You’re going about your day. It’s business as usual.
Suddenly, there’s a big change.
In your behavior. In your words. In your emotions. You feel different, and you just don’t care about the world in the way you used to.
It’s almost a feeling of floating above the world, of veering away from the forest that raised you. Like I wrote above, being checked out is a unique experience, but it draws from a common soil from which we all came.
It’s so important to understand this.
When you feel like you are floating and nothing matters at all, it’s natural to look at others and point the blame. But that’s just snapping off branches in fits of rage, whereas what you really need to do is take a deep a dive back to the soil of your upbringing.
When a friend says something to you, and your reaction is to turn away and shut down, you must ask yourself: Why?
When a coworker gives you advice, and you immediately bristle and then go mentally and physically numb, you must ask yourself: Where is this coming from?
Again, it doesn’t feel natural to do this. It’s totally normal to want to look at your target, your fellow tree, and sway and scrape at the air to give yourself some space.
But the wiser choice is to go within, to go back to your roots.
Whether you’re mentally checked out at work or mentally checked out in a relationship, the common root structure always applies:
If someone yells at you, who may have yelled at you in the past?
If someone criticizes your goals in life, where might that feeling you’re currently feeling have originated?
If you want to run from the world and burrow down into the Earth, why might that be so? Were you slow to branch out on your own?
In other words, what are the reasons for your response?
If you got this far, you may not have expected to find the answer to your dilemma hidden in questions.
But that’s always the case, isn’t it?
To figure out if you’re checked out in the first place, you need to ask questions.
And then, to find the answers that apply directly to your one life, you need to ask questions again.
There are stories in the roots. Understanding those stories is where you’ll find your answers and learn to refocus on the world around you.
Because recovering from being checked out requires self-awareness.
Sometimes the pain is so deep–maybe it emerges from past trauma–that you need guided assistance from a therapist or a doctor. That’s completely fine. There’s not ounce of shame in that.
Remember this if you’re struggling: being checked out is no way to live a life. It’s not a complete experience. It’s getting stuck in the clouds and forgetting where you came from.
We’re all from the same Earth. We’re all stuck in the same soil. It’s all too temping to leave Earth and stare off into the sky.
But, eventually, we all need to learn to do the important life work of digging deep.