Dealing with Capital-D Doubt by using self-care

stress anxiety yoga meditationA friend of mine recently emailed me during a fit of doubts. She’s a total stud of a writer—published regularly in a number of highly-regarded national markets, book author, breadwinner. Yet she’d heard about another writer–who also wrote about her area of expertise–who was starring in a new TV show and having a big fancy party in downtown Manhattan to celebrate. Hearing about this other person’s success was making her wonder, why not me?

I’m willing to bet that you can relate. It is a very normal and human reaction to hear of someone else’s success and feel threatened by it, as if something good happening to someone else somehow diminished the chances of good things happening in your life.

I told my friend what I also have to tell myself during those inevitable times when I find myself feeling like I’ve somehow lost my way on my path to making my personal and professional dreams come true. In a nutshell, that is: use your self-care practice, whatever it may be, to help you get clear on your goals and visions for yourself. Because if you aren’t 100% clear on what you want, you can start to confuse other people’s definitions of success for your own, which only makes you that less likely to make your own best life come true. While a jet-setting TV career and swanky party may sound divine from afar, they would feel more like torture if what you wanted for yourself deep down was plenty of time to spend with your family (for example).

Here are some ways to help yourself get clear on what you truly, madly, deeply want:

  • Roll out your mat. I am constantly surprised and amazed to rediscover how a good yoga session (or tai chi or qi gong or swimming or anything that requires you to synchronize your body, breath, and mind) can make the answers to vexing challenges seem so obvious. You don’t have to up the intensity of your practices, but making sure you do them regularly will help keep a dialogue going between your thinking mind and deep down wisdom that resides way down deep in your bones.
  • Meditate, meditate, meditate. Any time you engage in a practice that helps your mind get quiet, you create opportunities for your inner wisdom to be heard more clearly. Because no matter how confused or aimless you may feel, some piece of you knows exactly what’s best and what’s possible for you. Sadly, this part of you is rarely the thinking mind, which is what we hear chattering away all day, every day. If you need help setting your course, spending more time in quiet contemplation will help you guide your own way.
  • Start walking. If sitting still doesn’t work so well for you, do the contemplative practice on during long walks—think of your question or questions before you head out and invite your intuition to chime in. Once you start walking, just let your attention rest of the sound of your breathing and the physical sensations you’re experiencing—you can’t force insight to arrive, but if you can get your mind to quiet down by paying attention to the repetitive moments, you’ll be able to hear it much more quickly when it does pop up. One walk may not do it – you may have to dedicate yourself to taking a “deep thinking” walk a couple of times a week for a few weeks to really get a full picture.
  • Create a vision board. Spend time looking through magazines pulling out photos that somehow capture what you want to happen for yourself. Sometimes putting your vision in to words is too challenging, but putting together several images that represent your version of success help make it easier to visualize, and thus easier to recognize and move toward.

So…how about you?
How have you dealt with periods of existential doubt about what you’re doing and where you’re going? Are there goals you let go of because you realized they didn’t jibe with what you want for yourself in your heart of hearts? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. And if I publish your post in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you The Beginner’s Guide to Buddhist Meditation.

Congrats to Ann!
She left a comment with her best tip for beating PMS, and won a copy of Yoga for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle. (Ann if you’re reading this, please email me with your address!) Here it is:

“I am tremendously lucky to have never suffered from cramps during PMS. Instead, the Universe evened the playing field by installing bowling balls on my nearly-D-cups once per month for a week. It hurts! And it keeps me from exercising which is so critical to staying balanced. The only relief I’ve found from the bowling-ball-boob-situation is to go off caffeine. I’ve done this experiment many times over the years and each time I notice a pronounced improvement–less breast pain, less irritability, less bloating. All that. So try going off the juice!”

Take care and keep breathing,

Kate

4 thoughts on “Dealing with Capital-D Doubt by using self-care

  1. Having problems clearing my mind and just relaxing. Just started a Yoga class, and it just might help me, even if it’s just the breathing exercises. I’m 83, involved in uke playing, singing for groups, and learning some Hawaiian dancing, I also volunteer at an OASIS Senior Org. and have done this for l8 years. I do enjoy it all, but somehow lately I’m having trouble just relaxing and clearing my mind. My son tells me about the Buddhist meditation, however, I’ve not really looked into it for myself. Carmen
    Carmen

  2. Having problems clearing my mind and just relaxing. Just started a Yoga class, and it just might help me, even if it’s just the breathing exercises. I’m 83, involved in uke playing, singing for groups, and learning some Hawaiian dancing, I also volunteer at an OASIS Senior Org. and have done this for l8 years. I do enjoy it all, but somehow lately I’m having trouble just relaxing and clearing my mind. My son tells me about the Buddhist meditation, however, I’ve not really looked into it for myself. Carmen
    Carmen

  3. I have had serious doubts about what I can accomplish and what I want my live to be. I keep notes on my fridge from my supporters (I keep them in file, “love for me.”) Some are from work, many from my family, friends or my little friends. I have a few from my grandmother, that are my most cherished. Nothing helps you stay on track like seeing that hand written note while you get the milk for your coffee.

  4. My method, which has seemed to work best in periods of doubt: First, educate yourself. Inform yourself and find out whatever you can on the subject in question. In many cases, this can mean good old-fashioned research, classes, reading, etc. In some cases, this can mean speaking to others who may have experience to offer, or know someone who can, or merely have some wise advice to offer some perspective that you may not have thought of.

    Next, after you’ve exhausted all efforts, and your mind has been racing with questions, possibly reached the point of information over-load, and clear answers are still not surfacing, back off. Step away, clear your mind of it as best you can, for as long as you can. Try your best to not think about it. Do yoga, take walks, etc. Like surrender, the point at which you release it, your gut will begin to speak to you. There is your answer – when your core, your center, is surfacing and speaking to you. This may even come to you in a dream, so keep paper and pen by your bedside 🙂

    I hear meditation is the best way. Eager to try it and see if that works better.

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