Q.I am in the midst of numerous decisions and changes at work and at home. They are exciting and daunting. I start to feel anxious and overwhelmed when I think about them all. Yet I tend to seek out more challenges and creative projects that take time and require a lot of preparation, decisions and thinking through. At times I wonder why I am doing any of it—expanding my career, remodeling my home, starting a new relationship and planning a backpacking trip in the mountains. I feel this drive inside me that wants to do these things and then when I get overwhelmed, I just want to be quiet and have a simpler life. I go back and forth and don’t know what’s really going on with me.
A.Sounds like you are in touch with both sides of your nature: the part that wants adventure, expansion, stimulation and challenges and the part that wants simplicity, peace, gets overwhelmed and seeks the familiar and comfortable. This is not an uncommon struggle at any stage in life. Expansion brings with it challenges and chaos. However, it is also a deep part of human nature to want to do more and have new experiences. First, allow yourself to have this range of interests and feelings. Take a deep breath into all of who you are and notice how that feels.
Reflecting upon your motivation to do certain things is worthwhile. What makes you want to do more with your career and start a new relationship? Is it a drive that comes from outside you—boss, family, employees or friends? If so, what do you think about their suggestions or interests for you? Do they feel supportive and creative or that you have to fulfill another obligation or impress people? Sometimes this is difficult to sort out. Whatever clarity you find with these questions will be valuable to you. Losing yourself in others’ ideas and desires for you, will leave you disconnected, anxious and ultimately resentful. It will also lead to a feeling of unfulfillment at the end of all of your hard work. So, the first task is to dive deeper into yourself and think about what is moving you to make these changes. Then taking in the feedback of others will enhance your own inner knowing.
Even when you are clear that having intimacy in your life with a partner is what you want, there will be cycles of feelings that you will actually move through. Some will be exciting and meaningful and others will be frustrating and scary. Rather than resist the feelings that you don’t like or that don’t feel so good, lean into them. Feel them so you can build more capacity to be with whatever arises inside you. This is a truer and more dynamic way of being and living. Nature is always changing with the time of day, weather and seasons. The changes makes it interesting, beautiful and refreshing. So, we are a part of nature and will also undergo these natural rhythms and shifts in our daily lives. By observing the mountains and meadows around you on your backpacking trip, you will come to know yourself more fully.
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com