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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

Finding a squirrel mindset in Downward Dog

I have a very strange squirrel. I don't know if he fell out of the tree and hit his head, and now he's just a little off, but he is genuinely the craziest squirrel.

For one, he picks battles with bark in my meditation garden. I have videos of him throwing up the pieces, twisting around, twirling around, and just beating the living daylights out of these chunks of tree. I need help understanding his volatility towards them.

And I swear it's this same squirrel who runs from the tree, goes and gets a peanut, runs back up the tree, positions himself on the branch next to the hanging plant, and hangs by his two back feet, his toes gripping the branch to eat said peanut. He does this every time. I'm not exaggerating; he goes down the tree, gets a peanut, goes up the tree, hangs by his feet, eats the peanut, and repeats.

He might think peanuts are more delicious when eaten upside down. Or maybe he just likes hanging around, unlike squirrels that sit on branches while munching on peanuts.

The strangest thing happened to me the other day as I was also hanging upside down. Well, not from a tree branch.

My hair is flat as a board – I mean, it is flat. I have zero body in my hair at this stage of life. I don't know if it's peri-menopause or what. But I just cannot keep any volume in these locks. I'm trying to accept and work with it, but I rebel because I want that volume. I want the hair I had back in the '80s – because I had the hair back in the ‘80s.

And so when I style my hair, I lean forward and blow-dry my hair upside-down. This isn't great for my lower back, but if the results happen, I have a great hair day ahead of me. (No pun intended.)

The other day, while doing this, I noticed myself moving each of my knees back and forth instead of just having my knees locked in a straight position. It made me think about my yoga practice that I've been doing each morning to maintain my self-care.

Downward Dog is one of the moves that my favorite Yogi encourages with each practice. When you're in Downward Dog, you move your knees back and forth to provide a higher and deeper intensity of stretch for them, and you're not locking your knees.

And I just found it curious that as I'm doing this while blow-drying my hair, I'm not thinking about it. I was doing it without noticing it. And this mindset my yoga practice has encouraged in me seems to flow into different areas of my life.

I'm hoping it will flow into my freelancing mindset because I frequently have imposter syndrome.

  • Comparing myself to others

  • Perfectionism

  • Subjective nature of writing

  • Fear of critical evaluation

  • Evolution of the industry

  • Lack of formal education

  • Critical inner voice

These reasons for a negative mindset in my freelance world can be so strong that I will not accept a project or won't send a job proposal to a possible client because I feel inadequate to do the work.

I know that if I don't adjust this mindset (which can drop negatively daily or even on a moment-by-moment basis), it will hinder my business success.

So the other day, I saw a reel from my business mentor on Instagram, who is very committed to a monthly practice.

At the beginning of the month, she writes herself a congratulations letter for everything she accomplished the month prior. She also writes a preemptory congratulations letter for everything she will accomplish in the new month.

I thought about that, and then I thought about my mindset. If I make unrealistic goals and don't meet them, I will feel like a failure.

So I asked her about this. And this is what she said:

Your brain automatically assuming failure by setting large goals keeps you only able to achieve small goals. You need to visualize who you want to be, what goals you are achieving, what you can pay for that you've never before, the experiences you’re having because of the goal you’re hitting, etc. If you are not able to visualize this person, she will never exist, so instead of automatically thinking that you are not able to hit those "unrealistic" goals, you need to find the healthy balance between realism and what you know you are capable of.

And so, taking her mindset and morphing it with my own, I've come up with this plan, which I think is a happy medium between the two, and I can do this.

  1. Finding the sweet spot between dreaming big and keeping it doable is key to maintaining a positive and energized mindset.

  2. I'll dive into the journey instead of obsessing over the finish line. I’ll break my big goals into bite-sized, doable tasks and pat myself on the back for each small win.

  3. Flexible and teachable. I’ll add adaptability because life doesn't always follow my script.

Much like my backyard squirrel finding joy in munching on a peanut while hanging upside down, adopting a more goal-oriented approach in my freelancing mindset might have surprising benefits. While I may not flip upside down to edit or write, I think the key is embracing the unexpected – like the squirrel who swears peanuts taste better when eaten topsy-turvy.

After all, who says you can't find professional inspiration in the upside-down antics of a peanut-loving squirrel?

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