Thursday, October 8, 2009

When Overwhelmed, STOP!

Since Saturday, I've had a very bad flu. I'm not surprised that I got sick, when I look back at what my mind set was in the prior weeks.

I was feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by good things - opportunities, good results, fun times, creative inspiration, friends. I've cultivated wonderful relationships and pursued great activities. And they are all coming up trumps! This is a good thing.

At the same time, however, I've had significant physical pain and a lot of physical tiredness. Yet, because I am so hungry for community and success and results, I have chosen to do things instead of staying home. There were times I could have said "no" and instead said "yes." I stopped listening to my body, my higher self.

Then I began to get thoughts like "I just want to sleep" and "I want more time to draw" and "No more phone calls!" And I began to fall into some very old habits - specifically not answering the telephone or returning phone calls.

Finally, I got the flu. And so for this entire week, I haven't had to show up for anyone or anything. My job is to heal and get well. My job is to avoid contact with others so I don't pass this on to others.

Getting sick is an old, old behavior for me. I get sick because it's a reasonable excuse or reason to be unavailable. It's a legitimate way to get time alone, time off, time with no responsibilities. It used to also be a way to get sympathy from others. That no longer works for me - people may feel sympathetic but I know that I did not have to get sick if I didn't want to get sick.

My awareness is so sharp now. What do I take away from this episode? There are a number of lessons:

1) When I get the thoughts of "help me escape!," I need to shed obligations. Specifically, I need some time where I am completely unscheduled.

2) I am able to do much less than I wish I were able to do. That is my 100%. My 100% is not what anyone else thinks it is. My job is to do my 100%, and to handle what I can handle.

3) There is no "right" time frame for me reaching my goals. I am on the path, and will get there. When I feel panicked or rushed, it is a sign that I am gauging my progress by other people's time frames, not my own.

My goal in life is to be happy, not to meet anyone else's goals or dreams for me. When I get caught up in someone else's agenda, I lose myself, lose touch with my own rhythm and needs, and create a dis-ease within me - that then manifests as an illness. I haven't been sick for a long time because I've paid attention to myself and keeping myself feeling at ease within myself. That went out the window over the summer, when I got so caught up in the excitement of new friendships and new possibilities. My brain got the better of my gut instinct, that voice that told me I was overwhelmed and needed to SLOW DOWN or STOP.

I dislike being sick because I can't do all that I want to do. I wish this week I could have drawn, or picked out paint for my bedroom, maybe cooked some new recipes, repotted plants and cleared out some of the magazine clutter in my dining room and sunroom. Because I was/am sick, I can't do any of those things. I got the peace and quiet at such a high price.

Next time, I'll take it easy before I become dis-eased. I know how to be happy; now it's time to put those lessons into effect.