I don’t know about you but I really hate when life comes to a standstill.
I was reading this article about our addiction to doing and I think it’s pretty safe to say that our preference for action reflects our tendency to avoid deeper questions about life. When we arrive at a desert, we’re given way to much time to think and man does that bring up some stuff. I don’t want to deal with my stuff. I mean, does anyone really?
Journeying down that rabbit hole often leaves us with more questions than answers. And if there’s one annoying thing about life’s in-between times, it’s that murky grey area. The hardest question to answer is: What’s next?
Once you realize that you’re in the midst of transition, the old solutions won’t work. Say goodbye to the old you. Old passions and interests change/evolve/die and you are faced with the reality of beginning again. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll try to return to your old life and you might even find some peace in it for a while. You might lean on relationships/friendships, find a new job, busy yourself with parties/alcohol, etc. but don’t be fooled, you’re just saving the angst for another day. Believe me I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.
You’ll have to look at yourself eventually.
Finally the day will come when you wave that little white flag and become reacquainted with yourself. And that’s when the real work begins.
The Soul is a Hybrid Car
I have the tendency to look for the next big goal. I mean that’s what we’re taught to do when we’re feeling stuck. Find the next thing to work on. The problem is that none of the old options seem particularly satisfying and the new options don’t feel right either. I’ve come to the conclusion that when we’re in the in-between times, the new things don’t feel good (and aren’t meant to) because on some level we’re still operating from our old selves.
I liken the soul to a Hybrid car. It runs on gas (your body) and electricity (your mind) but the gas and electricity mean nothing without the vehicle.
Most of the time everything works fine, but at some point cars run into issues. Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as filling up the tank or replacing the battery. Sometimes it requires us to open the hood and start poking around.
The in-between times force us to become our own mechanic.
During the lulls in life activity, start listening to your intuitive urges. If your car is squealing take a look at the breaks. Is there a certain area of your life that you need to realign internally?
If there’s one great thing about the in-between times, it’s that you start learning to trust your instincts/feelings more. And as annoying as that sounds it feels pretty damn good get dirty, work on your car, and experience life more deeply.
Act With Intention
Acting is fine when you’re doing it from the soul. The key difference between acting from the mind and acting from the soul is the feeling you get when you act. The best way to illustrate this is through example:
Acting from the Mind/Ego: I don’t like my job. I really need to get out of here and make more money. Oh this job looks cool. It pays more. I mean it’s not perfect but it sounds cool and I’ll probably like it more once I interview and start the job. I mean I don’t really want to work for anyone anymore but this will get me closer to working for myself one day, eventually. And maybe working for myself isn’t realistic anyway. I should ask someone else for advice. I mean I want to travel and get a dog so yes I think I’ll go ahead and apply for this job.
Acting from the Soul: I don’t like my job and I know it’s because it doesn’t offer me meaning anymore. I don’t want to take another job just to get out of my current job, but I know I want to find more meaningful work. I could take this other job but I would only take it for the money, security, and chance to avoid thinking about the fact that I’d really prefer to work for myself which is not a financial possibility at this time. I’m not sure what I should do right now, but I’m going to appreciate the space I have to think about the kind of work I want and look for smaller opportunities that give me more meaning in the meantime.
The difference between the first and second example is the feeling. When you act from the mind it always feels like you’re hurrying to catch a plane. But acting from the soul, even when it’s uncomfortable, offers a sense of peace.
Start making small decisions with intention. Trust the feeling, not the thought alone. No, you probably won’t have any big ah-has and if you do, chances are it’s your ego in disguise. Just wait and listen and stop pushing for the right answer. The right answers/opportunities will find you. The in-between times are meant for listening and acting to foster listening.
I know, I know, this all feels really heavy. But deep down you know you’re the only one capable of feeding yourself and that requires some heavy lifting (unless of course you’re a toddler and in that case I applaud your ability to read all of this).
During the in-between times, do things that nourish your soul. I personally love taking showers. For some reason it gives me the opportunity to begin again. When you’re feeling really angsty, angry, sad, take a shower, go for a walk, meditate, visit a museum, and observe your thoughts with kindness.
Treat your life as art.
Feed your soul with small pleasures (biking, golfing, drawing, reading, journaling) or big ones if you can afford it. Anything that gets you acquainted with yourself in a peaceful way is worth it. Your mind has a way of giving you a break when you treat it to things that are good for it.
A Day at A Time
I write this blog entry fully acknowledging that I still fight the stuckness EVERY SINGLE DAY. One moment I’m super zen the next I’m back operating from the ego. The good thing about this in-between time is that it’s forcing me to become acquainted with my tendency to operate from my mind/ego and I’m often rerouted despite my best efforts to self-sabotage.
My advice: take the in-between times moment by moment rather than day by day. I have a theory that the moment we’re able to find complete peace in the stuckness is the moment new (and wanted) opportunities emerge. I’ll keep you posted haha.