The gift of neutrality when you hit life’s crossroad

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an overhead view of grass with a white x demonstrating a cross roads
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“There are years that ask questions and years that answer,” says Zora Neale Hurston. I’m not sure about you but I’m hoping 2022 will be a year of answers.

For example, over the last four years, several life-changing moments have occurred causing me to question many things. It’s a list that covers the gamut of leaving the corporate world to become a solopreneur; navigating COVID; experiencing family loss twice; a physical move.

Certainly, I’m not alone. I know there are many facing life’s crossroads for any number of reasons. Perhaps as a business owner: What will revenue look like this month? Or living with family: What’s the best way to navigate family dynamics? Maybe you lost someone: How long does it take the heart to heal? And across all of this and more: What’s my purpose in life?

I hope this post encourages you to sit back from the grind, the hustle, the need to be in control, and on top of it all. I hope it helps you find a way to ‘sit and be’ as answers come. In their own time. To whatever it is you’re questioning.

The gift of neutrality

small wooden block blocks spell out the words let it be
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Recently, I listened to an interview with Brené Brown on SuperSoul Conversations. It was part two of a podcast series talking about her latest book, Atlas of the Heart. She discussed moving through COVID with her family. She was afraid for her kids and her Mom. Two sisters and their families moved in with her, along with her Mom. Consequently, the pandemic put a strain on her marriage.

When asked if her faith was tested, Brown was reminded of “the gift of neutrality…not running towards something and not running away.” She went on to say the condition for neutrality is to be in “fit spiritual condition.”

For so many of us, we doggedly chase after questions in the relentless pursuit of our goals.

  • Business success. How is success defined as a business owner or as a professional working for a company? What’s the pinnacle point and how do you know?
  • COVID fallout. Healthcare is a heated topic and COVID sits at the center of the debate. What’s the best way to rise above the chaos and understand your role in this national journey?
  • Loss – of any kind. What are the best ways to talk about and manage grief? What’s deemed “acceptable?”
  • Life’s purpose. No matter what trials are faced, how do you seek out and ensure that what you do matters?

Given these questions, I’m reminded of the Beatles song, “Let It Be.” Let it be – as in letting it all rest. Let it be – as in what comes will come. Sit in neutral versus fifth gear. Trust and have faith that Father God and Mother Earth will get your back.

Right foot, left foot

white wind driven sand with animal foot prints showing a right foot and left foot movement
Photo by magnezis magnestic on Unsplash

Side story. On Christmas day, I had the rare opportunity to speak with two of my Sudanese brothers, connecting them on the phone for the first time in years. What a joy it was to hear them speak excitedly to one another, drifting in and out of English and Dinka. I smiled, my heart expanded, and tears fell.

At one point, Malou and Yai were talking about their travels home to Sudan after being here in the US for 20 years. Malou said: “If I step my foot there, I know where to go.”

Those words struck me. Don’t we all want to know if you step your foot “there,” you’ll know where “there” is and where to go?

If you’re facing a crossroads for any reason, I encourage you to consider the gift of neutrality. Especially if you’ve been going hard and grinding it out and realize you have more questions than answers.

  • Pause and open yourself to the gifts of others.
  • Be teachable along the way.
  • Neutrality doesn’t equate to quitting; it’s trusting to be led and having faith you’ll see the way as it presents itself.

Help others find their direction

I welcome your thoughts. Are you in a place where the gift of neutrality makes sense? Likewise, maybe you’ve found other ways to manage a constantly questioning mind? Share, comment, question, respond. We’re a community and learn from one another. As I said earlier, any one of us is facing a crossroad of some kind.

In closing and courtesy heads up, my blog will be on hiatus after this post. I think you know why. : ) It may be short or long; I’m embracing the gift of neutrality

Debbie Schallock is a content and brand strategist, DEI ally, communication thought leader, and content marketing partner to agencies. She’s the founder of Seachange Branding, arming startups and SMBs with the right tools to clarify business positioning and carve a competitive advantage. She blogs on the topics of branding and inclusion. Her research has been published in the International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations – A Space for Gray: The Value of Difference.

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10 Comments

Mary Michaux · at

Great blog, Deb! Everybody this day and time seems to be rushing from one place to another without any real sense of direction. The idea of neutrality and sitting down and just breathing is one that truly inspires the soul. As a retired person, I started retirement trying to stay busy. I’ve then took on a side job and continued to stay busy with no reflection on why I retired. I then tested positive for Covid and didn’t have a choice but to stay neutral and I learned a lot about why that is so important. Thank you for your insight and for helping others!

    Debbie · at

    Thanks for reading Mary and for sharing your thoughts. Yes, the gift of neutrality can be applied to many aspects of our life. I started out doing well and I find myself gearing up to chase down things again…to take control and try to “make things happen.” So thoughtful of you to consider your retirement and why you retired as you hustle on your side job – because I know you’re hustling! Thank YOU for your insight and for helping others as well!

Kay Myers · at

Wise words Deb. I remember Yai saying (20 yrs ago?) when he was visiting how he observed families here in the US being busy busy, going here and there instead of “just being and enjoying each other and our pets”. He was talking to Jake who was a young boy at the time and I believe it had an impact on him. He’s much better at being in the moment. Being neutral. Letting life be. Realizing we spent way too much time worrying about things that don’t matter. cheers. let it be.

    Debbie · at

    I can’t take credit for the words. I believe this concept – the gift of neutrality – actually comes from AA if I recall correctly from the podcast. Yes, the Sudanese enjoy time together sitting and talking. No agenda, no mission. I’m glad Yai taught Jake this lesson and I’ll be sure to share it with him the next time we speak. And props to Jake for receiving – that’s a key element! Cheers to you as well and let it be! : )

Helen D · at

Great blog & just what I needed to read. I’ve had some health issues – nothing major just annoying & all I’ve heard for a month is “we are seeing all kinds of Covid symptoms.” I’m going to accept the gift of neutrality & trust this too shall pass!

Debbie · at

Thank you Helen for your comment. COVID has certainly impacted us on so many levels including physically, mentally, and spiritually. Crossroads AND questions. If you’ve met with your doctors, (which I know you did), then the gift of neutrality would be a welcome gift! Hard yet welcomed, right? Thank you for sharing your experience.

Nigel Carlton · at

I understand about crossroads! They are simple for me. CHRIST MAN!

Debbie · at

Agreed Nigel. I had a prayer walk earlier this AM in the spitting rain. Several things hit my head and heart. Our sermon series at church right now is called Practicing Presence. Our church, Beaches Vineyard, is at a crossroads as well. Our pastor is stepping down and we’re financially suffering from a reduction in tithes and a reduction of in-person attendance – both connected. As church members, we’re all sitting in a space inviting the Lord to come. To come in new ways. And the Lord moved in our service today and spoke through Pastor Joe – who humbly said God is interrupting my planned service so we’re going with it. And it was about sitting with your hands and hearts open to God. Of having Faith the season of struggle is ending. Thank you for sharing your faith Nigel and your testimony to your journey.

Kathleen Donohue · at

I enjoyed your heartfelt expression of…pause. So many words we use have such energy and preconceived ideas of what it has to mean for us. I just had this conversation with my husband about the words manipulation and communication; yes our definitions were very different so we got ALEXA involved! One trigger word for me is balance (it’s not attainable and gives off so much juice – I’m not a fan). I have been in the grind for so much of my career and life. In 2022, I’m entertaining new words, their energy, and how they make me feel so here’s to neutrality and hope for grace!

    Debbie · at

    Excellent to hear Kathleen! Neutrality and grace. I know we just discussed this on our business call. We all go so much, maybe neutral is indeed a new way to approach business and life. Truth be told, I’m already struggling yet I”m reminding myself to sit in calm and invite. This is an action to create opportunity. I appreciate your voice!

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