Connection and disconnection
If you have read my previous couple of blogs, you will know already that I have recently been exploring how I can become more visible in my work in a way that works for me. In doing so, the seed that had already been sown by my time on Instagram is now germinating into a different connectedness to my massage work. Something that I feel I have lost sight of over the years. It has also shone a light into me, my personality and my life.
It seems timely that one of the books I am currently reading references a book that I started (probably 20 years ago) and never finished. My road took me elsewhere and now it is bringing me back. I am discovering that what I need from life is different to the frenetic world that has been created. The one which we are encouraged to fully embrace by virtue of the fact, I feel, little alternative is overtly provided. You have to seek an alternative out, assuming you know that you need to do so in the first place.
This world has, in honesty, left me feeling disconnected with myself. Don’t get me wrong, there is much of it that I love, the opportunity it creates, the things I see and do as a consequence. I am fortunate in so many ways. But inside I struggle to meet its demands at times and the sense of failure as a consequence is huge. Of course, that sense hasn’t just arrived, it was sown long ago in childhood. But the world changed as I grew and try as I might to be ok with that, it has increasingly brought an unsettled feeling.
Sense of failure?
Recently, undertaking Suzy Darke’s Gentle Visibility course led me (among many other things) to try meditation again. Through the Insight Timer app, I am discovering a whole new world. I should add that I have tried meditation and mindfulness before and ‘failed’ to get it to stick. But this time seems different.
It might just literally be that there is the time at the moment. Or the fact that you are guided gently through each one, you don’t have to do it all yourself! But whatever it is, it’s been a breath of fresh air. The last two days of my current course (with the wonderful David Gandelman) were about Fear of Failure and Fear of Success. Both really buried into my core. What is failure and success? Who decides? I know I have my version of both. As, I feel, does the world. And I don’t feel like I fit any!
I entered Brighton Marathon today. I don’t normally tell people when I’ve entered one. I answer honestly if someone asks, but it’s not something I would choose to say out loud. And I usually caveat my reply with ‘I’m not telling anyone though, just in case’. The fear of failure is a constant spectre, none more so than in my running. Sometimes so much so that I question why I continue to do it. Those childhood memories of being left until last for any team selection haven’t faded!
But there has been a shift. Small but there nonetheless. Normally just deciding to enter would involve the type of soul-searching people with different personalities may associate with making decisions of far greater magnitude. Of course, I don’t know this to be true, but it’s what I tell myself. Of course again, this only adds to that feeling of failing because I ‘can’t even make a decision’.
Today though was different. I actually believed (rather than telling myself, but not really subscribing to it) that the worse that might happen is that I don’t do it, and that’s totally fine. I might get injured, ill or decide that I simply don’t want to. So what? Who cares? It’s only me that will. And maybe by then, I will be able to be kind to myself if it doesn’t happen. A little move to the light.
Things that have helped:
If you are empathetic, decision making is trickier because you see all sides. There is no one clear route (thank you Jane Lightworker). No black or white, just the myriad in between. I like this, it really helps me settle with that part of my personality. Not that I’m suggesting that we have to ‘justify’ our personality. But maybe, like me, you find it helpful to know these things?
Seeing sensitivity as a super power. To be fair, I have long decided to stop referring to myself as ‘too sensitive’. Conscious that it suggested that sensitivity was a flaw or something that should be changed. It isn’t and can’t be. But actually feeling that it wasn’t those things was a different matter. Now I am finding ways to understand what happens to me when I ‘sense’ something. To run with it, rather try than change myself in order to limit the effect it can have on me. I can’t avoid feeling all the feelings, that’s who I am. But there are ways I can adapt the power I give them, and take care of myself in the process.
Sometimes, in fact a lot of the time I am finding, we need to make a conscious decision to find the joy. Looking for it in simple, everyday places so that it settles inside (Tamu Thomas is blazing a trail here) and helps the brain find new pathways. Suzy Darke recently said that she makes “one intention each morning and it’s .. kindness to self always”.
Setting the intention or looking for the feeling has been one of the most helpful things I have learnt. Making a conscious effort to see that which your brain is not instinctively showing you.
I recently made a note for myself that read ‘I genuinely hadn’t realised that the feelings don’t necessarily come naturally, that you may have to look for them, contact them, grow them’. I have created this myth for myself that all good feelings just come naturally. What’s wrong with me that they don’t? That increasingly I am anxious when I should be happy.
Turns out there’s nothing wrong with me. The brain just isn’t wired that way. It takes in a whole lifetime of learnt stuff. It’s its way of protecting you from the bad. To notice it, ever vigilant for the wolf that’s about to eat you, so that you keep yourself safe. The consequence of that can be a gradual moving within ourselves, trying to keep everything shut out in order to survive. But there sometimes comes a point where that stifles you if it becomes all you know. This is the journey I am starting.
My way may not be your way, and vice versa
I tell you all this because, along with the rigours of the menopause, I feel it’s time to start talking about ‘these things’. About us all finding the path in life that is right for us. I feel this has never been more important.
Yesterday, I started reading Wintering by Katherine May. I have inhaled the first 80 pages. I found myself nodding, breathing, opening my chest and feeling like I could jump for joy at what Katherine is putting out there. Of course, I haven’t finished it yet, but in the pages I have read she is already alluding to an alternative version of the world. A (possibly, I may be wrong of course) return to living with the seasons, a connection with the ebb and flow that nature gives us. I am sold.
It’s like remembering the days when the shops were closed on Sunday’s. My friends have long heard me rattle that out as something that I feel is contributing to the hit that people’s emotional well-being is taking. That we don’t have imposed pauses in our lives anymore. No natural lulls.
Consequently we either don’t know how to or perceive it a luxury rather than necessity to put them in. Or we don’t feel we have a choice, maybe it’s more that. I am not suggesting that everyone would want to live life in the way I might. But having a choice, without feeling like you are failing if you choose an alternative to that being offered up, is important.
That’s it. No answers, just seeds maybe. Maybe not. It will definitely depend on where you are at.
I realise that I have digressed completely from how this started. I’d intended it to be about connection rather than exploring personality. But I guess in order to grow we need to feel connected to something. That connection, alignment, ease, whatever you decide it is for you is yours to explore. No-one can tell you what’s right for you.