We all have fears… fears of failing, of inadequacy, of abandonment or rejection, of the future, of what might or might not happen, and we even wonder what might have been if we had made a different choice somewhere along the path. After all, life is about all the little choices that we make and if we think too hard about it, it can get overwhelming and paralyzing.
Over the past couple of years, I think I have been able to live on optimism. One can never be sure of what the future will hold so why spend too much time worrying about it? So I tried to train myself to be positive, to look on the bright side, to trust in the future, to expect miracles, and to take leaps of faith. It was not necessarily all that easy but the little Twitter bio I wrote close to two years ago says “I’m a dreamer, happily wandering in search of love, kindness, greens & blue… Nothing sad about it… These days, I seem to be an incurable optimist… :o)”
And for a while, things just kept happening naturally… There were no fights or torturing thoughts. There were some bumps here and there but nothing devastating or paralyzing. Life just unfolded naturally when I stopped questioning everything and it felt wonderful!
Sadly, somewhere over the past few months, between the job loss and the incessant moves, the long sickness and all its side effects, the cold weather and the overall financial and professional instability in my life, I did not notice that my optimism had sailed away to warmer shores and left me on my own. At first, I simply did not realize… We all go through rough spots. We push a little harder for a bit and we find a way to keep going. And there were still a lot of wonderful things happening in my personal life. But around the time of the anniversary of my return from the States, my mind started going crazy, wondering about achievement, success, potential regrets, and fear of the future. I felt that I had been wandering a bit aimlessly trying to recover from the recent disappointments, waiting for the fog to pass. And suddenly I could not focus on anything. I felt at the end of my rope; getting up in the morning was taking forever and I was overwhelmed by everything and simply could not find a spot where to sit still. So I thought maybe I needed something to focus on. I think that I am one of those persons who need to have dreams or goals to keep going… Not necessarily anything major. But for example, just committing to running on a regular basis gives my life some directions. I find it empowering and energizing. So I started thinking that maybe I should focus on launching my business as a freelance translator. But that led me to start wondering about the logistics of it all, where to work in the house since I really can’t start by renting a space somewhere else, and how it was all going to fit in with the rest of my life and my family.
And suddenly, I felt like I was drowning. All the scenarios in my head were about things going wrong, about ambivalence and doubts, about questioning everything and second-guessing everyone.
So I pulled out my Byron Katie book, I started watching Oprah’s life class and listening to Louise Hay; I managed to meet someone who works on positive psychology and asked her to give me recommendations on how to snap out of that downward spiral. I started working on my gratitude journal again and I even wrote affirmations (that was a first for me!). I wrote them on stickers and put them on my monitor at work and wrote them in my little journal, reading them a couple of times a day. I tried talking about it to my close ones but maybe I did not make it clear that I was loosing ground and I felt a bit disconnected.
And then, sometimes, life does not just stop to give you a break or to give you a chance to take a deep breath and to catch up and recuperate. Maybe my negativity had already been too contagious and bad things followed.
And I was in shock: right as I was trying so hard to take care of myself, I did not realize that I was forgetting to also keep my attention on my loved ones and I took them for granted for a bit. I had been lost in my own thoughts. I was in the midst of major changes in my life and I just did not know what to hold on to. But vacations had been planned and I figured that then would be the time to relax, rest, spend time in each other’s arms and build new dreams together for the future.
But it seems that time simply could not wait. Fear creeps in right when and where you don’t expect it and suddenly pulls the rug from under your feet and leaves you helpless and hopeless.
So as I am struggling to regain my balance and my strength, I am diving deep into all the messages of positivity and optimism I can find. I write on ever more post-its and try to stay focused on the fact that all will be ok and that it is useless to bang my fits against the wall, fight with what is, or feel sorry for myself. I hold on to words that have always brought me comfort in the past and above it all, I try to remain positive:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Theodor Seuss Geisel
“Wheresoever you go… go with all your heart.”
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”
Lucius Anneaus Seneca
“Life is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“Our barriers to love are rarely consciously chosen. They are our efforts to protect the places where the heart is bruised.” Marianne Williamson
In the end, I may sometimes have a lot of fears and anxiety about the future but that usually does not stop me. I don’t know how to give up and I just want to keep looking for solutions and for ways to make it work. It has not always served me right in the past: with hindsight, I think I may have at times wasted too much time and energy fighting for some things I should have simply let go of. But at least, I don’t have regrets because I never walked away from something that I believed could potentially bring me happiness.
And yes, sometimes when changes get nearer, they bring along their share of doubt and anxiety. Change is scary because until we take the step, there is simply no way to know whether it will make things better or worse. And I hate being in limbo, that time between the moment when the decision is made and when the action is finally taken. Once a new direction has been chosen, I need to start prepping for what is upcoming. I simply cannot sit around motionless because then I just start worrying about it all.
So I try to keep on moving forward.
I convince myself that “no risk, no fun!”
That I should “leap and the net will appear.”
And more recently, that “affirmation + action = miracle.” And who could possibly want to walk away from a miracle?
Still, sometimes, it takes two to tackle a challenge…