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Searching for my natural rhythm

What would your life look like if you didn’t live by any rules?

What would it be like if you moved fluidly from moment to moment instead of planning and scheduling your whole life out in advance?

Does the possibility sound tantalizing or does it sound a little weird, a little wild… perhaps even a little bit dangerous?

The thought of living life without rules always seemed a little dangerous to me.

Without my rules what would I do and who would I be? I didn’t have answers to those questions.

At the same time, I would read about people out there in the world — breaking the rules, doing their own thing, doing it differently. And I would wonder, why can’t I be brave and bold like that?

The answer, of course, was fear.

You see, our brains use certainty to make us feel safe — we mistakenly think that when we finally achieve the moment of absolute certainty that we will have finally achieved our deepest desire.

But it isn’t true.

The more afraid we are, the harder it is to be brave because courage always involves an element of feeling unsafe — and for those of us who are highly sensitive (i.e. me!), doing the brave, bold things that make us feel unsafe can seem impossibly scary and hard.

This doesn’t mean we can’t be brave, those of us who are sensitive, and easily startled, and quiet. It just means that we move through the world differently — and that our courage looks different too: quieter, more inward looking, more slow, more steady, less bold.

Life will never be certain. We’ll always be winging it, and always when we feel certainty beginning to creep in, the tides will turn and something will fall apart.

It’s a simple fact of physics that all systems tend toward chaos and I am convinced that this is no less true of a human life.

The only way to create certainty is to work relentlessly against the tide of the unknown, a levee perpetually threatened by rising waters.

To live like that seems to be exhausting and ultimately unsustainable.

When we pin our hopes of happiness on safety and certainty — we set ourselves up for disappointment.

And yet, I do not think that this means we should despair.

Which is why I’ve begun an experiment in what I have decided to call “lawless living”.

By which I do not mean to suggest we should live illegaly, but rather that in choosing to live “lawlessly” I have chosen to remove the structured rules that used to shape my life.

When I’ve written about this before I’ve called it “cancellation” — the cancellation of all the things I put on my own to-do list.

But with lawlessness I’m taking it deeper — beyond the level of things and tasks and to-dos — all the way down to the level of identity.

Because here’s the ultimate truth: there aren’t any rules to live by.

There are only the rules you create for yourself: the behaviors and patterns you cling to because you think that they make you a “good person” or keep you safe or make you of service to others, or [insert your reason here].

And often it is those exact same rules that keep us feeling stuck and miserable and uncertain of what we really need to do.

Because the opposite of a “good person”? It isn’t a bad one. The opposite of always trying to be good is showing up as someone who is more authentically you.

It’s about finding your natural rhythm — the ebb and flow of tasks and to-dos and emotions and choices that you naturally return to when you free yourself of rules and return yourself to you.

It’s about living a life that’s less “good” and more you  — because that is kind of the secret to everything:

More happiness
More rest
More laughter
More courage
More compassion
More love

It’s all already there — locked up inside of you.

Much love,
Jessica

P.S. If you’d like to read more about finding your natural rhythm, check out this post from Martha Beck which landed in my email inbox recently

P.P.S If you think living lawlessly sounds brilliant but scary and you’d love some support in exploring what lawless living might look like for you, I invite you to work with me as one of my private coaching clients!

I’ve spent my whole life asking the wrong question…

I have an uncomfortable confession to make. You see, I was born with a question on my lips and I’ve spent pretty much entire life trying to answer it. Which is why it’s been uncomfortable for me to realize in the past month or two that I’m pretty sure I’ve been asking exactly the wrong question all my life.

That question, by the way, is “why?”.

Since I was first old enough to formulate this question it has plagued me — amounting to a total span of time far greater than the normal four-year old fixation.

One of the lovely women I coach with has dubbed me “the one with a hypothesis for everything” — and it’s so true.

Every mystery, every puzzle, every question — I am fixated, transfixed, addicted. I chew them over and over in my mind, obsessed with figuring out the why of things until I happen upon a plausible explanation. Only they is my curiosity sated.

But.

As I’ve been thinking about 2016 and what I want to do in the coming year(s) of my life, I’m starting to realize that the question “why?” is ultimately a trap.

“Why” leads invariably to a line of questioning in which the world becomes an murky, impossible place and every decision is weighed down by 10,000 confounding variables.

Under the burden of “why?”, even the simplest decision becomes impossible.

In deciding what to have to dinner one must know why chicken might be better than beef, why Indian food might be better than Chinese, why it might be important to buy organic, etc.

Under the burden of “why” a decision cannot be decided under the auspices of reasons such as “because I want to” (why?) or “because it sounds good” (why?).

Instead, a decision must be infinitely logical and well defended. Under the burden of “why?”, all possible reasons must be vindicated and validated and living your life rapidly begins to feel impossible.

Which is why I’ve decided to start asking a new question: “Why not?”

It’s possible that I find this magical just because I’m going through a phase of some sort… but bear with me for a second if you’re feeling skeptical.

“I feel like having chicken for dinner.” Why not?
“I think I’ll meditate this evening before bed.” Why not?
“Should I skip class tonight and go to bed early?” Why not!

“Why not?” is almost always immediate permission to move in the direction you wanted to go anyways.

As a coach, this is probably something I should have figured out a long time ago — because I ask my clients why-questions a lot in order to help me understand how they see their world.

But I don’t ask “why?” or “why do you think that?” or “why is that?” very often.

Instead, I usually ask questions like “why would that be bad?” or “why would that be a problem?” or “so what?” or “who cares?” (or “why *not*?”!).

When we ask ourselves these “why not?” questions we can see immediately to the heart of the matter.

Because the answers that come up are always are excuses.

“I might fail.” “It’ll never work.” “I’m not qualified.” “I ate chicken last night.”

And our excuses are almost always… well, pretty darn lame.

But sometimes they’re also not lame and that’s fine too.

If doing something really is a bad idea then you’ll figure that out when you ask “why not?”.

That’s the brilliance of the question, really. It’s just waiting for you to look your choices in the eye. It doesn’t have any sort of an agenda.

Now it’s your turn! I dare you to pick a dream for 2016 and ask yourself “why not?” Let me know what comes up for you in the comments!