I scheduled a French test this week to access my level before signing up for classes. As the test approached, all my insecurities and anxieties around feeling stupid and not knowing what I'm doing swelled up. Nothing new there, but what caught my attention was, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m too old for this. I don’t need or want to be pushed outside of my comfort zone.”
Whoa! Is that really true for me? To find out, I tried an approach called Reverse Gratitude from Dacher Keltner’s podcast, The Science of Happiness. It's a way to practice gratitude when you’re not feeling thankful. Take something you complain about or think you don’t want in your life and imagine life without it.
So, I imagined doing nothing that felt like a push or a challenge. No changes, no learning, and never feeling like I didn’t know or didn’t like what I was doing. As I subtracted more and more of what challenged me or caused anxiety, a lot of what I love got thrown out too!
So I went to the language test, was graded a “false” beginner (whatever that is) and will be joining the last month of an A1 class on April 19. I also have a new perspective on feeling tired of being challenged and stretched, which is that's what staying alive feels like for me right now! Try this practice for yourself. Imagine not having what you complain about or feel like you don't want in your life. If you like what's left and don't miss what you subtracted, it may be time to start working towards actually subtracting it from your life. If subtracting what you feel like you don't want subtracts things you do, try sending a little gratitude towards what you don't like and see what happens!
This afternoon I'm supposed to take my first cold plunge in the lake - I guess I'll see just how grateful I can be about wading into this latest fad! Au revoir for now (and wish me luck in the lake!)