One month before the publication of my memoir, Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy, I’m contemplating the saying, “Shit happens,” and realizing more than ever that obstacles are opportunities, and our infinite potential is always greater than any “problem” that arises.
Case in point: three weeks ago, my publicist and I parted ways. While this could have triggered a major freak out on my end, the collapse of this partnership pushed me to a new level of surrender and mental health. I couldn’t hold onto my expectations. I had to let go, move forward, and resist fabricating new assumptions. This time I’m not putting anything on it, I told myself. I’m starting fresh and letting myself be fine with whatever unfolds. Barb Patterson and Rohini Ross, my mastermind teachers, call this “going back to zero.”
When I first heard the term “going back to zero,” I resisted it. My thinking went like this: What? Go back to the beginning? After all the work I’ve done? That’s insane! But going back to zero is an invitation to see a situation with new eyes. It requires you to embrace what is, rather than fret over what isn’t. It’s a reset that frees you to explore what elsemight be possible. It’s also an offer to hold a situation lightly. I grasp and clutch when I’m scared, insecure, or basing my self-worth on external situations rather than remembering my worth is inherent. I also take things personally, and then make up stories to try to create meaning. But I’m learning that the things that happen to me are not personal, and my ability to be okay with whatever shows up has been game-changing. I’m a lot calmer and happier. Especially when shit happens.
Here’s another situation I experienced recently: a New York bookstore that confirmed a reading two weeks ago rescinded their offer for me to read on a Friday night, although they said Thursday was available. Normally I wouldn’t care, except that I’m traveling cross-country to Long Island for my fortieth high school reunion, which is taking place on a Saturday night, and former classmates, whom I’m excited to see and who planned to attend, won’t arrive until Friday. My ability to “return to zero” helped me see new options: a different bookstore, a library, or even the hotel where my classmates and I will be staying!
Having more peace in my life has less to do with what actually happens, and more to do with me choosing peace over unconscious, habitual drama. This is challenging and requires awareness and practice, because my patterns are deeply ingrained and their familiarity creates comfort—even when I’m stewing in negative thoughts and feelings.
My two takeaways this month have been: 1. Shit happens to everybody all the time and how we respond to it determines our experience. 2. No more striving. No more running like a hamster on a wheel, no more trying to do everything, or proving anything to anyone. I’m choosing to engage in activities I enjoy. I’m focusing on fun. This is my life as well as my career, and the quality of my thinking, energy, and thoughts matter. How I live is more important than what I do.
My moods fluctuate with my thinking. But I’ve got a book trailer to finish, a website to update, social media strategies to learn, implement, and practice, interviews to give, nine book tour events to finalize, editors to contact, graphics to design, and more.
None of this is essential. None of it says anything about my worth. Nor is any of it as important as it seems in the moment when I’m in my office, nose to the grindstone, forgetting to eat. But the truth is, it’s work I enjoy. I need to remember this the next time shit happens, and keep looking in the direction of infinite potential!