Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen - Ralph Waldo Emerson
One such trick is repetitive thinking about how exhausted, tired or overwhelmed you feel. Taking a break, resting, and relaxing in our fast-paced, often overwhelming modern life seems like a smart idea, doesn't it? After all, how many times have you been told or told yourself you simply need to get away from it all?
In the personal development world, we are often reminded to slow down, tune in and deeply listen to our bodies. Thus, this seemingly sage advice can be oh so insidiously used by the mind to simply STOP you in your tracks when the going gets tough.
What if the mind is creating the thoughts and feelings of overwhelm simply because it doesn't want you to go beyond what it recognizes as safe and comfortable?
The idea of "getting away from it all" goes hand in hand with the reptilian brain's run and hide reflex. Often when one has put a lot of time and effort into something that seems far fetched, this reflex can kick in. It can be oh so tempting to hide under the guise of self-love. However, taking a break in the interest of self-love may simply mask a lack of commitment and fear of the unknown.
You may start to focus on how burnt out you are, how stressed, how beneficial a reprieve would be, etc. (In honesty, my mind started to wander in this direction while writing this blog post) While all these thoughts may have their physical manifestations, what I have learned through ultrarunning is that your mind is powerful tool and the body will follow the course of your thoughts. When going beyond where you have gone before, it then becomes very important to question the stories you are telling yourself. Perhaps, the thing you really need to do is keep going!
Quitting in the interest of rest, recuperation, being kind to yourself, self-respect, self-love, etc. can be a persuasive argument and is one to tease apart carefully. For example, it may be worth asking yourself, "What if I am simply approaching a decision point, one in which I fully commit to my goal and am willing to do whatever it takes to get there?"
Giving up for the sake of seemingly valid reasons can also happen when one is on the verge of breaking through to a whole new level of experience. Before you quit, ask yourself if you are willing to go through all the steps you've made another time or if it makes more sense to stay with it.
I'm not suggesting we all become mindless workaholics ignoring the signals of our bodies on a consistent basis while soothing ourselves with addictions such as over-eating, drinking alcohol, playing video games for hours or dare I say even so called healthy ones such as running. (Did I actually write that?)
I am also not saying that rest and relaxation is unimportant, but maybe the timing of when you chose to rest and relax will feel even more sweet when you have pushed yourself beyond where you thought you could go. I know that's what happened to me in my 100 miler. I don't think I've ever slept as hard or as soundly as I did the afternoon after I finished it. It felt so so good to bob around in the swimming pool at the hotel the next day. I knew that the years I'd put into running and the 6 months of intensive training for this particular race culminated in crossing the finish line.
I believe we can rise to our personal and societal challenges by embracing the spirit of adventure and the enduring wisdom of nature.