Let’s talk about the gulch.
Specifically, let’s talk about the gulch, and how the lack of being present can drop us into said gulch.
Lately, being present has been a personal focus of mine. Or trying to be present, I should confess. When I find moments of calm – a solitary beach walk, an unimaginably beautiful sunset, the mid-morning light shining on my almost-perfect coffee – these are moments of peace for me.
But sometimes . . . I struggle to sleep at night. Lately, I’ve found myself succumbing more to the worrisome thoughts of the future than is healthy. During the day, I do yoga, I network and shamelessly market myself, I write with intention, I finesse business plans, and work deeply with coaching clients. I play with Tino. My goals are set and I spend the day (mostly) charging towards them.
But the in-betweens of each task are filled in with chatter.
I recognize this as a crazy, self-defeating circle of doubt (am I making the right choices for my business? For my future?), which then leads to panic (what if my writing sucks? What if my clients are put off by me? What if my future retreats are canceled and I end up broke and homeless? Am I loved?).
. . . . .
Hold the phone for one hot minute. Obviously, these internal conversations are ridiculous.
But when I listen to them, they feel real to me. This exhausting and insane negative self-talk may hold little truth in reality, but nevertheless, it takes hold.
This may be familiar to some of you, which is why I’m choosing to bring this to the surface.
Why do we do this? WHY. Is it human nature? I don’t know . . .I don’t know why it is that fear and insecurities rise up and battle against our own personal wins when, really, we have so much evidence in front of us to prove otherwise.
Being in the present moment is something we should strive to embody all the little long day. But for many of us, this is not a natural default. We have to remind ourselves to slow down, focus on the now, and shush the incessant chatter in our minds.
To be sure, chatter isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes internal chatter means making plans, reviewing, and reflecting healthily on events that impacted us in some way.
For me, it’s the negative chatter that can take over my mind when I let it. It’s these moments when I realize I’ve fallen into the gulch again.
What is the gulch, you ask?
The gulch is that messy middle. That dark, scary place where all of our fears grow teeth and breed, fed by exhaustion, self-doubting thoughts, and pummeled by a meteor shower of mental blocks and bricks.
Does that sound intense and maybe a little terrifying? Sorry.
But it’s the gulch! It’s the “down” of life’s “ups and downs”, and I have found myself struggling in this gulch for weeks now.
To be clear, I’m not referring to depression. It may be registered as a little anxiety, but I think about 99.9999% of the human race suffers from some level of anxious thoughts at some point in their lives.
However, it’s in this swampy place, made heavy with my worried mind, that I stretch for the best tool I can rely on: Presence.
Being present offers me more than one tool. The beauty in the stillness of the present moment is that once I choose to sink into presence instead, this leads me up this flowery ladder of confidence and emotional well-being.
I take a deep breath in. I hush my mind.
In the stillness of the present moment, and only then, do I remember what to do when I feel this way. When I realize that I am waist-deep in the gulch and my fear-based thoughts are not actually real.
The present moment may not offer promises or answers, or sneak peeks into the future (if only!), but it does offer calm. It offers peace, and it can even offer joy if we give it space.
In the present moment, I can acknowledge my good health. The money in the bank. The love I have for others. The love others give me. The love I give myself. My business. My home. My cat. My family.
These are the “oh yeah” moments that shine a light in that murky, dark space. The moment that the realization washes over me that some things, some very important things, are actually ok right now.
The longer I am present, the longer I can sit still within this and enjoy the positives it offers.
It works like this:
- We shift from the chatty mind to the present moment.
- The present moment offers calm and clarity.
- The calm and clarity reminds us of the positives.
- The positives can’t help but refocus our minds on the good.
- Focusing on the good makes us feel better about ourselves, and our situation, even if just for a moment.
- From that moment, we can nudge our chatty minds to be grateful for these things. Specific things.
- Then the gratitude gains momentum. It builds in strength and grows larger than any fearful thought that came before.
The gratitude you experience is connected to real live things you actually have now. The fear then, I realize, (we realize) is vapor. It is attached to a thought that is not real and lives only in our minds.
Gratitude wins every time.
Try it. If you are ever stuck in the gulch, try it and see how you feel when you lean into these tools. Presence. Positives. Gratitude.
These juicy bits of genuine happiness are right here, in the present moment, shining at us, energizing us, and reminding us, that our whole life isn’t sinking into the gulch forever.
And that, my friends, is empowering.
I encourage you, once you’re present, to take it deeper. To seek out relief from catastrophically fearful thoughts by leaning into the present moment.
And in that present moment, be specific about what is real and positive. Be silly. Be honest.
In my present moment, I’ve secured business partnerships for my retreats. My clients experience successful outcomes with each session.
In this moment, Tino, chunky monkey she may be these days, is a healthy cat and safe at home.
In the end, there is little we can control. But we can control where our minds take us. We can learn to default to the present moment.
And in this present moment, we can claim back the positive. We can strengthen ourselves with gratitude. We can rise up from the gulch.
My stories are pretty good.
Christy NicholsAuthor | Life Purpose & Book Coach | Curator of Transformational Experiences | CEO at Venture Within | Purposeful Travel Advocate View LinkedIn ProfileThe present moment offers the assurance of a reality that looks vastly different from what our thoughts offer – this is true every time.So how does being present lead to higher-vibing well-being?...