When we are in the middle of a very long project, or some change that won’t have an end-date, some of the toughest moments we encounter are the “dark nights of the soul”. They will happen.
Those moments of deep self-doubt, discouragement, when we forget why we even do all that effort in the first place. The moments where we both need to keep going and have the less energy and will to do so.
We cannot avoid those completely, but we can do some things to make sure we minimize them and their frequency the best we can.
Things like :
- Impeccable (to the best of our abilities) and boring self-care : good sleep, daily quiet time, going out regularly, predictable-ish schedule...
- Knowing why you want to do these things : to hard things sustainably without abusing ourselves, we need to have very solid reasons to put ourselves through this, things we’ll need to remind ourselves when it gets really really hard, scary or painful. Why do you want to do this? Why, really?
- Finding some ease and joy in our process. We can make EVERYTHING easy and joyful. There will always be hard things to do, no matter what you choose to pursue. BUT when we cultivate joy and ease and find them in the little things, where and when we can.
Here is one of the most important things in order to not get too discouraged though : hunting and tracking the ways we sabotage ourselves, and experimenting how we can proceed otherwise.
Here are a few examples of things we tend to do that are unconscious self-sabotage :
- Finding excuses to postpone what we want to do
- Overcomplicating the process
- Taking on extra responsibilities that don’t serve us and drain us of our energy/mental space
- Neglecting our self care and community care
- Over doing it
I was guilty of all of them at different times. Right now, I’d say my main problem is over-doing things, with a side of neglecting self and community care. I put A LOT of things on my current plate.
I’m starting a new job (thankfully part-time and with few hours). I have written everyday for 65 days, and still have 35 days to go. I started to publish sustainably on Instagram, and since I’m very late on sharing my 100 days project, I’m posting a lot, which means even more writing, and more logistics.
Of course, since all of these are important to me, and everything works together, feeding into each other, it doesn’t feel like I’m overdoing it. It often doesn’t.
Overdoing it looks like here :
- Forgetting to shower or eat for long periods of time
- Having a very erratic and unhealthy sleep hygiene to keep it all together
- Being cranky and overwhelmed
- Feeling discouraged to the point of wondering what’s the point of it all
- Feeling like I’m not worthy, not working hard enough despite working so damn hard
Those are all signs of a lack of sustainability, big red flags.
Being aware of them doesn’t make them go away. But it gives me a chance to work on it.
So I get back to my first list up there, things that help ground us and go the distance.
I cut myself as much slack as I can. Stealing breaks and quality time with my person and my cat.
I keep adapting my expectations, lower them to make them more realistic.
I keep looking for and experimenting with ways to make my process and my routine simpler. I take this opportunity to learn how to write shorter texts in a shorter time.
I found classes to take, in order to hone my craft as soon as it gets a little less overwhelming (now is not the time to practice exercises and take even more time on my writing), feel more confident, and find more ease.
I read the lists of my life, work and creative priorities; of my core values, keeping them in mind constantly as I take decisions that aren’t based in fear but in integrity.
I find joy wherever I can. I force myself to stop, to paint before I write, to paint things that feel like play and make me joyful. I celebrate the tiniest of my victories, and hunt for progress. (100% of daily showers this week, woohoo! 75% of self-care days, YAY!)
I re-add self-care again, little by little, doing my best to not drop that ball, even if my head keeps telling me it doesn’t matter. It might be a couple of minutes and not the 20-30 minutes I’m used to to completely recharge, but right now, anything is better than nothing.
It feels a lot like walking a tightrope, a very tight one. Like I’m on the verge of falling a lot.
And those things seem so fleeting and so little that it’s really hard to believe in them and their worthiness.
What saves me from getting too discouraged and giving up here?
- Faith. Believing that things deeply grounded in my core values might not work, but persevering into doing them will always bring me somewhere I need and want to be, even if it doesn’t look like what I expected in the first place.
- Challenge. I LOVE a good challenge, it's making me feel so alive. And part of me (the warrioring control-freak) is pissed that I can’t make happen things I prepared so well and worked so hard for.
- Curiosity. I’ve never done all of this, this is a big experiment for me. I really really want to see where this is taking me. Over the years, I learned that curiosity is one of the most primal source of life and love. Following it always brings me in interesting places.
And writing about all that only reinforces my will to go on. I’m taking everything I can, haha!
With badass love,