I disappeared this summer. I lost myself in a creative project. I let myself be taken over by it; let it be the most important thing in my life. It became my focus, the source of my energy and the distraction of it. It was a joyful and challenging immersion. It was all I thought about and all I wanted to think about it. There was little space for anything else in my life. This kind of creative immersion is often described as flow (Csikszentmihalyi). It was both exhausting and exhilarating to be so caught up and in something.
Invested and immersed.
For me that project was renovating my house. And when it ended, or was completed, and I emerged, I found it difficult to go back to life as before. For those months I was driven, full of intention and purpose. I was on mission. A never ending list of tasks and problems to resolve, a sense of direction, clear stages and goals; progressive work. Also not without stress; setbacks, frustration, compromise, seemingly endless chaos, a sense of not moving forward, of being dependent on others, of things not being in my control.
As much as enjoyed the process, I looked forward to the end; normality, calm. Being able to be myself again.
Yet when the end arrived, when I could stop, rest and relax, I missed the insistence; being caught up in the energy of something other than myself.
Isn’t it the way that often when we are absorbed into and by something, we chose to be consumed, to not step back until we are too tired not to?
Isn’t it the way that when we are in something that has a clear end, a lifetime, a timeline, we look forward to the end, the point that it will stop?
Isn’t it the way that when the disruption is over and the normal rhythm of life resumes, we find that there is something missing. We miss the thing we had looked forward to culminating?
When we get to the end point of a project, we often realise the joy was in the process of making it happen, not the thing itself. It’s not the achievement, but the vision that is the driver. It’s not so much the realising a project that motivates project people, but being in the project. Being the person that is transported into another way of being.
And so another project is sought and begun.
I learnt a lot about myself from observing myself in this process, from knowing when to be kind to myself; to let go of things out of my control, to step back when I needed to; to recognise emotions that stemmed from tiredness. I also appreciated my skills, my sense of aliveness, my drive, my capacity. I noticed my capacity to withdraw from usual commitments with friends and interests because I didn’t have enough energy for everything.
What emerged for me from this experience is that I appreciated how much I can become a different person when I feel I’m being creative, making things happen, seeing things happen. The recognition that I liked being the person I became when I was in my element. Quietly confident and at ease with myself. I didn’t question myself.
Life coaching supports people to explore their true self, their passions, their purpose. To find out what we really love to do, when we most feel like ourselves, when things are most effortless or rewarding. The thing about ourselves that we most take for granted, the things we have a tenacity for that other people don’t. The point is to be really aware of the pleasure we can find in ourselves, to appreciate who we can be and what we can do.
When do you feel most alive? When do you feel yourself in your element? What can you do to bring more flow into your life?