Looking for an anchor point in a sea of change

Today I’d planned to review and publish a blog post I’ve written previously, which explains what Transformational Coaching is.  I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for that one.

Instead, I’ve decided to share something I’m dealing with because it’s to do with a feeling, and we all have feelings, so maybe this will speak to you.

I have a sense of feeling down today, feeling low, my eyes are downcast, my energy is low.  In the back of my head is a list of things I’d planned to do today, but I don’t have any enthusiasm, it all seems like a huge effort.

Those of you who know me may be surprised to think of me like this.  I am, and always have been, positive, cheerful, getting on with whatever needs to be done, and pretty relaxed about most stuff.  But today this is not how I’m feeling inside.

Rather than pushing it away,  I’m sitting with it.  I’ve chosen not to try and ignore it and push through with the idea that being productive will cheer me up.  I’ve chosen not to try and distract myself because I know this is only temporary.  Instead, I’ve got curious about it.  Where has it come from?  What’s it about? What’s the feeling or thought behind this lowness?  I figure that if I understand it better it will teach me something I need to know.

So I’ve sat with it.  I’ve run through a list of possible causes

  • Maybe it’s because I had a long day yesterday and am feeling drained.
  • Maybe it’s because my husband was away on business last night and I missed him.
  • Maybe it’s because I’m worried about my Mum.
  • Maybe it’s because there’s so much to do.
  • Maybe it’s because I didn’t get up at 5am and exercise as I have been doing, so missed my endorphin hit.

Maybe it’s all of that combined, or maybe it’s not. 

Lost connections

As I sat, I remembered a book I read a while ago called  “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari, in which he explains how depression is more often caused by a sense of disconnection to something important, rather than a chemical imbalance in the brain.  I know I’m not suffering from depression, I’ve had occasional low days before and they always pass as quickly as they arrive, like a cloud passing over the sun.  But I wondered if there was a sense of disconnection causing my lowness today.  So I grabbed the book and read through the nine causes of depression. 

What I realised is that today I’m feeling disconnected from the sense of a hopeful or secure future, plus feeling a little disconnected from a sense of status and respect.  In this moment, feeling as I do today, I cannot see further than the end of the day, I’m also struggling to find comfort in remembering the strengths I’ve developed or how far I’ve come.  I am aware that normally I can look forward, have plans and ideas I’m mulling over, there is hope, and I honestly do believe (99.9% of the time) things will work out.  But not today. 

Being a solopreneur, I think, brings this out in me.  Going from a guaranteed monthly paycheque to having to create an income from scratch is a pretty unsettling place to be.  Being employed gives the feeling of having a secure future unless something major happens.  Being employed also means someone has hired you because of your skills and expertise.  You have the security of knowing someone chose you and believed in you from the beginning, following your interview for the job.  At the beginning of a new business, you are constantly having to go through that “interview” stage with new clients.

The trouble with being empathic

Also, as an empathic individual, I often pick up and unwittingly absorb the emotions of those closest to me.  At the moment there is a lot of uncertainty for a number of people around me, each for their own reasons.  Because I am a good listener I listen to them explain their concerns and annoyances, and along the way absorb elements of them.  When I am working I am able to manage this well, but in my day to day life not so much.

The Eight Worldly Winds

Then I thought about something I was listening to yesterday which talked of the Eight Worldly Winds in Buddhism, which are:

Pleasure & Pain

Gain & Loss

Praise & Blame

Fame & Disrepute

You don’t get one without the other, although we desperately hope to hold onto pleasure, gain, praise and fame, and try to avoid all pain, loss, blame and disrepute.

They are called winds because they can change direction at any point.  This emphasises the impermanence of life. We get swept away one way or another. We forget ourselves and get carried away with pleasure, gain, praise or fame. Equally, we get swept away thinking our pain, loss, blame or disrepute will never end. They will, they always do.

So what have I lost as a result of all I have gained since leaving my corporate life?

I’ve lost a degree of stability, and this I realise is creating a challenge for one of my core values, independence.  By walking away from a monthly salary, I need my external world to be stable so I have something to secure my independence to.  Yet I have no influence on that.  All I can do is choose how I deal with the vicissitudes of life.

I know I am looking for an anchor point in a sea of change.

Finally, I remember it is the summer solstice and that this frequently brings a sense of melancholy to me. A reminder I am in the middle of my life and the days will be getting shorter.

I understand better now where this feeling is coming from, the wisdom it is trying to share with me.  I comprehend my internal world a little more and the interactions between it and my external world.

As a result, I feel more at peace, yet I know this feeling remains. I also know it will pass. When we try to ignore or bury feelings we don’t want to feel, they more often than not harden up and become a weight we end up carrying around with us for days, months or even years. It is only by accepting you are feeling a feeling and seeking to understand it, that it can soften and transform.

People don’t repeat themselves if they feel heard

Think about what happens when you think someone is ignoring you, often it leads to you repeating yourself to them louder and louder until you make them stop and listen. By that point, they aren’t open to understanding you, so you never get that sense of release, of being understood. It’s the same with feelings. They are trying to make you listen to your interior world and understand its needs.

Next time you find yourself denying you’re sad, or angry, or hurt, or frightened try turning towards it, seek to understand where it’s coming from and allow it to speak to you in words only you can understand.

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