A friend of mine recently emailed me during a fit of doubts. She’s a total stud of a writer—published regularly in a number of highly-regarded national markets, book author, breadwinner. Yet she’d heard about another writer–who also wrote about her area of expertise–who was starring in a new TV show and having a big fancy party in downtown Manhattan to celebrate. Hearing about this other person’s success was making her wonder, why not me?
I’m willing to bet that you can relate. It is a very normal and human reaction to hear of someone else’s success and feel threatened by it, as if something good happening to someone else somehow diminished the chances of good things happening in your life.
I told my friend what I also have to tell myself during those inevitable times when I find myself feeling like I’ve somehow lost my way on my path to making my personal and professional dreams come true. In a nutshell, that is: use your self-care practice, whatever it may be, to help you get clear on your goals and visions for yourself. Because if you aren’t 100% clear on what you want, you can start to confuse other people’s definitions of success for your own, which only makes you that less likely to make your own best life come true. While a jet-setting TV career and swanky party may sound divine from afar, they would feel more like torture if what you wanted for yourself deep down was plenty of time to spend with your family (for example).
Here are some ways to help yourself get clear on what you truly, madly, deeply want:
- Roll out your mat. I am constantly surprised and amazed to rediscover how a good yoga session (or tai chi or qi gong or swimming or anything that requires you to synchronize your body, breath, and mind) can make the answers to vexing challenges seem so obvious. You don’t have to up the intensity of your practices, but making sure you do them regularly will help keep a dialogue going between your thinking mind and deep down wisdom that resides way down deep in your bones.
- Meditate, meditate, meditate. Any time you engage in a practice that helps your mind get quiet, you create opportunities for your inner wisdom to be heard more clearly. Because no matter how confused or aimless you may feel, some piece of you knows exactly what’s best and what’s possible for you. Sadly, this part of you is rarely the thinking mind, which is what we hear chattering away all day, every day. If you need help setting your course, spending more time in quiet contemplation will help you guide your own way.
- Start walking. If sitting still doesn’t work so well for you, do the contemplative practice on during long walks—think of your question or questions before you head out and invite your intuition to chime in. Once you start walking, just let your attention rest of the sound of your breathing and the physical sensations you’re experiencing—you can’t force insight to arrive, but if you can get your mind to quiet down by paying attention to the repetitive moments, you’ll be able to hear it much more quickly when it does pop up. One walk may not do it – you may have to dedicate yourself to taking a “deep thinking” walk a couple of times a week for a few weeks to really get a full picture.
- Create a vision board. Spend time looking through magazines pulling out photos that somehow capture what you want to happen for yourself. Sometimes putting your vision in to words is too challenging, but putting together several images that represent your version of success help make it easier to visualize, and thus easier to recognize and move toward.
So…how about you?
How have you dealt with periods of existential doubt about what you’re doing and where you’re going? Are there goals you let go of because you realized they didn’t jibe with what you want for yourself in your heart of hearts? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. And if I publish your post in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you The Beginner’s Guide to Buddhist Meditation.
Congrats to Ann!
She left a comment with her best tip for beating PMS, and won a copy of Yoga for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle. (Ann if you’re reading this, please email me with your address!) Here it is:
“I am tremendously lucky to have never suffered from cramps during PMS. Instead, the Universe evened the playing field by installing bowling balls on my nearly-D-cups once per month for a week. It hurts! And it keeps me from exercising which is so critical to staying balanced. The only relief I’ve found from the bowling-ball-boob-situation is to go off caffeine. I’ve done this experiment many times over the years and each time I notice a pronounced improvement–less breast pain, less irritability, less bloating. All that. So try going off the juice!”
Take care and keep breathing,