On one particular day last month, a client was struggling to get himself going. He had a routine and a plan, and he had procedures in place for when things got difficult, but whenever he tried to get into his work his efforts were thwarted; partly by a lack of motivation but also – and predominantly – by external conditions: a telephone call, technical problems, unexpected visitors. We had spoken often enough about dealing with such obstacles, but on this occasion I shifted the focus to a more detailed level.
Our work together up until that point had been about creating the environment for the work to happen and that, whatever barrier lay in his way, his job was to make sure he did something – anything – to move his project forward. However, on this occasion it seemed that no matter how hard he tried, nothing worked. With that in mind I explained that he needs to start focusing more on the subtlety of feeling because it can help him make a better decision about how best to proceed.
There are days when it pays to push through the barriers. And there are days when, regardless of what you do, you will get nowhere; when it’s best just to abandon your efforts. If you can identify the difference between these two states, you can make life easier for yourself. By recognising the impossible days early, you can avoid unnecessary frustration, conserve your energy, focus your attention on other areas and use your time more wisely and effectively. But how do we learn to discern the difference? Experience, practice, observation and awareness. (See the related posts below.)
The closer you pay attention to what is happening on the inside, the more effectively you can deal with what is happening on the outside. The information you glean from observing yourself will tell you whether to push through or relax; whether to speak or be quiet; whether or not you are being congruent; whether the person in front of you is being straight or manipulative; and, interestingly, it will tell you whether a particular feeling is yours or the other person’s.
Understanding and mastering the subtleties of your own feedback mechanism allows you to make more informed decisions about how best to live your life. It’s a subtlety which is often and easily overlooked because we are so busy at the surface level. However, if we take the time to centre ourselves, come to rest for a moment and listen to what is going on inside, a whole world of fine-grained signals and messages opens up, showing us the way forward and allowing us to navigate more effectively our way through life.