Gah! That moment when you lose your keys! Or think you’ve left your wallet somewhere… or throw your iPhone into a rubbish bin. *cough cough*
Maybe you’ve never had that last one happen to you but I’m sure you know the feeling of searching. The feeling of not having something that you need and there’s no immediate way to grasp it. Keys are just the beginning. Jobs. Boyfriends. Answers.
After years of searching, first for approval, then love, then answers, I thought I was all done! Until I realised I still had searching for myself, meaning of life and purpose to go!! So by now searching and its tensions are pretty familiar to me. I think we’re always Searching for Something on some level. And you know, actually, I’ve learned to appreciate it.
There’s something about The Search, the openness, vulnerability and instability of it that makes me feel alive. It reminds me that there’s something more for me in the future than what I have at present. The Search Is Hope.
Still, it’s uncomfortable. And it can jiggle your world in sometimes unsustainable ways. When the uncomfortableness of a Search gets too much, we tend to grasp at anything. A job we don’t really want. A person who’s not quite right. An answer, a group or a meaning that just bandaids the yawning questions.
Here is how I’ve learned to release the tension of searching, just for a while, so my heart can relax for a moment. Use a combination of these things to give your heart a break from the tension of searching, so you can muster the courage to continue all the way to the end… all the way to the place you were really looking for.
1. Go to the moment of ‘Found’
This is first because it’s my favourite. If you’re anything like me, in the middle of a search you fret about the outcome. ‘What if I can’t find my keys? What if I don’t get the job promotion? What if there are no answers? What if I never find anything worthwhile to do?’
Stop. Have faith. 😀
Take yourself in your mind to the place of Found. Where you have someone. Where you have a purpose. Where you’re reconciled to your answers. Breathe in the feelings of contentedness, of pleasant surprise, of enjoyment. It will exist, at some point in the future. Pull those good feelings from the future into the present. Then breath in and out again.
2. Do open-ended things
When you’re searching there’s a lot of open-ended thinking. What if X happened? Could I try X? Has anyone thought about X? What do I think about X? Couple this open-ended thinking with a bit of open-ended doing.
I flew to Amsterdam last week to be a volunteer at their TedX Conference. Why? Primarily there was one speaker I wanted the chance to ‘bump into’ but also, who knows who I’d meet? As it turns out I got breakthrough advice on my book from a huge publisher, connections with sustainability consultants in the USA and was inspired by a whole bunch of entrepreneurial, excited-for-life people.
It’s not enough to sit on your couch wondering where your keys are or surfing the internet laughing at cat pictures. You need to get off your butt and try something new. Channel the tension into action. Join a kayaking group. Go to a conference. Read something. You need to be engaging with the world for a chance at a serendipitous occurence!
3. Do close-ended things
That said, I’m all for actually narrowing down the options. If you’re serious about finding an end to the search, get systematic. If you’re sorting through what you believe, build a reading list. Visit the service of a different religion once a month. Do a philosophy course. Book an overseas trip. Start ticking boxes.
Love the lists. At some point you have to get it down on paper in a systemised way. Your choices, your thoughts, your conclusions. You’ll find once you put it on paper, it’s not actually as confusing as it all seemed in your head.
4. Remember The End of Other Searches
<—— This is a precious photo for me. It was taken by my friend when I was at the highest town near the base of Mount Everest. In this moment I was writing and at the same time realising, ‘Woah, actually I am okay with all those big-ass questions like ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘What’s the point of life?’. Which definitely wasn’t the case at the beginning of the year!!!
Remembering those things we have found – love, a passion, even something you don’t agree with – serve as a reminder that one day, this search too will be over.
5. Embrace The Good Side
Some people with a boyfriend wistfully remember the ‘free and single’ days. People with a job remember waking up to the sunshine instead of an alarm. I smile to the side a little thinking back to the time I was sure about nothing so just tried everything. There’s always a good side to The Search stage… embrace it, experience it, appreciate it because once you find, you don’t get that feeling back again.
6. Talk To People… But Spread Yourself Around
Talking helps your brain to process. It allows you to listen to yourself. Find people you can talk to about your confusion but spread yourself around. I made the mistake of talking to primarily one friend (I didn’t have anyone else!) when I was a questioning Christian and it nearly destroyed our friendship. Not because she didn’t love me but just because she couldn’t stand to hear anymore about my confusion!! Don’t forget to give a little back… ask questions and just listen. Focus on something other than your own confusion for a bit – it’ll do wonders to calm your mind down.
7. Sit With The Jitters
You’re confused. You’re unsure. You don’t know.
Just… sit with it. Sit with the jitters, notice them, let them move around. Don’t try to diminish the uncomfortableness. Just sit with it. Right now you’re uncomfortable, unsure, scared, confused.
Have Faith. One day this Search will come to an end. Then you’ll have Found.
And another Search will start…