Are you sabotaging your joy?
….What is it you are trying to tell me?
This is the question I keep quietly whispering to myself as my heart races, my body quivers in agitation, my mind broods over the ever-questioning future and beckons to the almost-forgotten past.
You know, that feeling of agitation where nothing is quite wrong, per say, but you’re armed and ready to make something wrong, to argue for no reason, to quip at a second’s glance? That feeling where your heart races and counting the palpitations only make it seem to go faster? That feeling of “quest-out-ing*” where you pose a hundred different questions about the what if’s of the future and the only if’s of the past? (*I distinguish questioning from quest-out-ing, as questioning is asking REAL questions, questions of deep inquiry that further serve our growth. On the other hand, quest-out-ing’s are questions that are self-serving; they only seek to further limit our beliefs and are the root cause of our fears and anxiety).
See, I’m someone who is super guilty of ques-out-ing. I frequently find myself going: Only if I had approached this person earlier with how I felt, things would be different. Only if I pursued fitness endeavors earlier I’d be where I want to be now. What if I don’t write my book? What if I don’t experience the growth I am seeking in teaching fitness classes? What if I know what I want to do and know that I am good at doing it, but it just never happens? What if I never have fulfilling relationships?
How many of YOU ask quest-out-ing’s? How often does your mind go to theWhat if’s and Only if’s? And, how do you FEEL when you go there?
The only place where we can experience joy and peace is in the now, the present moment. And yet we frequently find ourselves approached in those very moments of joyous ecstasy-in the tangible presence of peace-with anxiety. Instead of allowing ourselves to experience joy, peace or happiness in that moment, we fear that if we embrace it, we expose ourselves to the risk of losing it. It seems silly, but we fear impermanence. It’s the “Sure I can experience joy or peace right now, but it won’t last, so why bother entertain it?”
To take it a step further, I want you to consider how we all, at one point or another, sabotage our own happiness, how we rob ourselves of joy: Instead of enjoying the time you are spending with friends, you find yourself already dreading the workweek. Instead of experiencing the joy in moving your body in your workout class, you find what moves are limiting you and how agonizingly painful it is. Instead of feeling great about how you look or the outfit you chose to wear that day, you find someone who you think looks better or is more successful and in comparing yourself to them, you find lack. Instead of feeling proud for taking on a new challenge or experiencing success, you only go to what you did wrong or how you need to improve.
We all find ourselves in that state of mind at one time or another. But what is important to realize is that our anxiety is a great messenger. Embedded in the heart palpitations, agitation or brooding is a profound opportunity for healing and growth. If we allow it. This message is different for everyone. The physical symptoms of anxiety you experience are as unique to you as is the questions raised in response to anxiety. When I am anxious, I experience heart palpitations, agitation and internal brooding and I find a space where my soul quietly asks, What is it you are trying to tell me? And it was only when I asked that question and took the time to listen did I understand.
:::The Great Messenger:::
Last week was an incredible week for me. I was subbing or teaching every day (sometimes twice a day!) and loving every minute of it. For the past month, I’ve been heavily doubting my ability to “cut it”; the old ‘I know I’m good, but am I good enough?’ argument. Last week was a perfect answer to that question because you know what? I did it. And I did it well. I taught my bread-and-butter intenSati classes but I also taught strength and conditioning classes that were a newer format to me. I was stepping out of my comfort zone. Expanding my repertoire. I got great feedback. The fitness directors heard great feedback. There is talk to add me on the schedule come Fall. All good stuff right?
Here I was shooting the shit with joy about how great things were and chilling with peace (because that’s just how he rolls) and we’re laughing about how happiness is going to be giddy as sh*t when she hears the great news…and then anxiety rolls in, all perturbed, and busts up the party saying, “Yeah, all that subbing and teaching is great, but what if it’s only that? What if you aren’t added onto the schedule come Fall? What if you know you’re good-even more, what if now you know you’re good enough-but you still don’t make it?”
I let anxiety bust up my party. I sabotaged my own happiness with the what if’s. And as my heart started to palpitate, as my agitation grew and I started brooding, joy and peace made their exit telling me this scene wasn’t their style. I sat with anxiety. And he didn’t need to utter another word. I had let him rob me of my joy and peace. But, I sat with anxiety long enough to get uncomfortable. I sat with anxiety long enough to listen to my soul. To hear it whisper to anxiety, What is it you are trying to tell me? And I still gently ask that question over and over. I don’t have the answers yet but I know if I keep asking, I’ll discover the diamonds that are living inside my anxiety.
Maybe you’re struggling right now. Maybe you’re not. Maybe you are feeling anxious, depressed, or down right pissed off. Maybe you’re hanging out with joy and peace (tell them I said “Hi!”). But, regardless of where you find yourself at this moment, know that you are not alone. Regardless of where you are at this moment, know that you have THIS moment to turn it around. To ask a QUESTION. To listen to the stirrings of your soul. And even if you don’t have the answers yet (I don’t either) know that when you approach your anxiety or sadness or anger with the profound desire to grow and learn, the answers will find you. You will find your diamonds.