Looking Into The Abyss




Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.
Hal Holbrook


When I read this post the other day I was struck by the title “To Be Human Is to Be Stuck Wandering for a Moment between Two Abysses.” http://bigthink.com/rightly-understood/big-thought-to-be-human-is-to-be-stuck-wandering-for-a-moment-between-two-abysses?utm_source=Big+Think+Weekly+Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=fa4ac487ec-Wed_10_24_Geek_Humanities10_24_2012&utm_medium=email

This post from Peter Lawler hit home for me as I felt like I was not exactly stuck between two abysses but stuck in the abyss. The following quote by Blaise Pascal included in the post also gave me pause to think. “Everyone should study their thoughts. They will find them all centered on the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do it is simply to shed some light on the future. The present is never our end. Past and present are our means, only the future is our end. And so we never actually live, though we hope to, and in constantly striving for happiness it is inevitable that we will never achieve it.”

Trying to get back to a more positive place, I recalled a book I had read quite some time ago, The Present; by Spencer Johnson (he also authored Who Moved My Cheese?). While the title of the aforementioned post with the reference to an Abyss is what caught my eye, rereading excerpts from The Present is what helped me put my last few weeks into a better perspective.

It was good to be reminded that when we continually look back at the way things used to be we fail to take pleasure in the way things are today. I am not suggesting that we completely forget about the past, but instead learn what lessons we can from what has happened, vow to not make the same mistakes while continuing to do what succeeded, and then let the past stay behind us.  I know this can seem difficult, but if we lament too often or too long on the way things used to be we fail to get the pleasure we should from the way that things are today.

For me it is not so much that I dwell on the past, but rather that I spend so much time planning and worrying about what the future will bring that today seems to slip away unnoticed and underappreciated.  This, I think, is the source of much of my frustration.

As is often the case, when I picked my book back up and read again the thoughts the old man offered, “Only two things can rob you of the joy of The Present; your negative thoughts about The Past, or your negative thoughts about The Future.”  For me there was a lot of power in this tiny excerpt that helped me be more grounded in what I needed to do today.  If you only have time to read a few pages, I would recommend that you start on page 76 and read through to page 103.  You will find that you might return to your day more engaged and happy to live in the present.

With your reading outline for you above, I’ll leave you with one last thought from The Present. “Success is becoming who you are capable of being and progressing toward worthwhile goals. Each of us defines for ourselves what it means to be more successful.”

That to me is The Present.


Choking Self-Doubt







As I was thinking about a topic for this week,  I came across this http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/how-to-conquer-self-doubt-and-just-write  from Chuck Sambuchino.  It reminded me how I felt when I started to create my presentation for the upcoming SCQAA meeting http://www.scqaa-oc.com/events/34/oct-2012/ .

Now that I have completed my slides for the presentation, I realize that my biggest obstacle  was the gremlin called “Self  Doubt” who was sitting on my shoulder.  That ugly critter was not just lurking under my desk, he was creeping in to peer at everything I needed to do this week.  I tried to snatch him off my shoulder and choke the life out of him, but as Chuck found out, “that sneaky little devil won’t die.” Just when I think I have put him to his rest, he again makes a sudden appearance.

What I found that helps keep him at bay, is to surround myself with positive  supporters. Hopefully you too have some of these people in your life.  You will know them by the feelings they leave behind. For instance, the other day I got a call from a colleague who started out challenging me for an email I sent that meant a bit more work for her, but when she found that I was having a stressful week she quickly switched to concern for me. At the end of the call we were laughing and sharing personal life incidents and I was able to view my situation through more positive eyes. As the call ended, I realized how fortunate I am to be surrounded by positive supporters.  I came to work on Monday re-energized and was able to finish the presentation with confidence.

While Chucks experience focuses on his challenges with Self Doubt and how that impacts his career as a writer, I think that everything he says is very applicable to all of us and our desire to grow in our careers.  He suggests five tips for overcoming and preventing self-doubt that  I have listed below. I am sure you can see as I did that these all apply to any situation, not just writing. So keep that critter in his grave!

“Over coming and preventing self-doubt”

  1. Be aware of Peer Pressure…find positive people who validate your dreams…
  2. Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing…
  3. Mentor someone else.
  4. Be leery of ruts…. Nothing can get you out of a rut quicker than feeling challenged.
  5. Accept that sometimes you are going to fail…”