the speed of joy

Each Month, I Answer the Call to Speak from Someplace Deeper in Me,
To Someplace Deeper in You.

smiley

a question

Dear Anna,

I am moving soooo fast these days but it feels like I’m barely able to keep up. My list is long and my nerves are short. I’m showing up late to things, squeaking by on deadlines, and dropping balls all over the place. I feel anxious, hyped up, and overwhelmed a lot of the time. And then? When I DO  “slow down,” instead of taking a nap or getting a good night’s sleep, I find myself glued to a screen, watching episode after episode of something that’s too mindless to really challenge me, but too absorbing to turn away from. What am I missing here? Why are things so “off?”

— Lorraine M.

a response from someplace deeper

Dear Lorraine,

So here’s a weird question for you: What if that frenetic speed is actually PERFECT? What if the speed you are moving at right now—that frantic, hyped-up, overwhelmed, making-mistakes-everywhere speed—is actually providing something really important to you that you have no other way of getting?

I get that that sounds bizarre. Most of us hold to the idea that if something feels bad (anxious, hyped up, overwhelming, as you say) then it IS bad. And that if something isn’t getting good results (I am barely able to keep up, I can’t pull away from the screen) then it’s just further proof that we are on the wrong track.

But what if you aren’t on the wrong track? What if that frazzled pacing is being initiated from a place deep within you that is working very hard to get your attention?

I don’t mean to miss noticing how bad you are feeling right now. Moving about this way seems like it’s disappointing, confusing, dispiriting, and frustrating to you, and leaving you feeling maybe sort of powerless—like you have to keep pressing on, like a gerbil on the wheel, because, as bad as it is, things will get worse if you stop. That’s an awful way to have to feel.

But let’s take a few steps back and consider the idea that maybe things feeling “bad” or “wrong” is a sign that you’re just about to learn something new and grow.

I’m a big believer in the idea that each one of us is made up of lots of smaller Parts (personalities, aspects of ourselves, configurations of energy), kind of like this:

parts in a line

Most of the time, all these inner Parts work things out, take turns expressing themselves, and “play nice.” When anger is appropriate to the situation the Part of you that’s masterful at releasing pent-up energy steps up. When decisiveness is called for, some analytic and curious Parts team up, march forward, and help you navigate onward discerningly.

But every once in awhile there just might be a Part of you that gets disconnected from the rest of you–stuck, separated, locked out from the flow. Maybe sort of like this:

stuck

I don’t know about you, but when I get trapped in a small space, I become frantic. Frenetic. I start moving faster and thinking less. I go in and out of freezing up and then becoming wildly animated again. Sound a little like the cycle of Netflix and dashing around you were describing above?

That kind of mindless thrashing around is HORRIBLE if you are trying to feel focused, accomplished, and well-rested. But it is PERFECT if you are needing to notice that some place deep within you is crying out for you to stop, tune inward, and locate and connect with the upset. It’s PERFECT because that wild pace is so noticeable. It’s so cartoonish. It’s so blatant. (If someone put a bird in a cardboard box in the middle of your workspace and it was thrashing around in there, believe me, you would notice it.)

I think you are writing to me because someplace—some Part—deep inside of you is feeling disconnected and unseen. And that feeling has been playing out on the “big screen” of your real life.

So here’s a thought for you. Stop and just notice—just look at—that pacing. Notice how jumpy it is, how often it’s missing the mark, how antsy and squiggly and wild it is.

And then send it love.

You don’t have to know why someone is upset in order to send them love. I invite you to stop everything, tune in not just to this frantic pacing, but to the idea that the source of this pacing is some Part inside of you that is entirely capable of receiving LOVE. From you. Targeted, purposeful, warm, embracing love.

Put your hand on your heart if it helps. Take a consciously deeper, slower breath. Smile a little. Close your eyes. Tune IN, and send loving energy. Loving energy, like, perhaps, the kind your mom offered when you were crying and she hugged you as a small child. Loving energy, like the kind of energy that offers support, comfort, empathy, and a calm, sweet presence. Loving energy moves at a DIFFERENT pacing from frantic-ness: it’s the pacing of caring, the pacing of attunement, the pacing of daring to stop and notice.

When this slower, sweeter, focused, loving energy meets the wild, lively, frenetic energy of a troubled Part within you, there is the possibility of something amazing happening. In my experience:

WILD AND FRENETIC  + CAREFUL AND LOVING  –> THE SPEED OF JOY

It’s the speed of joy that I care about, on your behalf. Frenetic-ness, on its own, can wreak havoc. But when it is tempered with love, it is ENERGY!  Love—purposeful, well-aimed love—warms things up, calms things down, softens the rough edges, and invites your entire system to come back into alignment again.

You have a lot on your to do list. And you’re exhausted. I get it. To my eye, the missing piece is not pushing harder, or beating up on yourself for what’s not working. The missing piece is love: You, taking a moment to tend to the frantic place. It’s the magical alchemy of SEEING that frenetic pacing, ALLOWING it to call you inward, and DARING to shine love on the places inside you that hurt.

You are worthy of the few minutes it takes to add love to the inner equation, and shift the pacing, gently, attentively, unconditionally, towards the speed of joy.

— Anna Huckabee Tull

a song for you

For the past twenty years I have written songs for people all over the country—and, in fact all over the planet—who want to express something unique to their situation: a loss, a new awareness, marking a milestone moment in their growth, or celebrating a new feeling or insight. I close out today’s Blog with the song, “Song of Myself” which was written, I do believe, at the Speed of Joy!

Listen to “Song of Myself”


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