Archive for Mood
Returning to my blog after a fairly hefty absence, I discovered a comment, left by Chieko, on one of my “I don’t know what to do with my life” type posts, asking “How was your 4 week period?”. Hmmmm. I thought. What 4 week period would that be then? So I went back and looked.
On August 22nd I wrote a post which finished with:
“So, this is what I am going to do for the next 4 weeks. I am going to experiment with creating my life from where I am and without knowing where I’m going. I’m going to pay more attention to what is present and, when opportunities occur which I’m not sure about I will say “yes” rather than “no”.
Bottom line I’m going to have 4 weeks off from being concerned about not knowing what I want and see what happens.”
Well, the truth is, I seemed to have forgotten this idea pretty quickly, referring back to it just once more a few days after the original post. But it still appeals and it still inspires me. But more about that later.
On Oct 15th I mentioned a new project which I intended to write more about but which also seems to have been forgotten. And then there was the final burst – a new 28 day challenge I set for myself which would last until my return to Phoenix and the end of the Coaching School. But . . . you guessed it . . . that fizzled out too.
So, in answer to your question Chieko, my 4 week period disappeared down my good intentions plug-hole, while I was wandering off to pastures new. Actually, I wasn’t so much wandering off as lying down – literally!
The last time I posted, on Nov 13th, I said:
“So, now I have a choice, do I want to stay stuck and pretend to be playing the game or will I take the next step and create a plan? I choose to re-engage in my project and create a plan. So, once again, I reset my commitment to enrol 10 people on my 6 month coaching programme called – ‘When You Don’t Know What You Want – Make It Up!’.”
Hmmmm. Dropped the ball on that one too. I think it was the word “plan” that finally did me in because I had another really low period and even took to my bed for a few days. Not to worry though cuz, here I am again. Once more into the fray and all that.
So, back to that perennial question, where to from here?
Well, I think I can safely say that creating a 6 month coaching programme, right now, is a step too far for me. I don’t want it enough. But coaching itself is most definitely not off the agenda. It’s just the form it will take that’s uncertain.
Having a plan was enough for me to take to my bed and yet I’m finding that being without direction is equally demotivating. However, I think I may have found a way to have the best of both worlds and it involves returning to what I said in August: “I’m going to pay more attention to what is present and, when opportunities occur which I’m not sure about I will say “yes” rather than “no”.
More on that in combining past and future . . .
I have about 8 weeks before I return to Phoenix for the wrap up of Steve Chandler’s Coaching School and, finally, I have found a project that excites me, to engage in between now and then. Here’s the story of the lead up to the project with more specific details to come later.
I went to Phoenix, back in June, and joined Steve Chandler’s Coaching School. I didn’t really know why I was going other than I was desperate to make some changes in my life, I thought I might want to go back to coaching and I’d been really inspired by the people I’d come across who’d previously attended Steve’s school.
My return was full of the usual euphoria that follows any great seminar, as I started to apply what I was learning to creating a coaching practice. Then the stuff that was underneath that was going on in my life started to surface. I tried to use my new learning to deal with it and gained a load of useful insights but I didn’t seem to be creating anything external, let alone a coaching practice, and my mood began to drop.
If you read my earlier posts you can follow this journey (it begins with What shall I do next?) and you will notice that there is a pronounced gap throughout September. This was the beginning of my descent into a mini depression during which time I felt there was nothing worth writing about and life generally sucked.
I was also dealing with a chest infection and my coach was suggesting I take a break from trying to make things happen, which I didn’t want to hear. My experience, to this point, had been that if I didn’t make things happen then nothing of worth, would happen. (See To Thine Own Self Be True and Will The Real Gillian Please Stand Up? for more on this). This culminated, on October 6th, in my low point of The Coaching School. I found myself considering cancelling my flights to Phoenix for the end of the programme, in December. I couldn’t see any point in carrying on with it. I was thinking “The School wasn’t working, Steve obviously wasn’t a good enough coach to sort me out (grin) and I was never going to change so why waste my money returning to Phoenix just to tell everyone I’d failed and achieved nothing”.
I didn’t cancel the flights, however, and through a series of conversations and doing The Work, I came to a deeper understanding of my need for achievement and with that I was now on the ascendant again. Whoopie!
Over the months as I have struggled with purpose and passion and goal setting and action and not knowing what I want, Steve has coached me to:
“CHOOSE something anyway. Choose projects and complete them and be proud of your work. Then continue choosing new things after that, always rising up to action and service so that the end of the day always feels good”.
I tried that, I chose various projects which I thought I had made a commitment to, only to find I’d lost interest after a couple of days. Then I had the breakthrough about my need for achievement, identity and depression. See (Will The Real Gillian Please Stand Up?).
The second struggle was to do with creating my life and did I really have the power to do that? Steve says “yes”. Byron Katie seems to say “yes” one minute and then “no” another. My confusion over this greatly added to my low mood.
I was trying to understand it all/work it out in my head. Some would say I was trying to understand that which cannot be understood. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else says because, unless I experience it for myself I won’t truly know one way or the other.
So this is my project for the next 8 weeks – to investigate whether or not I can create something concrete in my external world by setting an intention/making a commitment and then taking action as opportunities present themselves.
More specifics on this in my next post . . .
Yesterday, I went to a healer. Not something I normally do. But a good friend of mine recommended her work as a short cut to lifting the grey mood and at that point I was willing to try anything. By the time I actually arrived for my appointment the mood was already lifting anyway. But what was interesting was we ended up working on my drive for achievement and she also mentioned the self-criticism. Last week, in a session with my coach he’d suggested that somewhere I’d taken on the need to achieve, as an expression of who I was.
This isn’t new. I’ve been aware of being a high achiever and a “star” since my 20′s but I what I hadn’t quite grasped was the strength of that drive and just how thoroughly that has defined who I am. I’ve been so busy doing what it takes to be a high achiever or feeling down about not achieving enough, that I hadn’t focussed much on the being aspect of it. And, in the latter part of my life, I feel like I haven’t really achieved much anyway. All the things on my list that I wanted to do I’d pretty much done by my 30′s and, since then, I have been in this sort of wilderness desperately trying to find what it is I truly want to do.
And, in that time, I have suffered and been treated for Clinical Depression and, when I got over that, these grey moods that seem to come from nowhere.
This morning I’ve had a bit of an epiphany and the trigger was the healer bringing up the self-criticism again. (See my post ‘To Thine Own Self Be True‘ for more on this). As I said, in that post, for the most part I don’t find self-criticism to be particularly hurtful. It seems to be something I just do. But what is important is the high achiever identity from which it springs. The criticism comes because I’m not doing well enough, not achieving enough, not living up to my impossible standards etc.
Now, that is also a way to explain the depression and grey moods. As I mentioned, by the end of my 20′s I’d pretty much crossed off all the big things on my Life’s To Do List. And, very importantly, I had learned that most of them didn’t deliver what I’d hoped for. As an example, getting a prestigious job didn’t make me feel more important or cleverer or happier, as I’d secretly hoped it would. So, not only had I reached a point where I no longer knew what I wanted, I’d also had the experience (albeit unconsciously) that nothing external would make the sort of difference in my life I was looking for. Now, combine that with a drive and self-identity built on achievement and no wonder I ended up depressed. I was a high achiever who unconsciously thought that achievement was pointless.
As I began to see this, over the last 24 hours, my first feelings were of sheer terror. If I’m not a high achiever then who the hell am I? How will I operate in this world if that is stripped away? What if I sit around all day doing nothing getting more and more bored, contributing nothing? But this morning the curiosity is beginning to creep in. And the questions are changing to, for example, whom will I discover when my old identity is stripped away? What will life be like without the drive to achieve and consequent disappointment when I don’t (or do)? What new identity will I chose, if, indeed I have a choice? Do I have a choice?
Suddenly the world is an exciting place again. A place of wonder and curiosity. Suddenly Gillian is an exciting place to be.
It’s been a month since I wrote a blog post and it feels even longer. It’s been a challenge and a struggle and the last couple of weeks have seen my mood spiral down but now I have come to rest. I feel like I am gathering my strength before I leap off again. All is well.
I’ve been reading a lot of Byron Katie’s stuff and doing The Work, with mixed results. The Work itself mostly brings me relief, whereas the more theoretical descriptions in books such as ‘1000 Names For Joy‘ leave me confused. There appears, to me, to be a contradiction between the spiritual approach and the idea that we create our own lives. It has caused me much angst over the last few weeks and I have struggled with it. However, I have learnt that nothing productive ever comes from struggle and I am happy to report that, today, I can put this seeming contradiction aside and just let it be, for now.
Another shift today, relates to the title of this blog post – “To Thine Own Self Be True”.
Since I joined the Coaching School in June I have felt a lot of stress around certain things. An example is that 4 or 5 different people, on separate occasions, have told me that they thought I was hard on myself, that I should try and treat myself the way I treat my clients, that I bullied myself etc. This feedback caused stress. But instead of questioning the truth of it I beat myself up even more for beating myself up in the first place. I never stopped to ask myself whether or not my being unkind to myself was true for me and, if it was, whether or not it was important to me.
Yesterday, when I finally got around to asking myself those questions I realised that I’m not really bothered about whether I beat myself up or not. Right now, I don’t experience my thoughts as hurtful or counter productive. What was really creating the stress was the thoughts I had about what other people thought about me. My interpretation of what they were saying was that it was wrong and it was the fact that I was doing something “wrong” that was causing me stress. So actually, the thing for me to look at was not whether or not I was beating myself up, because that wasn’t really important to me, but whether or not I wanted to be influenced by what other people thought was “wrong” for me. I simply hadn’t stopped to find out what was true for me but had instead reacted in a knee jerk way to perceived criticism.
As I journalled I found more and more examples of where I’ve not stopped to ask what is true for me.
Part of my coaching recently has been to find my relaxed place and stop trying to make things happen. I was feeling stress around this but didn’t stop to question whether or not this coaching was or wasn’t right for me. When I asked myself what the truth was I found that I was feeling impatient to enrol a new client and I had been resisting that impatience because I’d made the assumption that I couldn’t be in a relaxed place where I wasn’t trying to make things happen, and be impatient at the same time. However, the truth is – I am feeling impatient to enrol a new client. So, now, instead of trying to ignore that feeling I have acknowledged it and I’m exploring if and how I can use it to help move me forward. By acknowledging the feeling, without judging it, it loses it’s power.
It seems to me that my mini depression of the last couple of weeks was brought on by my loosing touch with my inner truth. The coaching I was receiving, the books I was reading and the audios I was listening to were all things I wanted to hear and ideas I found appealing but in those moments when I tried to apply them they weren’t necessarily true for me. But I didn’t notice, such was my desire to have them be true.
Today’s another opportunity to create my life anew. To pay attention to what is true for me right now, to experiment with things that may, or may not be true and to question the truth of the thoughts that bring me stress. And I am grateful for it.
I received my report from my coach this morning. Here’s one of the things that jumped out at me:
“Our history has NO impact on us unless we give it new life each morning. Give life to something else!”
This was in response to my growing awareness of operating from the position of victim rather than taking ownership of my moods.
While I was writing my report on Sunday I tried an enquiry into who I was being when I was in one of these moods. It went like this:
“Who are you being when you feel this way. (Low mood, down, heavy).
Someone who feels hopeless
That I’m never going to change
That I’m always going to feel this way
It’s like I see the truth of the victim/owner distinction but my history proves that I can’t change it. Other people can – my clients even – but not me.
And as soon as I write that down I think “WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH”! It’s laughable. (Owner)
But then I think “Oh yeah? Well, then why did you not choose to own your feelings this week?” (Victim)
And the owner replies. “Who cares about this week. I’m only concerned with now and I can’t stay here chatting with you. I’ve got cleaning to do before my guest arrives”.
I was amazed at how quickly I was able to shift my energy by getting in touch with the victim side of me instead of just believing I had no control over my mood. And suddenly I felt energised again. However, this type of work takes practice, apparently, as yesterday morning I was back again to feeling down.
This time the shift came by creating something a bit outrageous to focus on.
A friend of mine is visiting and we are both signed up to Michael Neill’s Creating the Impossible in 30 Days. We were both feeling a bit hurrumph and stuck so we decided we’d go back to day 1 and see how much of it we could get done before she goes home in a few days time.
We started by going for a walk and getting clear about our impossible challenge again. Then we came home and set to. We whizzed through day 1 and set 3 tasks which were required for day 2. We were also required to attack our goal with overwhelming energy. And, since we’d been so stuck earlier in the day this seemed even more crazy which made us jump around the room like mad things waving our arms and shouting “I’m wild and overwhelming”!
My 12 year old stuck his head around the door and beat a fast retreat muttering in his ‘I’m practicing being a teenager’ way, “Oh My God!” But even he couldn’t resist the energy and next thing you know he’s in the garage with my mate holding up her jewelights (long story) while she took photographs.
So, it’s plain to see that there’s more to this mood thing than it being something that happens to me. And I have a long history here. But that last night, before I went to bed, I wrote down the above quote and promised myself I would read it first thing this morning.
Not only did I read it but I also listened to my ‘Life’s Vitim Owner Choice’ CD, despite waking in the usual low mood. And next thing you know the mood’s lifted and I’m looking forward to the day ahead. As soon as I felt the heaviness I said to myself “I will not go there. My history has NO impact on me unless I give it new life this morning. I will not do that!” I didn’t even know what the “something else” was I wanted to give life to. But that didn’t matter. Saying “no” to history and the heaviness was sufficient to set a positive mood for the day.
If this is something that you can relate to I encourage you to give this a go and then to leave a comment and let us know how it went.
What are you choosing to give life to today?