It feels so good to write you. It has been weeks. I am recovered from being sick which took longer than expected. My main symptom besides fatigue was brain fog – not being able to think effectively. I would make assumptions about when I would get better and then it would keep going on. So frustrating. However, in keeping with my usual bottomless bag of silver linings a really interesting thing happened – I mostly got to take a break from thinking, to step way away from all the things that I have been thinking on and just stop.
To date I justify how much time I spend in thinking mode as a way of being that is necessary to achieve my goals and pay my bills – thinking pretty much nonstop from the time I open my eyes to the time until I go to bed with a few moments of “success” not thinking while meditating, doing yoga, or on a walk. I work and rework problems, and prep for things, I analyze things, I ruminate over things, I run through lists – things to prepare for, and then do it again. But when I stopped being able to think well for a few weeks I noticed a few interesting things:
1) I have been overthinking just about everything. When the thinking switch is on for so many hours, it gets very difficult to turn off and so I realize that I would think too hard about an email, or scheduling, or a meeting, or the todo list, or the next step on a client blouse – way too much thinking power for the size of the task. When I was stuck in brain fog, and I could calm the fear, I noticed that a much smaller portion of our life – even a life filled with a day job in clinical trials and a very detail oriented business, requires intense thinking. Mostly it is just one step after the next. Millions of them. My takeaway: reserve the big thinking guns for the big thinking tasks and just feel your way through the rest of it.
2) There are tasks for which too much thinking is a liability. Example: I had my first virtual fitting with a client in her muslin sample of the Boss Blouse and here was a perfect example of where thinking became noise that gets in the way of the point of an activity. I needed to assess the fit and the client’s satisfaction with the Boss Blouse: I needed to observe the blouse, watch it move, watch the client, listen and take good notes. And I needed to do that without all the noisy thinking which was actually chattering away negatively to the detriment of my other senses. In this instance, when I could turn the thinking noise down, I was witnessing something very positive – a client super happy with the fit of her blouse, a beautiful drape on a new client and the joy of seeing the blouse nestled into the personal style of a woman I respect deeply(!).
3) When the thinking button gets switched on you can get stuck in compulsive behavior such as perfectionism which has you obsessing over the interlining of a lapel when you need to be moving forward. You get too close to your work and the thinking gets you stuck so you can’t step back and observe the reality of what is in front of you and what is reasonable.
Another thing that happened is that I got to watch teammates in both my business and at my day job step in to help me. I got to be vulnerable and say – I need a hand and I got to witness how much support I have. (There were plenty of dark, tough moments too, but here I am focusing on the golden nuggets I found moving through them.)
Having recovered I am taking a few lessons with me: I am committed to being more balanced with my senses. More observing, more feeling, touching, listening, more breathing and less thinking. I am committed to delegating so there is more space in my life for the vital creative energy that is the life blood of my business.
So many good things are happening folks and we must reject notions that say that we must spend every waking moment beating back our todos with our brains. It is not sustainable, it does not promote joy and it will not get us to where we want to go.
Thank you for all your support.
Go, fight win.