Acknowledging the things I was avoiding has re-energised me. So has something very unexpected, a re-connection with a part of my identity I thought I had disposed of…lol.
In the context of my own little egocentric universe, I made a very big ‘to do’ about leaving behind academia ‘once and for all’! And I still have no desire to work for a university again. In fact, I have no real desire for employment at all. But I do need a ‘job’, a role and a sense of purpose. I can make one up for my self, and actually have, but the social license and legitimacy that comes from being seen to be a productive, contributing member of society is still useful to me.
And I believe I can still be useful to society.
I have a plan for how to address this issue, and in making it, my mind has switched back on. I used to get excited when this happened because I knew it meant that the ideas were going to start coming any moment now. These days I am wary, how much focus and energy is this going to take? What other aspects of my life will be ignored while I’ve got my head down working on this? What is the cost going to be?
Being mindful of my predilection for hyper-focus on projects of passion is confronting and has been an aspect of both my identity work and my shadow work. What is happening now is a re-integration of the shame I had tried to ignore. I was ashamed that I had not been ‘successful’ in my career, I was ashamed that I had become so very angry that I triggered a process that changed many people’s lives. I was both heart broken and furious that my parents had absolutely no respect or regard for my professional achievements. And I was terrified that if I went back to any aspect of this part of who I am, that I would hurt those I love most, all over again.
And then I remembered who I really am.
I remembered where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, what I’ve seen and experienced and how I came to feel the way I had been feeling.
Processing shame is a form of personal liberation. It frees you from the fear of living authentically. In the right amounts, shame is a normal, healthy aspect of the spectrum of human emotional experience. It helps us learn. Once you learn the lesson, you can step away from the shame and into a more graceful way of being.
I can’t undo my mistakes, none of us can. But I can do my best to learn from them and change those aspects of my self that kept me caught in the cycles of pain and shame arising from childhood trauma. I can learn to regulate my behaviour and stop myself playing out those scripts, the patterns of behaviour, over and over again.
And I can experiment with new behaviours to intentionally steer my self in the direction of who I would like to be as a person. I’m a bit awkward and clumsy with new behaviours, especially with boundary setting, but I’m pushing through the self doubt in order to do the experiments to find new ways of being that will work for me.
And of course, like everyone else, all this inner work is going on within a context of chaos and destruction all around. Life is currently quite stressful, there is a lot happening, for everyone. Within us, in our personal lives, in our wider family and working lives. In our children’s lives, in the lives of our colleagues and neighbours, everyone is suffering in some way.
We are in the midst of a global meta or maybe mega-crisis. A collection of crises culminating in the generation of significant momentum for worldwide change.
It is time to emphasise self-care and stewardship. Not heroic leadership. The next phase of the transition and the various transformations that society will go through will be rough for many. The time of the powerful ‘man at the top’ is very much over. There is still a role for figureheads and spokespeople, but in terms of strategy and decision making, ‘leadership’ is fast becoming synonymous with ‘corruption’ and ‘untrustworthy’, if it isn’t already.
Put your own oxygen mask on first. Pause and breathe. Now look around and understand the real needs of real people. What we need next is not fancy or exclusive, it is fundamental and needs to be shared with all.
In the context of the mainstream working world, we don’t need programs and courses teaching people how to be a great transformational leader, the next coaching guru, or a black belt in project management…
We need courses teaching people how to listen, and how to empathise with people they think they have nothing in common with. How to co-create narrative and a shared vision with others. How to keep your team afloat during extended periods of uncertainty and ambiguity.
We need organisations willing to send staff on self-sufficiency education programs, so people can learn about how to grow community gardens, how to set up community solar or wind projects, how to survive during an emergency if there is no electricity or no running water.
We are still not in a ‘business as usual’ state. Business, is not in any way ‘usual’ right now.
The pendulum has not yet stopped swinging. In fact, I’m quite sure the point of inflection has not yet been reached.
But thankfully, my own internal pendulum is slowing to a manageable steady rhythm. One that gives me time to think, time to be mindful of the things that are important to me. Not the version of me that was out to prove I was good enough, but a version that knows how to focus and channel energy into having a small but significant impact; safely, and in a way that matters to me.
I acknowledge that there is a fire burning within me that wont go out. I have and have always had a desire to make a difference in the world.
I acknowledge that I am now better equipped than ever to do this.
These boots were made for walking, it’s time to put them back on.
May you be happy,
May you be healthy,
May you be free from suffering.
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