I’ve noticed a pattern in my life.
It’s a pattern that occurs around the situations that don’t work out so well.
The things I commit to that end up being a waste of time. The relationships that are in stilted spots. The times I act in ways I am not proud of.
Lately I’ve noticed that most of those situations share a similar backstory. Before the problematic event or the unwanted outcome, I felt subtle feelings of discomfort.
You know when you see something out of the corner of your eye, in your peripheral vision? You see it, but just barely.
The feelings of discomfort that I’m talking about are just like that.
It’s not that they are so mild but more that I just don’t give my attention to them. When they are present, I am sort of aware of them, but just barely. I’m moving fast in other directions, swimming here and there at the surface of the water, as those subtler feelings make the currents below.
That is why – if I don’t want my life to be full of situations not working out so well – I need a space to take inner inventory, to do a scan of what’s present in me. By that I mean both a space in time – time set aside, and an emotional space – either a space of openness to myself, or the listening ears of a friend or coach or therapist. I also mean a physical space – a walk in solitude, or the blank page of a journal, or that friend’s cozy couch. All three – a space in time, an emotional space, and a physical space – are needed.
In that space, I can become conscious of what’s happening – not just the big events occurring in my life but the things brewing, the things otherwise only in peripheral vision. This is when I can ask the ongoing questions that need asking like, How am I feeling about what’s happening on my work team? Or, what’s up with feelings about my home these days? Or, what’s present in my relationship with my partner right now?
Then I can investigate. What is that low-level stress I am feeling? Or, huh, what’s up with the late night emotional eating of the past few weeks? Or, hmmm, I am really avoiding calling so-and-so back – what’s going on there?
During my regular days there’s lots that grabs center stage: the things on the calendar, the to do list for the week, the conversations of that day. The pureeing and singing while diapering and rescuing the lasagna before it’s entirely eaten by the dog.
The things that aren’t quite right but still unfolding their not-quite-rightness? In my regular life, those things simply won’t win the competition for focus.
I need to give them time and space. I need time and space to tune into the subtle stirrings. I discover lots then, things like: “This dynamic isn’t feeling quite right, and I realize I’m bringing a real sense of scarcity to this situation – what’s that about?” Or, “I said x in this situation, but you know? I left out y, and saying y was important.” Or, “I agreed to this, but the truth that is here right now is that I really want to say no.” Or, “I’m losing motivation around this writing project. Hmm. Interesting.”
If we don’t notice what’s present, we can’t take action based on the wisdom of what our inner compass is telling us. We can’t steer well.
So today I invite you to do a check-in with yourself. Notice the subtle stirrings you are feeling in the major areas of your life. As if you are holding up a soft light, explore what’s there, with compassion for yourself.