Episode 24: When “I don’t know” keeps you frozen, let it go
In which our protagonist greets the Solstice and the longest day with optimism for the future
Two things have surprised me in this year of being self(ish): first, how much I think I crave routine for someone who values flexibility; and secondly, how easy it is for me to lose focus and belief in those routines. That’s what’s happened to me recently: I hit a few bumps in the road, and everything went to pot.
Rain has stopped play (and/or exercise) by making my mood match the days: grey and murky.
Tech gremlins got into the system guiding my healthy eating plan, and of course there was absolutely no other way for me to access that information (I know, I know) so the sugar and carbs piled in (and on).
But more than all of this, my brain got in the way. I started to make essential baby steps forward in my recovery, and my brain went into overdrive: no, not change. Change is bad. Must protect Lauren. Must bring her back down to her rightful place.
“I don’t know” can be a comfort zone
Why is it that we can know instinctively and intellectually that something is good for us, the best thing to do, the only real and tangible and proper option, and yet run in the opposite direction? What is it about treating our minds and bodies with respect and care that feels so darn difficult sometimes?
In my recent experience - heck, in my lifelong experience - I find I’ll start a new regime with extreme gusto that quickly peters out. It might be a little glimmer of success that puts the breaks on, or it might be the difficulty of the task at hand; whatever it is, my brain starts shutting things down. Not this, it tells me. No, this is bad. This is new. This might change things. This might make life different.
When it comes to fight, flight or freeze, I have, to date, fallen firmly in the freeze camp. Freeze is fine; freeze means no danger. No effort, either. Just status quo, all the way to the horizon. Yet this is me stuck in my comfort zone, not trying, not giving things a chance. Even talking about it now as “this is what I always do” is me staying in that comfort zone. A vicious cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
They - the people out there in the internet - talk about manifesting, talk about dreaming big and creating vision boards and having a clear direction of travel. Which is fine and good if you can think that way. Ask me what it is that I actually want and you’ll get a shrug, an “I don’t know”. I don’t know what different looks like, what my daily life will be, but I know I just don’t want this. This here, whatever this is. I don’t like it. It’s no good for me.
Those “I don’t knows” are keeping me in my comfort zone. They’re keeping me frozen.
It’s time to let them go.
Let it go with gratitude
Today is, of course, the Solstice. Here in the northern hemisphere, it marks the sun reaching its peak, having completed its cycle, and the days begin to grow shorter again. In the traditional ways, this is a time of letting go. A time to contemplate what’s come to completion, to realise what no longer serves us. And, of course, a time to let these things go to make room for the future.
Is it ironic that I’m starting again with renewed focus and gusto today of all days? Or is it meant to be?
So, dear reader, dear Solstice, dear sun:
I let go of my need to control everything and everyone
I let go of my addictions to behaviours that are bad for me, body and soul
I let go of my apathy
I let go of this need to protect myself from an uncertain future
I let all of these things go with gratitude.
Instead, I breathe in light, I breathe in optimism, I breathe in the beauty of the world around me. I am grateful for a body that has an internal early warning system for when things are going awry, those little signs that things are not as they should be. I am grateful to be given yet another opportunity for change. I am grateful for this life, and all the possibilities and opportunities that await me.
I let go of what no longer serves me, and I embrace the uncertain future.
I do not need to control, and I do not need to be protected anymore.
Dear reader, until next time, go forth and prosper. And happy Solstice.
The week ahead 🗓
Writing: The novel is blocked, so I’m doing two things: first, creating a ritual around my writing to signal to my brain that it needs to start creating. Secondly, I’m going to play in other creative spaces, and work on a few shorts for submissions to get the creative juices going.
Work: I’m starting to think about how I might come back from sabbatical-land. Just thinking about what the future might look like, mind you, but it’s a start.
Health: I’ve signed up for the Diabetes UK One Million Steps challenge, which means you can keep track of my progress if you’re so inclined. My “page” is here; it all kicks off on 1 July. I’ve even got a new steps tracker on its way, so you know it’s serious!
Routine: I’m finding my rhythm. Solstice goal: build rituals that benefit me and how I want to be. Plus,join me and hundreds of others at the LWS Writers’ Hour every weekday: 8am London, New York, California and NZ. I go to at least one of those a day. Side note: I’m now hosting Kiwi hour several times a week! (That’s 9pm UK/4pm EST/1pm PST/6am AEST for those playing at home.)
On the stereo 🎧
I’ve been deep in study mode this week, so it’s not exactly been full of exciting new things to listen to. Instead, I’ve been on the ol’ focus apps and streaming zen playlists. This one says it lets you “enter an Alpha meditative state with mid-range frequencies and then ease into a Theta brainwave state”. I’ve got no idea what that means, but it’s been useful white noise for focusing the ol’ noggin.
Off the shelf 📚
As the authors of this book introduce the 10 actions they want us all to undertake to play our individual roles in mitigating the climate crisis, they write: “We can no longer afford the indulgence of feeling powerless.” That resonated with me so much. I am concerned and anxious about the future of our planet and how humanity can survive, but I find so much of the rhetoric unnavigable and difficult to engage with - either it’s full of anger or ambivalence. And then I found this book.
The Future We Choose is not only penned by the architects of the Paris Agreement, it’s also incredibly accessible and presents logical and simple ways we can all play our role in tackling the climate crisis. It starts by presenting two futures - the do nothing, or the do something - and goes into the three mindsets we need to cultivate: stubborn optimism, endless abundance and radical regeneration. Finally, the authors present 10 actions we can take right here, right now. It is essential reading for everyone on this planet.
“We are all weavers of the grand tapestry of history. As we cast our minds back and consider those who lived at moments of great consequence, we naturally feel that if we had lived then, we would have been among those who made the noble choices rather than those who stumbled along, head down, changing nothing. Well, this is our chance. Every one of the needed actions is something you can personally achieve as a human being, even if that boils down to urging others to take it seriously. Our hope is that by the time you put this book down, you will understand that you can make a significant difference.”
Visual confirmation 📷
Here’s the little monster this morning, embodying the way I felt: flat, lifeless. I was jealous of her sound sleep!