Enlivening Ourselves

Dear Dr. Norquist:

   I’m at a turning point in my life, and I’m not sure what to do. I guess fear gets in my way. My life has changed suddenly. My mother passed away earlier this year after a long battle with cancer and so recently I’ve had a lot more time available.

   My business (a small retail store) has been changing for a while. I guess people don’t have as much cash available for the kind of non-essential things that we sell. I didn’t mind as much when I needed the extra time and energy to be with my mom, but now it concerns me. I don’t know if the business can support me anymore. Yet I had always thought I’d stick with it until I retire.

   Here I am in my early 40’s, evaluating all of this. I’ve got a mortgage to pay though so it’s troubling me. I’m still mourning my mother’s death but I did feel at peace with my relationship with her and her love for me before she died. There’s like an opening in my life now – more time, fewer demands on me, and simultaneously more financial stress. I don’t know if I should keep pressing forward with my current work hoping to bring business back or if I should do something different.

Dr. Norquist responds:

   It sounds like you are at a crossroads in your life. Perhaps the current changes in your life provide an opportunity for you to look up from the path, and re-visit choices you have made regarding how you spend your life energy. Sometimes we encounter situations in life that poke and jab at us, awaken us from life’s humdrum, and/or mold us in irreparable ways. Living is a dynamic process, not meant to go smoothly.

   The fact that the daily structure of your life has changed so much recently on both a personal as well as a career level suggests that you are being given an opportunity to look around and re-evaluate your life. I would not jump to any sudden conclusions or decisions, as the dust hasn’t settled yet, and you may still be in a period of mourning. I would suggest, however, that you make a practice of setting aside time daily to be in a quiet environment, spending time alone, with yourself. During this time, listen inside for any inner strivings, dreams, feelings, needs, desires, fears, fleeting images, or bodily sensations that arise. Just observe and note this information without analyzing or judging it. Try to do this for 10-20 minutes each day. Sometimes life has to make us stop in our tracks so we can take notice of important inner information that we have been too busy or too outer-focused to notice or heed. Perhaps you haven’t been heeding your inner compass, and you have been veering off your path. Perhaps you just need to re-orient yourself at this crossroad in your life. If you make a practice of taking time out to listen inside, the answers have a chance to let themselves be known. Try it and see!

(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at drnorquist@chaitanya.com, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns.Ó 2017 Chaitanya Counseling Services