It's Wise Wednesdays!
We all have times when we feel deflated and as if the wind has left our sails. Sometimes the trigger is obvious e.g. rejection of some kind. Other times, it’s less obvious, which can be frustrating. You’ll wake up one morning and notice that you’ve been feeling a little less excited about life and a tinge of boredom or numbness has crept in. Your mojo has left.
Usually these moments of deflation will resolve within days. But when they extend to weeks or months, it can feel quite alarming and provoke anxiety around wasting time – not to mention shame because you’re not getting things done – which will only exacerbate things. So it’s important to catch that reaction to the loss of mojo.
Catching the unhelpful patterns is the first step in beginning a transformation of any kind.
People might try to be helpful and make suggestions like: “don’t think about things so much”; “go and treat yourself to something” or “just keep putting your best foot forward”.
Yes, retail therapy or putting on a brave face as you trundle through your day can help. But it is more likely to be a temporary fix that doesn’t deal with the root of the problem. Why do these states happen anyway?
Part of the answer is that states like loss of mojo are subtle and that we are not trained to deal with our emotional states let alone subtle ones.
ACCEPTANCE AS THE KEY
About three years ago, I was going through a prolonged period of unease at work. I remember one of the directors advising me to stop worrying and just get on with the work…
It didn’t help.
It implied that something was wrong in acknowledging the unease. Of course, there was some wisdom in the advice but it wasn’t the right remedy for my ailment. In fact the implication that my unease wasn’t OK made things worse.
It’s important to be selective with advice; not because the advice is wrong but because the person giving it may not understand your full experience and therefore unwittingly nudge you further down a rabbit hole…
With hindsight, what I needed was a good career coach! Luckily, I had two coaches and was able to withstand the uncertainty and continue on the journey. I eventually found my next career step; or perhaps it found me because the time had come and I was ready.
What helped me the most in times of confusion wasn’t hard work. It was a much simpler thing: acceptance. This is acceptance in the sense of relating better to what was going on in my life and the experience of it rather than deciding nothing can be done i.e. accepting what I’m feeling unconditionally.
Once I cut out the negative assessment of my experience, clarity and motivation returned. I see this with my clients too. So much energy is released for productive endeavours, whether it be navigating a promotion or taking a leap in a new direction, when we stop fighting what we’re feeling.
10 STEPS BACK TO YOUR MOJO
Mindfulness has played a big role for me in progressing along my career and life, particularly the big leaps. When I was doing the biggest leap, I had to intensify my self-awareness around my emotions and reactions so as not to get knocked off course and then have to spend days trying to get back on track.
Two faculties or life skills continue to be key for me (which you can develop through very simple breathing meditation):
Life skill 1: The ability to master my focus (i.e. choose what to focus on and keep my focus steady); and
Life skill 2: The ability to relax into my experience (i.e. accept it, move through it and maintain flow).
(see this week's video for more on these)
There are 10 virtues or habits in Buddhism that these life skills are built on and that provide a path back to your mojo (one of them may be more relevant at any particular time):
Meditation: practising self-awareness (of thoughts, experience and consciousness) to strengthen focus and inner-balance
Integrity: discipline and living in line with your chosen values
Generosity: giving without expecting to receive for the joy of giving
Patience: making friends with time
Energy: learning how to generate it within you, enhance it and invest it
Wisdom: being discerning in your evaluation of situations and experience
Cultivating joy: deliberately turning joy into a habitual state from which to live and act
Cultivating compassion: meeting difficult emotions and life experience with warm regard
Cultivating loving-kindness: developing positive intent towards others
Cultivating equanimity: practising even-mindedness
These practices work together and will cut through the fog like magic if practised with some commitment. In fact, if anything in your life feels like it’s not working and you’re losing your mojo as a result, it is probably because one or more of the above is missing. You may want to work with a skilled coach or mentor to understand how to apply them specifically to your life and what that might look like in practice.
Legend in the making: Last week, J who is a talented silo-breaker consultant, bringing people together across teams and organisations and challenging leaders to reach their next level of impact, mentioned that some of the work we had done to cultivate more compassion and self-acceptance in him had intensified his effectiveness and leadership presence. As a result, he's having more fruitful conversations at work, creating new exciting opportunities outside work and is building his own coaching practice.
Of course, if you want to get your mojo back through immediate gratification, these practises won’t satisfy you. However, immediate gratification wears off and drives you into renewed compulsion, whereas these practices help you feel calm and in control, and will help you develop a solid foundation to reach greater and greater depths of experience and fulfilment in life. At least, that’s my experience and what I see with clients.
Why not pick one to practise for a week and see what happens?
Have a good week,