I find that as I get older, it gets easier and easier to stay in the flow. I used to constantly compare myself to others, and often found myself wanting. Everyone else had more friends, more money, a more beautiful home, or whatever. I didn’t want to be gossiped about, but I didn’t want to be ignored, either. These days I mostly don’t care about that stuff any more.
I have lots of creative interests and plenty to do, so I don’t really have time to worry about what other people have that I don’t, or what they might be saying about me (or if they don’t even notice that I exist). I’ve got my own very full and enjoyable life. I know that I’m loved, by others as well as myself.
Still, there are days when the doubts start to creep in. I wonder why some parts of life are still so challenging to me, why my beloved writing career isn’t taking off faster, whether I’m doing all I can to make the world a better place. I wonder why so-and-so doesn’t get in touch, or if I’m being too much of a hermit and should make an effort to get out more. I worry that I spend too much time socializing and not enough time writing. Ack!
What I’ve found that really helps when these fears kick in is to focus on observation. When you can mentally step back and look at the feelings and thoughts that are pulsing through you, you almost immediately gain a bigger perspective.
Yesterday I was driving to pick up my son at lacrosse and I was worried about my book sales, making enough money to travel this summer, and even about that load of laundry in the basement that’s been sitting there for months. You know the one, a laundry basket off to the side full of extra blankets, jackets you haven’t worn for a while, old sheets, basically stuff that doesn’t get used regularly so that it just sits there in its own pile while the regular clothes and linens cycle through. Because (my mind complained) no one else has loose ends like that just hanging around. Their clutter is all washed and put away in storage bins or given away to Goodwill, already. Yeah, right.
So I took a moment to tap into my observer self. What was really the issue here? I breathed slowly and let my intuition have the floor.
A couple things came up. First, I hadn’t been getting as much writing time lately, and that left me feeling a bit “off.” Also, while I’d enjoyed a weekend full of fun, yoga, and lots of walking, I’d also had a little bit of alcohol and a bunch of sugar. Those things can affect my emotions even a few days later.
Realizing what was going on, I immediately felt better. And I knew what to do: take a break from the sweets and devote more time to writing. Easy.
Often our fears and doubts aren’t what they seem on the surface. We might not have had enough sleep, or we’re missing someone who’s no longer in our life, or an old pattern reared its head. Rather than getting attached to these feelings, let them flow through you, acknowledge them, and then make space for your observer self to have her say. It will most certainly help.