Yesterday I was thunderstruck.
That’s the word for it exactly, though there was no actual thunder.
All I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and burrow deeply under the covers as though rain was pouring down in torrents outside my windows. When I closed my eyes I could hear it rumbling and thundering across my tin roof, could feel the weight of that rain, heavy and thick, weighing down my heart and making my mind feel dull and leaden.except there was no rain. Hunh!
I was having one of those days where the sinking feeling rolled over my head just about the time my coffee was ready in the morning and I was glad of having a machine that made 3 cups at a time.
You know the feeling right? We all have these days where despite the sunshine clearly visible through the windows, it feels like the world has gone grey and fallen into a kind of lustreless fog.
It’s a place I know I can get stuck if I don’t start paying attention fast.
And what is this thing that weighs me down? What is this blanket of grey sogginess that I awoke underneath? The thing that sticks me fast and holds me tightly in its grip this morning? It’s called doubt.
We have all experienced that feeling of being stuck in doubt. It’s completely human.
It’s a short word filled with a hundred years worth of stickiness.
It can feel like a too-deep well, or a too-big ocean, or just too much darkness. However we experience it, it can stop us cold, a stand-still and as Isaac Newton stated a body in stasis will remain unmoving until an external force acts upon it.
Another version comes from the Bhagavad Gita where the prince Arjuna is so immobilised by doubt that he “sank down into the chariot and dropped his arrows and bow, his mind heavy with grief”.
That pretty much summed up my morning, and we’ve all been there, right?
Doubt holds us fast, stuck as it were, to the bottom of our chariot, unable to choose what to do. Doubt is defined in several traditions as “a thought that touches both sides of a dilemma at the same time.” So we get stuck in between.
But the bills have to get paid, the kids off to school, dogs walked, all those things that pull on us to keep going. To pick ourselves up off the floor of our own chariot and start again.
Because that’s what it felt like to me- starting again.
And I managed to do it. Not easy, but simple.
Simple was the only way I was going to get through yesterday.
“ANY ACTION CAN HELP US GET ROLLING AGAIN. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A BIG ACTION.”
Take in a new view and take a short breathing break.
So here’s what worked for me, and I offer it as a template for you when these days come rolling into your life.
Shift Out of Doubt in 5 Steps:
1. Ground your feet and stretch you arms upward. Breath in deeply. Oxygen helps break up the torpor.
2. Grab a pad and pen and a cup of coffee and make a list of no more than 5 things you really need to do before Noon.
3. Take a shower- seriously! Wake yourself up with soap and water.
4. Put on fresh clothes, (doubt often clothes itself in yesterday’s jeans or shirt).
5. Go to your job/office, or start at once on the first thing on your list. (You can make a new list if needed for your afternoon).
Action breaks up doubt.
The good news is that ANY action can help us get rolling again. It doesn’t have to be a big action. Positive Psychology tells us that ‘Kaizen’ change, small steps of action, actually create better and more sustainable change than big jumps.
So the next time doubt sticks you to the floor of your chariot- don’t worry about winning the race you are in, just start by lifting your feet, taking up the reins again, and urging the horses into a trot.