The last couple of weeks have been intense and challenging. I'm not sure it's over yet. As is my style, I am dealing with challenges with K, my career path, and just life in general, all at once.
In the midst of that I am being coached around writing a parenting book (very exciting) and developing more income streams. At work I have been encouraged by several people to take more of a leadership role in my job.
I'm officially overwhelmed.
My normal go-to experience (and coping) of overwhelm involves me shutting down, getting very cynical, daydreaming of becoming unemployed again so I can hide, complaining that it's all too much, oversimplification about how problems can be solved, etc. It's how I rebel in that state of mind. It's very rarely effective. It definitely gets me attention.
I'm afraid people won't like me if I make bigger leadership moves (like doing something not everyone will like--I love to be loved!). So if I shut down, that's easier. That gets more sympathy and empathy, which I'm perfectly fine with. Sometimes I'll get help solving the problem (until it shows up again, of course). If I plead innocent in the way life rolls out, then it'll be okay and I'll still be loved, seen, understood.
But in the past couple of days I have noticed that my sleeves are too short on this emotional shirt of "It's not me, it's the rest of the world." I have experienced a growth spurt overnight and all of a sudden, ways I've been living my life don't fit.
In my coaching sessions we talk a lot about being, rather than doing. A part of my mind is like, "Yeah, yeah. I got it. Be-ing not Do-ing. But anyway, let's get back to what I'm doing...Be-ing is for people with free time and lots of money." Oh. Cue the gut punch. Do-ing has been a hallmark of my behavior. If I "do" correctly (and that means perfectly, entertainingly, uniquely, etc.) then I will win in the end. I will get recognition, I will get more money, I will be loved and appreciated the way I crave, and all will be well. And if I am not feeling those things, then I'm just not "Do-ing" right. That's an amazingly simplistic and easy way to view my life. It's also a great way to qualify my effort. It's easy to tell myself I'm not capable, I'm lazy, I'm unlucky, and whatever self-deprecating I can pile on.
Through coaching I learned about my Essence. I learned that I Be (Yes, I am aware of all the strange grammar and hyphenation, but that's a bit of poetic license) these: Integrity, Connection, Play, Curiosity, Beacon. Whether I'm Do-ing or not, I am Be-ing those things. Which I definitely take for granted. Be-ing is not good enough, I tell myself. Just walking around Be-ing is lazy!
And here it goes again...that struggle.
So in the past week I have been thinking a different thought as much as I can. What if before I launch into Do-ing, I start out from Be-ing? Can I work from a place of Be-ing Integrity? When I get home tired and my kid is happy and excited to see me, can I come from a place of Be-ing Play, rather than seeing the time with him as another way my energy will be depleted? Can I come from Be-ing Connection? That's less about Do-ing and more about simply Be-ing.
Do vs. Be is an old discussion. So old that I think I assumed I could have some awareness and that would be good enough. I'd just switch automatically. But here's the loop: in order to fully Be, I need to be aware of the moment when I slip into Do. My energy dips just thinking about it. I don't act playful, I Do playing. Which is exhausting sometimes. So part of the Do-ing needs to be in the conscious choice of Be-ing.
If I take a moment to Be my Essence (or simply be conscious that I am my Essence already), then Do makes more sense, I feel less drained, more grounded, more spacious, slower (in a good way), more engaged and connected, lighter, more seen and heard, less annoyed, more generous, more compassionate, etc. If I can remember that I don't have to Do anything to be the Essence of myself (it simply exists inside me), then I can always start out from there because I am already always starting out from there.
This is a huge thing for me.
Trauma, and particularly early childhood trauma, can skip over the Be and jump right to Do. Kids are rarely conscious of who they Be. They are their Essence and cannot usually separate that out. But in my case, and I'm sure I'm not alone, I went right to Do. What can I "do" about death, sexual abuse, being liked, staying invisible, being seen, fixing the world, fixing myself, etc.? What do I need to do to get money, succeed, feel happy, win?
A small person might think, "Well, Being (as in being innocence and curiosity) seems to have led to these traumatic (but possibly avoidable) events, I will need to focus more on Do (which is also how we control our world)." It's not logical to adults the same way it is for kids. Kids simply start making hypotheses and then executing and testing against them. Whatever works best, wins. Even if it doesn't work *that* well, if it works well enough, then it stays.
This plays out in parenting all the time. I have a very hard time believing that it's who I am Be-ing that is my best work, rather than what I am Do-ing. I want my kid (and everyone else for that matter) to know that I am working as hard as I can to fix, guide, corral, and control how he navigates the world. Boundaries, limitations, unique experiences, whether we have another child or not, who he interacts with, what he eats, how he sleeps, rules, what he reads, etc. (sadly, the list goes on and on). Working *really* hard to manage all that.
What I don't do very much is come from my Essence. I don't seek Connection first. I don't start out from Be-ing Playful first, and then engage my son. I don't come from Curiosity (I usually come straight from Control and Fear, to be perfectly honest).
I need to develop a daily (probably hourly) practice of consciousness around my Essence (I'm so sneaky, I just turned this into a Do!). It doesn't need to be complicated, just an awareness of when I get caught up and feel trapped, it's probably because I'm moving into Do-mode.
If work is hard, who can I Be? Can I stand in my Integrity and move from there?
I'll never stop Do-ing, I know that. That makes sense. But I can start from Be-ing and then the Do-ing isn't so disconnected and untethered.
One day at a time, but awareness is key.