When I was a teacher in a prep school in England I used to write morning pages as Julia Cameron suggests in ‘The Artist’s Way’. I had never taken much time to listen to myself up to this point and it was an amazing way to find out what I actually wanted and didn’t want in my life. I did want to knit out OFSTED stress with a yarn so chunky the jumper stood up on its own, I did want to buy a table from IKEA and call it my writing desk, then place it by a window with a pot of pens. These inklings of the soul were breadcrumbs on the trail to a life that feels totally right for me. This was my first experience of tuning in to what my wise self had to say about how I was living.
Practical questions like ‘what should I do in this situation, how can I best schedule this?’ are only symptoms of something deeper that is going on. A good coach can help you get underneath all of these symptoms to find out what is really going on. My Martha Beck training has given me a number of tools to help clients with this excavation to get to the bottom of things and what is really holding the client back.
So what do you do in the meantime, before you have a coach? First, write out a list of your challenges as you see them at this particular point in time. Then leave them for a bit. Go and do something that you love to do or something that helps you feel really relaxed and then come back to the questions. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Get grounded.
You can do this using an exercise I learnt from Carrie Contey. Close your eyes and think of everything in front of you, then everything that is behind you. Then think of everything to the left of you, then everything to the right of you. Next think of everything that is above you and then everything that is below you. At this point you can imagine roots going from your feet and down into the ground. Then think of everything that is outside of you and finally, everything that is inside of you.
Take a different pen and your list of questions. Write the answers to the challenges that you are facing from the point of view of your wise self. Your wise self is the part of you that is not afraid and that believes in you totally. You can read the challenges and write the answer from the wise self as a letter or if you are a visual artist you can use some other creative form to send a message from that intuitive, unhurried and unstressed part of you. This might feel a bit like you are pretending or that you are making it up. This is completely O.K. and normal. If your wise self is not showing up it usually means you need to rest or that you have not listened for so long it has gone on a spa break on its own. Make time and space for it and when you are rested it will make an appearance.
Leave what you have written or created for a while and come back to it. What does it say? What small steps (Martha Beck calls them turtle steps) do you need to take to follow the advice of your wise self? Hey wise self, you were there all along.