How slowing down really helps you speed up
Learning to embrace the slowdowns and turn them into pivotal life moments.
It’s February 22nd, 2021 as I write this — approximately one year since the awareness of a virus called Covid-19 emerged into my life. Since then the world has gone into what I call fast-forward in slow motion.
This last year was the first time many of our kids knew what it was like to be home for days on end without running to event after event. Businesses learned that they could keep running with employees working remotely, and for some their income-generating activities came almost to a halt while doctors and nurses on the front lines didn’t have time to pause for lunch.
This “slow-down” was forced upon us. Something we did not want nor did we ask for. Yet I have found that most of the major shifts in my life come from an unasked for period of slowing down.
It’s what we do with that slow down that makes a difference.
Does a person choose to spend that entire slow down in fear and frantic resistance?
Or can they enjoy the slow down enough to benefit from the healing and insights that come from sinking deeper into themselves?
Five years ago I got a heart virus. I was diagnosed with the Coxsackie B Virus in December of that year right before Christmas. I took a few days over the holiday to rest and then January came and I went right back to my hectic pace of work, tending teen-age kids, wrestling meets, and whatever else had me running back then. That lasted about three weeks and then I was brought to a physical halt. I knew if I took one more step I was going to collapse.
In the days ahead, I learned the true extent of damage done to my heart. Gratefully, there was no permanent damage. It did take me a lot of rest on my couch and doing things in slow motion to get back to “normal.” I received the greatest gift ever during that time. I was feeling called in a new direction in my career, yet I had been confused about what that meant.
Slowing down meant I had time to look deeper and fit the puzzle pieces of my life together.
That led me to a major pivot point in my life and the training to become a certified international coach. It’s also the first time I read “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer which continues to be one of the greatest messages I have received on my personal growth journey.
Five years later I am in another slow down period of my life. Part of it Covid, part of it personal. This time I’m grateful I didn’t have to have a health event to hit the pause. I didn’t resist or fight the slow down when it came. Amazing people have entered my life to help me understand this.
Recently, my own coach helped me see how slowing down is not only necessary but crucial to speeding up — especially when making a major life pivot.
Ponder this for a moment.
You’re driving down the road in your flashy red sports car — it’s capable of going 120 mph with ease. You have your toe on the gas racing along when your phone rings — you slow down to safely take the hands-free call. It’s urgent. It’s crucial you turn around and drive back home now. What do you do next?
If you attempt to maintain your speed while shifting in a completely new direction what will happen?
Common sense (and science) tells us that it’s impossible to make a dramatic shift at the same speed. It’s necessary to slow down — maybe even come to a crawl as you watch for signs of a place to turn in the direction you need to go.
When you slow down you see things that you can’t see at full speed.
Here are some things my recent slow down had helped me see:
It’s helped me see that the cycles of work-a-holism I have been trapped in much of my life really were driven by a fear of insecurity. The unspoken message I operated by was “If I work hard enough to have enough I’ll be ok and secure.” Many times I knew I was trapped in the cycle either frantically working or emotionally exhausted trying to recover — this time I saw what was underneath the cycle and saw the fallacy in the message I had been repeatedly telling myself over the years.
I began to embrace my wholeness and complete security as I am instead of letting my workaholic tendencies run the show.
Then, I thought I was ready to speed back up but life said — no — you’re not quite ready. We have more to show you — and slowed things down another notch. This time the slow pace gifted me with the great opportunity to be present with my father and in support of my family for the last few weeks of his life.
Then my mind said…ok you are ready to speed up again….and life said — no — not quite yet. Let’s talk about that fear of money that you think you have conquered yet is the disguised root of all the decisions you are making.
All of this I would have missed if I was resisting the slowdown.
We are not taught how to be comfortable with the unknown and uncertainty.
Instead, we are taught to plan and execute the plan. Look for the errors in the plan, make a new plan and execute. Western culture teaches us there is only value in doing. Those who don’t understand the value of being and slowing down call it “lazy,” “couch potato,” or “slacker.”
It’s time to come back to the value and wisdom in “being” where we allow the slower moments in life to “crock-pot” and meld together all the wisdom from our life so we can use it to pivot in ways that allow us to live more authentic lives.
I’m not sure what the end of this slowdown story looks like.
I’m okay with that — for this moment anyway. I’m ok because the patterns and cycles that have held me captive for so long are literally being blown up. The canvas is being wiped clean. No doubt that when I’m called to speed up again it’s going to be in a new direction. One that I could never have traveled in with the old junk weighing me down.
So here’s my advice — if life has slowed you down stop resisting it. Instead, look for the unexpected gifts, the patterns you can now see emerge that you couldn’t see at top speed, and dedicate yourself to release whatever is ready to be released and learning whatever is there to learn. Become comfortable with the unknown and then fasten your seatbelt for an incredible ride in a new direction.