Yesterday I was hauling along my longest, fastest run yet. It was 5 minutes longer than the one I did last week. And 15 seconds per minute faster.
I was in the last 4 minutes of that run. Out in the frontier where I had never gone before. 8 weeks ago I couldn't even run one minute without feeling like I would collapse.
My body was screaming at me. It was humid, so each breath was a fight. Sweat was everywhere, including burning my eyes. So. Much. Discomfort. And downright pain.
With every step, my mind screamed "Quit now! You've already done more than you did before! You can quit now! You've already done more than you could before. You've done enough. Go back to the comfort zone!"
I wanted to be anywhere but in my body. Parts were starting to chafe, muscles I didn't even know I had were screaming, "We can't do this! Settle! Go back! Quit! Comfort zone! PLEASE!"
Then a knowing clicked in:
"These are the most important 2 minutes of your life.
These two minutes will take you further than you've ever gone before."
These two minutes differentiate You, now, from the You of yesterday - the one that couldn't run a mile, couldn't commit to a goal.
These two minutes, when conquered, cement a new Who in every cell of your Being.
These two minutes make it or break it. The next time I think about lacing up my sneakers, I'll be thinking either, "You're a quitter," or "You're a beast woman who eats miles for breakfast".
The hardest 2 minutes are the most important. They're the 2 minutes that create the new map of Who You Are.
There are "2 minutes" all over our days.
--Showing up for our kids when the wall of exhaustion, and "I cannot do this one more minute" hits like a ton of hopeless bricks.
--Getting back into the dating world, after we feel we've turned over every rock, met every possible partner out there, loved deeply, been hurt, broken, and are too tender to try again.
--Putting ourselves out there once again as an entrepreneur after we've launched and "failed," stared into the void of "No one cares what I have to say".
--Speaking up powerfully at work even after being passed over again and again for a promotion, after having other people take our ideas without giving credit, after being belittled, talked down to, shouted over, or ignored until we just can't imagine showing up one more freakin' day to this toxic mess...
Those are the last two minutes. The ones that shape Who We Are. Those are the last two minutes that cement our character into our very cellular being.
Do we rise above the pain, when every cell is screaming "Quit now! Get out! You can't take another minute of this?"
Do we show up for just TWO MORE MINUTES as the person we KNOW we are in our core? The one who takes the birds' eye view, stays present to the moment, and becomes a divine channel?
The last two minutes are the most important of our lives. Who will you be when your inner critics are screaming "Quit! You're not cut out for this!"
What will you say to your mind when it tries to shove you back into the comfort zone?
(Who DID finish those last 2 minutes and created a new level of endurance for myself, mentally and physically. Woo hoo!)
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Today was my child's first day of 3rd grade. My 1 year old is being "promoted" to 2 full days of day care. New outfits, shiny new supplies, No. 2 pencils, fresh lunchboxes, a note on the napkin that reads, "I know you're having an awesome day because you're an awesome person!"
Then I sat down to work, which today meant compiling all the data from a survey I recently put out.
Three handwritten pages later, I had just a *sampling* of the things our inner critics say to us.
That nagging, nasty voice in our heads that doesn't believe in us.
The list of nasty is loooong, and it includes (but believe me, is not limited to):
And then I took a break because my heart got a little broken, and posted my kids' first day of school pics on the Facebook to cheer myself up from all the collective mental distress we go through.
While I was looking at my kids' big goofy innocent grins, it hit me like a stone between the eyes:
HOW DO WE GET FROM THERE... TO HERE?
From excited and a little nervous about our first day of school... to hating on ourselves so hard?
I mean, I know how we get there. This is my area of expertise. Our families, our teachers, our societies, our cultural messages, religious messages... the list goes on and on... for some reason, we internalize some and reject others.
Something about seeing those innocent kid grins of anticipation and joy in the face of something new, juxtaposed with the messages of "can't" "not good enough" "you suck" "you're fat" "why did you do that?" "you stupid idiot" "you're a lazy procrastinator" ...
really broke my heart. Especially when on the other side of all that negative self talk...
ARE OUR DREAMS.
WIthout all that inner mean girl and boy action going on, we would:
Big dreams. Big inner critics. Big inner critics slaying big dreams.
This is all going to lead to a whole helluva lot of regret down the line, and who wants to be burdened with that?
I can't stand the idea.
Let's handle this together. Enroll in Inner Critic Obedience School.
Confession: I have been on practically every known anti-depressant and anti-anxiety med known to man. I've been on some that have made doctors go, "They put you on THAT? They don't make that anymore!"
This is OK. IN those times, I needed those things, and 20 years ago, no one knew how to treat depression and anxiety in a high-achieving, Ivy League, fly-by-theseat-of-my-pants-and-thrive kind of girl. People associated those things with Sylvia Plath and Robert Smith. I didn't fit the bill, and so the docs and therapists and health center and general practitioners did the best they know with what they had.
Medication. And so I wandered in and out of all of them. Some tipped me towards manic. Some tipped me towards numb. Some tipped me towards really, really, REALLY "normal" (or what I imagine it feels like inside of "normal"). Some gave me shamanistic vivid dreams. Some gave me horrible digestive issues.
In the end, I never felt myself on any medication. It always felt like someone else was occupying my brain. So in the end, I always took myself off (not advisable. Brain zaps, anyone?!), feeling like I'd rather have genius + madness, than stability + someone else living on my shoulder.
Then I read A New Earth and everything, everything, EVERYTHING changed for me practically overnight (thanks, Mom, for pressing that orange book in my hands despite me shaking my head and kind of scoffing). I learned about the present moment... and dropped into it. Insomnia - gone. Anxiety - wayyyyyy less. Depression - tackled. A New Earth was the start of my inner work journey, almost 10 years ago. Since then, I've had ups and downs, and a couple debilitating years of postpartum depression + anxiety... but I want to share with you the #1 thing that brings me back into the present moment and full enjoyment of my life, right now.
Someone once said, "Depression is living in the past. Anxiety is living in the future". While that's a pretty gross generalization, there's some truth to it. When my clients and I want to get at the bottom of their anxious feelings, we almost always have to tackle this:
(CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SHARE WITH YOUR ANXIOUS FRIENDS ON FB/PINTEREST/TWITTER)
THE WIFFI. The What If Flowchart oF Insanity. (Give me poetic license there). The WIFFI is the flow-chart of anxiety that trickles through anxious thoughts. It's our attempt to predict and control every possible outcome, and our reaction to it, as a way to reduce anxiety.
Except it almost always causes MORE anxiety, friends, because we start to realize the infinite ways things can go, and that we have NO control, and that we can predict NOTHING... and so enter INSOMNIA... where our brains try to create EVERY. POSSIBLE. SCENARIO. So we're totally prepared like awesome Girl and Boy Scouts.
And then? Whatever it is we were so anxious about almost NEVER theres to any one of those WIFFI paths. In the meantime, we've made ourselves insane, lost night after night of sleep, and still aren't "prepared".
Believe me, I'm living this right now as we sell our house and buy another. I want to be prepared for everything, and I seem to believe that with enough research, googling, calculating, scheming, and WIFFIing... I can be totally prepared for ANYTHING! and EVERYTHING! No matter WHAT! Even if the buyer wants us to install a shark tank! Or buy her a dog to go with the house! I got this! I GOT THIS!
If you want to reduce anxiety a thousand fold, all you have to do is RECOGNIZE THE WIFFI when it starts to eat your brain like a crazy, manic parasite. Here are the symptoms:
1) Inventing scenarios. As soon as you are inventing scenarios, you're down the What If Flowchart oF Insanity. You don't know what you don't know... so let it go.
2) You're uber-googling. In my case, I'm uber-Zillowing, making sure I haven't missed ONE SINGLE PROPERTY that would be a BETTER VALUE even though I've been stalking the market for months. I'm good. I found the house. I gotta let it go and give it up without a backup plan.
3) You're telling the story of whatever it is - boyfriend, job situation, house search, house sale, parenting thing, PTA thing - in gory detail to the whole world. That's the WIFFI trying to find some more paths to go down. Maybe someone ELSE will find a path you didn't uncover yet!
4) You're still anxious. You've turned over EVERY possible rock. EVERY reason he didn't text, every possible scenario with your boss, every possible response from your buyer... and you're still anxious. Who could blame us... we've now taken ONE anxiety producing situation and turned it into 50 anxiety producing outcomes. D'oh.
How do you stop a WIFFI?? HAHAHAHAHAH. When you figure that out, can you let me know? Because I'm in WIFFI-ville without a flashlight or a compass.
Just kidding. I know how to stop a WIFFI... shine a light on it. That's it. You say, OMG, I'm going down he WIFFI. Then do something else to occupy your brain. My favorite thing to occupy my brain?
Pick a category. Animals. Girls' names. Cities in Europe. Types of flowers. Types of fish. Then, name all the things from A-Z, NO SKIPPING. Anna. Barbara. Carmela. Delilah....
ZZZZZZZZ. And... a good night's sleep to you, my friend.
I hope it helps.
You've got to make a decision. Where to live. Leave this job and take a new one. Stay in the marriage, leave the marriage. Start a business, quit a business.
The paths of our lives are more like an infinite flow chart of "what if". How many times have you thought, "Thank God I did this thing, or I wouldn't be here today/have these kids/met this person?"
But life could have gone differently. We know this, and we've experienced it, and therin lies so much paralysis when it comes to decisions, big and little. Yet we need to cultivate an ability to take a leap into the unknown if we want to create a life less ordinary.
We know something greater lies on the other side of these decisions, big and small. So why do we stay, years and years, in the comfort of where we are?
We think that it boils down to the unknown. When we leave the comfort of what we know, even when it's a hell that we know, we think we're afraid to find out what's waiting. But that's not what stops us.
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After all, the unknown is probably something we've faced before. Visionaries, leaders, creatives, rebels - we are a people who take the unmarked exit off the highway to see what's there. We vacation off the beaten track. It's not the void of not-knowing itself that stops us from making decisions.
The thing about the unknown is that actually, it's QUITE known. You know that you don't know. There's nothing "unknown" about the unknown. It's a big, black void of "Who the hell knows?" and "Not this!" We might not know the line up - where the apartment will be, who our colleagues will be at the new job, if we'll ever meet our soulmate - but we know that it WON'T contain the things we have now. It won't contain our current boss, the house we know, the one traffic light in town that we could draw from memory, in our sleep.
The unknown isn't the problem. In fact, the unknown is exciting. Clarity isn't ALWAYS what it's cracked up to be ( (coming next week).
The problem is not even fear. Of course we're afraid going into the unknown, making decisions that might leave us in a prolonged space of "uhhhhh...." and "this really hurts so bad" and "I never should have done that". If we weren't afraid, we'd be nuts.
The problem is this:
We don't trust ourselves enough to be resilient in the face of the fear and the unknown.
What is there to fear if we know that we can always count on ourselves to be resourceful and creative? If we know that we will always step up to the plate for ourselves and our loved ones? What is there to fear if we know, deep down, that no matter how many times we burn to the ground we will always rise more beautiful, more evolved, more wise?
We are afraid we will let ourselves down. We are afraid we will not rise to the occassion of adversity and let others down. That we will not be able to think quickly on our feet when the time comes, that when the monster rises up out of the void of the unknown, we will not be able to brandish the sword fast enough.
What do I need to be resilient in the face of the unknown?
That's the question that gives us the bravery to take a leap, to leave the comfort (even the hellish comfort) of what we know in search of something better. To have resilience. To remember the times when we did rise above what we thought we could ever do. To know we are wise, we are creative, we are the ones who will step into greatness in the smallest and scariest of moments.
Share: What's a time that you surprised yourself with your resourcefulness, quick thinking, creativity, and/or wisdom?