We've turned the corner into the second half of 2022, and I've been reflecting upon the past six months and the different ways my core capacity has changed in response to various challenges.
First, it's crucial to understand that our capacity can be limited or compromised, and that's not a weakness. It's a significant skill to be able to recognize when we may be at "max capacity," for example, and in such circumstances (and even before!) to set limits or create boundaries to wisely protect our time and energy so that we may re-establish a sense of stability and groundedness.
Learning the personal cues indicative of a need to step back; say "no" to certain things or "yes" to others; remove someone or something from your life; get more (or less) sleep; change something in your nutrition; shift how you are moving your body; or focus more (or in a different way) on your spiritual or emotional life, can all be important steps toward understanding "capacity." I like to have my coaching clients imagine the various ways in which their minds, bodies, and behaviors are like the indicator lights on their vehicle's dashboard.
Do you notice when an indicator light is flashing?
When you do notice, how long does it take you to start getting curious about the light?
Are there specific questions or activities you use to better understand what the light means?
But second, we ideally use our life’s circumstances (if we’re privileged to have our basic needs met) to understand who we are, how we think, what’s important to us, and the different ways in which we’ve learned to cope and function.
In January I resigned from the company I’d been with since 2008. For at least a few years I’d been experiencing a decline in motivation and a misalignment with my values. I felt used up, exhausted, and I was crying all the time. All of these were indicator lights!
I grew up, I grew in, I grew down, and I grew out during my time at this company. As I took on new responsibilities and wore the hats of various roles, more and more I found myself in spaces of reckoning (indicator light). I was rumbling with parts of myself that I wasn’t fond of and tried for a long time to hide from (indicator light)…until I couldn’t. My capacity for self-compassion had to expand if I were to become whole and present for all of what was/is here.
With the resignation came tremendous anxiety (indicator light) about the next chapter. Could I do something on my own? Would I step into a different position with an already established organization? Did I want to be a part of a team and have a salary and benefits? What did I want my day-to-day schedule to look like, and what freedoms were most important to me? How could I best align with my personal values and contribute to the well-being of others?
I was introduced, again, to the way I learned to focus my attention as a young person: get it right. We all have lessons that come to visit us repeatedly, and this is one of mine. It’s not about being right—it’s about exploring the possibilities and figuring it out along the way. There isn’t a wrong way or a right way; there’s just the way.
I applied for multiple positions and believed I’d found an amazing organization to be a part of. After three intense interviews, I was told that they had chosen someone else. I… was… relieved?! (Indicator light—not all indicator lights reveal that there is something awry). I had to go through that to discover that that way wasn’t what I needed, and in so doing, my capacity for uncertainty and trusting the process expanded.
Just this past month I consciously backed away (indicator light) from a friend when I began getting a sense that I wasn’t being included in important decisions. Plans that included me were changed, and I was told afterward. I deliberately created some distance with this person and began making choices in my own life to re-establish a sense of rootedness. They included spending quality time with other friends, focusing my efforts on specific hobbies, and exploring new places. I achieved what I’d been desiring—a sense of inclusion and belonging—and my capacity for endings, beginnings, self-trust, and boundaries, expanded.
None of these experiences have been easy, but they have nourished my core capacity. They’ve invited me to become friends with my core capacity. They’ve encouraged me to get closer to my needs, my values, and the commitments in this life and to others that are so important to me.