I’ve been digging into some uncomfortable feelings that often come up and trying to get to the root of why I sometimes feel so scattered, restless and urgent. I get these moments of panic, this week that feeling of panic has been rising inside me, possibly because I’ve been sick for 6 days and stuck at home unable to do much. It comes with the thought that I am still not where I want to be and starts to spiral into worrying about the future. Sounds familiar?
I’ve managed to pull myself out of a dark spiral I fell into last year and worked through a lot of anxiety that was getting pretty bad. I was literally drowning in work and the millions of projects I taken on over the last few years. Things changed so drastically and suddenly when Covid struck, it took me a while to adapt. I was desperately clinging onto whatever I could, afraid to let anything go in the midsts of such uncertainty.
I eventually admitted defeat, realised there was just too much out of my control and stepped away from a few projects that didn’t work out. I don’t consider them failures though, they were more like experiments that didn’t turn out quite how I wanted them to, as a result of circumstances beyond my control. I can’t even begin to express how liberating it’s been.
I want to share my experience with what I like to call, a raw shapeless space. For a good few months, I slowed right down and took everything off my plate to really focus in on myself, letting all my other responsibilities fade into the background. I became very familiar with this space and realised I’ve been here many times before, and although it can be a scary, uncertain place to be in, there is always something magical waiting to be discovered and maybe even created here.
So what does sitting with your feelings and discomfort really mean? How do you do it without creating even more anxiety and self doubt? I think the trick is to take the pressure off yourself completely and let go of any expectations or outcomes. Here are a few tools I used in my shapeless space :
~ Writing was my main tool, it makes me feel so much better because it allows things to come up and out without over analysing it. It helps me explore my feelings, understand them and integrate them. It’s funny how we end up airbrushing ourselves, sometimes we get so caught up that we completely loose sight of what we want or who we want to become. Writing allows you to peek into what’s brewing under the surface, things you might not even be aware of.
~ At times, I just sat and did nothing, allowing my mind to wonder and drift. Sometimes it took me to some really dark places so I tried to avoid diving too deep into those specific thoughts, practicing observing my thoughts and unsticking my mind when it became fixated on certain unhelpful thoughts. I noticed a lot of negative thought patterns, fear, doubt and judgement, but worked on accepting myself through all of it, allowing things to unravel naturally, without force or self criticism. It takes practice to learn how to be kind to ourselves it’s a never ending journey.
~ Sometimes I couldn’t pull myself out of a train of thought, my frustrations and pain would rise. So I practiced taking stock, reminding myself how far I had come, writing down all the things I was proud of in my life; my achievements, the good deeds, the people I’ve helped. Sometimes we get so lost in the rat race, so preoccupied with hitting goals and getting ahead that we forget everything we achieved previously. Zooming out and putting things into perspective really helps.
~ I wrote letters to my past self forgiving myself for mistakes I could not let go of or things I continuously beat myself up about. I also wrote letters from my future self, offering kindness, compassion and understanding, as well as some guidance and advice to my present self. This might sound like a strange one but it helped me on such a deep level.
~ I also wrote little affirmations to help me surrender and trust the process. Here is one I would like to share with you :
“I trust this journey and surrender to the flow of life. I am here for the good, the bad, the challenges and everything that comes my way. I know life is not always meant to feel amazing, I know there are lessons in every experience. I surrender, I trust you universe (or god), I trust myself, I trust things will work out, not necessarily how I expect them to or want them to. I accept the challenges and curve balls you throw at me even if I get scared sometimes and worry about things outside of my control. It’s ok that I get distracted and loose sight of the bigger picture, regardless I will keep working on myself and sharing myself. I know I have a lot of work to do still and I am here for it all. This is part of the journey, I’ll take what comes my way, whatever that might mean. I consciously choose to remain open no matter what.“
Here is a question I would like to leave you with - who do you want to be?
Sometimes this question might seem unanswerable or you have trouble thinking of even a single thing. But if you sit with it, and dig deep, I’m sure you can come up with 1 thing, 1 thing you want to be or become. Once you have that, you can start expanding on it. For me this year, my 1 thing is ‘authentic’.
All it takes are little sparks of positivity and lightness in your heart, keep working on it, day by day, one step at a time. And you will eventually grow those good feelings and thoughts.
Remember this - “What you practice grows stronger!” - Shauna Shapiro. So make sure what you are growing is serving you well and milk this little life of yours as much as you can.