It remains to be seen whether we will soon have the feeling of running in a rat race again. It is also to be seen whether the new normal will turn out to be a copy of the old normal, and how quickly the carousel will get going again. For those who were already struggling, the situation has gotten worse. For others, the lockdown seemed to come just in time. In stressful pre-corona times, a coaching conversation often started in the same way.
© Luc Van De Steene
“It’s a feeling,” she says, “and I feel miserable when I think about it. I feel like I’m on a merry-go-round. It spins and it spins. It never stops. If it isn’t at work then it is home. I just have to keep all the balls in the air. It’s grueling. I feel empty.”
She continues. “Sometimes I really can’t follow anymore. It all goes so fast. That stress. Being constantly chased. Never being allowed to make mistakes. It gets too much for me. Do I have to look for another job again ?! …”
Many concerns. Lots of thoughts. What is going on below ground level?
Whatever it is you’re looking for, I ask, do you think you’ll find it spinning around on that reel? What do you think, isn’t it a good idea to get off? Just to see what happens next… Imagine getting off and watching from a safe distance. Maybe the merry-go-round is a metaphor, for the life you lead, maybe also for the bustle in your head …
Sit quietly in another chair and observe your own thoughts from your full consciousness. In one chair is your Consciousness, in the other the Thinker in yourself. From this position you are able to break free from your overwhelming world of thoughts. It is a deliberate form of ‘disidentification’.
And see, a smile appears on her face … “I feel a lot calmer,” she says. “It gets calmer in my head. Funny actually.”
The merry-go-round is a metaphor
The question is: are you willing to distance yourself from this spinning bustle? Think about it.
There is the external reality, over which you have zero control, and there is your own perspective, which is conditioned. There are the many stories and thoughts you construct about this reality. These are clearly two different worlds. What do you think, which of the two gives you the most stress? Read the book ‘Four questions that change your life’ by Byron Katie.
Only what you begin to see more objectively, by taking a distance, can become more bearable. Restless thoughts are often an unconscious attempt to change reality, which is impossible. The reality just happens. Any, usually unconscious, attempt to change reality causes stress. As a person you are much more than just your thinking. By identifying yourself with your thinking, sooner or later you will irrevocably go wrong.
“Looking for hope in thought is madness. Seeking hope in emotions means sadness and suffering. Seeking hope in self-observation is strength and wisdom. It creates greater awareness because it feeds attention. This is how I grow and mature further.”Source: Red Hawk, ‘Self Observation: The Awakening of Consciousness’ (2009)
Confusion in thinking or chaos in life does not necessarily mean the end, quite the contrary. Chaos can even herald a new beginning. This is evident, for example, from the numerous post-burnout stories. Eckhart Tolle puts it this way:
“The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life. (…) It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.”