Christ alive, you humans are wonderful! I received so many beautiful emails in response to my last blog post, it was a great reminder for me of one thing I am sure of – that I loooove writing this blog and connecting with you lot out there on the other side of my keyboard.
So often I get inundated with “OMG, me too, it’s like you’re reading my mind” messages, as well as pearls of wisdom, advice, and warm wishes from you guys. It’s so validating, life affirming and encouraging.
I wish you could all see the evidence of how universal our struggles are.
It’s one of my missions with this blog – to make others (including me!) feel a touch less mad, a dash more human, and hopefully a heap more likely to be honest about our struggles.
I wrote my last post (What to do when you can’t figure out what to do) before Christmas, and my fab team posted it for me in January while I was on an extended holiday. In the post I admitted that I was feeling lost about what to do next in terms of where I live, since my partner Bloody Good Bloke is now locationally bound to Melbourne by epic his job + PhD, whereas I want to live where I’m currently living, in the Northern Rivers of NSW.
What I didn’t share was that I’m also lost and confused because of a lack of clarity in two other rhinormous* areas of my life: 1. Do I want kids?? and 2. What’s next for Project Self?!
*Rhinos are cooler than Ginos.
Issue 1: I’m 34 and I have no burning desire for kids (more like the opposite – burning fear and stress at the idea)… yet, as everyone reminds me, “It’s the best (and worst) thing you’ll ever do” and “What about when you’re 80 and lonely with no kids or grandkids?” and “It’s the greatest love you’ll ever experience” and alllll the other well meaning things people pile on you if you mention that you’re not that keen to have your life dismantled by tiny drunk humans.
92% of my friends now have young kids, and good lord, from the mass surveys I’ve conducted, the first few years really does sound like
sleep deprived, freedom-free, never-ending hell to me!
(Apparently interspersed with moments of intense love and joy… unfortunately I can relate far more easily to the struggles, not so much to the all encompassing love of your child!)
More on the child issue another day, perhaps.
Issue 2. What’s next for Project Self? I’ve been running this bloody awesome business for 8 years now, wow! I’ve been running online group mindfulness programs, sending blogs out to tens of thousands of legends, running in-person workshops on confidence and self doubt across the UK, Aus and NZ, coaching 1:1 clients all over the world via Zoom, and running hundreds of corporate workshops around ‘Straya.
I’ve loved every minute of it. Except the minutes where I wanted to crawl into a duvet cave and hide from the hefty responsibility of running a business and managing my team.
I still love what I do, and I’ll keep doing it in some capacity, but I need a new challenge.
It’s time for change, time to spice things up — I just don’t know what that spice looks like yet.
So, Neville (my mind) has been rather busy stressing about these three major questions, going over and over them on his whiteboard, crossing things out, writing the same thing again, crossing it out again. Mostly, he’s been coming up with a load of drama and no particularly useful answers at all.
In my 1:1 coaching I work predominantly with people who are feeling stuck and indecisive about one or more big areas of their life (often related to career, relationships, where to live.)
In all my thousands of hours of coaching, one thing is always certain. Overthinking does not produce any helpful answers. No matter how hard the mind tries. If overthinking was the solution, my clients (and I) would be the Queens and Kings of having all the answers.
But no. Big decisions always need to be made by your gut instinct, your internal compass.
But it’s hard to hear that internal badger when the mind is in overdrive.
Hence, learning to tame your mind so you can tune into the intelligence beneath the chatter.
Despite knowing all this, however, I had still gotten stuck in overthinking for the last few months of 2021, alongside feeling unwell. I knew the overthinking was futile, but the thoughts felt too sticky for me to let them go. I kept trying to focus on the present, but Neville kept whisking me away within a millisecond, then holding me in his lair with a paper bag over my head. Staying in the present moment felt almost impossible.
Some thoughts are really bloody sticky compared to others.
Thoughts like…. “What should I have for lunch?”, “WTF, Mum jeans look terrible on almost everyone, why is the 90s back in style again?!!”, “Damn my face looks red today” — not so sticky.
Meanwhile, “Do I want kids?”, “What do I do when my partner and I want to live in different states?” and “What should I do next in my business?” — Sticky AF.
In particular, it seems that the mind grows obsessive when it encounters QUESTIONS. Especially big questions that can’t be figured out with pros and cons, nor rationality.
Unanswered questions create anxiety. Then the mind tries to get rid of the anxiety by trying like buggery to think of an answer to something it cannot answer. Which of course creates more anxiety and stress, and so the downward spiral goes.
Something I recently heard a coach say really slapped me upside the ear drums:
We have around 30 trillion (30,000,000,000,000!) cells in our body. They’re all interacting with each other all the time, keeping things in order, keeping us alive.
We have NO idea what any of those cells are doing ANY of the time. Personally I have trouble doing more than one thing at once, yet our body is doing trillions of things every second. There is an intelligence beyond our conscious awareness that is doing all that for us, all the time.
So what makes us think that the voice in our head, our mind (Neville) — just one of the many networks in our brain — needs to/ is able to have the answers to everything?
I realised, for the 12 millionth time in my life,
I needed to let go of needing to know the answer.
And so, finally, I’ve relaxed into an acceptance that it’s not yet time to know the answers to these questions.
And even if it was time — thinking about it would still not be the answer!
I know that the best answers pop into my awareness when I’m in a state of presence and acceptance, NOT from a state of stress.
Since the start of this year, I’ve embraced living in the unknown, allowing life to play out as it does. I’m not putting pressure on myself to work any of it out, and as a result Neville has eased up on being in control.
And by jove I feel a whole lot lighter, more joyful, and would you believe it, clearer!
I don’t have a concrete answer to the three questions yet, but I feel moments of clarity popping in and out of my awareness, enticing me with ideas and visions of what the future could look like.
I’m not attached to any of them, just allowing them to come and go while I enjoy actually being IN the life I’m currently living.
I feel more present and more alive than I have in yonks.
As one of my wisest friends told me —
“When it’s time to know, you’ll know.”