Am I settling?
I am no stranger to intrusive thoughts, but this one isn’t on my list.
At the times in my life when I felt I was settling, I didn’t ask this question. I knew I was settling.
The Answer in the Question
This is one of those questions that seems to be redundant — the answer to the question is the question itself.
The fact that you are asking whether you are settling means you believe, on some level, that you are settling. People who aren’t settling don’t ask this question.
Of course, the place where you’re asking the question isn’t necessarily the place where you’re settling.
So you have to investigate.
I have always been willing to look at where I’m settling. And I’ve always been fiercely determined not to settle.
In fact, as I wrote this, I had the thought that lately I’ve been very unsettled. I’ve been living home-free for over a year. I’ve moved 30 times this year. In my physical practice, on the yoga mat and in the gym, I’ve been struggling with basic elements of grounding. Literally, keeping my toes connected to the ground.
Its part of what I signed up for when I embarked on this journey.
Being unsettled is the opposite of settling.
In part, this journey was born out of my refusal to settle. I wanted a different type of life and I was willing to give up a lot of certainty to experiment. Part of my experiment is to train my body and my nervous system to find grounding even while I’m unsettled.
Being unsettled means living a life where you’re maybe always floating from one thing to the next. Ungrounded. Uncertain.
Human beings have a strong need for certainty. And this is why most people settle.
Settling is Human Nature
None of this is to say that settling is “bad.”
Typically it’s our objective: we talk about settling down, settling in.
When I arrive in a new place, I like to get settled in before I go out to explore. That’s a common thing for most of us.
We want to settle into our yoga mat or our seat in the movie theater.
Think about when you travel by plane. Most people want to board the plane early, even though it means sitting in your seat longer, while everyone else boards. Wouldn’t it be better to get on last, so you don’t have to be confined to the space for longer than necessary?
Yet priority boarding is so preferred it now costs more for the privilege. Why do we want to board early? To get settled in for the flight.
Settling creates grounding. It’s how we root. It’s how we find clarity. If you have a glass of muddy water how do you get the water clean? You let the glass rest in stillness until the mud settles to the bottom.
There’s nothing wrong with settling. Unless it’s creating dis-ease in your heart.
Make An Empowered Choice
We all settle in certain places of our lives, in specific seasons and for various reasons. In fact, it’s generally necessary — or at least helpful — to be settled into a place in one area in order to free up energy to explore and unsettle in other areas. Uprooting too many things at once creates an assault on the nervous system.
Are you settling?
Maybe. If you’re asking the question, probably.
But here’s the thing: the question isn’t serving you unless you’re willing to do something about it.
If you want to be settled, settle for a while. Choose it consciously, and rest in your choice. And then you can stop asking the question. You’ll know you’re settling in a place for a while, and you’ll know why — maybe because it creates space for you to uproot or explore a different area. When the season is right for you, you’ll know when it’s time to uproot that area.
And if you don’t want to settle, resolve to not settle. Again, choose it consciously.
Ask a Better Question
Either way, choosing consciously allows you to stop asking “am I settling?”
Instead, you can ask a more productive question:
Where am I settling?
Or another version of this question: What am I tolerating?
This is one of my favorite questions.
When you ask the question in this way you open to find the place where you’re settling and, because you’ve resolved never to settle (a real resolve, not some lame “resolution”), you’ll find a way to stop settling there.
If you want to stop settling, you must be willing to accept that the opposite of settling is constant change, uprooting, and upheaval.
If you want to stop settling, you must be willing to welcome being unsettled.