On days like today, during weeks like this week, I can’t focus.
I can’t focus on the tasks at hand, I can’t focus on other people, I can’t focus on chasing my dreams.
I’m so stuck in my head, and the negative spiral of thoughts threatening to tear me asunder are coming so fast there isn’t time to brace myself for the barrage of “just give up now”, “you’re never going to make it”, “you’re not good enough.”
Getting through a week like this week usually requires taking away from work. I want to be grateful that I have paid time off but instead I’m just salty that I’m using it for this ish again. I’m upset with myself for not having more control, but I’m learning now that self-control is actually an illusion.
That’s why I can’t do what needs to be done, on days like today.
I’m in the wrong mindset to push forward, and instead, I must pause. But pausing is hard. Pausing is SO hard because me and my generation, we’re go-getters. We’re ON – All. Of. The. Time. Hustling. Harder. But here I am, on pause.
Pause is uncomfortable. Because I want to be DOING. I want to be working harder, doing more, moving the needle forward. But that’s not what I need on days like today.
Instead of asking myself, “What does my business need to grow?” I’m asking myself, “What do I need right now?”
What does my body need? What does my mind need? What does my soul need?
What is my intention for the day if not to push myself forward?
Sometimes pushing is wrong. Sometimes pushing isn’t what I need, because sometimes pushing will only make things worse, especially on days like today.
Because on days like today, I’m fully drenched in scarcity mindset, and fear. I’m depressed, anxious and angry.
My decisions would then be based in fear, rage and sadness and that’s never a good place from which to decide on anything, let alone how to move a business forward.
But it is a good place to decide what you need, in that moment, to make allowing these negative feelings to move through you, easier.
Using myself as an example, first of all, I need quiet.
Decreasing the stimulus around me when I’m triggered and spiraling out is by far the best place for me to start.
Next, I need to breathe. This is where meditation, or some form of it comes into play. If I can focus on my breath, instead of my spiraling thoughts, I can come back to center and figure out where I need to go from there, to get what I really need.
And usually, I need to talk about it. I need to get out of my head and into the world around me, and speak out loud the madness that’s draining me. This almost always comes in the form of walking the dog with Greg. Luckily, they’re always in the mood for a walk!
The conversation always goes a little something like…
Me: I just don’t understand why X is the way that it is, it should be like Y, and because it isn’t, I’m frustrated/angry/sad, etc.
Greg: Yeah, but it is X, so what can you do with that?
I’m an idealist, if that’s not obvious. I’m always thinking about how things “should be”, ideally, and striving for that. And Greg, with his logical, realistic, INTJ-self, is always there to remind me, yes, BUT, this is how things are… now what can you do about it?
So, I’ve been on pause for like three weeks now – at the request of my therapist – and I admit, it’s still a little difficult. But the one thing I’m learning through this practice is to just BE. I’m navigating accepting and allowing, before I even think about where to go from there.
It reminds me of the quote, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the knowledge to know the difference.”
Right now, I’m practicing recognizing the difference. And on days like today, it is the hardest thing in the world.
Are you also familiar with the “Have. Do. Be.” paradigm?
You see, most of us think that if and when we have X, we’ll finally be able to do Y, and then we’ll finally be, Z. (Where Z is almost always “happy”)
I fall into this pattern of thinking SO often. It goes a little something like this, “Once I finally have “a job that isn’t this one”/”a creative job”, I’ll be able to do more studio work/work on my art business, and I’ll finally be living my best artist life!”
This is backwards.
The reality, is that in order to have X, we must first be Z, and do Y from that place of being, at which point we will natural come to have X.
And funnily enough, I’ve actually been acting in NEITHER of these ways.
I’ve been living the DO. HAVE. BE. life. And my god, have I been doing it wrong.
I’m constantly going. My calendar is full, my to-do list is never finished, and if I’m not working on bettering myself, or building my art business every second of every day I fall victim to feeling worthless, hopeless and “not enough.”
Which is why my therapist was like, “I want you to stop. And practice just being. Just be.”
I don’t disagree with her when she says I’m doing too much. But I have such a hard time doing “nothing” because I’ve managed to tie my sense of worth to “doing.”
And there is nothing wrong with doing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself and there is nothing wrong with having goals and planning for them. Don’t get me wrong.
But if you’re like me, and you’ve been missing the “BE” part of the equation, if you’re doing and acting without intention and planning… you’re going to keep doing and going, and just like me you’re going to burn out, again and again.
So that’s why I’m on pause, just BE-ing.
That’s why I’m allowing days like today to simply happen; accepting my feelings for what they are… just feelings.
While I’m paused I’m also thinking about what’s going to happen when I push the PLAY button again. What actions am I going to take differently? What goals am I going to prioritize? Where am I going to spend my time?
What am I going to DO, once I’ve settled into BE-ing?
And what will I HAVE in the end? What do I want to have?
I don’t know, but on days like today, I have to remove myself from the DO, and focus on the BE.
Once the fog clears and I’m back to center and thinking clearly, I can plan. I can plan intentional actions to take towards achieving my big goals. I can plan for the next time I have a day like today. I can plan for when I press PLAY again.
It’s funny, to me at least, I’ve found myself in this place time and time again only this time it feels different.
This time, more realizations are settling into my bones and it’s unfamiliar…
I’m noticing that usually when I have to stop and re-evaluate, I end up removing various goals and milestones and practices from my over-all plan. Each time I try to simplify more and more. Prioritizing what matters, and shearing away what doesn’t.
I’m letting go of the pressures I’ve been putting on myself and re-adjusting my expectations. And it’s hard. It’s hard in a world that values doing more than being. I look around at some of my peers going balls to the wall with their side hustles, excelling in their fields while I’m over here on pause because I haven’t gotten all of my ducks in a row. I don’t even know which ducks I’m trying to put in a row sometimes.
But one thing is for sure, and I wouldn’t know this were it not for all of the pausing and the reflecting and the tears:
Art making and writing and creating are the physical manifestations of my being. I will never not do these things. Whether I make a living doing these things or not, I will do them, because they are me. And wherever that takes me is fine.
And for right now, that’s all I need to know.
I trust that I’ll figure the rest out as I go.
Here’s to BEing,