I’m pretty sure that most of the things we think would be great for us — you know, more rest, good food, exercise, beauty, stillness and less anxiety, rushing, sadness — would actually be pretty great! And the advice on what would help us get these things is also good: cut out things that you do to please others or that drain your vitality, and fill the resulting space with things that make you wriggle in delight.
Good advice, isn’t it? So what’s standing between us and…well, taking it? I can think of a lot of things, but many of them come down to avoidance.
What are we avoiding? I’m not going to venture to guess what’s true for you, but for me, there are two main flavors.
Flavor #1 boils down to being afraid that I’m basically bad, and that some pattern or feeling or behavior that I don’t want to look at is definitely going to provide the final damning evidence on this point.
Flavor #2 is about being afraid that even if I’m not bad, other people will think I am, especially if I am too happy or my life is too good.
Oh, tribbles. You are so fuzzy and troublesome! But also: so legitimate. Fears are legitimate. And we get through them not by hunching our shoulders and body-checking them, but by recognizing and naming and reassuring.
The only tricky bit is that we can’t really do that if we’re covering our eyes and singing la-la-la at the top of our lungs! The only way out of this, I’m afraid, is through, however slowly and gently and lovingly we need to go.
My way of moving slowly is baby steps. Tiny little experiments! Rules for baby steps:
1. You can quit any time. If you aren’t sure this is true, I highly recommend quitting on your first couple of experiments just to prove you can.
2. The goal is not solving anything. The goal is to learn.
3. It only counts if you stay curious. What is this like? How do I feel? What is really happening here? When I get into judging, I take a breath. If I can’t get out, I refer to rule #1.
My baby steps this week include scheduling writing dates and taking 20 deep breaths at bed time. What are yours?