We kicked off 2020 with our usual aplomb in Remarkable Women. Setting our big themes for the year (mine is Profound Service, Nic’s is Bold Truth) and wondering what they would bring. We’ve been setting an annual theme for long enough to know it’s never quite what we thought it would be and yet, even so, I don’t believe many of us could have imagined what was around the corner.
Women are having many shared experiences and also, as always, there are nuances and variations. 99% of our DNA might well be the same, and yet it seems the 1% that is different can shape so much.
Today I want to sit with those of you who lost your focus and energy for a while. Maybe you still don’t recognise quite who you are.
It’s possible you’re wondering when you’re going to ‘come back’, be who you were before all of this.
Maybe you’re even looking at the things you thought you had ‘sorted’ and wondering whether you want to completely rethink them.
I want to sit with you, because today, you are in my circle. We have common ground to explore and I think we have something to share.
You’ll know if you read my blog some three months ago (how has it been that long?), that the middle stages of lockdown were profound for me. I sat with some big questions. Questions that might not have been able to come to the forefront had it not been for a time where the World decided to stop and keep us all indoors.
What I didn’t share at the time (there was plenty to say) was that I was also experiencing a deep lack of energy. I couldn’t focus in the way I normally did. The woman who usually has 4 or 5 books on the go at one time could barely read one. When I tried to listen to a podcast, I lost attention quickly. I signed up for a few good-looking online events with inspirational speakers and frankly, they might as well have been speaking in a foreign language. I just didn’t have the attention span.
Whilst I’m slowly finding my focus (I’m mid-way through 4 books right now), I still don’t quite recognise my patterns these days. I’m never quite sure whether I’m finally learning to rest or whether I’m opting out (or numbing as we like to call it). Considering I’m pretty self-aware, it’s odd to me how challenging it is to really distinguish between the two.
It’s Only Natural
It was a relief to me to discover I have almost textbook experienced the stages of psychological crises.
The Pre-Disaster Moment, where mood dips and a threat emerges and you wonder what is coming.
The swift move to Heroic Action (my favourite place to be), where I grabbed my cape and stepped into the world, declaring, ‘HERE I AM! This is our moment people! Let’s SAVE THE WORLD!’.
Followed by the very peak high of a Honeymoon Period as the action unfolds and frankly, for all this is scary, it’s also pretty exciting and ‘WE’VE GOT THIS, just look at the possibility here!’.
Then came the longer period of Disillusion and Regression, the ‘Oh, this is more complex and nuanced than that’, and the surprising, ‘this isn’t going away as quickly as we thought’. The realisation that every time we walked the streets getting angry with people who clearly couldn’t get their head around 2 metres or the many times a day we covered our hands with hand sanitiser, we were actually feeling that way because BIOLOGICALLY we were responding to danger. The moment it became clear that this was a longer game and it was going to take continued creativity.
The moment I think I just wanted to hide under the covers.
Plenty to be grateful for
I have genuine gratitude for many, many things during this time, whilst remaining acutely and painfully aware that I have not had the experience of many others even in my close circle. I have not lost a loved one. I have not had to shield. I have not even had to experience the challenges of home schooling whilst trying to do a job (hats off to all the Mamas out there, I cannot imagine how tired you must have been some days).
Yet it would be daft to say that I didn’t experience anxiety (frankly you read all about it in that earlier blog!). And that became even clearer when I realised my body was creating it’s own responses too. Even if we weren’t acknowledging it to ourselves, many of us were experiencing stress and anxiety in our chemistry. Perhaps you still are.
There comes a moment where we realise it’s time to shift into the next phase. To come out of regression and into reconstruction. To rise again.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced a hunger for that moment to come faster. I have longed for the crystal clarity and confidence that has always been so core to my personality. For a good old shot of rocket fuel that might have me leap into action.
And yet, in the same way we want The World to Build Back Better, part of me knows and knew that there was an opportunity here, before the rising, to get clear on what I should leave behind and not bring with me.
Because my version of rocket fuel has shadows of workaholism.
My ability to produce output at a rate most people can only imagine, means that I don’t always stop to discern what is truly important and what is not.
My insistence that I must fill all the hours with pure efficiency (down-time is prime-time people) means that sometimes I miss that I am unconsciously listening to the less than healthy voice in my head is yelling at me to DO MORE.
My ability to turn my hand to almost anything and do a brilliant job means I can easily lose sight of what I actually LOVE to do, because I’m so hooked on the thrill of doing anything well.
Before the Rising
Part of the reconstruction period is grief and coming to terms with what has happened. We should expect setbacks, because before we shoot off into action, find ourselves standing fully tall again, there is a critical moment, that I invite you to sit in with me.
It’s the moment where we take stock. Where we uncover Radical Acceptance not only for what has occurred in this strange moment in history but for who we were before it and who we have been during it.
It’s the moment where we have a unique opportunity to stand in front of the mirror, look deep into our own eyes and say, ‘Wow, we’ve learned some new stuff in this time haven’t we? Shall we sit with it a little longer?’.
Because in the sitting, in the honestly looking into our reflection, we have been gifted an opportunity to see ourselves in new ways. To make decisions about what we will finally let go of. The layers we will shed because we have seen we no longer need them.
Maybe we need to sit for a long time. To be sure that we don’t miss any of it. To commit to a new level of transformation. And for those of us with ants in our pants, that feels challenging.
For once, let’s lean into the the not moving and the not taking action, to ensure that when we do start to stand again, we get to take the most powerful action of all.
Maybe that’s the gift of a World that is refusing to switch itself on at full pace again just yet.
What a gift.
Come, sit with me
So sit with me, for just a little longer.
There’s more to learn before we rise.
And what a rising it’s going to be.
Let’s be remarkable together,