I think I’ve cut myself off from my soul in many ways. I’ve become my to-do list, the things that have to get done and the things other people want from me. — Jamie Varon, Why Are We Letting People Tell Us How to Live Our Lives?
If you are like me, you spend a lot of time disconnected from your soul. I know soul is a hippie word that makes some of you cringe. I don’t care. To me, it’s a simple word to denote the inner-world I return to for comfort, energy and wholeness. My soul is where my inner light lives. If given enough space and nurturing, my soul can be a source of joy and light for others as well.
It is, unfortunately, very easy to become your to-do list. That list consumes us and makes us forget to pause, pay attention and reflect. The need to be a productive robot fragments our thinking, loving and creating.
When numbers become more important than authenticity
My attention and efforts have been rather divided on brendaknowles.com/space2live. Even the name of my site is split.;) I now wear many hats: Writer, website tech, personal coach, business owner, marketing agent and PR rep. I feel increased pressure to make the site successful. Suddenly, I’m concerned about SEO and Google rankings.
When numbers (# of clients, readers, views, dollars coming in) become important my brain becomes the boss and my truth gets neglected.
I have a friend who always ‘Likes’ my posts on Facebook but rarely reads the full length ones. I know they are showing support and trying to boost my numbers but it bothered me when I figured out they weren’t really reading my work, just trying to make it look like I was popular.
How many communities can you join before you realize you are never really home?
With so many forms of media pulling at readers’ attention, it becomes necessary for me to put myself out into the publicity mix more and more. I need people to know my name. I have to belong to multiple communities and social media platforms. I’ve found so many lovely communities that fit my values and harbor kindred spirits but I am still leaving pieces of myself scattered throughout the internet.
I miss wholeness.
I find it funny and ironic that introverts are so social and community oriented online. It’s awesome. We find each other and validate our way of being. But that doesn’t change the fact that I sometimes feel spread-thin and disconnected from my own story.
I enjoy interacting with others in closed groups and online communities. I love to read their stories and see how they illuminate my own, but I spend so much time reading other’s words and leaving snippets of my own ideas in comment sections, that I don’t have a lot of reflection time to create thoughtfully developed posts of my own. Perhaps that is the way it is now. Life in snippets and sound bytes.
Life in snippets and sound bytes
I know my true self requires more than that. I need to connect and resonate with others in vulnerable, long conversations. I want time to feel empathy and exude care.
The productivity yoke we wear and the firehose of information coming at us every day, encourage guppie attention spans. I admit, even I scan and click away from articles that appear time consuming. As I write this post, my phone buzzes with texts from a group message I cannot ignore. Talk about divided attention. My mind jumps from screen to screen. Interruptions killing my flow.
I find this style of living, unfulfilling and depleting. There is no space within rapid-fire information and quantitative success. No space for soothing soul connection.
Putting the pieces back together
Out of necessity, I am taking steps to return to myself. I need to relieve anxiety and create an environment conducive to creativity.
Writer and personal hero, Elizabeth Gilbert, says not only do we have to say no to things we don’t want
to do, we have to say no to things we DO want to do. Aha! We have so many opportunities these days. It’s necessary to choose the ones that directly lead to our happiness ideal.
Priorities. They are hard to organize but even harder to disregard.
I give myself permission to pull back from the hustle and bustle. I spend most of my weekdays working at home alone. I could spend time with my man. I could do more housework. I could talk on the phone all day with friends. I could get a retail job to earn some extra cash, but no, I use that time to write, research, read inspiring authors, listen to beautiful music (listening to Glen Hansard right now), exercise, meet with clients, network with like-minded writers and breathe. I realize this is a privilege. I am blessed to be on a creative sabbatical supported by my former life as an executive’s wife. The sabbatical has a deadline and it’s nearing. There is pressure to not take this time for granted and produce. I am mindful and grateful and try to use my time wisely to create the greatest results (not totally based on money).
Alone there are no pulls on my attention, emotions and empathy. I choose where to direct my gaze. I can totally be myself. No judging. No masks to wear.
I still engage with worthwhile communities. I am selective as hell though. I do not have the energy or extroverted drive to collect communities. I sign up for closed groups and communities that align with my beliefs and foster my and brendaknowles.com’s growth. I don’t force myself to constantly post on each page. I allow myself to lurk and read without commenting.
Sleep is a necessary key to my well-being. Sleep smooths all of my jagged edges. It knits up all my unraveled bits. Introverts especially need good sleep to let our thoughts process and get filed into long-term memory. I often miss my ideal bedtime, 10:30PM, but nevertheless I aim for it.
Harmony and open-mindedness soothe the fragmented spirit
The last space where I feel whole and centered is anywhere where harmony and flexibility reign. I know to surround myself with kind, creative and positive people.
I attended a work party this week for my friend, Erica Hanna, who created the beautiful intro video for brendaknowles.com. Everyone there exuded light and compassion. It was the perfect mix of friendship and business. I left feeling affirmed. I felt supported and understood. A community of positive creative folks feeds your soul.
Do you feel like your life is too quantitative and success driven? Are your soul and your life mutually exclusive?