I’d see it in a group of ladies who met at the cafe near work. As I was dashing back to work, gulping on-the-go caffeine, they’d spend hours lingering over cuppas and cake.
They never seemed to be in a hurry, or worried about how much time they were wasting while enjoying themselves. They looked content while a busy world rushed by around them.
I guessed they were in their 70ies and 80ies, and often looked on with dreamy expectations of my own senior years.
A time when I wouldn’t hurry. When there were no deadlines, tight schedules and time pressures. When I did things for love, not money.
Because back then I believed contentment was something you got with age. That when I finally had enough, and had done enough, I’d be able to slow down and enjoy my life.
So I continued the hard slog, always busy, keeping busy.
Fast forward a decade or so and I’ve come to realise that I can feel content now. And sometimes I do.
There are days when I wake delighted with all that I have, and feeling very blessed indeed.
Days when I’m super proud of my achievements, grateful for my good health and happy to be alive.
Days when I want to do nothing more than enjoy being Mum, lingering in cafes, dabbling for hours in the kitchen and losing myself in a creative endeavour.
Days when I feel confident in the amount of work I’m generating, proud of the value I’m contributing and rich in the knowledge that I’m doing okay.
Days when I do ease up the pressure on myself (and others) and trust in flow and timing while enjoying the sweet journey life has me on.
And then I get worried.
Worried my bubble will burst.
Worried life will come crashing down if I slow down.
Worried I’ll fall behind.
Worried the kids will miss out, if I miss out.
Worried I’ll mess it all up. I’ll mess them up while in a selfish daze.
Worried I’m not just enjoying my life, but I’m becoming lazy and wasting time. Worse still, I’m wasting my talent and opportunities.
And so, I push away contentment like a nasty plague.
I snuff out those feelings of enough and return to desperate striving, pushing, forcing and controlling.
I hop back on the treadmill and run like a crazy mouse while barking orders like a military leader. (crazy visual that one).
Until….. I once again feel the dread, the frustration and resentment and realise what I’ve done. I’ve denied my contentment and replaced it with frustration, desperation and disappointment.
Self sabotage is a nasty pill to keep swallowing. And swallow I do.
Which has me wondering, why do we push away the feelings we know we want? The good feelings? The ones we yearn for?
Because when we have conflicting wants and we judge ourselves the end result is often guilt.
You want to be there for your kids and you want to go away on a girls weekend.
You want to work flexible part-time hours and you want to build a successful business.
You want to get ahead and you want to slow down.
Slowing down can feel good, it can also feel messy, uncomfortable, even wrong.
There’s comfort in how you’ve always felt, even when it’s not ideal.
And as you follow your desires you may start to feel guilty. As Danielle LaPorte so eloquently puts it, “Guilt is the price of admission to fulfilment”.
Don’t turn back when guilt arrives, you can bear it, if your desires are strong enough.
Quit the self sabotage, lean in to what you want and breathe through the guilt.
Fulfilment is felt when you enjoy what you have and do, while knowing its enough.
More will come, and it will be like delicious frosting on an already amazing cake.