My friend posed a question the other day on Facebook. He asked, “Its only late August. Isn't there still time for 2020 to redeem itself?” Many of his responses were like “Nope!”
It struck a nerve with me because I felt the truth of those big ole “nopes”, but I also knew we all could end this year on a high note if we decided we wanted to.
I started to respond to his post but, as I wrote I realized I was starting to sound like a cheesy motivational cat poster, so I deleted my remarks.
His question and the responses brought me face to face with the paradox you may be able to relate to . . . one that says, “Enough already! I just want to pull the covers over my head and fast forward” and the part of me that says, “Hold on a minute, I still have important things to do RIGHT NOW!”
This post isn’t not about the craziness of 2020 specifically, rather it’s about this truth . . . our beliefs are the root of our reality. If we “see” a new or better way to live on purpose, we can’t outrun those visions. We better just do it already . . . no matter what. Pandemic or whatever be damned.
Playing the Slots!
I can’t stand casinos. I have only been to them a few times, but I really hate them. I feel physically ill when I’m in one. It may be my ultra-sensitivity that picks up on desperation and hopelessness dressed up as people having fun. (Can you feel my judgement?) I really can’t stand them.
My first time going was on a whim with a friend who like to go occasionally. She asked me to go with her and I said, “Sure, why not?” So off we went.
We each took out a little mad money (not that I had a lot back then) and we were going to make a night of it. We responsibly determined how much we were willing to spend/lose for a fun night.
When we got there, we played a bit, but it wasn’t long before I was craving a Silkwood shower. I wanted to scrub that place off of my body. I couldn’t wait to leave! I didn’t want to rush my friend but pretty soon she realized I was D.O.N.E done.
She looked down in her hand and realized she had one $20 bill left. She said, “Wait, I have to play this first. Then we can leave.”
This took all of 2.37 minutes to put that $20 bill in a machine and it was gone. Once that was done, my friend was ready to leave. I was astonished! Twenty dollars, gone in a flash.
I didn’t say anything but when I look back at it, I believe she had determined she would leave having spent all of her money. That was the intention for the night. Therefore, we couldn’t leave until it was gone.
We had planned to go to the casino and play our money until it was gone. You could argue that this was perhaps healthier than going and planning to leave only when we’d doubled our money. If that was our plan we may still be there because casinos aren’t set up that way.
But our beliefs create our reality. So much so, that my friend seemed to hand that last $20 bill to the casino so we could leave.
A Year Like No Other. . . Or Is It?
2020 is by all accounts a crazy-ass year. It’s been stressful on all of us and certainly devastating for many.
Thousands have lost their lives. We’re on the brink of an even bigger economic crisis. Many have lost their jobs or took large cuts in pay. (My house has experienced this firsthand.) The political climate is beyond a shitshow. Then there’s climate change, racial tensions, on and on and on.
Many of us feel we have nothing left. Our nerves are frayed, anxiety is running the show.
If this is you . . . take in a big breath with me right now. DO it again. If you are reading this, then in the moment you are safe. (I have a short mediation to help you with this if you want to be grounded in the truth that you are safe.)
Listen, there is and will always be things outside of us that affect us daily which we have no control over. Always. 2020 has just made it more obvious.
I read a lot of historical fiction and life is hard. Imagine living in the 11th Century with everyone getting one bath a year and a beheading was the entertainment. Or in the 16th Century with the black plague and never-ending wars or time before women and people of color couldn’t vote. Or the 50s where the highlight of your life, if you were lucky, was a modern vacuum cleaner! You get my point, hard times are relative.
Because of that, we can’t let hard times or weird times like we’re experiencing now, be an excuse to stall or pause or give up.
If we do that, we will never step up. There will always be some “legitimate” reason to wait. Always.
Instead, we have to put our stake in the ground RIGHT NOW! I want X, regardless of Y so I’m willing to do Z.
I want a breath-easy financial future, regardless of this economy so I’m willing to search and find a job that pays me what I want and deserve.
I want a healthier relationship with my spouse, regardless of the years we have been stalled out, so I will find a couple’s therapist and make an appointment.
I want to turn my side hustle into a full-time job regardless of my fear and the judgement of others so I’m willing to work nights and weekends to build my client base.
There is always some reason to postpone things.
This is resistance . . . dressed up in a legitimate looking suit and carrying a briefcase.
Enter . . . Resistance!
Steven Pressfield is who I turn to when I want to take an honest look at resistance. He’s broken this menace down, exposed it and given some great ways to work around and with it.
Here’s what he says about “start before you’re ready,”
“Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project of the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justification, and a million reasons why we can’t /shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.”
I don’t know about you, but I feel the truth of his words.
Resistance shows up the MINUTE I decide to do something important. Resistance shows up on cue!
Presfield mentioned chatter in his quote. He goes on to warn us not to think! What he means is, don’t listen to the chatter that’s going on between our ears.
Chatter poses as thinking. It begins with a “Ahem” then grasps it’s lapels like a plump southern lawyer who rocks back and forth on the soles of his feet and pontificates as to why now is precisely the wrong time.
“I say, I stand before you with evidence. There is the Covid, the likes of which we have never seen before. We have an economic downturn which warns us, in no uncertain terms, to stay put. Do not waver from your current position. If it please the court, I further bring into evidence records that show you have attempted this change on many occasion with lack luster results. I hear by implore you to stay right where you are!”
As confident as this voice can sound . . . it is chatter. Or the voice could sound more panicked, or breathless, or timid. Doesn’t matter, it’s all still chatter.
How do you tell the difference between chatter and true thought?
Chatter makes us shrink inside, contract and withdraw and back away like an animal who’s cornered.
Our truth makes us feel expansive and lighter . . . even if what we are stepping into is scary or uncertain. Truth does not produce anxiety. It can make you feel nervous, a little wobbly or untethered, but it is ultimately expansive.
Everything I’ve ever done that was spot on perfect made me feel expansive even when there were butterflies in my stomach.
Here’s another thing . . . your truth is relentless. It won’t let you have any peace until you give it the attention it demands. Once you realize you want to live and be a certain way, yet you choose to stay put and not go for it . . . you’re destined to be hounded over and over and over.
When my kids were little, they’d follow me around going “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama!” I kept doing what I was doing, saying thins like, “Just a minute! Hang on, Give me a few! Stop bothering me, I’ll get to you in a second.” This could go on for hours, while I tried to do whatever it was I was doing. But if I would stop, face them, and really listen the chatter stopped.
When I stopped and I listened to them then address their needs head on (because that’s what I needed to do) the chatter stopped. I answered their question or fed them or did what it was they needed and in a very short amount of time, peace was restored.
Five minutes of pure attention relieved me of an hour of chatter and frustration of trying to avoid them. (Don’t judge, if you’re parent, you’ve been there . . . just trying to finish what you were doing. 😊)
Same thing happens within you. When that part of you inside is unleashed and has a little room to see what you want, your truth will hound you like a relentless kid on a mission. “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!” Screaming for your attention.
Or it might be more subtle, but it will not let go. I have had many clients who kept getting physically ill until they finally stopped to listen.
Once you know or allow yourself to see you want something to be different, to live in a more purposeful way, you can not turn back. You cannot put toothpaste back in the tube.
Our truth will be persistent . . . and so will resistance. The more important shifting is, the louder resistance will be.
Then, you’re left with one choice really, that is to go for it. Both roads are challenging.
You could stay put and try to outrun the chatter or you could turn toward what you really want and use all that same amount of energy and create the life you really want.
I say, toss out the old plan (which you’ve outgrown or wasn’t something you really chose in the first place) and create the life YOU WANT.
Stop putting $20 bills in the machine just because that’s what you had planned to do. Stop wasting your time, your heart, your energy and your life and getting nothing back.
Stop running away from what you want. Stop pretending you’re ignoring the chatter. Turn around and face it head on.
Stop trying to outrun that wise part of you who knows there is a different way for you to be.
Turn around and embrace them, lock arms and say . . . okay, let’s do this thing!
Do not let the weirdness of these times be your excuse to stay put. Don’t do it! Now is precisely the time to live on purpose. It really is. If not now, then when???
Remember, someday is not a day of the week.