Paddling Downstream

This morning I was paid a visit from an old friend of mine.

This friend has visited me on and off over the years.  Mostly when the self-doubt voice takes over and drowns out the other more supportive voices.  The noise of memories and past hurts and other people’s needs becomes overpowering and that annoying little tightness in the gut starts becoming a deafening drum beat.

What if you aren’t good enough?

What if you fail?

What if no one loves you?

Or likes you?

Or listens to you?

What if everything your heart and gut have been telling you is wrong and you’re making one of the biggest mistakes of your life?

Hello anxiety, I wondered when you’d show up.

You’ve been lurking in the shadows for a little while and only when I took the time to name you, did you finally come out from under the covers and show your little face. Yes your LITTLE face.  Because in the scheme of things you’re only important in so far as you remind me to take a step back and breathe.

It’s interesting that I’ve only been able to put a face to the name in recent years.  As I have developed my mindfulness ability, I have become much better at naming the feeling and recognising that it is not me; rather it is a state of being that is temporary and that this too shall pass.

Naming you, my dear friend anxiety, has been a recent development and I’ve only become aware of who you are and the purpose you serve.  There is this wonderful analogy used in business of the swan swimming.  She glides effortlessly along the surface of the water, barely creating a ripple as she traverses the water in a graceful glide.  But underneath, those little legs are paddling furiously, ever mindful of the current that is trying to push her in another direction or the tide that is trying to turn her around.  Sometimes she needs to fight those external forces and to do this she uses her wings to create more energy.  Flapping those wings creates the turbulence and lift she needs to change direction.

I’ve been that swan for so long that when the paddling gets a bit trickier, I have to remind myself that I need to beat those wings to give myself some much needed lift.

The flip side to the swan’s journey of course is that sometimes she needs to just go with the flow and let the current take her where it will.  This is when the mindfulness needs to kick in and my friend appearing is often the thing I need to remind me to take that much needed pause.

So that’s how I came to be sitting in my front yard this morning in the warm Queensland sun, staring at my neighbour’s stand of bamboo as it swayed in the breeze, tears streaming down my face in a glorious act of “presence”.

The other fabulous thing about life is that when that old friend anxiety shows up, there is often a whole swag of other friends, human and otherwise that will show up too.  They will provide you with timely reminders that that you are on the right track.

I’m laughing now as I write this as my ITunes has chosen this moment to randomly play “Trust the Voice within” by Christina Aguilera.

When there’s no one else, look inside yourself;

Like your oldest friend, just trust the voice within.

Well played universe – well played!!

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