I put a little Facebook message up this afternoon that seems to have resonated with so many of us. It began, “I’m so unsettled lately…”
“Unsettled” is a word that encompasses so much, doesn’t it? Stress, anxiety, uncertainty, bewilderment, melancholy, worry – for me it is all these things and something else. That feeling of somehow being untethered from the world around me, untethered even from myself.
Whenever I am in this frame of mind, all I can think about is how difficult it is for any of us to ever get out of it. Not because things are ever insurmountable – all things are knowable, of course – but rather because modern life just seems set up to be uncertain. This time of year – this November business we find ourselves living each and every year – it seems to bring so many of us undone.
What makes me feel unsettled?
Change, which is tough. Steady ground is hard to find in our modern world. Things shift and move around us seemingly on a whim and nothing is secure. The not-knowing is endlessly worrying. Though I do try so hard to live in the ‘now’ and not the ‘next’, sometimes what happens next is all I can think about.
Feeling socially disconnected. This time of year is notorious for this. While some are talking about the endless parties they are obligated to attend, the rest of us are waiting patiently for an invitation somewhere, anywhere but here. I long for transparency with friendships, for a solidness that is rarely found but so precious when it’s there.
Forgetting to be grateful. Whenever I start seeking out the new and forget about the now, I know I’m in trouble. I start to think that I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, I’ll never have and be enough. A seeker who never finds.
Dreaming unrealistic dreams. I’m a grounded person and an impatient one. I need to dream, but dream small enough so I can make them come true in a useful time frame. Who knew you could be so structured with dreams – but you can! This is just the way I am and when the dreams start getting too big, I become restless with the aching need of something that is too far away to even see clearly. I need to see my dreams, touch them even.
So all this leads me to digging my way out. When life is unsettling, how can we resettle?
What is steadying for me?
Connecting with nature. Pausing outside to breathe in something green. It knocks the ugly out of the urban.
Nurturing what’s important. My family, that’s it. All else is icing.
Re-evaluating my values. As my friend Helen says, working out what MY values are, not the values that are worthy that I think I should adopt. When I am peeled back to my core, what do I look like? What do I choose to do? What motivates me? What pleases me? What do I avoid? What do I seek?
Recasting my goals and plans. Ensuring that they are realistic, meaningful dreams that will bring me lasting contentment, not just fleeting satisfaction.
Embracing the mundane for a while. I’ve written about my neglect of the mundane before. There is no point simply enduring the everyday minutiae, to really live well we need to find ways to embrace it.
Choosing disconnection. Rather than suffering through loneliness, paranoia or feeling left out and not good enough, I choose to drop out for a while. It’s a fine way to feel like I’m in charge of what other’s think of me – almost. When I disconnect, I spend more time with myself, figuring things out and deciding what I’d like to do, rather than what I think I should be doing. Disconnection always leads me back to self-respect and balanced relationships.
So that’s me, unsettled and wondering, but ambling along, regardless. I truly believe that my defense against everything the world has ever thrown at me has been optimism. Tough, unbeatable, hopeful, brave old optimism. Things will change, they always do and until they do we simply must endure. We must feel the wind leave us daily and persist in taking deep, deep breaths to puff ourselves up once more.
How are you doing lately?