Honoring Your Internal Whispers
This week I’m thinking about those whispers we all have inside. What are they saying? What happens when we follow them? What happens when we don’t?
You know those internal whispers – the ones that tell you what you want, what makes you miserable, and what you really want to change but are scared to do. Those whispers that say, “I reallllly want to do this”or “I can’t f*cking stand this for another day!!”
What happens when you don’t listen to those whispers and just keep on as if they aren’t saying anything? For me, the whispers don’t stop. They don’t give up. They just keep whispering day after day. If I continue not to listen, I notice myself starting to get aggravated, frustrated and testy. My fuse gets shorter and shorter. I want those darn whispers to shut up! Can’t you tell I’m not listening? That doesn’t seem to help either. My energy drops and negative thoughts become more and more prevalent. I mentally defend the very situation that’s making me miserable, just so I don’t have to listen. I get exhausted and worn out from all the efforts.
I heard a saying (from Oprah) that when you don’t listen to an internal whisper, the message gets louder. It becomes a pebble, then a brick, then a wall falling down on you.
In short, if you don’t listen, the situation gets worse and worse until you finally have to pay attention.
This happened in legal career . . . actually, it wasn’t much of a career, more like “a series of jobs” I had in the legal field for about 8 years. Before I realized that work was something I could use to fill my soul, I thought that just getting a different job would satiate the whispers that said, “You want more than this. You should do something else.”
So I would do something else. I got new jobs in different areas of the law that seemed more interesting, paid more money, or were more challenging.
Along the way I was never really excited or passionate, but I did well enough to justify continuing on. It wasn’t until I found myself as an attorney working at a global law firm in New York City that I realized the wall had come crashing down. How I felt in that situation was no longer just a nagging whisper, it was a crushing blow every day. I finally realized it was time to do something about it. In that situation, what I saw myself becoming if I didn’t listen was more scary than the changes I would have to make. I refused to become the cynical, bitter woman hunched over a desk with failing health and no joy that I envisioned in my head.
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you ever waited and waited, ignoring your internal whispers until you were so miserable that there was no option but to finally change something?
Why do we do this to ourselves?! Yes, we humans and our egos and our fears love to maintain the status quo.
It can be so damn hard to change! It takes work, it takes tears, it takes pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone over and over again. It takes time and energy. It takes commitment. It takes charting new territory and being with uncertainty. It takes feeling fear and doing it anyway. It takes faith, trust and hope. It takes guts.
I’m writing this to share what I’ve learned with you, but I’m also writing it for myself. Just because I’ve created a new path in my life and career doesn’t mean that I have it all figured out! I’m walking this path knowing that it is a lifelong path, one on which I can’t become complacent. I can’t even begin to think that I have something 100% figured out – because that’s simply impossible.
I hear whispers every day. I keep bumping up against my edges. When I don’t listen, the result is always the same.
Memo to self: To live life guided by realness, authenticity and aliveness requires ongoing commitment and engagement to try new things, to go beyond what is known, to step into the unknown and just be willing to play and experiment.
Listen to the whispers and act.
I’m writing this one down.
What whispers are you hearing? What are you going to do about them?
Yours in wildness~~
Progress By Staying Where You Are
Progress is on my mind a lot of the time. Yep, making progress is important to me. I don’t hesitate to tell you that stagnation is one of my worst nightmares.
When I feel like I’m not making progress, I get antsy. Maybe you’ve felt this too. It feels like I must be doing something. I’ve got to keep moving forward because otherwise (*gasp!*) I could be stagnating. Most recently I’ve felt this in my search for a permanent place to live, as well as my upcoming plans for cool coaching things.
I keep tabs on my progress because growth is one of my most deeply held values. Continuing to grow throughout life is very important to me.
But sometimes I have to tell myself Lisa, take a chill pill and remember: Growth isn’t always the same thing as progress.
Sometimes growth happens by staying where you are.
When I was working as an attorney in New York City, I didn’t feel like I was making much progress at all. I found the work to be boring and tedious (mostly because my heart wasn’t in it), and day after day seemed like much of the same. I didn’t see a future as an attorney because I knew I was meant to do something else. I just didn’t know what that was (yet), so I stayed at that job for several years. My legal career was definitely not making progress.
Yet, I was growing. I used all of my spare time for one aim: figuring out what it was that I was meant to do, what I loved to do, and what type of work would allow me to contribute to the world and have the impact that I want to have. So I worked on that. I worked on myself. A lot. And I changed in ways I could not have anticipated.
I had to realize that my career as an attorney did not require progress at that time. In fact, it wasn’t going to progress given how I felt. Pursuing that progress in my career as an attorney would have been a huge drain of time and energy all for the wrong reasons. Not to mention that I needed that time and energy to grow in other ways. I had to accept stagnation of my legal career because something bigger and more important was going on – internal growth and development toward what was coming next.
Sometimes growth is inward, not outward.
Sometimes growth (and progress) requires just staying where you are right now. Continuing to go forward just for the sake of progress may not bring you toward what you want.
If you are relating to what I’m talking about, try this: Don’t chase after what you think you should be doing. Just stay where you are.
Part 1: The Next (Logical) StepThis post is the first of a three-part series. Up next: The Next (Intuitive) Step
Some paths in life and work have straightforward, clear and sequential steps. As long as you know your desired destination, you can follow preexisting structures and move toward your goal.
Following a logical path is oh-so-enticing these days. In a world of infinite choices, uncertainty and constant change, sequence and conventional logic can be safe havens. There’s the path – I just have to follow it. We’re conditioned to do this from a very young age. It’s the way most people move forward in life.
I followed the logical path to achieve my goal of becoming an attorney and obtain the “best” (highest-paying and most prestigious) job I could find. University, LSATs, law school applications, law school, firm recruiting, then the big law job I was seeking. It took time, hard work, and meeting many external benchmarks. But the sequence was straightforward because I always knew the next logical step I needed to take.
The trouble with logical paths? What if the destination isn’t actually where you want to go? Without contemplating your relationship to your intended destination you could reach that goal and realize you took the way-wrong path. You get there and the destination sucks.
Following one logical step after another certainly isn’t the best way to go for everyone. (And if you’re reading this, it’s probably not for you!)
However, following the next logical step does help you move forward. And you do not need to know every step ahead of time in order to get there.
This method proved handy when I was traveling in Japan last year. I was in Osaka and my goal was to see a beautiful temple in Kyoto. I didn’t know anything about Kyoto, I didn’t have a map, and I didn’t speak Japanese. My strategy was to take one logical step after another until I reached my goal.
I’ll briefly trace this process because it can be applied to many other goals and intentions. In my next post I’ll take a look at taking the next intuitive step, then how to combine the two strategies (intuitive and logical) when don’t know your final destination.
Goal: Go to Kyoto and see a beautiful temple.
Step 1: Determine a specific destination. Time was of the essence so I asked my Japanese colleague what temple he would recommend that was interesting and did not have too many tourists. He said Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Done! (I’m not picky.)
Step 2: Determine how to travel the first leg of my trip. My colleague said the train was best, so I went to the main train station in Osaka.