I pride myself on being a quixotic optimist. You know, the-glass-is-half-full kind of gal. Always tilting at windmills. Someone who is resilient and able to weather the natural and unnatural storms that continually blow through my life. I’m that way in the work I do with midlife business women when I act as their soul sherpa and guide them to their truest self. I’m that way in my personal life – with my health, my family, my friends.
But what happens when the quixotic optimist hits her wall?
What happens when the half-full glass begins to look more a like a glass half-empty?
How can I best serve you, those I love, the world-at-large, when I can’t even serve myself? When I can’t find joy or gratitude? It’s not that I totally lose the ability, but it comes in waves. Waves that are sometimes soft and lapping; gentle in their touch. Other times the waves are fierce and overpowering, and always followed by a sensation of lost equilibrium. Like the sand is shifting beneath my feet, and nothing I do can hold them fast to the moment.
Does this happen to you? Are there times in your life when you feel the overwhelm so heavy it’s like you’ve got anchors attached to your high heel shoes? You know you need to do something, anything, to break free of the fog, but you feel paralyzed by doubt, fear, guilt, even anger.
Sometimes you need to feel the free fall. Sometimes you need to let go of all the things you’re trying desperately to hold on to so you can regain that equilibrium. Regain the hope and optimism. And yes, the gratitude. I’m not talking about the freefall that feels like bungee jumping without a rope. Or landing without a net to cushion your fall. I’m talking about a mini free fall. Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel without turning away. Without denying or avoiding or rationalizing it out of existence.
Platitudes like “stay positive” or “keep the faith” don’t always cut it when you are feeling vulnerable and lost. But there is a difference between feeling helpless and being helpless.
Feeling helpless cuts its teeth on old internal messages and transitory challenges that are part of your life. Certainly you owe it to yourself to acknowledge your feelings, but they don’t have to keep you standing at the edge of the cliff shaking in your Prada pumps.
Being helpless is not a transitory challenge or fleeting emotion. It’s a way of thinking that holds you back and takes away your power to choose something better. Something more. So when those times come (and they will) when the sand is shifting beneath your feet and nothing you do can hold you fast to the moment, don’t resist. Let go. Allow the mini-freefall to happen. It doesn’t mean you’ll fall. It might mean you’ll fly. Even soar.