When we have arrived at the question, the answer is already near. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
But what if you don’t know what the question is, Dear One? What to do if you feel like you’re living in a fog, uncertain of your next step? What to do if you’re stuck in a rut, your moxie has left you and you don’t know how to get it back?
What’s the difference between being frozen in murky autopilot and your inner self taking a soulful pause to get you ready for the next stage of your life? I don’t know! But I believe there are a lot of reasons for living firmly in our comfort zone (Netflix & popcorn for dinner??). Maybe we’re feeling vulnerable – when we’re on shaky ground we stick firmly to routine, right? Could be due to laziness or the tricky old ‘I’m-30/40/50/60-years-old-so-I-deserve-to-sit-on-the-couch-and-eat-ice cream’ routine. All of these reasons can be coping mechanisms that allow us to feel safe. I know because I’ve used them. But if you are looking to live your very best life, as I know you are, there comes a time when you must be brave and search out the questions so the answers will appear. What now? What is truly important to me? Where are my boundaries? Who am I, really?
A soulful pause is a chance for growth and healing but it doesn’t feel like it. It has not, even once, been m y experience that I cheerfully recognize maturation when it’s occurring. It may look like this: ‘what an asshole OR I feel guilty laughing for even one second when she is fighting for her life OR I have a constant knot in my gut and feel empty’ OR some equally difficult experience. Huge, messy, life-encompassing stuff we want to turn away from because it’s so hard to wrestle with. Those experiences require attention to heal. But there are also the mind numbing day-to-day things that living seems to require. They are SO routine you can do them your sleep, yet at the same time you’re yearning for challenge and growth? You want to bust out but have no idea how or to where…what do you do then?
Cliché alert – there is no map to chart the course of life, only learning. Hard. True. Here are some things I’ve found helpful when I need to find my way (which is always). They rarely seem to FEEL important at the time, it’s only in retrospect I can tell what a difference it made.
- Stay the course
Remain intentionally on track with the thing you are committed to, no matter how lousy you feel. When we are in pain or numb it can be very easy to fall back to our bad habits. Stay the course with that one important thing. Fitness, work, getting up early, art, making your bed in the morning, whatever… for me it’s to not drink alcohol. I’m a wine lover who has made a solid charge not to drink and I’m sticking to it.
- Remain curious
Being curious isn’t about chasing the next whim, rather it’s about surrounding yourself with whatever calls you in the slightest way because that’s what is going to seep into your unconscious mind and may lead you. If you find something interesting find out more about that thing. If absolutely nothing is compelling, because the fog you’re in is too thick, that’s OKAY Sweetie, it won’t last. You need a rest and you must move your body to shake out the cobwebs. Start taking yourself for a walk every single day and you’ll start to get curious. Yes, you will! Movement works miracles.
I listened to, and read, material that continued to help me grow and stay grounded (even though it didn’t feel like it was doing anything at the time). This was huge because the info was affecting me more than I realized, which eventually helped me to shift. Two game changers for me were Michael Singer’s course Living from a Place of Surrender & Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong.
- Make a change
This is a BIG deal. When you’re feeling stuck & unable to see the next step one of the best things to do is change something in your routine, REALLY change it. Even a small act will help you shift out of autopilot because you actually alter the neuro pathways in your brain. Play with it and see what happens, even a small change like where you park will help.
For many years I’ve had a specific fitness routine I loved. Recently, I began to notice a lack of commitment on my part, I just didn’t seem to be making it work (this was my problem, not the fault of my trainer or the program). Changing my familiar work out re-ignited my motivation and helped me move out of autopilot, not only in my fitness but in other areas of my life. Sometimes you need to do the same thing in a different way & at times you need to try something totally new – both will have a big effect on bumping your life to the next level and helping you feel alive.
- Accept what is
Feeling pissed off right now? That’s OK. Feeling sad for no reason? Also OK. Not able to feel much of anything? It will pass. There is a fine tension between pushing for life to be different and accepting how it is. You need to do both, sometimes at the same time. Aren’t I helpful, sheesh!! How do you pull this off?
Be aware of what’s going on for you, allow yourself to be in that place and trust that there are better things coming: awareness, allowing, trust. Most importantly keep showing up for yourself in the little ways until the bigger stuff starts to unfold.
Ask yourself the questions and don’t fret if there aren’t any. If you continue to show up intentionally they will come and the answers are on their heels. You are awesome and you’ve got this!