Although these approaches seem quite opposite at first glance – they in fact share a core theme…
Are you ready for this?
The theme is avoidance of feeling difficult emotions.
Perhaps you will be keen to avoid reading this post now! But if you will read on, I hope I can help a little. Because I believe that once you begin to face the feelings you're trying to avoid, you can live your life at a much more enjoyable pace – whether that means you slow down enough to smell the roses, or you stop putting things off and start living your life fully.
I’m not expecting that by reading my post you will miraculously heal from the root of all your problems.
But I do know from experience, that the simple act of saying yes to yourself, beginning to look beneath the surface, and being willing to open up a tiny bit more, has magical powers to initiate change.
So let’s look at these two different approaches, and then at something simple you can do to initiate a little change for the better.
Whether you think of yourself as a busy multi-tasker, a go-getter, or a full-blown Type A person, this approach is hair-raisingly fast. Perhaps you grew up absorbing messages like;
“Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
“Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Maybe these beliefs were further compounded by spending your adulthood listening to those extreme personal development gurus, who promote 5am starts and hustling ‘till you drop'.
From my work with women from all backgrounds who wish to enjoy life and follow their dreams, I‘ve seen how this environment and set of beliefs ultimately leads down the path of burnout.
Putting all of your energy into your forward momentum leaves nothing for the here and now. This in turn leads to a loss of feeling and enjoyment, and ultimately, problems that arise are glossed over and ignored.
If you’ve ever had a partner or a friend complain that you aren’t present, or you're emotionally unavailable, you may recognise this approach to life.
All will be fine when we arrive at the promised land of tomorrow, thanks to all that hustling… or so we thought, until life caught up with us and we crashed.
Then there’s the other end of the avoidant spectrum…
When I talk about procrastinating in this context, I’m not talking about leaving the dishes in the sink for later, or not submitting your tax return until January 30th – I don’t recommend that!
I’m talking about the mindset that tells us to delay our happiness.
“I’ll be happy when…”
“I’ll be ready when…”
It seems a lot like this mindset wants you to focus on the fantasy world of your future, rather than experience the ‘meh’ of now. Do you know what I mean?
In truth, if we faced up to the ‘meh’ of now, we could make some much needed changes to allows us to enjoy life in the present. But rather than take a small risk, and rather than awaken to the now, which would require us to really feel what we feel, we prefer to hang onto a dream that we may never reach.
That’s right peeps... if you always live in the future you never really reach it. It’s actually a mirage on the horizon that moves further away with the ticking of time.
This is also something I’ve seen in women that I’ve worked with. And the solution is just the same as it is for the Type A people above. You have to pause and get present.
The striking similarity in both these approaches, is that you've surrendered all your power to your imaginary future.
For someone who always rushes, you are rushing towards the magical land of tomorrow where life will be better. And for the procrastinator, you are waiting for tomorrow when you will feel more ready, willing and able.
It might sound counter-intuitive to ask a procrastinator to pause – but there’s a difference.
When you are procrastinating, there is always a low level feeling of guilt buzzing away in the background. But when you pause to get present, it’s an entirely different, more mindful experience.
So what happens when you press pause?
Well, at first it’s that thing you’ve been avoiding by one technique or another, which is that your emotions start demanding your attention. All the things you were ignoring, the parts of yourself that need healing and the bits of life that you didn’t want to look at, can and will make themselves known.
I know this bit can be challenging, I’ve been there myself.
But hold on because there is more to come. The trick here is not to give in to the temptation to rush through this stage. Your desire for quick fixes will be strong here – but don’t. Remember the point is to pause, and pause long enough for change to occur.
I think there is a parallel here. When the tattooing is being done, it’s painful and your first thought is to wish for the tattooist to hurry up and finish, so you can get away from the pain.
But the best way to get though this type of experience is to breathe deeply and be still.
Yes, it will still hurt, but at least you are not wasting energy fighting yourself. Instead you are having the experience, and your tattoo will turn out all the better for not struggling in the chair.
Another parallel is of course meditation.
Lately I’ve received many emails and messages from people who are finding it near impossible to meditate. I think this has a lot to do with what’s been going on in the world, and the fact that so many people are surviving on adrenaline.
All they could do was push through and focus on survival the last 6 months. But of course, what goes up must come down.
So the anxiety and unrest that is sweeping through society at large right now, is our bodies calling time on our adrenaline-fueled survive-a-thon. We have to honour our bodies, and we have to be present in order to process these emotions.
So if there is an answer to all of this, then I believe that meditation would be a great way to find it. The healing we all seek exists in the present, and to begin to access it, we have to stop rushing into the future. We need to be now here, not nowhere – even if that’s painful at first.
If you can begin to allow yourself to breath through and process your feelings, it really won’t be painful forever.
And the end result is truly worth it. Being able to live in the present is the only way you will find your happiness.
Change comes through choice.
The choice to be present and address your needs.
I hope to see you there.
You've got this lovely xx
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