Facing the headwinds
The wind has been ferocious lately. Just the other day, I looked out my window and saw two crows flying against 30 miles an hour gusts. They were flying west. But the wind pushed them up then back and down into the branches of a tree. They seemed to carry on about their business unphased. Their wings arching and flapping as though it was all part of their grand design - exerting no more or less effort than was needed.
In contrast, when I'm biking into a headwind I struggle to maintain my composure. It doesn't take long before the torrent of negative thoughts start. There's the anger about the wind. There's frustration at my apparent weakness. There's dread at how much further it is I have to go. There's doubt at my choices. There's worry I'll be late. All of which gets wrapped up with a general feeling of sucking at life!
What truly sucks in those moments is how much energy I'm wasting because of the story I'm telling myself. The effort it'll take me to bike to my destination should be proportional to my circumstances, regardless of the things I'm thinking. In reality, it's the result of external factors multiplied by my mindset.
Epictetus said, "We suffer not from the events in our lives, but from our judgment about them."
It's easy to read such a quote and feel a resolute commitment to stop being the cause of our own suffering. But putting such an idea into practice proves to be much harder.
We cling to our thoughts like our primary job is to saran wrap the stories we tell ourselves to the very fabric of our being. This is, of course, coming from the oft deluded ego.
Breaking free of the negative, limiting stories we tell ourselves is an odd capture to escape. In large part, this is because such thoughts become habitual, and as a result comfortable. These habitual thoughts are like Linus' blanket combining with Pig Pen's dust cloud. A familiar, yet messy circumstance but it is less scary than the unknown even if it's far from ideal.
Years ago I coached a client leading a startup. "These sessions are great, Ariana. But I don't have time to do the work between them." So she decided to stop the coaching engagement. She put her head down and worked feverishly in her business.
We all fall victim to telling ourselves stories of the limited time we have. It's easy to forgo what's important to the tyranny of the urgent.
While it's true, time is a limited resource. How we spend our time is a matter of choice. It is also an important contributor to the outcomes we experience.
A few years later, I started coaching this client again. "It turns out I made a mistake," she reflected to me, "Instead of stopping coaching, I should have made the time to do the work. I should have stopped doing other things so I could get the things we were working on done because it's more important to the success of my business."
Bruised and a little battered, she stepped into the work we were doing together, not only with a different mindset and approach. But with an openness to push beyond the comfortable and familiar so she could experience the kind of transformational growth and success she desires.
I can't force my clients to evaluate their mindset or scrutinize their thinking anymore than I can get a bird to be angry at the wind like I've been. All I can do is be a resource when they are ready (and hope that I'm also available to support them in their time of need). Like the crows, they will soar against the headwinds to their destination while lessening the resistance by releasing habitual thoughts which have led to their suffering.
And the only way I can be a guide in that process is by learning to accept and not fight the wind myself.
In what areas of your life or work are you seeking guidance? I’d love to hear from you!