Have you ever had a pain which is a dull ache rather than an acute ‘stop you in your tracks’ pain? I’d call it a ‘background pain’ – a headache which just won’t shift or maybe that vague discomfort in your shoulder which you put down to sleeping awkwardly last night. Do you know the kind of pain I mean?
I’m noticing a similar experience in some clients and friends. It’s not a physical pain, it’s more of a mental or emotional ache which seems to be caused by an intangible background distracting anxiety. When we dig deeper, they’re not really sure what’s behind that concern. It’s almost as though their minds are constantly casting about for something to worry them: they seem to be anticipating and mitigating risk all the time. They seem to describe the impact of this experience in similar ways:
‘There’s nothing really to worry about – I’m just feel constantly distracted.’
‘My concentration on what I’m doing right now is diminished by wondering about what might have happened/be happening/happen elsewhere.’
‘Even when things are going well, I find myself thinking “this is too good to be true – what am I missing?”’
At this point, I must stress that I am a coach, not a counsellor and would of course help my clients to find the appropriate professional assistance should I believe that to be the best course of action. However, for many of us, this background distraction is an acquired part of everyday life which some simple steps may address.
Wayne Dyer writes –
‘The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.’
Could it be as simple as that? Some of my clients are trying out a new habit – giving themselves permission to notice what they are doing right at that moment, to go with the flow and devote themselves to that activity. They report that this has a two-fold impact: they get more out of the current task and the background distraction recedes. Some of them are reinforcing this positive impact by recording what went well – either noting it electronically, writing in a diary, or other creative ways which work for them.
In ‘A man without a country’, Kurt Vonnegut writes –
‘And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”’
Today’s pebble for you to contemplate:
How will you notice when things are going well for you this week?
I’d love to hear from you,
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?