Here’s another interesting though that surfaces every time Mercury is retrograde. Am I doing my duty? Have I cluttered up my life with too many should, must and ought limitations? Or am I finally free to do what is best for me?
My life is circumscribed by expectations. The expectations of others. And those that I impose on myself. yet some of those expectations are really the opposite of what I feel or think. That’s where a sense of duty can trip me up. The idea that I am responsible to others for their expectations of me. That to fall short of what they expect is some kind of big crime. Like I am not being perfect enough. Yet when I think about all of the shoulds, musts and oughts I have taken on in my life it’s no wonder I ran around like a headless chicken for so long. Or that it has taken me years to blast through the restrictions of these SMOD’s. Layer on layer of behaviour, responsibility and judgement that has weighed down my ability to be my authentic self.
All of these have kept me on a treadmill. Although I have stepped off time after time. It’s as if the power of duty, the call of it to be responsible for others, has some sort of seductive force. Because I’ve got back on the treadmill loads of times too. I know it is the power of belief. Me believing I should, must and ought to be the best kind of woman, daughter, wife, sister, mother, co worker. And on and on endlessly. Whilst the goalposts shift around with impressive speed so that I never quite make the grade. Once again this pass of Mercury apparently running backward has got me looking at the treadmill I’m currently on. I’m checking in with my expectations. Are they set to positive and authentic values. Or am I still listening to the expectations I got from others?
When you hear the call of duty, if someone is telling you you should, must to ought to do something (even if it’s your own voice telling you) please take a moment. Have you fallen into another SMOD? One that is putting barriers in your way of being true to your real self? Take this opportunity to get off whatever treadmill is tempting you. And put your feet on the path to enjoying being exactly who you are.
As I sat on my bench this evening I could hear my plants calling for water. I’ve ended my day giving them a good drink with my watering can. I could feel the burst of energy this released. And their roots reaching down into the wet soil so they could grow the plants some more.
It made me think about all of the beautiful plants that grow on the planet. Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are that Mother Nature provides so much for us. Yet we also have to be involved in the process. There are thing to do, like planting, watering and harvesting, so that there will be an abundance of growth. It’s a shared endeavour. Each Spring I begin a new adventure with my garden. And round about now I can see it’s full beauty emerging. That exchange of energy makes it bloom. And when I see the perky geraniums, hopeful petunias and cheeky busy lizzies my heart expands too. These plants are a reminder that even the smallest part of Mother Earth has something to offer us.
It also made me think about the way I tend myself. Do I make sure I am watering myself enough? Finding the sunniest position? Is my planter too restricting to my growth? Are my roots deep and strong to deal with the dry weather conditions? And do I let my beautiful flowers blossom? I’ve written before about the should, musts, oughts and duties that we take on in life. These SMOD’s become restrictions that hold us in the same old patterns. When I am transplanted into new ground my roots may still carry the energy of previous restrictions. Perhaps I get frightened of spreading and growing. Yet how can I grow bigger and better blossoms If my roots stay small? Water represents emotions. When I am transplanted I have to start watering myself with positive vibes. Feeding myself the encouragement I need.
At the end I had a quiet chat with my plants as I was watering them. I asked them to grow well, be health and happy. To show me their true colours. Because I was also asking myself to do that too. Like the plants it’s my summer time. The time to be all that I can. So, do you need little watering and tender loving care?
Sometimes it takes a bit of a jolt to get my attention. Bumping my car yesterday was one of those moments. In a weekend of strange and weird moments this was one that really got me thinking.
Of course, when I looked at some files this evening it all made perfect sense. But bumping into a wall was the key point for me to make a decision. I have to say it wasn’t a serious accident. I’ve had a bit of a stiff neck, shoulders and back today. And my car needs some cosmetic repairs. But the jolt of sliding into a stone wall certainly electrified my mind. For the rest of the day there was a little voice in there asking me how I wanted to spend the rest of my time on the Earth. A kind of invitation to check in with the direction my life was taking. With a view to making sure I was enjoying myself.
I had a good day with the Thin Places group. And a chance to stand on a high point to see things from a higher perspective. As well as recognising the fun of sharing my ideas with other people. When I got back to the office today I started pulling out the files I use to keep my work organised. One after another, like bumping into the wall again, I saw the titles bouncing me around again. They were activities I have wanted to do all year. All dated 2016. It’s taken me a year to get back to the focus I had when I made up the folders. But I’m coming back to them very much clearer where they fit in my bigger picture.
Because I’ve spent a year bumping into the bits of me that have held me back. All sorts of beliefs and values muddled in with doubts and fears.
Yesterday gave me a chance to think about my work. And ask myself again why I do certain things. Especially if I’m not really passionate about them. I know it can be hard to let go of what I feel I should, must, ought or have a duty to do. Yet I also know that often those SMOD’s are the needs and demands of others. Not my own. The last year has been about releasing myself from other people’s expectations. Because I have to be able to do what fits for me. Rather than try to fit with what fits for others. That way leaves me bumping against their interpretation of my life. And how they think I should live it. Not in a nasty way. But because that’s what we tend to do to each other.
Placing conditions on what is given and received. Stepping back over the last few days I’ve been able to appreciate that conditionality. And to choose to remove the barriers to what I require or desire in my life. Now it’s full steam ahead for Embrace Intuitive Mentoring and my writing. There is even a little space left for my painting. Out go the groups and workshops of the last ten years. Although there will be a little online teaching work for part of 2018. The folders are ready. I’m ready. All that remains is the tidying up of loose ends and clearing of space. Although I know that will be made much easier because I am ready to make the changes I need in my life. So the Universe will make sure it unfolds in exactly the way it needs to.
Bumping the car reminded me not to waste the time and energy I have. It gave me something immediate to focus on. In the moment my sub-conscious mind made a string of decisions. And confirmed my intuitions of 12 months ago. Time to drive a new route!
I start each day with the wish that I can stay cool, calm and collected. An old fashioned way of saying I’m going to stay away from stress of any kind.
It’s a wonderful intention. But as they say – the road to hell is paved with good intentions! However I am becoming much better at minimising my stress level when I notice that I’m getting a bit twitchy. When I think back to my twenties and thirties I notice how much time I spent stressed out and exhausted. I’m not sure now what I thought all that stress was achieving. Certainly not what I thought it was anyway. There was the shift into being married not single. Trying to get ahead in my career. Discussions about babies and family life. A messy divorce. Singlehood. Another messy relationship. Still trying to forge ahead with a career despite moving from one end of the country to another.
Now I look back I seem to have been trying to pack an awful lot of living into a short space of time. I feel that’s one of the benefits of getting more years under my belt. I can shake my head and laugh at all the stuff that created stress for me. Because none of it matters now. I’d love to be able to share that perspective with some of my younger mentees. But I’m not sure if they would get it. We jump into life wanting all sorts of dreams and stress ourselves up to the eyeballs to get them. Only to find, quite often, that the dream we were chasing isn’t the one that is right for us. It took me many years of self development to get to the point of recognising and rejecting my stressy head.
Of course reacting to stress is a survival technique. It’s just that the ego mind now sees risk in all sorts of things. And learning to tell the difference between survival and a dream dying can be hard.
One of the best things I learned when discovering how to be less stressed was that I was doing it to myself. If I made something matter to me then it got stressy. I remember working really hard doing a lot of overtime to buy a particular car. When I got in to drive it for the first time I hated the way it drove. I moved from stressing about affording it to stressing about wanting to get rid of it. It took me a long time to work out that I could have had a test drive in all sorts of cheaper cars in case there was a more affordable one that was lovely to drive. I think we all do that far too often. Forget to think things through because we are focused on one outcome.
When I started to think things through I found that I could let issues drop. I could step back from the pressure of making decisions that felt like they had to be concrete or perfect and let myself have more options. Flexibility too. Stress decreases when I know that it’s ok to change my mind. Or that I can try something and then swap to another choice if I want. The relief from believing something is the only option is wonderful. It also helped me to notice when the stress wasn’t really mine. Because I had to deal with people who were also stressed. Pressured in one way or another. Their minds running wild with fear and anxiety.
Stress is a bit like a virus. You can be immune. Or you can catch every variety going.
Part of freeing myself from stressful days was to develop an ability to step back. Not to react in the same way when someone was stressy headed with me. Letting their energy flow around and past me. I began aiming for that cool, calm, collected approach in my dealings with others. Letting them say and do what they needed to express their stress but not joining in. Reminding myself that I was only responsible for myself and my actions. I also found that if I spoke what was truthful for me I carried less stres around.
It was hard to find my authentic voice because of all the conditioning about how we should, ought or must speak to one another. Yet when I took off my masks and spoke from the realest me I became more at peace with myself. Even if I wasn’t heard or understood. I recognised that suffering in silence, so to speak, was stressful. Then I began to notice that when I was calm so were others. Calmness spreads like a virus too. I promised myself that I would bring as much of that energy into my day as I could. Meditation really helped me to hone my calmness. Being able to release myself from my thoughts. Letting my feelings go. Living in the moment.
Nowadays I am much more likely to step back from stress. To decline to get wound up. Happy to let anything that is problematic resolve itself. I haven’t lost that stressy head completely. But I’m nearly there!
Am I purposeful? Showing determination or resolve? Is my intention strong enough? These questions popped up for me today as I looked at my To Do list.
It’s the one I shoved on one side yesterday because it was too hot. I’d returned to my desk this morning ready to pick up what I’d left yesterday. But as I checked the list I thought about that sense of being purposeful. I do lots of things in my working ‘week’ but I sometimes forget to ask if what I’m doing has a purpose. And I feel that’s a theme that came out of the mentoring I did with clients today too. Often the people I work with have reached a point where they feel lost. The driving force, or purpose, of what they are doing has disappeared. They have become stuck. And often frustrated in that stuckness.
I know that feeling very well. It seems to me that we human beings survive better when we have a goal, focus or purpose. Not to have one leaves us at the mercy of the flow of life. So we create meaning and movement to our lives by setting intentions. Or you could call it building dreams. I also know that when we get to the point of the dreams coming true we quickly ask ‘what’s next’. This purposeful expecting and achieving pushes me forward. I remember times when I was so determined to make my dreams happen that I overspent my time and effort to make it so. Then I had to rest and find another purpose.
So being purposeful can be helpful yet it can also be my downfall. Pushing myself too hard can end up with me not able to enjoy my newly achieved dream.
It’s all a matter of balance. And also finding pleasure in those times when there is an absence of purpose. Being able to switch between purposeful action and creative imagining. Bringing my focus in to this moment or this day. Finding a purpose in what I am doing right now. The bigger picture will emerge if I let it. I’ve also found that there is a point at which I have to reconsider my activities. I might have started them with a very clear aim. Yet are they still necessary to my dreams.? What am I still doing that no longer fits with where I’m headed? Is it time to stop doing some things? Certainly a good prompt was me looking at that To Do list. Because it shrank as I thought about each item.
That’s a good thing. I was able to focus my attention on what will carry me forward. On those things that will show the Universe I’m serious about the dreams I want to achieve. Too many times I’ve defeated my own wishes by putting my attention onto those things that contradict what I really desire. Getting lost in the things I feel I ought to be doing. Not the things I can do to move forward. Being purposeful about something is the signal for progress. It also shows that I am ready to receive all that I’ve asked for. Because I have accepted that it fits where I’m headed to. Even if I don’t know quite where that is yet. And I’ve also accepted that I deserve my own good fortune.
My life is full of purpose. I would say it’s purposeful. Only it’s not yet possible for me to see the ‘big’ purpose to it all. And that’s ok. I can wait for the bigger picture to emerge. In the meantime I will focus and dream in equal measure. How about you? Can you do that too?
Today is my regular life mentoring day. In this work I am able to emphasise my ability to work with people who are determined to change their live around.
That’s a wonderful thing. Although it often involves digging in deep to their inner voices to understand what judgements are being played out. Because those often emphasise the negative rather than the positive. I know that this is true of me too. Most of my life I have compared myself to a long list of shoulds, musts, oughts and duties. I call these my SMODs. They have tangled me up in all sorts of situations where I should have said no or walked rapidly in the opposite direction. Yet I didn’t. Mostly because that list shifts the responsibility for everything onto me. Not leaving it with the people it really belongs to.
The list tends to emphasise all the expectations, opinions and judgements that other people have of me. I have run around time after time trying to please everyone. Or believing that making people happy, contented, safe or well off was my job. That’s how powerful these SMODs can be. Of course all I was doing was setting myself up to fail. It took me a long time to realise that I can’t make other people happy. Or take responsibility for the life they choose to end up with. Though I did try my best for a long while to juggle my life to meet the needs of almost everyone else. Until I realised that all I ever emphasised was my inability to do what I thought I ought to.
By th time I recognised that I had to emphasise something else I had nearly exhausted myself. My light had gone very dim.
I had wandered into a dark place without really knowing how I got there. Finally I started to listen to my inner conversations with myself. They seemed to be full of negative judgements. I blamed myself for all sorts of things I had no control over. And I noticed my tendency to be very hard on myself. So hard that I wouldn’t let myself say nice things about myself. Even my talents and skills were being ignored or rubbished. No wonder I was in a mess. Or that my life emphasised my apparent failures. The Universe was sending me what I asked for. Plenty of it. And I was stuck.
Until I decided that it was time to change the script. To talk to myself with praise instead of criticism. That’s not an easy shift to do. I found that I had years and years of judgements to shift. The SMODs were buried so deeply I wondered who I would be if I let them go. Because I knew I would be different. But that was a frightening thought too. However, I started to focus on the positive feedback I was getting. I also spent a lot of time going through my list and crossing off lots of stuff. I kept reminding myself that I had choices not duties. Every day I looked for something to praise about myself. I said thank you to myself for all sorts of big and little things. Finally I learned to challenge the negative voice. And reject what it was saying.
To emphasise positives sounds easy. Yet I know how hard it can be. It’s worth doing it though. I came back into a light place. I found a new me. Now I love sharing that me with the world. Are you shining as bright as you can? Or is it time to find the positive, powerful new you?