Don’t Mind The Gap | How to make the most of a pause in your life

When did you last let yourself pause without clock-watching?

In my previous blog post I talked about how we rarely allow ourselves to pause.

In between big life events, or phases or our lives, there is a gap.  This gap is a magical place for pausing, healing, reflecting, learning, growing, and oh yes… fun and laughter too!

Yet so many of us have never truly experienced the gap. 

The constant pressure from society for us to always be doing, stops us from ever just being.  And if we do pause, the guilt we feel ruins all our fun.

For example, I bet you know somebody who ended one career and catapulted into the next, barely taking any time for themselves in between.  Hey, maybe that person was you.

Well, I’m not buying into that societal pressure. 

Those gaps in life exist for a reason, and today I want to tell you about how I not only experience them, but how I make the most of them – and lately I’ve had a very personal experience of needing my gap, so this isn't just rhetoric.

A lot of magic can happen in that gap, when you give yourself a chance to see it.  And these magical periods of healing and recovery are something we all deserve.

 

 

Feel before you think

When you first enter a gap of your own, typically you will be reeling from whatever caused it.  This could be anything from the loss of a job, to the end of a relationship.  Perhaps a bereavement.  Or it could be something like moving to a new home.

To be clear, it doesn’t always have to be something negative that caused the change in your life – perhaps you chose to change paths, or maybe you retired or your grown up kids flew the nest.

Of course, as life would have it, there can often be a combination of things that contributed to the gap you find yourself in. For me personally, I’ve just moved across the country during a pandemic, after the end of a 20 year relationship – so that’s a nice big couple of ‘gap initiators’ for me to come to grips with.  Separation and moving house are two of ‘the big ones’ on the list of classic stressors. 

What tends to happen upon entering the gap, with the societal pressure at our backs hurrying us up, is that our monkey minds begin the frantic search for our next move.

 

Our mind believes we need a ‘solution’ to the paused state we are in.  It says hurry up, life's passing you by! 

I know because I used to have an anxious chimp living in my forebrain too.  To be honest, he still lives there, he’s just mellowed a bit with age and experience. And I know not to believe him 😉

There is a strange irony to this belief that we have to keep moving. 

Our mind is regurgitating a story about ‘life passing us by’, as if life is only to be found in the hustle and bustle of a career, or the distraction of dating, or whatever we're feeling the pressure to do.

Whereas life is in fact all around us, and like the many layers of an onion, there is more to find beneath the surface.  

When we pause and take a rest, we're not missing ‘life’ in general. 

Rather, we're missing a bit of the life we knew, which allows us to explore other areas.  When life before was busy and distracting; life in the gap can be quiet and contemplative, or fun and playful.  You can finally find out what you were missing while you were so busy.

This might feel hard to do at first, and not just because of the societal pressure.  What’s hardest about this is that you begin to feel your emotions, and this is what our mind is trying to avoid by keeping us busy and distracted.

 The mind monkeys don’t want you to talk about how you feel.  They’d rather you distract yourself with the next job or relationship.

But you can’t give in to your monkey, and if you want to heal, you can’t skip the feeling part.  It is essential because this is where the healing begins. Consider this your greatest gesture of self-care to yourself 😍

 


Think, but not too much

I can feel your eyes rolling at that sub heading!  I know asking somebody to not overthink is like asking the rain not to fall, but it’s still worth reminding you to try.

Once you've opened the emotional flood gates and allowed yourself to feel the feelings about what brought you to the gap you're in… it’s now safe to let your mind get involved. But only a little.

Despite what your inner programming is telling you about how you need to make a plan and get moving – remember that is a trap.  The pressure and the chattering of your monkey mind, if you allow it, will ruin your experience of the gap.

Now is the time to be gentle with yourself and tackle one thought at a time while you take one day at a time.

Now is the time to quieten the external influences and try to listen to the whispers of your soul, your internal guidance.  This is how you begin to process it all.

If you want to make sure that your next adventure, whenever that begins, is the right one, then taking the time now to tap in to your internal wisdom is really the key.

Here in the gap you can really consolidate those life lessons and process any baggage you're ready to stop dragging around behind you. 

Think of this time as like being in a chrysalis – you don’t want to pop out before your wings are ready!  So allow your inner compass to guide you.  That’s what the butterflies do.

 


Bring a little bit of the gap with you

Did you ever go on a beach holiday and bring some shells home with you to remind you of your time there?  When you do move on to the next phase of your life, it would be such a shame to leave everything you experienced in the gap behind you – so don’t.  

You will learn your own lessons in your own gap, but I’d like to share some of mine with you, just for a little inspiration.

One of my biggest gap lessons was about not rushing. 

In my most recent trip to the gap I’ve had a real perspective shift on how unreasonable we can be with ourselves about our own healing.  It’s almost like the messages our monkey mind gives us are:

  • Heal, take your time… but not too much time
  • Feel, have a cry… but not too much
  • Laugh, have some fun… but don’t be silly

Are you seeing a pattern here?

I’ve been really enjoying being silly and having fun lately, and it’s better than any medicine I’ve ever taken.  Laughter truly is the best medicine, and you can’t possibly have too much of it.

So if I told you now that it’s over to you, do you feel you could try and give yourself a break, and even let yourself feel, before rushing to think out your next plan in life? 

I hope you can.

 

 

If you would like a little help and support to do life with more ease, less hustle and more magic, then maybe you could join me on my next #ZeninTen Challenge?

I’ve pushed back the start date to mid-November (previously Oct 31) in order to take my own advice and pause, so there’s still time for you to join in. The Challenge is priced in a way that makes it accessible to all. 

In fact, if you’re an NHS Keyworker, you can grab one of the 22 places that my supporters have already funded for you. Check out the details and then DM me to grab your funded spot.

See more here: https://www.helenrebello.com/zeninten

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