What To Do When You’re Thwarted

25 Jun

A couple of nights ago, newly returned from an inspiring visit to Bali, the supermoon rose and bathed the sky with light.

Supermoon!

Full moons always feel like a special time to me, more than the new moon. They seem powerful, life and energy giving. An opportunity to pick yourself up and try again.

To reinvent. To renew. To recreate. Renovate! Innovate!

Yet here I sit, only a couple of days later, feeling utterly thwarted.

All great changes...

I’ll admit, I naturally grate against those conversations where people encourage to “go with the flow.”
These past few years of my life have been a practice in learning to be more flexible, to let things lie, to be calm about what I cannot change.

When things aren’t moulding into the shape I want, I used to go out with my sledgehammer and MAKE them into what I wanted. With brute force or sheer force of will, I would doggedly attain a goal. It made me stressed and rather unhappy.

Nor does my current lifestyle seem to serve me. The nebulous plans, constantly shifting and changing, being without a base – it’s hard to grow anything without roots.

 I’m straddling the divide of two lifestyles: one where I wake up in the morning and don’t need to be anywhere doing anything in particular and one where there are expectations and deadlines and juicy projects.

This year was going to be about putting down more roots. Putting my head down and working in a more intentional way. Focussing energies.

Yet this last month has seen several of the doors I thought I was going though, close. Events and projects I have been organising have been thwarted or cancelled or had cars run over their feet.

My usual course of action, if I’m honest, would be panic.
Then I would roll up my sleeves and DO, DO, DO: whatever is needed to make it happen.

But I’m noticing for the first time, I’m not panicking. Instead, I’m watching the situation with more than a little curiousity. Why is this happening? How did we get to this space?

I’m lightly exploring alternatives, but mainly, just sitting with the situation as it unfolds.

One Way Or Another

Coach and therapist Martha Beck calls these kinds of moments in our lives “rumble strips”.

“What virtually always happens is that when destiny swerves, we proceed straight ahead. We step on the gas, ignoring the fact that we feel trapped in the dead relationship, stifled by the secure job. We go blind to the landscape and the road signs, steering by our assumptions about what life should be, as unaware of those assumptions as a sleeping driver is of her unconsciousness. 

Et voilà: rumble strip. 

Suddenly, everything’s shaking, jolting, falling apart. We have no idea what’s happening or why, only that all hell has broken loose. It gets worse and worse—until we wake up, see through our false assumptions to the deeper truth of our situation, and revise our life maps. This isn’t punishment. It’s enlightenment dressed as chaos.” 

You can read her full article here. It’s certainly helping me make sense of what’s happening right now…

And when we’re in it? Driving down a rumble strip? Beck advises we stop. Take a breath. Take stock. Look around you. What are you missing?

Be Still and Know

Could this be that balance? The space between dynamism and passivity? Between stress and apathy?

I don’t know yet. But I feel calm about big changes for the first time in my life, and that has to count for something.

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One Response to “What To Do When You’re Thwarted”

  1. Grace Hollier June 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Great article. Needed this just now.

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