Stepping off the Hamster Wheel

My soul spoke up the other day.  I was logging tasks at work, and it unexpectedly popped in and finished my sentence:  “I tidied bathroom, ran a load of laundry, ironed handkerchiefs, started dishwasher…and sat down to spin straw into gold”.

I had been struggling to find a metaphor to help me solve a personal problem, and had fairy tales on the brain. “Wow,” I thought after my soul weighed in, “so THAT’s my fairy tale–every time I do the impossible, they bring me to a room where there’s more impossible to do, and it’s never enough. And if I get it wrong, I will be killed, and if I get it right, I will be married to the dolt who would have killed me if I got it wrong, and where’s the happily ever after in that story?” Just to be clear, that dolt I’m married to in the aforementioned fairy tale–it’s me. I’m my own worst taskmaster.

Doing, doing, doing, always doing, doing more, doing faster, doing better, doing constantly. And whenever you stop doing, there is the thinking. The thinking about the doing, about what’s next, about what’s six months from now. When you try to sleep, the thinking takes over, and it NEVER quits, never gives you a moment’s peace. It’s beyond ridiculous. So one day you decide to get off the hamster wheel, stop doing for a minute, and take the time to ask yourself “what am I feeling in this moment?”

And that is when the healing can begin. Because under all that frantic doing, beyond all that compulsive thinking, lie the keys to joy that you have been trying to pursue by doing more, by being perfect, by achieving others’ definitions of “success”. And after months or years of unwinding yourself from all the shoulds and have-tos, at last you understand that true success (your authentic “happily ever after”, if you will) lies in creating for yourself an authentic life, one that’s tailor-made to fit who you are–your gifts, your passions, your needs.  And the doing finally becomes pleasurable instead of reflexive. It’s not so frantic and is truly connected to your heart’s desire, whatever that might be.

And all because you stopped doing long enough to stand still, take a deep breath and ask “What am I feeling?” “Who am I really?” and “Where do I belong?”

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