When something turns into another thing entirely

This is a story about how my second Very Personal Ad got hijacked by some very real fears. And how my productivity train got completely derailed when the scent of new awesomeness began to fade.

Okay, here goes. This is my story of yesterday and today:

First: success!

My first Very Personal Ad ended up being incredibly useful and it completely changed how I went about my work for the day. I had a plan, not just a to-do list, and it worked! I had a super productive day! I nearly completed the annual review document that has been plaguing me for over two months!

Brilliant, right? On to more brilliance! …Right?

As it turns out, not quite.

I spent the next day wasting time. Aware that I was wasting time, but not enough to care. (So finally I came back to the Seed House to write about it.)

Here’s a pattern I’m recognizing in myself: I get very excited about a New Thing. I try the New Thing and it is super awesome, and I’m so excited that I am 100% convinced it will change my life forever, make things perfect, eliminate all self-doubt, and perhaps also make my hair shiny. If you catch me on that one perfect, productive day, I have the evangelist’s zeal for whatever New Thing has put me in the zone.

Then the next day comes. The newness of the New Thing fades a little bit. Or maybe I don’t do it quite the same way the second time.

And the day is an utter flop.

I want to connect this with what happened during my attempted Very Personal Ad No. 2, because guess what? It’s all connected.

Very Personal Ad No. 2: The Shakespearean Yoga Dilemma

Here’s what I want: To Yoga or not to Yoga? I would like some clarity on whether this Yoga class is the right direction.

Ways this could work:

  • Look at your schedule: does it work in your day? Yes!
  • Look at your finances: does it work for your wallet? Yes!
  • Look at your heart: not sure. Ack, scared scared scared of this one. GO AWAY!

My commitment: Whoa, whoa whoa, let’s think more about that last part. Let’s do that and then come back to the commitment.

(So this is where I decided to let the fears come out and talk to me. The fears are big and bold so they write in a bold font, and they come from a very deep place. Bear with me, this is long.)

Interview With A Mirror

I’m scared to take Yoga.

Why?

Body mind time sweat ugly mirror pain pain pain expectations money!! (Loud; lump in my throat)

Wow, that’s a lot of stuff that pours out at once. It must be really overwhelming to be thinking and feeling all those things at once.

Yeah. It’s really overwhelming in here. It’s like a noisy room with too many people in it. I’m scared.

It’s okay. Let’s think about the first thing and only the first thing, and go from there.

Okay. Body. It’s scary to think about because there’s a lot of stuff just in that one word!

Shhhhhh, close your eyes for a moment and listen, then tell me what’s in that word.

It’s hard to get an exact fix on things, but there’s something about the structure not working right, it’s too tight and doesn’t move easily. There’s also a lot of shame about that, and then it kind of spirals down into a chaotic soup of other words from that earlier list. It’s hard to separate any one thing from the others.

And that’s okay! Because you know what, they are all connected!

That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that.

You’re smarter than you think. It’s good to know that your physical self is all connected to your emotional self which is all connected to your intellectual self which is all connected to everything around you.

Yeah. But what about the main problem – I’m scared my body can’t or won’t work right.

Think about it this way…what helps your body the most: holding still, or moving?

Moving. Ugh.

It’s okay. There’s resistance there, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work through it.

Okay. But I’m resisting because of the time and effort and planning and everything, I can work through those details no problem. But what about the shame part?

That must hurt, I’m sorry you feel that shame. It sounds like it comes from really deep inside.

Yeah.

It’s okay to feel shame. It doesn’t define you. It’s a piece of the human experience. It doesn’t change your essential humanity, you know? But let’s talk more about it. What do you think the shame is protecting you from?

Acknowledging my body as it really is. Letting other people see my body.

Wow, that’s tough stuff. Does ignoring your body change it somehow?

No, not really. Well, sometimes it makes everything worse.

Ouch. But sometimes it’s easier than thinking about the pain, I think.

Yes! It hurts to feel shame! I don’t want to feel that hurt! (cries)

Okay, it’s okay, shhhh. It’s okay to feel pain and sadness. It’s even okay to be mad that the magic fairy hasn’t fixed everything for you. But what helps you the most: holding still, or changing?

Changing. Damnit, but change is hard!

I know! It’s hard and sometimes it sucks! But what do you get on the other side?

New stuff. Good stuff, maybe. But I don’t know that for sure!

That’s okay too! It’s okay to explore without knowing what you’re going to get, because otherwise it wouldn’t be exploring, now would it?

Okay love, let’s recap and then think about some of the other stuff.

It’s scary to be in my body because change is scary, but I also know it’s good. Hey, this doesn’t feel like an insight! It feels like I’m taking medicine, it doesn’t feel good, I’m just supposed to think it will be good!

That is all okay, too! You don’t have to like it today. Just think about it. Even if it’s hard. Just thinking about it will make it a little less scary and hard, I promise.

Okay, but this stuff is all about before I get to the Yoga room. What about when I get there? All kinds of goblins and things attacking me! Chaos again!

It’s okay, shhhh, listen to the chaos for a second and then describe what you see.

You know what, it’s not actually that scary. I feel silly…you know, I’ve already tried it once, I know what it will look like.

Awesome! Tell me about it!

I’ll take off my shoes when I enter, and I’ll put them with my bag. I’ll get my props and find a space in the room. I’ll do some gentle stretches and the room will fill with other people. Eventually the Yoga teacher will start. We’ll go through a bunch of poses, some of which I will remember, and then shavasana at the end. Wait wait wait wait…

What? What happened?

It doesn’t matter if I remember the poses because I might not be able to do some of them!

That is something you will find out. And you know what, learning about what your body can do is part of why you want to do this.

I’m agreeing, but only reluctantly. You know why? Learning is really freaking hard! What if I fail?

I know it’s hard, and it’s okay! But tell me… what does failure look like, in this scenario?

The teacher might ask us to do a pose that I can’t even get anywhere near. Or when I stand up my back will hurt. Or I could push too far and really hurt my disc. I might have to do a modified pose that is absolutely different from what everyone else is doing and that will be weird.

Well, weird we can deal with. Remember, it’s okay to do what your body needs because if you don’t take care of yourself, you could get hurt!

Okay, it feels like we’re dealing with some of this stuff. How do you feel?

A little shaky, but okay. I can see myself walking into the class. Oh! I’ll have to talk to the teacher and explain my situation and that I’ll be modifying a lot of the poses.

It sounds like you already know what you want to say!

I think I do. You know, counting different classes, I’ve been a “yoga beginner” for almost four years!

I bet you remember a lot more than you think. Okay, what else?

The pain. And the money. And the expectations. Just saying this stuff makes me tired.

Why?

I feel like I’ve been dealing with the pain for so long.

True, but even if it’s been a long time, that’s a lot of time in which to learn how to manage it, and how to know your boundaries and whether it’s okay to push or time to rest.

True. And the money thing, maybe that’s just a fake barrier. I’m not really worried about money.

Phew! Let that one go. Bye, money worries!

Bye! I don’t know why you keep sticking around, but I don’t mind saying goodbye again!

Awesome. Okay, the expectations part.

Yeah. This is big. I want my teacher to like me. And to like me I feel like she has to think I’m good at what I’m doing, otherwise her work is wasted.

Wow, that doesn’t sound like a very nice teacher!

But I like her very much! I’ve always liked and admired my Yoga teachers!

Well, then…maybe you don’t really believe she’d do or say anything mean.

Now I feel silly…

It’s okay! Let’s think about this. You’re scared of disappointing her?

Yes, exactly!

Even though, in this scenario, “disappointing your teacher” is the equivalent of “not being a Yoga guru”?

Okay, that’s an exaggeration…I’m not dumb, but yeah. I want to be good at it.

Do you think it should be easy?

No! Not intellectually. I mean, I think Yoga is a big complex thing that knits together your body and your mind and your spirit and it takes work and love and all kinds of good stuff like that. That’s why I admire people who are good at it – even if I know they have a leg up on other folks because maybe they’re Freakishly Bendy or used to be a dancer or whatever.

So Yoga isn’t easy…can you give yourself permission to acknowledge that? To know it’s true that your body and mind need practice before it works?

Yeah.

No, really do it!

Okay, here goes. It’s okay to be afraid of big stuff. It’s okay to be someone who is Working On It and to stick out and not get it at first and then work on it and keep Working On It and so on.

Wow, that’s a lot more than I thought we were going to get! You rock.

But I’m still scared, damnit.

It’s okay. Being afraid is part of it. But you know what? So is Yoga.

I think I get that now. It’s also a safe thing because I know some of it, even though doing it in this new body is going to be very new.

You sound a lot better than when we started!

Yeah, it feels good. I like this feeling.

You’re going to be finding a lot more of this feeling when you do Yoga, too.

Do I still have permission to be scared and annoyed and hide in my cave and be overwhelmed?

Yes. All of it and then some. But you gotta try, love.

Okay.

Okay. Thanks for showing up, and for talking. Let’s do it again sometime.

To bring it all together at the end, what I learned in this conversation was that I do believe in work, and that I don’t believe it will be easy, and showing up is an important part of that work.

In the case of Yoga, showing up means literally showing up, like going to the studio and listening to the teacher and doing the Yoga.  Awesome. Easy.

In the case of my day job, showing up means something else. Sitting at my desk is not enough.

Here’s the realization about my work day. It’s the same realization from that monster interview up there. Things take work. I believe in the goodness of work. I believe in its value and the way it makes me feel good, and not just in that grim-determination-look-what-I-forced-myself-to-do way.

You have to break your pattern. The one where you become a zombie. Where you avoid things because they’re scary and the zombie trance will get you to 5pm even if you kind of hate yourself doing it.

There’s a better way to do this. Rather than keep looking for the next New Thing, you have to invest time in what worked the first time.

My first Very Personal Ad worked because I dedicated some real brain power to figuring out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And then I wrote it all down and made my desk look pretty so I would not be distracted.

I have to dedicate some more real brain power to it in order to make it work.

My commitment:

  1. Dedicate some more Real Brain Power to this thing
  2. Make yourself a new action plan. Make it pretty. Get excited about the prettiness.
  3. Let today be what it is and come back tomorrow refreshed.
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About jesse k.

Writer. Mama. Spy in the house of self-awareness. Occasional crafter, letterpress geek, and academic snob.
This entry was posted in Interview With A Mirror, Very Personal Ads. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to When something turns into another thing entirely

  1. Pingback: It’s been a good week, except for that flying shoe | Things I wrote along the way

  2. Mish says:

    Ohh, I get the novelty trap. It IS Shiny Thing Syndrome! 😮 Let today be what it is and meet with it tomorrow, I love being able to say those words. ❤ There's so much comfort in that.

  3. Pingback: Very Personal Ad No. 3 | Things I wrote along the way

  4. Pingback: One full week of productivity feels amazing | my seed house

  5. sarra says:

    You’re me. I’m subscribing. (here via megan – I’m translucent!)

  6. jesse k. says:

    hi sarra! welcome 🙂

  7. sarra says:

    thank you! 🙂 I’m wondering if there are any other blogs or books you find have been/are being part of this journey of yours which you could name? I’ve bookmarked The Fluent Self.

  8. jesse k. says:

    well, i also mentioned thich nhat hanh’s book, anger, which was pretty transformational for me. anger is a bit of a simplification of its message, though, which for me encompassed larger themes of self-esteem, destructive urges, general emotional imbalances. i’ve never felt so peaceful as when i was reading it.

    i think the fluent self is the main one i’m reading right now. i’m still exploring (through her comments mainly) to find others to read. mish, who commented above, is someone to follow! havi writes at an interesting intersection between business and self-awareness, and few others (cairene is one: http://thirdhandworks.com/blog/) get in enough self-awareness stuff for the business stuff to kind of fade away.

    i hope that’s helpful!

  9. Pingback: On adopting a skateboard | my seed house

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