• Simone Dale

Getting to the heart of the matter

Things are just not right; you feel uncharacteristically flat or anxious or desperately low, and you can’t quite figure out what’s wrong. Something feels off-kilter, and it could be one of a bunch of things or all of them. Like say, you’re adjusting to a new job (or no job), you and your partner are having house-wars, and then your geyser packs up when your bank balance is already below zero, you’ve put on more than a few kg’s, and, oh, there is also a global pandemic going on.


Underneath it, all could be a deep-rooted insecurity raising its head again. Or a confidence knock. Or a feeling of being disrespected or not appreciated. Or the loss of control you feel at the uncertainty of the future; fears that you’re never going to figure your shit out, or maybe you’re even grieving an old life or a dead dream.

You don’t know how much weight to give each problem, or even where to start. And very often, as a way to avoid the most pressing issue at hand, we place unfair weight on another issue so that we don’t have to face the most important one. You might lambaste your husband for not wiping the counter perfectly, even though you’ve accepted his deficient counter wiping multiple times before when actually, you want your home to be in perfect order because the world around you clearly is not. Or you decide to change jobs when it’s your marriage that needs the change.


So, which is it, the issue at work, the challenges with your partner, or is it the existential anxiety filtering into the lot and blowing it all out of proportion?


There is a danger in letting the water stay muddy.

PMS is a good metaphor here. Us women know about muddy waters. Most women experience some form of Premenstrual “syndrome”, where our hormones are out of whack, the whole world turns dark, and everyone becomes a target for all the injustices we are clearly being unfairly subjected to. A stone has been thrown into the pond, and what’s only a small niggle with a colleague or loved one can lead you to wanting to strangle them. Equally, the heightened emotion can sometimes reveal the full intensity of a situation you have been downplaying for way too long that needs attention. Suffice to say, the vague, hormonal-induced muddiness, if deliberated carefully, can be a time of extraordinary clarity.

I think we’re all in a kind of global PMS right now. A time of heightened disruption and emotion and an opportunity for clarity. But with so much going on I’ve found it harder to decipher what’s really what inside.

If you’re like me and you refuse to settle for muddy, and you’re willing to do the slow and often painful excavation work, you might just dig up a gem. It could mean spending time contemplating or writing in your journal or talking it out with a friend or your partner, coach, or psychologist. And if you do, you will get to the bottom of it at some point (with patience and grace)—the unearthing. And when you do, everything becomes manageable again.

How do you know you’ve got to the real issue? When you get to the heart of the matter, you feel it. It feels like precision; like finding the perfect word in the English language to describe something accurately. Or you may have said the same words a thousand times before, but suddenly there is certainty in them. You know that in the saying of them this time, there is no going back. You’ll often take a deep breath and then let it out. It’s like a curtain opens to reveal the stage of your life, and you’re in the audience looking at it. In tears, or joyous laughter, or quiet knowing, you become the intimate, undeniable witness of your own life. And in that moment, before having to deal with the consequences of the truth revealed, there is great relief. That’s when you know you’ve got to the heart of the matter.

Having the patience and grace (with yourself and others) to arrive at your disillusionment's primary residence is the hard part. Deciding what to do about it, I find, is usually a whole lot easier than figuring out – precisely – what got you there.

All else falls into place after that. All the other problems fall back into their rightful place of just being problems that make up the backdrop of a (mostly) manageable life.

If you’re like me and you refuse to settle for muddy, and you’re willing to do the slow and often painful excavation work, you might just dig up a gem. It could mean spending time contemplating or writing in your journal or talking it out with a friend or your partner, coach, or psychologist. And if you do, you will get to the bottom of it at some point (with patience and grace)—the unearthing. And when you do, everything becomes manageable again.


You can then begin to navigate the most important thing calling for your attention. And you know that no matter how rough the waters you need to navigate to get through it, on the other side, will be the making of the you you wanted all along. Just knowing you’re taking a step forward, and another - in the right direction - is enough.


May you grow lotus flowers out of all the muddy waters of your life.



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