Loving Yourself Forward
“Now is the time.”
I’ll never forget the stunningly simple, crystal-clear guidance that came to me – out of the proverbial clear blue sky – in a quiet, spacious moment years ago. I wasn’t specifically expecting it at that time, but I knew it would come.
And when it came, I knew I could trust it.
I knew I could trust it because the words unfurled like a stately banner in my mind, and as they did a feeling of profound peace enveloped my entire being. I was blessed with the exquisite experience of knowing something – knowing it absolutely – without a shadow of a doubt.
What a gift that is! As someone who had grappled with self-doubt much of her life, the felt sense of knowing the time was right for a choice I wanted to make – without the usual second-guessing and exhaustive analysis of the pros and cons – was life-altering.
And what made it particularly sweet was that it was a gift I had given myself, many months before that moment.
Let me explain. Regular readers of my blog know that, years ago, I left a successful corporate career to follow my dream of doing work I deeply love. I had known for a long time that I wanted to make the change, yet I didn’t have a clear enough vision of what my new career would look like to feel confident in walking away from stable income.
And like so many clients with whom I have worked since that time, I kept waffling. I wanted to make a change, but…gee, isn’t this salary wonderful? I wanted to do work that fed my soul, but…gosh, that meeting today, with my favorite colleagues, was almost fun! I wanted to create my own schedule, but…isn’t it helpful to have a set schedule to bring order and productivity to my life?
Back and forth I went, time and again. Yet I began to notice that, even with ongoing effort to convince myself to stay in the corporate world, the longing to do work that expressed the deeper truth of who I am was amazingly stubborn. Not in an obnoxious way, but in a quiet yet very persistent way.
It had a powerful, subterranean momentum of its own – sort of like an undertow, if you don’t mind the mixed metaphors. I kept thinking I should stay close to shore, but it was pulling me toward the uncharted waters of creating something totally new in the depths of the unknown.
Over time, I came to the realization that I simply had to leave. I had to find out where my soul wanted me to go. After all, what’s the point of having soul’s longings if we’re not meant to follow them?
With that realization my perspective began to change. Whereas once I felt it was too risky to walk away from a stable and financially comfortable career, I now felt it was too risky to stay. “Stable” began to feel like “stuck,” and “comfortable” began to feel like “numb.” I wanted to live an awake and inspired life, not a well-planned but predictable one that left me feeling empty.
At that point I began to take my dreams seriously and to start planning for my transition. As I often encourage my clients to do now, I began building a case for why I would succeed, rather than focusing on all the possible ways I could fail. I let myself get more and more excited about the post-corporate phase of my life and could almost taste how sweet it would be.
The only sticking point was when the transition would begin.
“Later” always seemed to be the best time. I discovered it’s one thing to have a powerful desire to do work I love – along with some money in savings and a general direction to follow – and quite another to act on it.
But I also discovered something else. I discovered that not only could I trust the power of my longings to point me in the right direction, I could trust the power of love to guide me to the right time.
I knew – I really knew – that I would leave my corporate job. Yet I also knew that if I forced myself to do it right away – if I pushed through my fear – I would compromise the quality of my experience. The fear itself would continually harangue me, thrusting countless variations of “this was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done” thoughts into my mind. And I didn’t want to start the most exciting phase of my life that way. I wanted to feel good about it.
So rather than forcing myself to leave as soon as I knew that leaving was right for me to do, I reminded myself soothingly that I would know when the time was right. I would sense it. I would let intuition rather than coercion signal my resignation.
And as I continued in my corporate job for a while, I decided to relate to it, internally, as if I was working out my notice period. I showed up and did everything that was mine to do, paying particular attention to setting things up for a smooth future transition to someone else. I acted responsibly but didn’t over-commit or volunteer for things just for the purpose of proving myself to be a good team player or readying myself for the next promotion, or for any reason other than that I wanted to (which, frankly, was rare).
I loved knowing that someday I’d no longer be working in the corporate world, and in that knowing I relaxed a little and did my best to appreciate the good that was there. And I kept looking forward to doing work I loved, almost the way I used to look forward to Christmas when I was a little girl.
And so, in the absence of self-judgment about not having left my job, already, my inner guidance had plenty of quiet space in which to be heard. I heard it that fateful morning as I was working out in my living room. While pausing between exercises to catch my breath and appreciate the view outside my window, the guidance came:
“Now is the time.”
I was both humbled and exalted by the purity and perfection of it. I tendered my resignation the next day.
And I left my job knowing I was leaving at the perfect time, peaceful yet excited to begin my new journey of the soul.
Those of you who know me well know that, once on my way, this soul’s journey has not been without further doubt or fear. Far from it, actually. Yet during those difficult times of wondering if I’d left too soon (or perhaps shouldn’t have left at all), what helped me most was remembering how true and authentic the decision felt. In my bones I knew I had been divinely guided, and that remembrance anchored me when I was at risk of becoming adrift in a sea of withering self-doubt.
Giving myself time to bring my thoughts and feelings about leaving the corporate world into harmony with my longings was, truly, a priceless gift. It was only from such a stable place that true guidance could emerge, and the feeling of being guided is parallel to none. It beats second-guessing every day of the week.
I learned quite a lot about loving myself forward in that experience. It’s about being kind rather than forceful. Yet it’s also about being firm in honoring the soul’s longings, rather than letting doubt continually nibble away at them.
It’s being supportive of the “what” – what the soul knows – without being pushy about the “when.” It’s about cultivating and trusting intuition to guide the timing.
And it’s about understanding that each experience is unique. Another time, in other circumstances, my guidance might have been to act immediately. And my responsibility would have been to follow the guidance.
The key is to develop a loving relationship with myself, which includes committing to understanding the ways my inner guidance speaks to me and asking myself, at each juncture, what “loving support” might look like right now.
The same is true for you. No matter where you are on your journey of living an awake and inspired life, know that you don’t need to push yourself forward. Life is not a forced march to some distant finish line. It is a magnificent opportunity to honor and express the glorious and ever-expanding truth of who you are.
And that opportunity can only be realized through Love. Real, honest-to-goodness Self-Love.
Copyright © 2018
Suzanne E. Eder
Suzanne – I enjoyed reading your post and can relate in many ways. I remember seeing you several years ago and was working on leaving my job; something that also gave me financial security and a sense of order. However I was miserable; working for state government was causing me a lot of frustration due to poor management and no self satisfaction. I wanted more time to nurture myself (something I didn’t get growing up) and wanted to do something that made me feel good about myself and to feel inspired as to how I was spending my time every day. Well, I left my job 3-1/2 years ago (taking an early retirement) and have been pretty much doing what I want every day. My husband and I have done some traveling with our camper, we’ve become grandparents in April and are helping out with the baby, I take a weekly Yoga class, I joined a women’s group, I do some volunteer work with my church and I do some temporary work on occasion but I’m still not sure what I want to do with the rest of my life. I know some things I should be doing around the house (like getting rid of clutter, doing small projects around the house, etc) but I don’t feel motivated to do those things and I find myself getting frustrated with myself and feeling anxious. I know I need to exercise more, lose some weight I’ve gained since my retirement, and eat more fruits and vegetables but it seems to be such a struggle for me. So my question to you would be is how do I handle these uncertain times and keep myself from worrying about my future and how much time I have on this Earth. I lost both of my parents to cancer in their mid-50’s and two of my sisters had cancer and both of them have lost their husbands so I can’t help but worry about my own health and abandonment when I find myself feeling overwhelmed or in a low mood. Right now if I knew I had all the time, money, and resources I needed, I still don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to feel inspired and motivated with my life. Thanks for your suggestions and the articles you write including in the Living Well Magazine. Peace and Blessings, Nancy
Peace and blessings to you, too! It’s good to hear from you. A full response to your questions would be an article (or more!) of its own, so I can’t address it fully here. But let me offer three things:
1. You might enjoy re-reading one of my older blog posts – The Tyranny of the One Big Thing, which I posted in December 2015. I think its perspective would be helpful to you. Here is the link:
2. You may not be aware of the science of epigenetics, which tells us that we are not ruled by our genes. We have a tremendous amount of power to influence gene expression through our beliefs, thoughts and feelings. Check out Dr. Bruce Lipton and his seminal book called The Biology of Belief. Hopefully it will help you release your fear about dying young or dying of cancer.
3. Rather than trying to “figure out” what you want to do with the rest of your life, focus on finding satisfaction and pleasure in every moment right now. Pay attention to the seemingly “smaller” desires you have and honor them. Our deeper longings can only emerge when we’re in the habit of honoring our day -to-day ones. Invite your intuition to reveal what will be fulfilling for you, one step at a time. And if you don’t have a regular meditation practice…please start one! That will help you pull back from your fearful thoughts and create space for more loving ones to emerge.
I hope this is helpful. If you’d like to take a deeper dive, we could always schedule another session or two.
No matter what, I wish you every happiness!