Where do you go when the world simply becomes too much? What do you do when your normal self-care strategies become harder and harder to manage?
What do you do when you need to retreat?
I go into my CAVE.
You always know when I am in my cave because I go quiet. This happens when I take a step back from social media in my business, but it also happens in my personal relationships, sometimes over a longer period of time as I slowly detach from folks, or sometimes like simply around the dinner table where I zone out of a conversation…or leave a bar to get some air.
It’s where I need to shut out the influences and stimuli of other people, and be with myself.
The Cave can be a magical healing place, where the quiet and stillness, the darkness allow you to truly see what is important in life and in business. It is a place of retreat, a place of healing, a place for thinking, and visioning….without the pressure of doing.
The idea of The Cave has been written about in many cultural contexts, my Cave stories and meanings will be different to theirs, and to yours, but I am sure you will recognise the cave nonetheless. Your cave might be staying in bed, or not getting washed or dressed, or it might be self-medicating with food or drink or drugs…or even shit TV (no judgement). It might be packing your bags and heading to the mountains for a few days, or it might be booking yourself into a spa or on a yoga retreat.
Some people go to the cave to switch off and some go to switch on.
You might go to the cave to hide, for protection from perceived danger, or you might go there simply as part of a self-care ritual. As a creative, I know I need that space to let new ideas and concepts be birthed. I think as online business owners it’s super important that we go…what with all the noise.
We can’t hide from our true selves in The Cave…without the distractions, there is simply nowhere to go. We have to face up to who we are and what we stand for.
Perhaps that’s why we resist it for so long.
I have been in “My Cave” for a few weeks.
I have been their for my own safety and sanity.
Last week I wrote a blog about being in burnout…and so the cave for me was a no brainer move. I switched off social media, I deleted my email app from my phone, I only did the bare minimum of client work, and I put a stop to all development projects and simple slept, ate good food, spent time in nature, and hugs with my daughter and cat.
I wasn’t ready to talk. I didn’t want to talk.
I am lucky that I have a good circle of friends that were able to support me while in the Cave, checking in on me, making sure I wasn’t allowing the solitude or the darkness to extinguish my light…because thats the thing with the cave, stay in for too long, or go too deep and it can make you see shit thats not there, shadows, dark thoughts.
For me I have to know there is light…I need to know I can creep out when needed…I need to be OK with allowing certain folks to the entrance, to be with me while I work some stuff out…but its not a bloody party, it’s not a free for all for everyone to witness.
There are all manner of reasons in business you might go into your cave
- A failed launch
- Working too hard
- Being out of alignment
- Personal attack
- Perceived attack
- Difficult clients
- Tech issues
- Mental health
- Family priorities
- A global fucking pandemic
There were times I should have retreated into My Cave last year, my regular holidays, weekends off, music festivals, adventures, have in the past allowed me to let out some of the pressure, given me time to think, or time to not think.
Instead last year I soldiered on…I kept putting out fires…kept holding space for others as they went in and out of their own caves, and it was only a matter of time until my body said NO MORE.
So my invitation to you this week, this month, for the rest of the year, is to not be afraid of The Cave, in fact book in specific appointments in there. We may not have had freedom of movement in the way we have wanted to, but we do still have many freedoms where the Cave can be enjoyed.
The world doesn’t stop spinning when you go into The Cave, but you do.
You might not make the sales, the traction, the progress you want in your business while you are in there, but when you come out you will have clarity and confidence in your next steps. You will see things with fresh eyes…and your audience will still be there.
You can pick things up again.
And things will feel different. Lighter. More palatable.
Sending love, and metaphorical batteries for your torch oh brave ones…head on into that Cave and go get what you need, but don’t stay in there forever. The world needs you.
Julie Creffield is a Tribe Leadership Expert, Community Engagement Strategist, And Creative Business Coach. She has also been speaking candidly about mental health and the fear of judgement for more than a decade.
Julie helps small business owners to build impactful businesses in alignment with who they are, not who the world wants them to be. Take the Tribe Leadership Quiz to find out your most aligned style so you can start doing business on your terms.
Join her on Thursday for New Clients, New Confidence a 60-minute workshop on how to bounce back after a failed launch, break from business, or just a general slow phase in sales. Where Julie will be sharing insights from the past 18 months when it comes to growing an aligned mission-led business.