How many of us treat ourselves so poorly, we end up fading away, becoming a colourless version of the soul we intended to be? The answer has to be millions…..billions, even.
You have been involved in a relationship that has sucked every ounce of hope from you. You have been surviving, hoping for a miracle, whilst gradually retreating behind an invisible but incredibly dense wall.
You have been gradually crushed by a job that offers no incentive, and demands far more than it will ever give.
You are sinking slowly into a swamp of busy mediocrity, surrounded by others who are also going down, holding onto you and making it feel impossible for you to pull yourself out.
Your light has been fading for so long you barely even have a shadow. People tell you that this is life, this is the ‘real’ world, and that you shouldn’t risk losing your security. You become so afraid of making the wrong decision, you find yourself hanging onto things as they are, closing your ears to your inner voice, walking into a future that is merely a disheartening extension of the past/present.
For too many people, this becomes the story of their entire life. It is almost impossible to persuade them that it doesn’t have to be this way, and they do their best to impose their well – meaning but incredibly misguided beliefs onto others. There is safety in numbers, so they say.
So how do you break free, and find your true colour again? How do you find clean, fresh air to fill your lungs, and feet that pick up the pace and run, towards a future that causes your spirit to lift, to hope, to believe…..to smile?
You begin where you are. You lift your head up, you breathe deeply, and you re – acquaint yourself with a world that has faded into the background. You recognise that your attention has been fixed on the same old stuff for way too long. You seek out proof that there IS another way of feeling and being. You open your mind and heart to new information, to those who are a mile ahead of you, on the road to self – healing and happiness……because they KNOW, and they can help you. You will find them. Here, for example. On the internet, in books…..dotted amongst the human race. They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears……and if you are REALLY ready, you won’t just read this and then slip back into oblivion. You will say to the great force of life “I AM ready…….please show me what I need to see and hear.” And you make time in your day to unearth sources of inspiration and motivation.
You listen to yourself talk, in your head, and you change the dialogue. Instead of analysing the same old problems, the same old hurts and disappointments, you place your attention on yourself, your surroundings, and you look for something good. It might be your shoes, a piece of jewellery, a picture, a plant, a colour……something that, for that second in time, distracts you from painful meandering, and fills your mind with something pleasant. This won’t make your problems disappear, of course, but it will, if you do it often enough, train you to gain more conscious control of your thoughts…….and as thoughts lead to feelings, and feelings lead to actions, you can see how important this is.
You don’t attempt to solve all your problems at once……..you are beginning a new process, and you want to make the changes stick. Flash in the pan changes that last for about a week or a month are no good to you. You may not be able to make a dysfunctional relationship work, but you will probably need time to reach a point at which you can take the next, necessary step. You MAY be able to find ways of making a dysfunctional relationship genuinely better, but you won’t know for sure, FOR NOW. So, unless you are in a dangerous situation (in which case you WILL need to take steps NOW), you don’t need to do anything immediately. You are starting with you, and the rest can follow.
You may not be ready to leave an unfulfilling job right now, but you can start the leaving process in your mind. Entering into a new work position, blistering with resentment and frustration, will not be helpful. You will be dragging old feelings with you, and it is the old feelings you are in the process of changing. That doesn’t mean you become falsely positive, or just accept things, but it does mean you let go of the destructive inner dialogue (and outer dialogue, if you are getting caught up in bitching and moaning with your colleagues). You do this for your own sake. It is a job. It is a stepping stone in your life. Other stepping-stones will make themselves known, when you are genuinely ready. You can utter ‘yes buts’ until the end of time, and list all the reasons for your unhappiness, but that would mean you are not ready, and are not consciously directing your thoughts!
You don’t go through your day on autopilot, here in body but not in spirit…….lost in thought whilst life goes on around you. You look for the little stories in life, and re – tell them to others. I once saw a single toilet roll sitting at the edge of the road. I said to myself “I know they’ve been closing the public toilets, but is THIS the alternative?”, and made myself smile. And recently I heard, on the car radio, about a woman called Maria, who had been the director of a number of art galleries, and who had left to take up what was described as THE top job in the art world. Her praises were being sung, and I wondered who she was, and how she got to be where she is. I imagined her in a beautifully decorated apartment in a stately European city, eating nibbles and sipping on white wine, flicking through catalogues and discussing art. I wanted to be there; the scene I had imagined was warm, comfortable, softly lit and fascinating……and all of my own creation! But I really enjoyed getting to know Maria, and her cultured, creative, luxurious life!
You change your routine, you make an effort to have different conversations with different people, and watch different things on television. You decide to do something you REALLY want and need to accomplish. Clean the house, and chuck stuff out. I love burning things I don’t want, and are no use to anyone else….it is incredibly therapeutic! You start to walk briskly, several times a week. You re – organise your daily diet. You go swimming. You take care of yourself as you would someone you really love.
You face the facts of your current reality, but through different eyes. If you are going to leave, you need to begin the healing process NOW, so that the leaving is not excessively messy and destructive. If you are going to stay, for the right reasons, you need to begin the healing process NOW, so that you CAN stay…..for the right reasons. If you aren’t sure right now, that’s okay……begin the healing process NOW, and it will help you to decide. And if it is the past that has caused you to lose yourself, all of the above will still apply. If you are re – living stuff that has already happened, over and again, your brain thinks you are experiencing it in the here and now, and responds by releasing fight – 0r – flight hormones into your body. Your body responds to those hormones, communicating back to your brain…..and a cycle is set in motion. Those hormones are going to cause you to feel lousy over time, and the only way to break the cycle is to change the story your brain thinks is real, replacing it with a healthier, happier one!