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A Case Study in Self-Awareness

So, I recently found myself taking the preparation for a pending task way too seriously, which was a poignant reminder to listen to my own sermons because all this week I’ve been meditating on next week’s newsletter topic: not taking life so darn seriously. And I thought about the action piece I already had a draft of, and the reflection suggestion I had made, and thought… Yup. Time to take my own medicine.

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So I sat down and thought to myself, ‘okay, how do I prepare to do this specific thing and not take it seriously?’ And immediately an answer came: Start laughing right now, because this whole thing is ridiculous. 

And I did. I did laugh right exactly then, and in the middle of writing this blogpost. And then the anxiety flooded back in pretty quickly thereafter. Some of the issues I have with the situation are part of my physical reality, some are old pains triggered and reinnervated with the possibility of doing this specific thing, and a few are higher moral issues that I have to make decisions about. 

I found myself talking about the higher moral issues with a friend, and then caught myself because really, that wasn’t what was motivating my angst. If I could assign weights to it, it would look like this:

Parts of Decision, and the % of total angst they create

The anxiety/anguish was so significant that it was making me second-guess my conditional agreement to do this thing in the future. But I kept looking at that weighted list. My concerns weren’t really about the moral issues, and the physical reality is something knew I need to negotiate, and then I could just move on. (In fact, rehearsing how to get through that moment, based on how I’ve successfully negotiated it in the past, has been very helpful for me to calm down right now.) And that leaves… the real motivator of my reticence, and the real cause of me taking this way too seriously.

Narrowing that down does rather tell me what I need to do. So, I went and did some of my trauma remediation techniques (in this case, Meridian Tapping and Square Breathing)… and lo, I came to a place of peace about it.

And when I checked my email afterwards and discovered that the pending task had been canceled by the other party for reasons out of my control, I laughed. 

Not in relief, not in derision, but because… perhaps the entire purpose of this moment in my life was to help me let go of this angst, and not really about the thing I was dreading after all. Which makes it an invaluable moment to me. And that answers my question, How do I prepare for this task without taking it seriously? 

Look deeply. Discover what’s keeping you from laughing. Let go of every bit of it, because you don’t need it. Then laugh.

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