Once upon a time…
One day I received a card in the post. It was a sepia photograph of a place in the local area taken over 100 years ago and the edges of the card had a beautiful wavering cut. The quality of the card was very heavy and lovely. On the back in a stylish font, was an invitation to a wedding reception. This postcard provoked very strong feelings of envy in me, so strong that I started to seriously question what I wanted from life. Do I want to get married?
I put the card on display and I was bothered by it for some days… Then it finally dawned on me what was stimulating all these envious feelings. It wasn’t the wedding or the marriage or even the party, it was the project and specifically the card itself. Together this couple had designed the card. They were organizing receptions in 3 countries (international couples do this if they can afford it apparently) and the events and the run up were documented and celebrated on a blog for all to enjoy.
It was the idea of doing a project like that, together as a couple, something meaningful and creative, that I was so envious of.
Not long after that I had a similar experience involving some second hand bowls that I did not buy because I’d never use them. If I had a big family I would use them all the time.
It was the idea of using the bowls as part of special big dinners that appealed, not starting a family (I worked out later).
Ever since the postcard episode I have been more wary of making snap judgements about my emotions or drawing conclusions too quickly. Now I give myself more time to mull things over. In some companies this is a recognised technique called reflective practise.
If I am asked to do something and it doesn’t feel quite right I ask for time to think, or sometimes I don’t even ask anymore, I just listen and if I am not asked for a commitment I don’t give it, I just wait a bit. It’s quite reasonable to go back later to get more clarification if you need it, plus the fact that things might change within the next 10 minutes, including your mood.
I believe that your gut feeling is always right, but gut feelings are not always easy to decipher. If you have a strong reaction and then feel confused, you might need some time to think it over because there is something complicated going on. Don’t just ignore it or you could end up with Skeletons.
If you are facing a turmoil of emotions or decisions and you can’t separate one from the other, my advice is; stop trying. As my wise friend has said many times, “You can’t solve it today”.
This is where a routine, structure or an absorbing hobby can really help. Go about your daily business. Forget about it altogether. If it’s bothering you too much try talking it over to feel better. If you cant just let it go the answer will often rise up by itself.
It can be difficult standing still. When you have some clarity and you understand how you are really feeling, you can take another big step forward.
It’s important to work out if you want pretty bowls or the children that will eat out of them, as those are two quite different things. You can’t fit both in the dishwasher.
Co-founder, The Clean Sheet