Whenever a building is constructed, the first step is to clear away everything that is in the space where the building will be built. Any rubble, or a previously standing building, trash…anything that would interfere with the laying of a foundation.
See, usually people start by saying you have to build a foundation. They forget that there is a lot of prep work to do before you can start building anything. You don’t just start building on top of whatever happens to be there. You have to clear the way.
The clutter you must clear away is the maelstrom of thoughts and fears in your head. It is the debt and waste in your finances. It is the clutter in your home. It is the lack of fitness in your body. It’s the waste of your attention and time. It’s every single thing that distracts you and is in the way of you being able to start moving forward.
You’ll need a clear idea of what your passions are before you can go anywhere, but first, you need to figure out exactly what they are. Before you can do that, you really need to prepare your mind, body, and life so that you can get clear and make room for those ideas to show up in the first place.
The things you have to do in the beginning will be difficult. They will put you deep into your shit. They will bring up long-repressed emotions and fears, but they will also bring up a lot of good things about you that you forgot. It’s going to be a whole lot of grunt work, but we’re going to do it step by step.
You don’t have to figure it out all at once. Right this moment, you don’t have to figure out a thing. The ideas will come soon enough. This whole process will not be quick. This will take time, and that’s okay. First, let’s clear the way. It starts, as always, with your own mind.
This is going to sound counter-intuitive, simple, and trite, but it’s vitally important. It was the first thing that helped me finally, after decades of anguish, to get clear enough to figure out what to do.
Here’s what I did:
Every time my mind started to become overwhelmed with thoughts about what I was going to do, how I was going to change things, all the things I was going to have to figure out, and that whole combination of fears, anxieties, desires, frustrations and everything else, I would simply stop. Just stop. Then breathe. Breathe out that tension in my gut and my chest and my mind. Stop, breathe and relax. Yes, seriously, this was the most important step in the beginning.
I decided that I would, for the moment, not try to figure anything out. Just let it all go, not worry about it just yet, and just get my mind calm and clear. There’s time.
My mind was my worst enemy. I was often depressed, and even suicidal. I couldn’t figure out what to do with my life and I had so many ideas and interests, yet felt so trapped by my job, my lease, my phone bill, my debt, and my whole life. I literally spent a couple of decades with my mind constantly trying to figure a way out of this miserable life of cubicles and jobs and a messed up society. I didn’t think there was any way out, but I didn’t want to hurt my loved ones by killing myself, so I stuck around, just for them. I was in full-on martyr mode, and I was utterly miserable. Yet, I had huge dreams.
I decided to let all that go, for just a moment. When it inevitably all came back, I would stop. Breathe it out. Relax. Don’t try to figure anything out. Just breathe it out.
I know you want to just jump in and start getting things figured out and everyone always tells you that if you want to get anything done, you gotta hustle and push and work, work, work. And yes, eventually that will come. But you’ll never figure out what to work on if you haven’t yet figured out your passions and what you want to do, and you’ll never figure that out with a cluttered mind. The work part will come, believe me. But, to start, let it go and don’t try to figure it out. We’ll get there. We have time. It’s okay to not try to be on top of it all right now. You have my permission, if that’s what you need.
At first, I was doing this almost constantly. Between every call at work, during the call, on break and lunch, the drive home, at home, the next morning. I spent a lot of time for a couple of weeks just stopping and breathing and letting go. I gradually became calmer and clearer. It was like hitting the reset button for my life.
After a couple of weeks, it went from having to stop and breathe every few seconds, to every couple of hours. I decided I wasn’t going to try to figure out a damn thing. I just wanted to focus on my mind not owning me and causing its own stress.
I can’t reiterate enough how vitally important this one thing was. It literally saved my life. I still do it when I need to, and it always helps. In fact, it makes me far more productive now, since my mind doesn’t lock up with a mental traffic jam anymore. Or, if it does, I get it clear again.
As I just did this one thing, over and over, catching myself when my mind started finding things to worry about and figure out and just slowing down and breathing it out, I became clearer. I started to take time to simply sit and breathe. Some call it meditation. But I wasn’t meditating “on” anything or “about” anything. No visualizations. No journeys. No woo. Just breathing.
© 2015 William Suphan
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