Times are tough. You might be dealing with a health event or a family crisis. Or maybe a bunch of smaller challenges are all hitting at the same time. In any case, you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and oh-my-GOD stressed.
The worst part is that you’re having trouble thinking of ways to improve your current situation. You know you probably should make some tough choices and be strategic, but your head is spinning and you’re SOOO tired.
Ugh, been there. The irony is when you are stressed and exhausted, it’s really easy to make decisions out of fear, or based on what other people tell you you should do. Decisions made like this just make life harder and heavier. So what’s the way out of this catch-22?
To move forward, first you have to get off the ride.
Have you ever been on one of those “Tea Cups” rides at a carnival? You know, you step into a tea cup-shaped car, then car starts spinning, next all the tea cups around you spin too… Then the whole thing starts circling round, until, wait what? The tea cups are switching places now too?!! Add to this all the flashing lights and noise of a carnival.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Check out This:
Whoa Nellie! Welcome to life on the tea cups ride—confusing, overwhelming, maybe even bad enough to make your stomach turn and your head pound. If you want to plan your route to the next attraction, you’re not going to do it sitting on the tea cups ride. No, on the ride you’re holding on for dear life and doing your best to enjoy yourself.
Once your feet are firmly back on solid ground, that’s the time to look around, see where you want to go, and take your first step toward it. Frantically running from task-to-task, working and worrying yourself into exhaustion, that is life on the tea cup ride. When you slow down, take a little time for yourself and relax, you’re planting your feet back on solid ground so you can see what’s what and step forward.
No Crystal Ball Necessary.
Now, a few hours of relaxation wont make you See All and Know All, but I do think each of us has an inner gut feeling about what’s right for us. A little peace and quiet is an incredible tool for accessing inner guidance so you can make decisions that move you into greater healing and happiness.
1. True wisdom is a quiet voice. You need to turn down the noise in order to hear it.
The voice of your inner wisdom usually speaks quietly, and it’s easily drowned out by fear, ego and other people’s suggestions. No matter how challenging your situation, part of you already knows the best and most healing path forward. If a solution comes to you when you’re quiet and relaxed, pay attention to it.
Example: After a few much deserved hours relaxing at the beach (how long had it been …months?), it occurs to you that maybe you should bow out of one of the many responsibilities you’ve taken on. Immediately you resist that idea: “But I made a commitment, and parts of it I really like a lot!” Take a moment to sit with the idea anyway. What feelings do you notice coming up? Relief, fear, excitement, shame, or something else?
Now take a moment to imagine what would it look like if you dropped that commitment, or lightened it significantly. What would you make room for? Perhaps that extra space in your schedule would really nourish you and your family. Think of the consequences of your choice. Your contribution may not be as crucial as you though, maybe it’s really nice thing, but secondary. Are there others who could take your place? Perhaps there’s someone who would be happy to help if they knew how much you were struggling right now.
2. You only need to discern the next step, not plan the whole route.
OK, this is a big one. I spent much of my early twenties full of anxiety and indecision (What the HECK am I going to do with my life!?!), until I realized the vast majority of decisions in aren’t irreversible and decided with one earth-shattering moment of clarity.
Your inner wisdom may be quiet, but it is persistent. Thank goodness it is. If you ignore or misinterpret the sincere yearning and wisdom of your heart, an undercurrent of uneasiness or wrongness will keep surfacing in your mind. You will have plenty of opportunities to “course correct.”
Example: When it first occurred to me that I could become a massage therapist, at first I just sat with the idea. “Will this idea just go away on its own?,” I wondered. Then I started talking to friends about it. I was curious to see if I was comfortable owning the idea out loud, and how would I deal with people’s reactions, both positive and negative. Finally, I started researching schools and tested the waters with a mini three-session massage class.
I was waiting for a feeling of “wrongness” to surface, and it didn’t. Sure, there were plenty of worries and anxieties, but no deep sense this was the wrong move.
Most paths move forward step. by. tiny. step. No choir of angels announces your destiny, no yellow brick road stretches out to the horizon. Expecting your future path to roll out in front of you like a road map is WAY too much pressure. When looking for inner guidance, the expectations are: a. general direction, b. immediate next step. Whew… that feels better right? Much more attainable.
3. Since the steps are small, you have to keep repeating the process to stay on track.
Life has a way of shoving you back onto that teacups ride. And you find yourself confused, exhausted and at the end of your rope… again. When you notice yourself confronting this feeling of overwhelm, dig out your calendar. Where can you take 10 minutes today to relax and have some time to yourself? And where in the next week can you take and hour to two to do something that nourishes you?
Ok, pencil them in. Now, summon some lion-like courage to defend these two little gifts to yourself from encroachment by other responsibilities. If someone asks if you’re free one of these times DO NOT say you are. This can be really hard if you have a natural urge to be accommodating. But I promise you in most situations, you can find another time that works.
If there really is a direct conflict with something else you really want or need to do, you can certainly reschedule. Just make sure these little times for yourself don’t get dropped entirely (or pushed off into the ever-receding future).
Remember, little times to relax and check into your own inner wisdom are necessary parts of a good life. They keep you sane now and more present to spontaneous moments of peace and joy that naturally arise in life. They also help you create the life you want in the future by helping you pare away what’s no longer working and refocus your energy on what makes you vibrant, happy and full of heart.
If you’re looking for a consistent way to relax and check into your own inner knowing, my Four Month Yoga Journey class may be a good fit for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to talk about yoga and meditation and see if it might be a good fit for you.