At the beginning of January (which feels like about a week ago), I made a commitment to myself to have my book editor-ready by April 1st. It felt like a doable goal, a kind expectation of myself, and a generous timeline, considering how many years
I’ve been working on this thing this thing’s been working on me.
Now, with my self-imposed deadline right around the corner, I am faced, yet again, with the realization that I will not reach my goal. Though I have chipped away at it diligently for the past three months (nearly every day, in fact), and I am getting closer, I’m not quite there yet.
It won’t be finished by April 1st.
My inner child (or ego), who is a raging perfectionist, is NOT okay with this. She’s afraid of looking like a total flake. She’s afraid of disappointing people. She reminds me of all the other authors out there who’ve lapped me more than once, and the fact that they have crazy lives, too. She thinks self-compassion is bullshit, and that being kind to myself is simply an excuse for laziness and inadequacy.
Truth is, she’ll tell me just about anything to feel safe, avoid vulnerability, and keep from being exposed as imperfect.
On the days when I’m utterly exhausted, overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS, or knocked off center by hormones (mine or my many daughters’), this overreactive inner child causes me a good deal of anxiety.
She wants me to carry the weight of the world. In fact, she insists that this is my job.
But on my strong days, I (meaning my true self, the one who hears the chattering child in my head) recognize her presence quickly and can calm her down without too much trouble. I let her know that I see her, that I honor her fears, that I’ve got this, and that I won’t abandon or beat her up again as I have in the past.
By accepting and extending compassion to the fearful parts of myself (rather than feeding, feeling ashamed of, or becoming frustrated by them), I am able to reconnect with the expansive, settled, clear, and trusting part of me that knows everything is unfolding just as it’s meant to.
This is my center. It’s the stomping grounds of my soul.
I’m back to that empowered place again following a bout of frustration and anxiety last week over my seeming inability to be more efficient, disciplined, and “on top of it.”
A comforting realization came with this round of re-centering:
The main reason that I move more slowly than some, is that my soul is in no hurry, and I’m learning to trust its timing.
What’s more, the very same characteristics that my ego sees as weaknesses, are cause for celebration to the soul of me.
Quite simply, my soul prioritizes differently than my achievement-focused mind, and different priorities mean a different pace.
When I zoom out and look at my life as a whole, it’s clear that this isn’t really about my book. It’s about trust. Trust in the divine order of things, trust in my soul’s knowing, and trust in the connection between the two.
Strengthening this trust means honoring the ways that I’m different from those around me, and learning to delight in those differences.
It means setting myself up to feel strong, if less “efficient”, so that my soul stands a chance against the more vocal voice of fear within.
It means detaching my sense of self from common measures of success and productivity, and braving the path less traveled, however windy a road.
It means setting my intentions and letting go of the outcome, over and over and over again.
I realize that it’s not always possible or practical to live at a soul’s pace. Life, particularly within this culture, requires that we compromise on occasion (ok, on the daily).
But anytime we can get out of our own way and let our soul lead, we’re aligning with forces far grander and wiser than we are; with the same inexplicable wonders that pull the tides and move the moon.
I’m learning to surrender like the ever-trusting tides.
I’m game for being moved like the moon.