What Have You Been Putting Off?
Is there something you have been wanting or needing to do that continues to gnaw away at you? So much so that you are insanely sick of hearing yourself think and/or talk about it? We all have that running list of “stuff” we need to get to – work projects, home projects, creative projects, paper purging & filing projects (well some of us who haven’t fully tranistioned to “paperless”!) Those will always be there and we can chip away at them little by little in between the ridonculous schedules we have set up for ourselves. I’m not talking about those things though.
I’m talking about what dreams you have been shelving. What ideas and inspirations are burning inside of you that you feel compelled to share with the world. The “you” who feels alive when you are pursuing this passion, taking steps toward this dream. This thing that makes you feel inspired and connected to yourself and others.
What aspirations have you been putting off until you…
- Have more time
- Have more space
- Have less work
- Have less obligations
- The kids get older
What are you not doing because deep down you are terrified that…
- You are not good enough
- You are not smart enough
- It’s too hard
- You are not an expert
- You haven’t done this thing before
How scared are you that people will…
- Judge you
- Talk about you
- Criticize you
- Alienate you
- Abandon you
What is that little voice that when you get some courage to dip your toe in the water, whispers, “I mean, who are you, really, to think that you can do that?!”
Sound familiar? Meet your “Monkey Mind”. Become intimately acquainted with her or him. She/he is quite entertaining to watch in action, once exposed.
“Monkey Mind” is a Buddhist term meaning, “unsettled, restless, capricious; whimsical; fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, uncontrollable”.
How about EXHAUSTING?! Man, no wonder so many of us are paralyzed with inner conflict and indecision. We wax and wane between, “I can totally do this!” and “I totally suck!”
The good news is, we can tame the monkey and not let her or him run the show. It just takes a little practice.
Here are 5 steps to show the monkey who is boss:
Start paying close attention to your thoughts and how truly all over the map they really are. And how fearful the ego is. Remember though, the ego’s job is self-preservation. It’s just doing its job. Have compassion for yourself. You don’t have to believe every thought you have. Awareness is always the first step to changing anything and then you can decide if that thought is true for you or not.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST STOP AND SIT
Will you please give yourself permission to take 5 minutes to sit today? You don’t have to call it “meditation”. I know, I know. You don’t have time. It’s too hard. You are too distracted. It’s uncomfortable. Your back hurts. Your neck hurts. You don’t know how to breathe properly (love this one!) It doesn’t work. It’s a waste of time. Feel free to add to the list. I know them all! I so wanted to be that person who meditated for the last 20 years, but avoided it at all costs for all of the above reasons. No freaking wonder!
It really doesn’t matter if you feel like doing it or whether you think you have time to do it. Your mind, body, and spirit are in desperate need of a rest with the pace of this culture and the schedules we are keeping combined with all of the electronics. This is the ultimate gift of kindness you can give yourself.
Most importantly, it opens up space to remember who you are and what’s important to you. It’s in the moments of silence and stillness that your imagination can run free and you get those “aha” moments of inspiration and your dreams truly unfold. Stop burying your dreams by continuing to pile on the distractions. Take time for yourself every day. You can do it, I promise.
DROP THE JUDGEMENT
Don’t label your thoughts as “good” or “bad”. Just notice and learn to be neutral. As the Buddhists say, label them “Thinking” and let them float away and just come back to your breath. Much of our suffering is self-inflicted because of our expectations of how things “should” be. It’s a bunch of BS. They are what they are. Embrace WHAT IS or be miserable!
DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT
Stop making excuses for all the reasons you can’t do what you feel truly called to do. I have been putting off a burning desire to write for the last 4 years for all of the reasons I have shared here, the predominant one being lack of time.
The reality is we make time for our “Musts”, and yesterday, I finally made writing a “Must” instead of a “Would like to” or “Should”. In in the middle of my living room, 4 days after moving our family home that we lived in for 9 years, amidst boxes, chaos, and kids, I decided I couldn’t put writing off one more hour of one more day and I wrote about the Courage to Downsize. And I felt happy. Because I told the truth. My truth. Even if all the above scenarios of being judged and alienated came to fruition, I realized I would be ok. Because the pain of stifling myself became greater than any possible judgement I could receive from another person.
And why, pray tell, do we assume the worst in our minds? How often do those worst case scenarios come to fruition? As it turns out, when we tell our truths, it gives others permission to do the same. It reaffirms what we already know, but readily forget on a daily basis. We are all connected. We all have the same fears and struggles. We are in this thing together. We want to see each other grow and thrive, not shrink and settle.
I wasn’t in my perfect office and writing space that I want to create. I wasn’t in solitude in the beauty and energy of Sedona, or away at a writing retreat at Kripalu. I had to figure out how to start where I was. Today. Now. Not Someday. Someday is not coming because it doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion we create in our minds to put off what is scary and hard.
The gifts of time and space to pursue activities that bring you pleasure are not going to magically materialize. We have to consciously create them for ourselves and claim them. Please take one action today to move your dream forward. Your heart will thank you for it!