Lately I’ve been feeling empty. Not depressed. Not unfulfilled. Just empty. I told my brother about it on a recent road trip to the ocean. I expressed my concern about this empty feeling, how it’s been mounting in the three months since I stopped working, how it’s gotten even more pronounced since my TEDx experience ended, how even the holidays didn’t fill me up the way they usually do.
I explained that without clear direction and focus, I was aimless, wandering through the day.
“Do you feel lost?” he asked.
"No, I don’t feel lost because I don't even know where I'm going. I just feel empty and purposeless."
And then he said it, the thing that changed everything. . . .
“Colleen, maybe you’re just getting ready to be filled up again.”
Maybe I'm getting ready to be filled up again.
I sat with that during our two days at the ocean and realized something. Since I’ve stopped working I have been letting go of my identities – a working mom, a non-profit worker, an executive director, a woman who’s doing it all, even when her husband is on frequent business trips. I’ve also been letting go of states of being: panic, frantic, stressed, tired, overwhelmed. These aren’t a part of my life anymore.
I lived this way for a number of years. As healthy as it is to let it all go, it’s unnerving, unsettling. I haven’t replaced the old roles and states of being with new ones, except Empty.
Before my brother made that comment I was judging Empty as something bad. Now I see it as that space between the tides, the slack tide when the waters are unstressed, before they make the transition.
This is the pause between the inhale and the exhale.
Instead of jumping into another stressful state of being and new stressful roles, I am disengaging from the old and making room for something new.
Isn’t it interesting that my initial inclination was to judge the empty feeling negatively? If my perspective was akin to a picture frame, I was holding that frame up to my empty state in the Portrait position and I saw negativity. My brother came up, took that picture frame, turned it 180 degrees into the Landscape position and voila: Hope!
Nothing on the outside changed, but by simply reframing my internal experience I shifted to a positive state.
What issue is currently nagging at you in a negative way? If you re-frame your inner experience about that issue, what happens? Can you see this situation from a positive perspective instead? I’d love to hear.