“In the silence within, you will find relief, truth, and the instructions you’ve been seeking. Go there. And listen.” ~ Brendon Burchard
Ever sense I can remember, I've had a love- hate relationship with Summer. On the one hand, it is my favorite season because it's the only time of year that I can take a couple of months off from school. I use this time to recharge, get creative about what I want to do next, and focus on projects – like my business – that I may have neglected a little bit during the school year. On the other hand, I dread the summer. It's too hot to go outside and do all of the things I was looking forward to doing because of the heat.
But more importantly, I've recently realized that with summer comes a little bit of a feeling of depression and being lost. I frequently get the blues in the winter time – seasonal affective disorder gets me almost every year. But this is different. This has nothing to do with lack of sunshine and everything to do with my abundance of free time.
I found myself feeling this combination of mild depression and “lostness” both last summer and this summer and it struck me by surprise. Last summer, I chalked it up to having thrown my back out and missing a planned trip to Yellowstone Park. This summer, I thought it was just grief at first – I lost my beloved 10-year-old German Shepherd Kolby at the beginning of the summer – combined with having a bad reaction to the vaccines I took before leaving the country.
The feeling when away when I was in Ecuador and Peru, but seemed to return the minute the plane landed back home. That's when I realized – this isn't just grief. This has nothing to do with being injured or sick from vaccines. This is something else entirely; and it took me about a week to figure out what it was.
It's discomfort with the pause; it's discomfort with the idea that I'm not working full-time. During the school year, I'm so busy that sometimes I forget to eat. That's why I look forward to summer so much. I get my “me” time back. And yet, at some level, it's as though I don't know what to do with myself. Without the structure of classes and meetings and deadlines, I forget what it's like to be me. To just be.
I started to explore this idea further. When I look back over my many summers off – after all, between being a student and being a professor, I have been doing this summer thing for over 40 years now – I realized something. I never really have gotten the knack of taking the summer “off.” I always manage to fill my time with something. Last summer I taught an extra class, then did a series of paintings, and presented my work at a research conference. This summer I also taught an extra class in May, and since then, I have been working on a telesummit I will be launching in September (which I am so excited about!!!!). Every single summer – at least since I've been an adult – I've always managed to fill my time off with just another form of do-ing.
I found this realization very interesting. Why, when I supposedly look forward to summers, do I fill my time with other things? That's where the discomfort comes in. It's a discomfort with just be-ing; it's a discomfort with the pause. When I dove deeper, I realized that this discomfort comes from an old pattern that used to define my self-worth: you must be productive to be a value. Like many of us, I learned growing up that my value came from do-ing for others. The older I've gotten, the more I've come to understand that I must take care of me or I can't be of service to others. And the more I've taken care of me, the more I've been able to shift out of this old doing=worthiness mindset. Yet, at a subconscious level, it's still there. If you're taking time to pause (if it’s not a productive pause – more on that in today’s video), then you're not do-ing. And if you're not do-ing, then you're not of value. That's the discomfort. That's the old mindset that I thought I had gotten rid of. Turns out that mindsets can be sneaky though…
So I'm developing an experiment for myself – a non-doing experience, a chance to practice, and maybe even, enjoy the Pause. If this is something that interests you, I'm planning to do this experiment for the next 30 days and see what happens. I talk more about this experiment in today's video, although with other types of pauses that I am more comfortable with and integrate into my self-care on a regular basis.
I hope you'll join me.