together with larger groups of people. What keeps me from wanting to be out and about? What is wrong with me? I am lonely and at the same time I hesitate to be actively engaged with others.
Here is a reframe of my questions: What is my inner wisdom telling me? Am I able to let go of what others are doing, and trust my intuition?
This is an opportunity for me to slow down, breathe deeply and choose actions based on what is best for me. In the same way that I want to be kind to others and let go of my judgments of their actions, I remind myself to be gentle with myself. I surrender to the unknown and accept the fact that all I have is this moment. I do not have to know what will happen next week, or next month and I have inner wisdom that will guide me step by step.
Questions can be exciting as they offer a doorway to new experiences and adventures in life. Learning to live with uncertainty and not clinging to specific answers has opened up a sense of freedom for me. I am realizing that there are many ways to ask a question and many possible answers as well.
Have fun exploring your experience as you live into the questions!
I invite you to take a look at my book, ‘Saying Yes to Life: Embracing the Magic and Messiness of the Journey’. I explore the challenges of life and share how I learned to access the wisdom that was deep within me.