ETD #20: The April issue of â€œTime For Changeâ€
â€œTime for Changeâ€ focuses on different issues about the Disquiet. Itâ€™s like a coaching conversation in which I will work on a particular aspect and provide steps you can take to work with your own Disquiet. You can ask questions or share you experiences here in the comments below.
Please note that these monthly newsletter editions are not available on the Feed. So if you want to receive your own issue when itâ€™s published, you can subscribe by filling out the form box on any sidebar on this site or by clicking here. You will also get a copy of the report from my ongoing study based on interviews with men around the world who discuss their Disquiet.
This monthâ€™s article:
The problem with seeing it as a problem
Its 3:31 am and I am wide awake and I donâ€™t know why. One minute I was sound asleep, the next staring at the numbers: â€œ3 3 1â€ glowing green-blue in the dark. The more I try to go back to sleep, the more anxious I feel. My mind starts racing, â€œIâ€™m not supposed to be awake! Everyone else is sleeping right now. Being awake means something is wrong. Whatâ€™s wrong? I canâ€™t sleep. ARRRGH! The frustration about not being able to get back to sleep feeds on itself. I want to scream, â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with me that I canâ€™t go back to sleep!?!?!â€
There! Right there! See that?
That thing we do when we think something is wrong – We zoom in on the idea something is wrong with us. That very idea dooms us from the start. Once I have locked in on the idea somethingâ€™s wrong and clamp down on it, itâ€™s all down hill from there. I will end up thrashing around for hours getting more upset that Iâ€™m awake.
The same applies with the Disquiet in our lives â€“ that growing restlessness that many men report feeling. A low background hum that says something is not right. When we see it as something wrong with us, then itâ€™s a short quick slide into we are failures for not knowing how to fix it. That starts the worrying about worrying. New things pop up to prove how we arenâ€™t doing it right and arenâ€™t OK.
So back in bed, unable to sleep, I am now worrying about all kinds of new things that are popping up. Now I am sweating the emails I didnâ€™t send, bills still waiting to be paid, and the ice cream I ate this evening after swearing off sugar. The harder I try to go back to sleep, the more I zero in on all the different things that can go wrong and all the many different ways I have somehow already failed. Now I am wide awake and feeling up tight and restless. Now there really is something wrong.
But there is an alternative here. What if thereâ€™s wisdom in the fact that I am up? What if itâ€™s an article begging to be written and not the guilt over the ice cream at all? I donâ€™t know what really woke me up in the middle of the night. But what I do know is that I stopped the agony when I stopped thinking I was failing at getting back to sleep. I got up. Once up, I realized I had a lot going on in my head so I came downstairs and wrote this article
So what if there is another way to have this go?
What if this Disquiet in our lives does not mean we are a failure? What if the unease isnâ€™t an alarm bell that we screwed up somehow, but instead is a signal to ask questions and listen for answers? What if the feeling of alarm only comes when we ignore these important messages?
Itâ€™s not a problem, itâ€™s a guide
I listened to what was really going on â€“ ideas buzzing in my head that wanted to get out on paper. I listened and acted on that. That is really different than taking a sleeping pill or tossing and turning in bed worrying.
What does your Disquiet have to tell you? Instead of a proclamation that you screwed up somewhere, what is the deeper wisdom that is trying to surface?
How to help the wisdom surface?
So the next time you start to see yourself shooting out of the starting gate of the â€œsomethingâ€™s wrong raceâ€, try this:
- Stop and take some deep breaths. This can interrupt the ramping up of worry.
- Check in with yourself. Imagine turning off the alarm in your head that something is wrong. Then ask yourself what is really trying to get my attention here?
- Listen for the quiet answer. Often what we really need comes from a pretty quiet place â€“ not the klaxon alarm bell screaming there is a problem.
- Watch things settle down. When you focus on what you can learn from the Disquiet and doing something in your real life with that learning, you will notice things get quieter. You then know you are on the right track.
- Allow yourself to be surprised. Be open to what this quieter message might suggest. I never would have guessed I had an article ready to come out in the middle of the night!
Try it out! Let me know what happens. There, now Iâ€™m sleepy. Iâ€™m going back to bed.
Email This Post to a Friend or Save as a Bookmark
Tags: Life, Newsletter Archive, Podcasts, The Disquiet, newsletter, quiet answer, time for change, What does your disquiet have to tell you