Have you ever been tempted to quit, even when things seem to be going right?
Imagine you've completed a big project. You've worked long and hard on it and felt excited and energized. You've dreamt about the outcome, about all the fantastic things that are going to happen now, all those wonderful changes and new experiences. You're fantasizing about all the money you're going to make and the new connections you're going to enjoy.
And so you feel wonderful. Excited and happy and raring to go!
Or do you?
In my article last week (Quitting the Quitting Habit Pt. 1 - Understanding the Fears) I discussed what, in fact, often comes up when it looks like we are moving forward. Uncomfortable emotions, physical stuff and other inconveniences. What I call 'quitting symptoms'.
They came up for me big time after completing the extremely successful launch of my new book, 'The Music Inside'.
Anything from self-doubt, irritation, not wanting to plan or take any new actions, to feeling tired (that longing to go back to bed an hour or so after getting up!), uninspired, muddled and lethargic.
Not to mention family visitors to be looked after, my children needing help with their school exams (really could have done without that!) and deleting an entire report (which had taken hours to do) on my computer.
All these distractions - many very legitimate, let's not minimize them.
These fears and irritations used to take me by surprise...but now I've come to expect them and see them for what I believe they are - a part of me just longing to stay in its 'safety zone'; that part of me that is afraid of showing off (got criticized a LOT for that as a child), or of standing out. That part of me that wants to keep a low profile and not risk being knocked down.
So exactly what kind of fears come up when I consider following through, when I contemplate ‘quitting the quitting habit’?
During my life as a professional violinist, I have learnt a lot about struggling, 'failing' and succeeding, about backing off and of starting again. After completing my initial music college exams I dropped out early and gave up the violin for 8 entire years, moving into an entirely different life. But the longing to play stayed with me and eventually I got back to it.
Happy end? Well it wasn't quite that simple...and eventually I discovered a lot - through reading, taking courses and working with an incredible Life Coach -that eventually helped me to move into doing what I really love with the violin; performing and sharing my music through concerts and recordings and videos.
In my last article I mentioned 6 of the inner tools and techniques that I use regularly.
Tools that I know work for me, and for others, and which help to unlock the self-made prisons that we build for ourselves (consciously and unconsciously) with our fears and self-limiting beliefs.
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Planning and taking small actions
Starting by recognizing ‘Ah, I’m doing it again.’ And realizing that it is only thoughts that I think repeatedly, that they are not true, and don’t need to be blindly acted upon. And that any upsetting emotions and feelings that come up from those thoughts are temporary and can be cleared and healed.
This was a big piece in the puzzle for me and it took me quite a while to reach it on my ‘inner journey’. Whether it felt more like self-indulgence or somehow ‘letting myself off the hook’ (though why that should be such a bad thing I really don’t know), it took me a long time to understand how very important it is to be nice to myself, especially when I am already suffering. Too many stiff British upper lips, possibly, and it was very nice to let them go. To let myself rest and recuperate when necessary and give myself a little time and TLC. The same leeway that I would give a dear and cherished friend.
#3 EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or ‘Tapping’
This is my ‘energy healing modality’ of choice for clearing fears, limiting beliefs (all those ideas that hold me back and which are so ingrained and thus so hard to let get of) and painful feelings. The technique consists of tapping with a couple of fingers on the meridian points (where they stick the needles in if you’re doing acupuncture) and, as you tap, talking about what’s bothering you, or what your ‘issue’ is. So, for what is known as the ‘set-up phrase’, you might say: ‘Even though I really feel like quitting right now, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.’ Then you continue, repeating the same problem (‘I really feel like quitting’), and possibly elaborating on it (eg. mentioning your fears or painful memories as they pop up.) After several ‘rounds’ you will find that your energy has cleared (usually significantly) and you can start to move forward, making plans and taking action and feeling much better about yourself and your situation. (Check out my article ‘EFT -The Whats, Whens and Hows’ for a lot more info.)
#4 Meditation and Mindfulness
Taking some quiet minutes to sit and just observe these feelings (both emotional and physical) and listen to the thoughts that come into your head is immensely valuable. I used to believe that I had no control over my thoughts. I now realize that the control I have is in deciding whether to let thoughts run and multiply and end up in the mother of all horror stories, or whether to allow them to be there and then fade away. Just like a sunny day with the odd wispy cloud which you can see dispersing, evaporating into the atmosphere. I also use meditation to set intentions (sort of managing my future – see my article about Intentioning) and to breathe in good feelings and broadcast out positive energy and good wishes for all.
I read once that in times of indecision, confusion and upset, the best course is to take a day or two to focus on gratitude and keep looking at the bigger picture without expecting or asking for answers right away. One of my favorite gratitude exercises is to write a list of 20+ things, big, little and in-between, that I appreciate. (‘Coffee and apples in the morning. The cats lying in the sun. Our new flat is going to happen! Beautiful concert last night. etc.)
#6 Using planning and then taking ‘small chunks’ of action
When I’m feeling reluctant, but want to start ‘doing’, I focus more on taking inner actions (like the ideas above) and then start with outer actions, but with a timer set, for, say, 20 minutes. A bit like my favorite advice of ‘Do more than nothing’, these will get the ball rolling and help to break down the inner resistance to taking outer actions.
So that’s how I broke out of this week’s inertia and got this article written.
- The first step is to become aware - kindly and compassionately - of what is going on and how we are stopping ourselves.
- We can then address our fears and uncomfortable feelings and clear them using EFT and meditation and mindfulness.
- Gratitude is a great way to connect with what you already have and open the channel to receive even more great things
- From then on the outer actions get easier. Focus on taking small, manageable, contained steps until you are back into the groove!
And now I’m feeling fired up, and putting it up on my blog and marketing it feels not only doable, but positively exciting!
I quit the quitting habit!!!!