The Desire Cheat Sheet
I took a break over the Christmas and New Year Holidays, much to my surprise and chagrin. I had spent much of the last year writing and didn't see the burnout on my horizon. Okay, okay - that isn't entirely true. I saw it coming, I just didn't give in to it easily. It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I'm a bit of an over achiever. I love to tell myself all the things I 'should' be capable of doing and fighting with myself when my body claims it just can't.
First, I was hit with general exhaustion, which I ignored. This quickly transitioned into total malaise and little desire to do anything. I struggled against it, still carting my laptop everywhere, certain that I would be able to produce some writing regardless of how I felt. I might as well have hauled around a load of bricks and expected a house to build itself. Every time I opened my laptop, my mind rebelled by showing me nothing. I was frustrated and irritable, tired and angry. I cried, I shouted, I inserted false cheer, I tried and tried to resist until ultimately I was so depleted of energy that I gave in.
I surrendered to the requests of my body and soul and stopped resisting. I didn't make plans, I just let events unfold. I watched movies all day, soaked in several longs baths, and read a few books. I played with my kids, went on a date with my husband, and visited with family. I played with my new puppy, Darla, enjoying the simple pleasure of tug of war and bonding with a new furry friend. I slept like I hadn't slept in a year, deeply and without dreams. I left my laptop in my office and let it hibernate, too.
Somewhere in the middle of my retreat from the world, my energy started to return and ideas started coming to me once more. I recognized that I was slowly replenishing myself. I also acknowledged that I hadn't been paying close enough attention to how drained I had been.
I started to think deeply about why I struggle so hard with surrender. The answer that came to me was both simple and complex: I don't desire it. I don't like to stop, especially not when I feel like I've made great strides in my writing, or progress of any sort in any area of my life. Somewhere in me, there's a deeply ingrained belief that much like a roller coaster, halting forward momentum means that I'll get stuck in one of those deep dips and won't have the energy to drag myself back up the next hill to regain my original impetus. I basically developed a strategy of never stopping that aligned with that belief, even though I know that a roller coaster that never stops to receive care and maintenance can malfunction and jump the track altogether. Talk about a literal crash and burn!
I decided my focus was all off. I was making decisions based on what I DON'T want. I didn't want to lose momentum, so I pushed until my body forced me to stop, which led to more lost momentum than I originally feared. I was actually creating the very situations I didn't want by focusing on them.
As I rang in the New Year, I claimed the word 'Clarity' as something I'd like to develop in 2019. I decided to be really clear about what I want, and to stop focusing on what I DON'T want. I couldn't wait to start, but I soon discovered that my focus on what I DON'T want is an all day occurrence! I immediately struggled with flipping my thoughts towards my actual desires. After all, I have years and years of practice focusing on what I don't want, like this:
"I can't believe that guy just cut me off! What a jerk! Traffic is terrible on this road!"
"I just took Darla outside to play and she came back and piddled right on the floor! House training is so hard."
"The line for checkout is ten people deep. I'll probably have to wait thirty minutes before I even get to put my items down..."
Familiar, isn't it? We all have thoughts like this all day long. So I started to switch my focus. I'll use the same examples:
"I just got cut off. I'm going to get in the right hand lane and slow down a bit and let everyone pass me. I want a peaceful drive to work this morning."
"I took Darla out to play and she came inside and went on the floor. I want house-training to go more smoothly. I'll start taking treats with me when we go outside to reinforce where I'd like her to go to the bathroom."
"The line for checkout is really long. I want to be able to set down my items. I'm going to go get a cart so I don't have to hold my items while I wait."
These are just a few of hundreds of examples I could give. As I said, my focus is on what I don't want most of the time. The shift did lead to some important insights though. I did have a peaceful drive that morning. House-training has gone more smoothly. By the time I made it back to checkout, there was only one person in front of me. I've been more relaxed and content. My actual desires, not their opposites, started to manifest.
Now, this isn't to say I didn't strike out on some, which is why I came up with my 'Desire Cheat Sheet'. I quickly discovered that when I'm truly emotionally triggered by something, it is harder for me to switch my focus. You know the saying, 'Necessity is the mother of invention'? Well, I had to get creative.
I took some index cards from my daughter's backpack and made myself a cheat sheet for all the things I truly want. That way, when I'm struggling, I can quickly pull my cheat sheet out and read it to refocus. This also helps me discover new things that I want when none of my written words pertain to the current circumstances. I use the already written desires to re-center myself and then simply add another line to my cheat sheet about the new situation that came up.
Consistently turning to my pocketful of desires has led to a calm peace within me. Instead of resisting, I have turned to allowing, and all that I want actually feels possible. I've only been at this for a few days, but I intend to continue this practice. Especially since a few of the things I claimed on my cheat sheet have already started to show up in my life. I'm confident that this shift in my focus will only lead to greater clarity for me, and that I'll be able to achieve what I want without struggling against what I don't want. It's not a New Year resolution - its a New Year evolution!
I'd love it if you'd join me. Make your own cheat sheet, shift your focus, and invoke the magic of clarity for yourself!
What's your word for 2019? Share this post and claim your word for growth in the New Year!