Finding your way back to your self

Jan 14, 2014

Illustration: Kristin Noelle

How do you find your way back to your self, to your “unstainable goodness,” to trusting and following your path, when something or someone sends you spinning off course?

I asked a handful of friends this question because you can’t live a life that is true to you if you are always reacting to what life throws at you. You can, however, live a frantic, people-pleasing, adrenaline-fueled faux life. How do you return to center? Read the following ideas and then share your response in the comments. Let’s create a rich resource to inspire us all. Thanks!

(And for those of you already enrolled in the Life Organizer Navigation Course, share your thoughts on how you return to center in the Facebook group. Not enrolled? Whatcha waiting for?)

“If I need to find a way back to my center IMMEDIATELY, the very best thing I can do is take a long, deep breath. It sounds so simple, but it is a tool that never, ever fails me.”

Christine Mason Miller

“Depending how far I have spun or in which direction: I go for a walk in nature where I see my inherent goodness reflected back at me; or I call a friend who can remind me who I really am and what my true work is; or I read back over letters and notes I’ve saved in a special folder for moments just like this; or I put on music and dance my way back home to myself.”

–Marianne Elliott

“I process things according to how I feel about them and since I feel things really intensely, the only way for me to move past my initial reaction and find a clear path back to my strong, grounded self is to talk things out with my trusted, inner circle—they help me filter through the emotion and find the facts.”

Jac McNeil

“I try to get very quiet, to find within me the deep wellspring of stillness where my soul lives, so I can gently forgive myself for veering off course, come back to center, ask for, interpret, and trust guidance, muster up the moxie to take action if need be, make the “auto-correcting” adjustments that get me back on course, and then…just breathe, knowing that it won’t be long before I spin off course again- and that’s just part of the spiritual path.”

Lissa Rankin, MD

“I close my eyes, breathe in, put my feet square on the floor and envision my feet pressing through the floor, down down down into the earth. I feel that connection and center. Then, I ask myself, “Who do I want to be right now?” The answer always brings me back to self.”

Michele Woodward

“I spiral inward, reconnecting through silence and spaciousness   to the place of stillness that houses who I REALLY am.”

Amy Kessel

“Writing always brings me back and reminds me that there is a voice within that is so much smarter than me.”

Susan Piver

“When I go astray, I try being extra-kind to myself and allow for gentle self-correction.  It’s a practice, for sure, and the key for me is to forgive myself in the process. With each derailment comes an opportunity to exercise my resilience and get back to the path, steady and sure.”

Tracey Clark

“My first practice for finding my way back to myself is to find the simple and straight path, as so much of the spinning, whirring, and churning is done because simple, straightforward plans and relationships become more complex, complicated, and stagnant when we over-infuse our hopes and fears into them.”

Charlie Gilkey

“Writing a note from my 90-year-old self to my current self reminds me that I have a unique path, that I’m on it, and that every bend in this road is an integral part of reaching my destination: being HER, full of wisdom, joy, and peace.”

–Michele Lisenbury Christensen

“Finally, I have come to understand that ‘spinning’ – that panic-stricken, OMG! WTF am I supposed to do now? – is guidance. It’s a telegram straight from my soul, and it’s shouting: You are out of alignment. Come home. The moment I see this, I can shift. Where is this home? Right here – inside my own heart. After 50+ years of blaming and beating up on myself, the discovery that peace always arrives can bring me to tears.  I remind myself: Peace is not ‘out there’ it’s in here. I climb back inside the room of peace at the center of my own heart and I am home.

Amy Oscar

“My top five balms: music, cuddles, tears, venting to good friends until we are laughing, and wondering how my golden retriever would view the situation.”

Tara Sophia Mohr

“I don’t profess to be able to always recenter easily, but when I need to, the best thing for me is to slow down at least one of my sensory experiences. Close my eyes, take a shower, breathe in, put earplugs in, go for a run. When life throws me off-balance, I try to remember that I’m a witness to my feelings, not controlled by them. I breathe and try to find stillness or quiet among it all, and search for the good news. It’s usually a lesson, an idea, or a practice that the universe needed to send my way, and I roll with it as best I can.”

Sarah Kathleen Peck

“I really check things with my ex-husband because he’s known me for 26 years, knows me better than anyone else, and always reminds me that my heart and my intentions are always good, and to not get distracted by someone else’s stuff. Skip the drama, stay the course.”

Laurie Wagner

“I go within. Way down deep. I listen to the know-that-I-know-that-I-know voice. And I trust that it is right; that I am.”

Ronna Detrick, M.Div.

“I have a “this/not this” list that I consult with five or six key word pairs, so I remember what I’m like when I’m “off course” (for instance, “sycophantic”) and what its matching pair is when I’m at my best (in this case, “provocative”).”

–Michael Bungay Stanier

“I gently pinch the skin on my forearm, close my eyes, and breathe in the knowing that what I am holding is as sacred, good, and wise as anything else in the universe.”

Rachel Cole

“The first thing I tend to do is turn t’wards sacred readings, poetry (David Whyte, Khalil Gibran, John O’Donohue) and open a random page to find something that usually answers my heart’s needs.”

Lissa Boles

“Connecting with one of my mantras, “beauty, breath, and being” helps me find my way back to myself.”

Jennifer Lee

“I confess to my husband that I have fallen into a pit of self doubt and he reminds me that a.) I am a lunatic and b.) I am and always have been brilliant, talented and wise.”

The Wild Heart Queen

“I head to the gym, kick my own ass, laugh with my trainer, and leave drenched in sweat. Instant mood-cure.”

Gala Darling

“By shifting attention from swirling, twirling thoughts into the pattern of sensations, the pulse of breath, and the presence that infuses and embraces it all.”

Eric Klein

“I sit with paper and pen, and I let what is within- my description of what threw me off and the voice of imagination that can make story and meaning of it all- spill onto the page.”

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

“First, I have to remind myself that it’s even possible (because it’s SO easy to forget!), then I feel my feet on the floor, close my eyes & take a few deep breaths while sending myself love.”

Anna Guest-Jelley

“It’s usually a combo approach: talk out the tangle with a trusted friend, then seek solitude (to meditate, journal or both); OR, start with solitude to sort things out in meditation or in my journal, and then talk about it.

It’s rarely enough to just talk about it without coming back to solitude, whereas the silence and alone-time are often enough to get untangled and find myself again. (And when none of that works, there’s always dancing around the kitchen!)”

Abby Seixas

“First, I have a good cry/wallow – don’t underestimate the power of letting those emotions out. Then, I make my man listen to my troubles and hug me and get me apple juice (it always makes me feel better), and he always knows the nicest things to say to make me feel better and more confident. Then I think of all the people I’ve worked with who I helped, and take a peek at my Win Book to stroke my ego. By that point, I’ve usually shaken it off (or had a good night’s sleep) and am ready to take on the world again!”

Michelle Ward, The When I Grow Up Coach

“I remember that anything that comes between us and our true natures–that unstainable goodness–is a mirage. All we need to do about a mirage is realize that it is one. ♥”

Molly Gordon, MCC

“First I allow myself to have a pity party. Then I run a warm bath, put in a few drops of lavender, and feel the feelings in my body, pair them with the opposite feelings…and then hold both opposites…and it’s like BAM…I recalibrate to ‘it’s okay…everything, just as it is.”

Karen Brody

“A surefire way to collect myself is head to the woods (or just the tree in the backyard) with a good book of poetry. Heaven and earth.”

Lianne Raymond

“TM–Transcendental Meditation, if only I remember and commit to doing it.”

–Alison Luterman

“I return ‘home’ by pausing, observing and checking in with my body. My body is boss and it often I dialogue with her when I get triggered. I’ll close my eyes, tune inward and ask ‘What area (of my body) most wants to be seen/heard? What feeling is associated with this area? Is there any action you’d have me take?’ Usually the action is to just breathe. So breathe I do—ten deep belly inhales/exhales. Ah, home again.”

Renee Peterson Trudeau

“After I realize I’ve spun off course (because sometimes it takes some time) I pray and thank God that all I have to do is trust the journey and have peace with the process.”

Erin Giles

“I find that I spin off course when I don’t stay true to self. I return to a place of being “unapologetically me” by self-expressing something that I’m afraid to say: a slice of truth, vulnerable and real, packaged with a bow and sent out into the world.”

Dave Ursillo

“I return to my visual journaling process, allowing the messy, unpleasant, shame filled feelings to have a voice, and I write about “What I know for sure” about myself or the situation.”

Luna Jaffe CFP, MA

“I breathe into my belly, feel the dark richness there, sense how deeply and lovingly my flesh is connected to the Earth, and remember how she asks for nothing from me as she gives continuously – that is love.”

deep in the darkness of the womb of my body lies the seed from which all was born.
i feel this seed.
it’s always there.
it’s unchanging, yet always giving birth to new life.
light in dark.
life from death.
eternity in this moment.
everything in nothing.
when i lose grounding, when i forget, when the chaos is more than i feel i can handle, i simply come back to this seed, and from here i am born anew.

Julie Daley, PCC, CPCC

Now it’s your turn. How do you find your way back to your self, to your “unstainable goodness,” to trusting and following your path, when something or someone sends you spinning off course? Please share in the comments or on the class Facebook page. I can’t wait to read what you wrote and to work with you in the course.



Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

Made for writers, artists, mail art makers, knitters of sock puppets, creative entrepreneurs, photographers, Tarot readers, and anybody who needs to make stuff they love.

I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.