I grew up with four distinct seasons. Summer days were spent on bikes, playing with friends and wandering around discovering new things and having adventures. The evenings were times of catching fireflies, cookouts and story telling. There were few plans made and most of time was ours once chores were done.
Because of this expanse of freedom and time, we grew freely and gained new perspectives about nature, our friends, our abilities and life itself and we were wildly creative. We would come up with all sorts of ideas realistic and far fetched and have a great time trying them out.
This summer I’ve had the precious opportunity to spend August working and playing in the trees and mountains of Northern Arizona. I’ve had time to remember the joys of summer and carve out some ‘white space’ for myself. By that I mean time that is unstructured, not productive or efficient.
This ‘white space’ has given me time to breathe, permission to wander, reflect and let ideas emerge. It’s been one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in a long time and as I head back to Phoenix next week, I return refreshed and inspired. I know it’s not easy to give ourselves space, especially when there is a lot to do. And yet I believe when we do, we gain the strength and momentum to remain clear hearted and carry on.
“Sometimes you need to do things that are very ineffective in the short run
so you can be effective in the long run. “
This idea of ‘creating space’ is important any time but it’s vital if you are in a place of uncertainty and change or are feeling a lot of stress.
It frees our minds from habitual thinking and let’s us see in new ways. It’s not wasting time to ‘create space’, it’s actually one of the most efficient things you can do.
When you get hooked into worrying and stress your thinking constricts and gets tight and narrow. This limits your creativity and problem solving abilities and creates a downward spiral of pride, judgment, fear and ineffective action.
How can you get out of this cycle? What is needed to stop the endless thoughts?
What would be different for you in your life if you had more ‘space’?
There are 4 tasks required to navigate uncertainty and reduce stress. The first task is to be Willing; you must be willing to create space. This is counter intuitive when your ego or pride is telling you to work harder and faster and think more clearly, but it’s vital to do so. The resource to draw on is humility. Practicing humility will help bring you a shift in perspective. It will help you see your situation with fresh eyes and give you the energy and hope to take the next step.
How do you create space?
There are lots of ways. The basic idea is that you redirect your attention away from what has you hooked and let your mind rest. When you do that an opportunity arises to think in new ways. You may feel resistance to doing this especially if the stakes are high. This is normal but don’t let it stop you. Here are some suggestions.
- Stop doing what you are doing and move. Do something physical; exercise, dance, hike, walk, swing your arms do something that has you body in action.
- Question your assumptions. What are you assuming to be true? Are you sure it is true? How do you feel with that thought? Without it?
- Reach out and connect with a friend.
- Find something funny and enjoy it, better yet share it with someone.
- Seek out beauty. Look at something that you find beautiful and appreciate it.
- Be mindful in nature. Notice the trees, leaves, flowers, animals and insects. Be in the wonder of it all.
- Sing or listen to music.
- Breathe! Take 5 or 6 deep full belly breaths and as you exhale release your shoulders.
- Do something thoughtful or kind for another.
Good luck as you practice Creating Space. May it help you to shift your perspective and move you closer to your desired outcome.
You can learn more about Creating Space, navigating uncertain times and creating positive change in my book, The Art & Practice of Trust; Finding Your Way Through Change, Uncertainty and Transition and by reading Way of Discovery found in the menu section on my home page.
Would you like to learn more about how to navigate uncertain times and create positive change in your life? Please call me at 602-870-0060! I’d love to speak with you and learn how I might be of service.