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  • Darci Daniels

Fresh Start/Back to School

And 5 questions to help you

First of all, this should happen in every school. Second, why am I not meditating more??

My daughter went back to school this week. I cannot express how weird it is that she is closer to graduation than kindergarten. But I promise this is not going to be one of those “time goes so fast and my baby is growing up” laments. No, rather, it’s about the start of the new year. The new school year, and if you want, a new year for you.

I’ve always loved fall and back to school time. Part of it is the excitement and energy, part of it is football season (yay and Go Dawgs!), and part of it is because I always felt this was the true new year. But this year, the fresh start of fall means something even more meaningful.

A year ago this week I had an epic panic attack and what I consider a breakdown. My whole life felt different and looked different, and not in a good way. I felt lost, everything felt scary, I didn't know who I was or why I was here. What happened to precipitate this? Well, if you haven’t been following me, you may not know that I got laid off of my corporate job, a company I’d been at for 10 years. The funny thing was, I wasn’t sad or upset about the layoff. On the contrary, I was thrilled. I knew I wanted to coach full-time and run my own business, I just hadn’t been able to figure out an exit strategy. I was working on it before I got the news, probably because I felt something coming. But the layoff enabled me to do exactly what I wanted to do – it gave me the time and money to launch my business!

Of course, it wasn’t that easy. But I pretended it was, at least for the first month. I sat down in my home office and worked on my business M-F, like I thought I should. I didn’t know exactly what it was going to look like, but I pushed forward, albeit with enthusiasm and terror. But I didn’t acknowledge the terror. And you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. So, for a month, I was nose to the grindstone, networking, and letting people know I was open for business.

Until my breakdown.

And then, it all caught up with me.

Not the hard work, that I can do. But the terror. The doubts. The overwhelming urge to hide under the covers. I had been working for other people for over 20 years, and now I was working for myself. Everything was in my hands, for better or worse. And all the psychological stuff around my layoff that I hadn’t dealt with? Demanded to be seen and worked through. All my fears about whether or not I could do this and if I could succeed? All the grief and sadness about not being a part of something bigger, not getting to go to the office and see my friends every day? All the issues I’d been pretending were fine smacked me in the face – hard – to make sure I took care of them.

Where I am today is much, much different. I have less money, less of a safety net, and I’m infinitely happier. I worked through all those feelings, all that terror, all the insecurity. I’m still afraid, I think when you’re an entrepreneur (especially one that has anxiety) that never completely goes away. But as my amazing friend Adrianne says, “do it afraid”. So, I do.

How can this help you? Well, I have a few questions I asked myself, repeatedly, to get through my anxiety, terror, and frustration and give myself a fresh start. And if I can use these questions to get through all my shit and make my breakdown mean something useful in my life, you can certainly use them for a less intense situation to get clear and unstuck. Or simply to shift your perception.

1. What’s wrong with me? Well, that doesn’t sound too helpful, does it? It wasn’t. At all. Until I turned it around. What’s right with me? That ultimately became the mantra I would ask myself over and over, instead of replaying the more negative one. Hint: the answer is never-ever “nothing”. There are ALWAYS things right with you. Every day. Are you breathing? Good. Then your body is doing it’s job. There’s something right! But I bet you can list 10 more. Go!

2. What’s next? The answer? I don’t know. So be present to what is happening in the moment. How can I be more present and not worry about the future? Believe it or not, just asking that question brought be back into the moment. I’d take a few deep breaths, and remind myself to look for the peace in the present moment. Even in the middle of my epic panic attack (19 hours, my body and psyche weren't joking around) – I could find some peace in the moment.

3. Why? This question is so broad, so vague, so absurd, all I could answer it with was, “why, WHAT??” If I wasn’t too frustrated, I would giggle. But watch how you answer this, or finish the why – it will give you great insight into where your mind is at and how it’s running away with you. If it doesn't work the first time, keep asking why until you get an answer you can work with. (Hint: 5 Whys is about the standard)

4. What lies am I believing? This is may be one of my favorite all-time questions. The idea is that anything that creates suffering is a lie, other than pure grief. If a loved one dies, that grief creates suffering. But if you let it, even that grief will move through you. Our bodies can only grieve for about 90 seconds at a time. I’m not talking about true grief here though, I’m talking about eeeeeverything else. If I’m suffering, I’m believing thoughts that cause that suffering. They are lies, because our birthright is happiness. So, what lies am I believing? Helping pinpoint my sad stories, and then working on disbelieving them so I can heal and feel better, is the most powerful way I’ve found to shift my perception and energy.

5. Am I taking on other’s energy? Okay, if you’re not an empath, this may not ring true to you. But if you are, like me, remembering to ask yourself this question can be life changing. There were times this last year when I had to stay off social media and nearly cut-off the world, because I didn’t have the wherewithal to set proper boundaries. As a result, all the sad stories, all the horrible news, every little complaint from other people on Facebook would heighten my anxiety and precipitate a mini-breakdown. I had to block other people’s energy from my life, so I could heal myself, first. Even if you’re not in the middle of a breakdown and healing, asking yourself this question can help you make a different choice in how you feel.

For example, one day I was pretty cranky, but there wasn’t any one reason, it was a combination of things. My daughter had been in a great mood – until we got in the car together. Then she became snippy, unhappy, and, well, cranky. When I asked her what was wrong, she’d been in such a good mood earlier, she had no idea. So I asked her if it was possible she was just taking on my energy, because I was crabby. She checked in with herself, and since she couldn’t find anything wrong – decided to be happy. She realized my energy was affecting her, and once I pointed it out and gave her permission to let it go, she did. Easily. It was as if a switch flipped – she decided she was fine, so she was! Watching her shift so easily back to the bubbly mood she’d been in positively affected me. I was able to wiggle loose the cranky thoughts and lighten up a bit. If I hadn’t asked her that, her bad mood would have compounded mine, and then who knows how ugly it would have gotten!

These questions are by no means an exhaustive list, but when I was spinning and wasn’t sure what I could do to feel better, one or all of these often helped. See if they can help you make a fresh start. Let me know what you think if you try them! I love hearing your stories.


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