My husband says I’m in a new phase. He calls it “reverse nesting.” I’m busy purging, getting rid of stuff, organizing everything. Joe’s right: I feel an inflection point coming on.
In math, an inflection point is when a curve changes direction. A downward slope starts turning upwards. A straight line starts dropping. An upward curve goes down.
In life, too, an inflection point is when your path changes.
Sometimes that inflection point is sharp and jarring. Like when I quit my corporate job 20 years ago to spend more time with my young children and pursue a more meaningful livelihood. Other acute inflection points are the death of a loved one, a crisis, an illness, an unexpected, life-changing event.
Sometimes that inflection curve is slower and more gradual … a hint of change on the horizon. Like now, when I’m nearing 60 with grown children and thinking about the next phase of my life’s work. Maybe you’ve felt that in the slight discomfort of the present situation—a job that feels stale, a sense of vague uncertainty, a knowing that it’s time for a change. Like a shoe that has become too small, you’ve outgrown something in your current life. More or different is calling to you.
Whether the inflection point is acute or gradual, navigating it is a chance to dive into the story of who you are and how you want to be.
In short, it’s an invitation to redefine some aspect of self.
A cornerstone of the Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology (CIWPP) is the concept of self. We hold many versions of self about who we are—our authentic, ought, ideal self to name a few. The inflection points of life invite us to reimagine and then craft a new update.
Maybe I should call this “reverse nesting” stage “Megan 2.0.”
Are you in the middle of an inflection point, perhaps the opening for You 2.0 to emerge?
Just like any 2.0 version, there is a lot happening behind the scenes to cultivate, investigate, and problem-solve before it is released. And there is a time component, too. I always underestimate the time for the 2.0 version to arrive. And guess what? As soon as the 2.0 is ready for prime time, I see the changes that are needed for the 3.0 version.
This is the magic of life … always growing, inquiring, learning, and diving deeper into this one, precious human experience. Your concept of self is not fixed. You are shaping who you are and who you are becoming each day through the choices that you make.
I love what Rollo May, an American existential psychologist, says in his book The Courage to Create:
“Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. The capacity to create ourselves, based upon this freedom, is inseparable from consciousness or self-awareness.”
Inflection points may not be particularly comfortable places to hang out. It’s easier in many respects to take charge, take action, and move stuff along. That’s why they are such a fertile place. Inflection points take time—to pause and pay attention, so that we know what we want to throw our weight behind. To know what we want to shape this 2.0 version into.
Instead of trying to build, create, and shape that 2.0 version right away, can you pause and notice what your current version of self is revealing? Can you fully pay attention to this version, noting where the points of congruence and incongruence arise? What is wanting to be expressed? Does the knowledge that you’re in an inflection point give you some space to acknowledge and affirm what’s happening now?
My reverse nesting is becoming a daily practice of sculpting fog. I have no idea what I’m shaping Me 2.0 into at this point. But I am continuing to throw my weight towards purging what no longer serves.
My closet, at least, is cleaner.
As the founder of Wholebeing Institute, Megan McDonough leads with divergent thinking and creative perspectives to build organizations and networks that harness the best in people for the greatest good. She has decades of leadership experience in diverse settings, in roles ranging from Alliance Manager of a $300 million relationship at DuPont; to General Manager of RISE at Kripalu, the largest yoga retreat center in North America; to numerous online-learning startups. A yoga enthusiast, Megan has practiced for more than 20 years and taught for more than a decade, and brings that mindfulness practice to her leadership. Her degree in biology, natural science, and nuclear medicine has little to do with her current work, and everything to do with her radically receptive approach to life. She is the award-winning author of four books on living mindfully.