Do you ever feel the desire to screw the paper up and start again? Hitting the reset button when things get overloaded, overwhelming, and confusing,
I tend to believe that I can clear the decks and start again. The next one/time will be different, better, cleaner, than the current one.
In this episode of the podcast I unpack some questions we can ask when facing this situation. Do we really need to perform a full reset, or would a simple mindset change and refocus suffice?
Beauty in the Blemish
I like things to be neat and tidy. When things feel messy and chaotic on the outside, it feels the same on the inside. Whenever I buy a new notebook I have to make a mistake early on. So that I have to get over it. Because otherwise I’m frightened to create. And I’m tempted to rip out pages and even throw notebooks away if I’ve messed them up.
But it’s in the confusing, messy, unfinished blemishes that beauty emerges. This is something I always see and appreciate over time. Going back to an old notebook with scribbles, things crossed out, and incomplete ideas, is a wonderful thing. I might see the early stages of something that became a blog post, a song, or an obsession. Dots are connected and the paths I’ve been on become evident.
Yet at the time, the mess feels frustrating and annoying. Leaving unfinished notebooks. Notebooks with pages ripped out. Even notebooks that were trashed. As the precursory ritual to the declaration, ‘I’ll do it better next time’.
When we get fixated on perfect, we lose sight of the fact that this will never happen. If we believe there is a right way to do it we will always be frustrated with the blemishes that make the thing beautiful and unique. And so we hit the reset button again.
Those blemishes only become beautiful over time. They become the wounds and marks that turn the mundane into the characterful. They are the story. The ability to tolerate our own fragmented, imperfect, blemished selves, is the key to any story worth living. But it’s not comfortable. We want to hit the reset button and start again on a blemish-free updated version.
Reset the Soul, Not the Climate
“Do you suppose that you alone have had this experience? Are you surprised, as if it were a novelty, that after such long travel and so many changes of scene you have not been able to shake off the gloom and heaviness of your mind? You need a change of soul rather than a change of climate.” – Seneca
How often do we believe that we need a change of climate? Perhaps in a literal sense. To move somewhere, go travelling, or get away for a bit. Or in the sense of other aspects of life; a new relationship, home, redecorating the kitchen, buying a new car, different job, community, finding a new hobby, etc.
Only we find that when we get that thing, the same experience is there to greet us. The gloom and heaviness is lurking beneath. The stress reappears. As does the dissatisfaction, and the same old patterns of self-destructive behaviour.
We need a change of soul, not simply a change of climate.
When we run, when we quit, when we move on, are we moving because our soul has evolved into this new season. Or do we believe that the next thing is going to be some magic bullet that will finally cause everything to fall into place?
In the episode we look at five key questions to help us understand our response to this:
- Why Will This Time Be Different?
- What Has Stopped You From Doing More Before Now?
- How Do Your Beliefs Impact Your View of the Situation?
- What Could You DO Completely Differently This Time
- What Do People Doing What You Want to Do, Do?
The Lull Before the Storm
We often want to quit just before we break through to the next level. It is at those plateau points that we feel like we’re failing, like we’re not getting anywhere, or that things are stuck. In that liminal space where we take for granted how far we have come, and feel overwhelmed by how far there is still to go.
Things are ticking along nicely. You’re moving at a pace that is yielding results. You just need to be patient, and do what needs to be done.
It’s often simply the story we tell ourselves about this relationship, job, project, idea, etc that makes us believe we’re getting nowhere. And it’s often a lack of clarity as to what we need to do next that moves us towards the reset button. To believe that we need to start all over again because things have ground to a halt.
It’s not a change of climate that’s required, it’s a change of soul.
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We all experience big moments of change: the end of a relationship, a change in job, a house move, growing the family, losing a loved one, and so on. These are big changes. But WE remain the same. WE are still there. In it. We don’t lose ourselves.
But we might be moved by it. We might change some thoughts, some habits, some views on what is important. But these are not a reason to resent and reset what’s gone before. Or to belittle the old unenlightened version of ourselves.
Rather it is an opportunity to see how dynamic and fluid life is. How this moment is not the forever moment. Just like the last moment wasn’t the forever moment. But this moment is the only moment. It’s the only chance you have to choose what you’re going to do and how you’re going to impact what’s to come. There is no starting again. There is only continuation. The question is, what are you carrying with you as you go from here?