Archives for the month of: June, 2012

I’m off to Sunrise festival tomorrow in Somerset (sunrisecelebration.com). I will blog again properly on my return next week. In the meantime, I thought this quote was quite fitting, for now and always.

 

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Go insane, dance a little!

Breaking from, or letting go of, the past: a pre-requisite for a period of transition. Now ‘the past’ encompasses a whole range of experiences, choices and actions (and you can read about some of mine in the ‘About’ section of this blog). What I find I’m really grappling with is identifying which areas of my past I need to break from in order to move forward.

In October last year I left Palestine with a huge feeling of loss and confusion. I felt like I was not only saying goodbye to Palestine, but to a whole part of my life which I could no longer sustain because my passion for it had been eroded. And so I now find myself looking at job vacancies in the human rights and international development sector and asking myself, Do you want to do this anymore? Would you make a difference if you did? Would it be good for you or anyone else? I can barely read a newspaper report related to the work I’ve been doing without being overcome with a whole host of unpleasant and painful emotions which are difficult to put into words.

There I was, thinking I would return home from Palestine and find the answers to my loss of assuredness and identity overnight. But a transition, I’m finding out, actually takes a long time, which is not great for an impatient person like me. You have to work at a transition, question every day whether what you are doing is what you really want and fits well with who you really are. This is hard when this mode of self-inquiry is often accompanied with feelings of guilt and self-doubt – Am I being selfish? Should I really take this long to move on? What’s my problem, can’t I just be happy with what I’ve got and get on with my life? What would my friends say? What would my parents say, watching me stuck like this after all these years?

Today I learned that there is a handy phrase which sums up the more negative emotions which arise when going through a transition: RAGS  (Regret, Anxiety, Guilt, Shame). Regret, because as we contemplate the challenges and difficulties of this transition, we are nagged by the ‘if onlys’ of our past.  Anxiety, because we no longer have a clue what it is that we want, and worry over how long it’s going to take us to work this out. Guilt, because we are not used to standing still and focusing purely on ourselves. Shame, because the transition takes so long and how do we explain what we’re doing – standing still – to everyone around us?

Everyone’s life experiences are different, but I imagine the questions and doubts, if you are in a moment of transition, remain the same, or similar. The trick, so I’ve been told by many inspiring friends, healers and yogis, is to stop fretting about the past or future, and focus on the present moment. This is easier said than done, when you feel that everyone around you is meanwhile busy galloping on ahead with new jobs, new homes, new wives/husbands/babies. I sometimes ask myself, why didn’t I decide to have this transition period earlier? It would have been so much easier back in my twenties; then I wouldn’t feel like I was somehow running out of time! But that is not how transitions work, and ultimately it should be regarded as a privilege to have the time to stop and reflect on what it is we’re doing and whether it’s really what we want.

Indeed, a period of transition leaves us with what on a bad day could be labelled a void, but what on a good day could be called an abundance of opportunities. In fact, on any given day I go through a see-saw of emotions, ranging from the severe panic which comes with looking at potential jobs and realising I either can’t or don’t want to do any of them, to a sense of elation, where I suddenly get excited because now’s the time to improve my French, or master yoga.

So this week I made a decision, and that was to stop looking at job vacancies completely; at least, for a couple of weeks. In addition, I’m avoiding any news reports related to the work I’ve been doing in the last ten years or which are likely to instil negative emotions; which pretty much means not reading a newspaper at all. Both these choices are proving to be quite a challenge, as trawling through job vacancies and reading the newspaper and online articles on human rights and conflict had previously taken up a good proportion of my day. But this is a little test for myself – will this mini-break from the past lead to extra space in which to develop new ideas and discover hitherto hidden opportunities? Will the emotional see-saw change in some way? Will I fill those newly gained hours with something completely new and different?

This new regime is going to be a little difficult to explain when I next go to claim my job seekers allowance. Job Centre Advisor: So, what have you been doing the last couple of weeks? Me: Oh, you know, transitioning. I didn’t look at any jobs, but I have gained a new interest in baking!

How do we break from the past and embrace the transition without getting RAGS? Please share your thoughts!

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