Doubt

Starting my own business is something I have never done before. It is one thing to go to work and have the frame of an ongoing business, and a job carved out and defined for me. But this is creating something new. Taking what I know, what I am learning, and what I don’t yet know, and organizing it into an ongoing enterprise. Yesterday I was working on putting together programming elements for my listening projects—writing a comparison on Personal Leadership’s Critical Moment Dialogue and mindfulness practice, and it felt like slogging through quicksand. Will it be this way day after day, week after week, year after year? I don’t think I can make it through. I went to bed disappointed and exhausted.

Early this morning I woke up with a tight, full, resisting sensation in my body. I called it Doubt. I fell back to sleep and dreamed I was on a sightseeing tour of the city with my grown kids and my mom. They had been snapping photos along the way. At one particular place, in front of a sunny grove of trees, they wanted me to take a group picture. They had arranged themselves and were ready for the shot. “Could you take the picture Mom?” I grumbled to myself, I didn’t want to take a picture. “Where is the camera anyway?” Under this purse, or this purse, or this purse in the back of the car? They sure made it difficult for me to take their picture. Grumbly and resistant, that was me. The feeling in my body came right through into this dream.

I woke up and thought, “Why is this so hard for me?” I imagine Entrepreneurs who start up business after business. I imagine they have no fear, and creativity oozes from their pores. But me—I am afraid, and my creativity has its own stubborn schedule. Why does this feel so hard? I want to allow the process to unfold as it will, but I know part of that is participating in the process. There are unlimited ways to organize the work. How do I choose? Where do I go? Where am I going?

It is at times like these that I wish I were more of a deductive thinker. But I Live in emergence. And right now it is frustrating. I can hear Annabelle asking that rotten question about my dissertation, early on when I had barely started re-translating the interviews, “So what is the point? What did you learn?” I don’t know, I would whine. The point was there, but not yet verbal. So I got into the interviews, worked with the women’s voices over and over, tediously slow, for several years. Finally, along the way, things began to make sense to me. Themes emerged. A way of organizing my dissertation developed. It was a long, tedious process. And that is what I am afraid of. That clients will become frustrated by my process, that I won’t be able to answer their questions. Doubt.

A thought arises: I feel my current writing is falling into itself and going nowhere. Boy is that a familiar feeling. …That I am not very creative and, on my own, will fail. Yep. Good ideas, but no substance behind them. Yeah. A fraud.

But there is something truer here. …I do know. I just am not sure how to express it at times. Ugh. I am not the great goddess I imagine is needed in order to be successful in this work. I am just me. Nothing special. Sometimes at a loss in the face of the new, unknown. Worried about the pressure to respond/react immediately, like some of my successful friends might be able to do.

Wow. This self-deprecation. Where does it come from? No one is criticizing me here except me. But the voice is old and familiar. It echoes through my life. Judgments and fear entangled in creativity and the emergent process. There are grains of judgment programmed right into the kernel of my creative being! The voices of judgment are still there in me. Where will I discover the acceptance—in me, for me?

And then, my attention shifts and I feel a meta-answer arise to my question about how the Personal Leadership (PL) Critical Moment Dialogue aligns with my own personal process of resolving conflict—internal or external. A process of mindfulness, gestalt. In mindfulness practice, as with gestalt therapy, we fully use our internal and external senses so we can be self-responsible and self-supportive. Both mindfulness practice and the critical moment dialogue help us regain the key to this state, the awareness of the process of awareness that leads us to creative, generative responses to our difficulties.

This resonance between PL and my own practice aligns PL with my aspiration to help others uncover their capacity to be self-aware and to self-regulate in situations that are new, different and/or challenging to them.

I remember that my process is a gestalt practice. It allows questions to emerge. Is open to receiving through dreams, encounters, walks, meditation, conversations. Anything. Our unconscious mind processes through metaphor. Seemingly unconnected ideas can infuse meaning and create an aha moment.

Another aha moment arises. How was I approaching this exploration of PL and my mindfulness practice? The Buddha taught that nothing in the universe exists independently of our own consciousness. The object of consciousness cannot exist independently from consciousness. You already are what you are searching for. Yesterday I was trying to compare PL to my Buddhist practice by going through the 14 Mindfulness Trainings and the Buddha’s teachings. I got mired in the words and comparisons–drawn into theories and ideas and away from my own knowing. What I needed to do was step back and ask the question, “How does PL relate to my own practice and the tools that guide me?” This analysis is for my own benefit. To be able to use PL out in the world, I need to be grounded in my own experience of mindfulness practice. This will naturally infuse my presentation of PL.

I do know. I do have something of value to share. It seems I need to be reminded of this over and over again. In the end, attending to my body feelings of doubt about starting my own business spiraled me into a deeper exploration of my creative process, the voices that choke it, and how to trust my own inner processes. A huge lesson for the day.

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