There it was. A little piece of paradise. My shoulders instantly dropped, I inhaled deeply, breathed slowly and simultaneously sighed and smiled.
Synchronicity was working its magic as I viewed a little white cottage perched high on a hill, tucked behind an enormous Pohutakawa Tree with a fabulous golden-sand-with-waves-lapping view to wake up to (in the distance – the very far distance!). I had fallen for it when it was last on the market and although I hadn’t been back to the area for two years, today when I did, the house came on the market again. Literally – the same day. Clearly, it was a sign!
I lay awake for most of several nights afterwards working out interior schemes to improve the ambiance, landscaping plans to enhance the view, even names for the cottage because every thing special needs a name, right?
I calculated the costs of the mortgage and utilities and, to help defray them, exactly how many nights I’d need to rent it out in the busy seasons, even though I didn’t particularly want to.
And then I stopped. I asked myself what was really going on – how it was possible that I had barely thought of this place in the last two years, but now my desire to be there was keeping me awake at night. What was driving this?
The answer was textbook stuff: Escapism (let me get away from the overflowing desk and diary); Space (let me have room to breathe and think bigger thoughts); Time alone (let me be by myself, I’m all extroverted out).
For a girl who values freedom, the amount of work I had previously committed to undertake willingly, suddenly felt too much. My choices were narrowing – seemingly without my permission – despite the fact that I had clearly given it, many times over (I didn’t say my feelings were necessarily logical!).
The last time I remember feeling like this, I was working ridiculously long hours in a corporate role and the responsibility and never-ending list of things that needed doing seemed to stretch interminably before me, with little respite apart from holidays or a restful place to, well, escape to …
That time, nearly 15 years ago, I bought a piece of paradise and barely used it because life was too full to get away as often as I had dreamed of. Then when its maintenance became one thing too many to have to deal with, I sadly, but sensibly sold it (and yes, I do see the irony there).
This time, with greater self-awareness and a few more years of accumulated wisdom, I prioritised paying attention to the reasons for my feelings before my mind defaulted to actions and justifications to proceed with a purchase.
So what are the lessons for us all here?
I read somewhere that “The soul keeps knocking till you answer the door”.
If your soul is trying to tell you something, don’t ignore it. It won’t go away until you give it the attention it craves.
Slow down long enough to observe your current behaviour (Where is your time going? What’s capturing your attention? What keeps you awake at night?).
Then ask yourself:
- What do I need to STOP doing to create more of what my soul is longing for?
- What do I need to START doing to enable more of what my soul longs for?
- What do I need to KEEP doing to honour what my soul is telling me right now?
Having contemplated those answers, ask:
- What action, if any, both makes sense and feels right for me to take next?
A friend uses the technique of giving herself a set time frame (3 days) before committing to anything, especially a change, of significance. She tells anyone wanting an answer from her that “her process is to ‘sit with it’ for 3 days, so she can make the best decision”. Not only does this manage people’s expectations, it also allows her to be confident that she is being faithful to all that matters to her. Whatever her decision, the recipient knows it is a well considered one and she has, to the best of my knowledge, never regretted the course of action taken.
Another technique is to live ‘As if’ for the same period of time that you then live ‘As if, not’ (I allow 24 hours minimum). Behave, for your chosen time, as if you have made your decision one way, then as if you had made the alternate decision.
Notice the impact that each has on your body, mind and soul.
In my case, I noticed that the ‘As if’ gave me a sense of pressure when I thought of paying for that expensive view and a sense of uplifted-ness when I imagined myself waking up to that expansive view!
By midlife, we have surely learned that decisions made from both the head, and the heart, bring us the greatest peace.
When we truly tune in – body, mind and soul – the answer invariably becomes clear.
Do you use your whole self to make decisions? Any techniques for doing so you’d like to share here?