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Here’s Why Doing Nothing Can Be Powerful

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I wanted to share a practice that have been life changing for me and for managing my energy:

I call it resting in uncertainty.

Some refer to this place as the ‘fertile void’. It is the place of not yet knowing what the next step is in life, work, etc or the place where nothing seems to be clear or nothing seems to be unfolding yet and you feel stuck or uncertain about how to move forward. Sometimes it is just experiencing life as if nothing flows easily – everything just seems so difficult.  

Many people, and especially those experiencing Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome or who experience chronic exhaustion, tend to want to be doing all the time as this enables a sense of being capable, in control and, ultimately, secure. Therefore, when there is a place of stillness where nothing is happening or the answer has not yet revealed itself there will often be an experience of anxiety and, for many, overwhelm and powerlessness. To alleviate these feelings there is then often a default to DO and to fill this space so as to once again feel in control and capable.

Can you see how this can feed the exhaustion and depletion?

This fertile void has two really important purposes:

a) one is to provide a place of rest to break cumulative stress and to ensure you restore and rejuvenate to move forwards.

b) The second purpose is to gain the skills, knowledge and tools that you need for the next phase. When we are still and consciously wait these things will come to us, making the next step SO much easier AND you are rested to take it on.

I cannot believe that this is my first post of the year but for whatever reason I just felt resistance to writing (and in fact have been battling to get much done at all). So, as I have now learned, I honoured this feeling of resistance and drag to get things done and instead rested, listened to what my body needed and waited.

I should not have been surprised that for me the start of the year did not happen on 1st Jan but really happened with the first new moon – the beginning of the lunar cycle and the time to plant intentions for moving forward. Suddenly I was motivated, became super clear on my way forward and have achieved so much in the last week (that would have taken me three weeks and lots of stress and exhaustion if I had forced myself).

When we push through the fertile void and drive ahead relentlessly we do not take time to rest and we also waste energy on actions that are often a lot more difficult than they need to be, take up more time than is necessary or do not even get us to where we want to go.

If I had forged ahead and pushed myself in the first few weeks of the year I would have wasted so much time on actions that were not really necessary or that would have resulted in not such a great outcome. I also needed to focus on helping my children to settle at their new schools and that meant me also settling into my new rhythm. It took some time and during that time I focussed on what I absolutely HAD to do to earn income – which was my priority – and the rest I allowed to sit and brew quietly until the time felt right to forge ahead.

This is not an easy practice initially so try to just acknowledge and hold the anxiety when you are in that place where the path is not yet clear or nothing seems to be happening and breathe, take walks, rest or ground yourself so you can stay connected and be still as you wait.

This is NOT the same as being lazy or procrastinating. Laziness and procrastination are generally different sides of the same coin, and both come from a place of fear and/or overwhelm by what needs to be done or the expectation placed on the self. Usually then there is still doing but it is a lot of wasted energy and unnecessary doing or simply avoidance.

Consciously resting in uncertainty is giving the self permission to wait with awareness while tuning in, listening to the body, being open to receiving ideas and information and then being ready to move forward when it feels like it’s the right time.

Our foremothers and forefathers knew about the necessity of rhythms and cycles as they were taught by the greatest teacher – Mother Earth. With day and night transitions; seasons, and cycles of the moon being the obvious examples nature demonstrates there is time for doing and rest; time for the activity of day and the still of night; time for planting, waiting and then reaping. There is no point in digging up the soil to check on the seed a few days after it is planted. It is necessary to wait and let it take root and in that time nourish and care for the seed so it can flourish into something beautiful, strong and well established.

Next time you do no know your next step, you find that everything just seems so difficult and things are not flowing, or you have some free time mysteriously open up – don’t’ go digging up that seed. Rather nourish yourself as you would the seed and know that when you go forward or your ideas arrive or you choose to take action the benefits of waiting will be well worth it.

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4 Comments

  1. Yes, Kerry, I love this. This is so true! I’ve had months of just not posting on instagram for the same reason. Well, for me, it was a subtle awareness that the energy behind my motivation for posting was in need of some clarifying. I uncovered some ickiness, surrendered it, waited, waited some more, then began posting again when I felt clear.
    I really feel that anyone writing blogs would surely HAVE to experience this rhythm of ebb and flow. Marketing advice I’ve read tells me I need to post EVERY DAY, (!) or every WEEK at the very least. But I feel the ebb and flow of the creative process. It doesn’t keep churning out relentlessly.
    Your post has really helped to affirm my process. Thank you, and bless you for sharing your honesty and integrity. Oh, and I LOVE the picture. x

    1. Hi Barbara. Exactly! I find I can be pulled into the masculine way and feel I ‘should’ do more as that would be ‘best’ and there is some fear in that but I have learned it is actually not always ‘best’. I’m still relatively new at this waiting and surrendering place but it is paying off in terms of stress and energy (and wisdom/knowing!)

  2. Hi Kerry
    So pleased to find this post when I was reading about thyroid related fatigue(Dr Nicola Buchan). I have been struggling for a few months with this need to Do and could not find it in myself to view this quiet space in a positive way. I love how you view it and it totally resonates with me. It makes the space feel hopeful and temporary and even promises opportunities for rejuvenation. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your feedback on the post. Sorry to hear that you have been battling with fatigue but you’re in good hands if you are seeing Nicola! It’s not easy but it truly can be a gift and a message from our bodies to tell us to slow down and listen to what is out of balance and needs our attention. This is not how we usually do things and tend to suppress any symptoms that inconvenience our ability to achieve and do so it does take some practice! Wishing you all the best on your journey of health and awakening to your body.

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