Time Apart from Something You Love
Are you struggling with something you’re passionate about? Have you tried to push through and yet you feel dread and resistance?
Sometimes grit and willpower work. Other times, they don’t. If you’re still struggling, consider this experiment as a way to decide whether what you’re doing is worth pursuing further, or not.
Your relationship with your heart’s desires
You have a relationship with anything you do (or want to do).
In our relationship with other people, we try to work out our differences and find our way back to love. But we can’t keep going when the relationship is riddled with friction and tension. We can’t force ourselves to love and intimate connection. The best option is usually to take time apart to have some space and clarity.
We can use the same idea of taking time apart from other people to take a break from our actions and desires.
The outcome of conscious absence
When it comes to absence, we think of one of two options:
- Out of sight, out of mind, or
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
What if it’s not an either/or proposition? Can it be both?
Here is how it might look.
You’re struggling with writing a book. You started a while ago. You tried, stopped, and picked up again … many times. You feel bad but can’t seem to bring yourself to do it. Yet, you’re not ready to drop it completely.
The alternative: Take an extended break from the relationship with writing a book, instead of repeating the same cycle and expecting different results.
Time apart from your relationship with your desire
Stop doing and create space away from writing your book. If you’ve been struggling for a while, this is what might happen:
- Short term: You feel relieved. You have time to do other things. Out of sight, out of mind—no guilt, expectations, or disappointment.
- Mid term: After a month or so, you start feeling anxious. The ego is freaking out. You start thinking I should start again. I’m afraid if I don’t do it now, I’ll regret it later. And it looks pretty bad. What will my loved ones think of me? It’s embarrassing. You still don’t do anything because you’re on a break.
- Long term: Three or four months have passed. The ego doesn’t care at this point. It’s busy with other stuff. And other people have moved on. You feel a restless longing. Your heart is growing fonder. Yet, you don’t act. You’re not sure if it’s your ego masquerading as desire. You wait a bit longer.
- Longer term: It’s been over six months. You’ve done a lot with your free time. You, however, long for writing, and spending time with your thoughts and words. No one else cares at this point but you. Now you realize it’s a genuine desire. You still wait.
- Much longer term: It’s been eight months. And you can’t wait to get started. You feel excited and full of anticipation. You know that you really want to do this.
It’s action time. You’re renewing your commitment to your passion and ready to make it happen.
The opposite scenario
The other scenario would look the same in the short and mid term. You’re still not sure. With more time, things take a different turn.
- Long term: You don’t feel anything. You’re not sure you want to go back to writing your book. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into it, and you’d hate for it to go to waste. You wait.
- Longer term: You feel okay. You’ve enjoyed the freedom of not having to worry about the book. You wait a bit longer before completely dropping it.
- Much longer term: It’s been a year. You haven’t written a word, and you’re okay with your new normal.
It’s time to amicably separate for good. It wasn’t for you.
What if you’re wavering back and forth?
Your feelings and thoughts may fall somewhere between keep going and let go. For example, in six months you miss your project, but in eight you’re over it. Then you miss it again.
Here are a few pointers that may help.
Go with your raw feelings. The heart knows way more than the mind. Your ability to reason can make you justify anything. Reflect on your feelings and reactions. Do you feel better about letting something go, or pursuing it?
Give yourself advice. Imagine a close friend is in your position. What advice would you give them? Write them a letter. How would your friend feel after reading the letter? What would they say? Can you respond to their objections? Keep having a conversation till you and your friend reach a mutual understanding.
Imagine the distant future. How would your life look like ten to fifteen years from now with, or without, writing your book? If you are not writing, what are you doing? If you choose to write and fail, are you okay with that? Can you feel the pain of disappointment and rejection? What would you do then? Would you want to write another book? What if your book is a smashing success? Would you write more, or choose to do something else? Meditate on the answers. Let your heart lead the way.
Consider other ideas to gain clarity. This is not a foolproof method. It may, or may not, work for you. Take it as a curious experiment. Another idea you might want to explore: How Do I Know If I should Give Up, or Keep Going? Try to come up with other ways to gain clarity. Everything you try will bring you closer to your true desires.
If you’re still unclear, stop. If you remain unsure after all this time and introspection, it’s not your thing. The relationship wasn’t meant to be. It’s very hard to let go of a dream that we pursued in the past. We may feel that we failed and lost. And that’s understandable. We can let go with love and gratitude. You might be interested in reading: How to Say No to One of Your Dreams without Crushing Your Soul.
A few parting thoughts
Like any loving relationship, there is no shortcut, or hack, for clarifying your relationship with your heart’s desires. You need to do your part.
Take time apart from something you love but are struggling with. Feel the absence every day, and let your heart guide you. Whatever you choose to do, or not do, you’ll be okay.
Time spent away from something is space that opens you up to either more clarity, or other possibilities. Everything we do is ultimately an experiment that either works or doesn’t. There is no failure or success—just progress and wisdom.
Below is a summary that highlights the main ideas. Click here to download a copy.