A couple of weeks ago my family and I hiked 9 miles to one of our beautiful Cascade Lakes. The trail to Green Lakes winds up through the juniper forest alongside a flowing creek until you land upon the majestic clear Green Lake that is held deeply by the Broken Top and South Sister mountains.
As I was leading my 12-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter and husband down the trail back to our car I had a moment where I thought I was lost. I did not recognize the trail or my surroundings. I thought I might have taken a wrong turn. My heart started to race, my palms began to sweat and I began hearing anxious thoughts such as, “Oh great you have already hiked 7 miles your kids are going to freak out. Where did I mess up? I swear I stayed on the right path, I thought I knew where I was going.” It was only a few seconds of bewilderment but they were filled with fear, uncertainty, and doubt in my abilities. After realizing we were on the right path, my heart rate went down and I could breathe a bit slower.
Strangely this angst has not left me. Writing this today I am not lost on a forest trail but I have been waking up lately experiencing these same body sensations and thought patterns about my life. It has been four months since I left my financially and emotionally secure job to jump into the unknown because I listened to my intuition. I thought by now I would have my career all figured out. I thought people would be knocking on my door to do things for their companies, their families or heck maybe even get a phone call from Oprah.
Boy was I ever wrong. Or, I should say was my ego ever wrong.
I never thought four months after leaving my private practice I would still be as lost as I am on my own journey through the woods to discover my next adventure. No, I thought I would be able to see the next steps with a lot more clarity, inspiration, and security in my bank account.
These feelings are not comfortable and make me want to flip off my intuition most days, but I recognize them. I have been lost before in my life. I remember moving to Spain totally unaware of my new language and culture and having to make this foreign land my home. Or landing at the Kashmir airport as a white American woman surrounded by Pakistani men with automatic weapons terrified because my guide was not there to take me to my next destination. And I will never forget waking up the morning after my father died feeling lost, devastated and alone from the reality that I will never hold my father’s hand again.
Looking back I realize I survived these challenging, scary and uncomfortable moments so there is something deep inside of me that knows time is one of my greatest teachers.
Still a bit begrudgingly, this is what I have learned so far:
Find some patience with yourself and your career. I love to fix things and solve problems, hence why I am a therapist and an avid puzzler. So for me to have the patience to let life unfold and to show me my next path is not easy, it is like pulling a tooth from a deep root. But I have learned that this is not going to be a quick fix. I encourage you to do the same when you are feeling lost. Trust that with patience and time you will discover who you should work and collaborate with, what companies resonate with your soul, and where your skillset is most utilized. This may sound like a luxury and you may be saying to yourself, “But I need a paycheck.” I get you, I do too, and so in your transitional time do what you need to do to pay the bills while still exploring your next career path. The best way to create a path of patience is to breathe, meditate, get support, trust, and stay curious and inquisitive to all that is around you each and every moment.
Roll up your sleeves. In the moments when you are not being still and quiet roll up your sleeves and get to work. I don’t care if that is taking out the dishes, cleaning out a cupboard, or getting a job to feel some sense of purpose. Try to not sit around and feel sorry for yourself, God knows I have done this and trust me sitting on your rump will only feed into your story of “I am a loser, nobody can see my gifts, or “What the hell am I suppose to do with my life?” These thought patterns do not help your vibrational path to bring people in to meet and guide you towards your next career journey. So try to find the balance of patience and movement, similar to a tree. Let your energetic roots get grounded and still to receive the nutrients of the earth but at the same time encourage your bodily branches to roll up their sleeves and move and sway to grow taller and stronger.
Submerse yourself in the experience. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions that are coming your way during your transitional times. This is not always fun and comfortable, but essential to receive all the teachings that can be learned. Try to allow yourself to feel the days where you think you are never going to find your passion project, your cause or your next paycheck. To go deeper get out your journal and write about your experience, allow yourself to grieve what you thought your life would be, take care of your internal world by making an appointment with a healer, therapist, or masseuse or try to let go by having a cup of coffee with a friend. In the same way submerse, yourself into the days where you know you are on the right path because you had a positive meeting or phone call that inspired you and allowed you to feel hopeful for your next steps. These times are similar to scuba diving the deeper you submerge into the ocean the more beautiful, unique and interesting the sea life becomes. Get on your scuba gear and get diving deep!
Come back to intention and prayer. When the early morning or late night monkey mind begins to create worries and fears for the future say a prayer or intention. Then get up and do something else. It serves no one to stay in bed and let yourself be enveloped by the worries of your world. If these worrisome thoughts come late at night, say a few prayers and then turn on a nightlight and read a book, or name three things you are grateful for, gratitude has a way of shifting the ming from things to worry about to things you are thankful for in this world. You need to change the pathways of the brain to different thought patterns. Worrying serves absolutely no purpose. Magically intentions and prayers cam soak up your worries and fears like water to a sponge.
Think about others beside yourself. Get outside of your stories around your fears. I know I am again asking you to do something that is challenging. There are many days I want to sit on the couch and watch Bravo TV, more days than I want to admit. But instead, I have learned that the best medicine for self-pity is to think of others. I think about what my children and husband need that day, or about the mothers who need to climb out of their huts to walk a mile to gather water for the day. I imagine what my life would be like if I were in solitary confinement or alone with an addiction I could not kick. I know this may sound extreme, but on the hard days, it helps me realize there is a much bigger world outside of my mind and if I want to find my next path I cannot waste time thinking only of myself. I need to do things such as setting an intention for the world to send love to all people who are struggling, volunteer at my local homeless shelter, or send a note to a friend who may be going through a hard time. Step out of my “Woe is me” Molly bubble and into the bubble of all humans.
I know I am not alone in feeling lost in life. We’ve all experienced moments where life feels like looking into a lake and instead of seeing clear to the bottom; we only can see murky, unclear and ambiguous water. I know many of us can feel as if we are not on the right trail and have led our family and ourselves astray due to fear, shame, or anger. But, if at that moment you can come into your beautiful brain, soulful heart and search spirit and whisper, “You are on the right trail, be patient, let yourself feel, pray, take care of your fellow men and women, and go deep knowing you are in a tribe of other searchers with a beam of light guiding you.