We all have hopes and dreams for the life we want to lead and yet so few us are leading it. When we are coming to the end of our lives palliative nurses have recorded that when everything is pared away, the most common thing patients say, is that they regret not doing what they had they wanted. Not pursuing what they had hoped to do in life
I list a few reasons why we avoid doing what we want in life. We hear so much about adding things to our life – diet, exercise, meditation – and these are all good, but often we don’t look at what we can remove from our life, that might be holding us back from living the life we want.
These are the sort of things that take up our time, emotion and energy so we are too depleted to use that energy to take steps to live our dreams. In may be that all of them looked at separately don’t appear to be significant but if one or more happens regularly, daily even, then they will keep chipping away at the ‘energy bank’, our ‘gold reserve’ and time goes by and nothing changes.
So take a personal stock take and see if these apply to you.
Give less time to worrying or getting upset about what others think of you. Chances are they are more interested in themselves than about anything you might be doing.
We are often concerned to ‘fit in’ with others, become part of a tribe or a pack and give too much weight to their opinions. Whether that is blame or praise, they are both the same. Consider whether you believe that person or group’s opinion has any worth? Often comments are made from jealousy because a group always wants everyone to stay the same. This tribe can be family members, work colleagues, school friends; and so we learn from an early age to ‘fit in’. I think that can be especially true for women and how they are still perceived in present day society.
So save your misplaced energy to use towards your goal.
Social media can be two things; a brilliant platform to keep in contact with family and friends, meet like-minded people, gain knowledge and information. This is all active participation and cultivate the habit of setting a time limit for this.
The flip side is when we engage in passive participation. When we are bored, have some time to ‘kill’, when we get side-tracked from the reason we first logged in and somehow hours have gone by and our brains are frazzled but blue light.
Passive participation is the thief of time – and energy – that could be better spent working towards our goals and dreams.
When we consider ourselves ‘grown up’, we can find it hard to ask for help or support in case it should be seen as a sign of weakness. Maybe that we have let ourselves down in the eyes of others, or the impression that we ‘should’ be able to do this thing alone. ‘Should -ing’ on ourselves is creating stress; needless, pointless stress that eats away at our ‘gold reserve’ of energy.
In reality, people want to help, its in our nature. We feel better in ourselves when we have helped someone. Asking for help is giving that other person the opportunity to help. If they can’t or don’t want to’ for whatever reason, don’t take it as a personal blow, respect their position and ask someone else. Its not a reason to ‘unfriend’ them!
Asking and giving are two sides of the same coin and we all need a healthy mix of both in our lives.
This can be a hard thing to do, taking a cool, unemotional overview and just look at the actual facts. When we are in a place of blaming others we are emotionally charged and therefore not using ‘whole brain’ thinking to think or act rationally. This is not a time to speak from a place anger, disappointment or hurt. Take time out to cool off and if it helps, write down your feelings and the course of events that led to whatever triggered this blame situation.
Consider the magnitude of what it was – is it worth the time and energy?
May be it was something of greater consequence – it’s happened, that can’t be changed – but what can change is you. Failure in its many forms can be more healthily viewed as an opportunity to learn. So many famous people have had to live and learn from a ‘failure’ but drew strength from it.
Think of Thomas Edison who invented the electric light bulb – his teachers said he was ‘too stupid to learn anything.’ He was fired from his first two jobs for being ‘non – productive.’ As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb……. 0r we can say the light bulb was an invention of 1,000 steps.
We can easily be swayed off course by events, the news, getting to work on time, planning what to cook for dinner – all before we even get out of bed!
These are just a few of our ‘micro stresses’ that gradually add up over the course of the day, taking our energy and making us lose our focus on what we want to do and shifting us off course.
Before you go to bed the night before, write down or have in mind an intention for that day -It doesn’t have to be your whole dream plan! That can be a stress in itself but just a small step on that path. Use it as a time to put in place good mental and emotional practice that will in turn encourage new neural pathways to enhance the way you think.
An intention might be to improve your time keeping, make sure you start the day with a healthy breakfast, taking the staircase at work and not the lift, making a habit of smiling to more people, finding 5 – 10 minutes do a breathing exercise, take a walk at lunchtime. Make time to listen to your partner and children with focus.
Setting your clock earlier to make time to mediate for 10 – 20 minutes in the morning and finish by envisioning what your goal is, making it as real as possible.
These can be our family, friends, work colleagues, or people we don’t personally know that appear on the news, people we ‘know’ from the internet or social platforms, friends from the past we keep in touch with.
When we are with people who don’t support us, make negative comments, enjoy making ‘digs’ at us, bring up how we were when we were younger and don’t appear to have realised that we are different people now – in the way a ‘label’ can stick that you were the ‘clumsy’ one, a ‘slow’ reader, the ‘naughty’ one, made poor choices with boyfriends when you were a teenager, support their belief that ‘you’ couldn’t possibly do something and register their lack of faith in you instead of suggesting ways that they can help you.
All this stems from their own mindset which has become fixed, and yet again, can stem from feelings of rivalry or jealousy.
Be pro-active and take an audit of those who leave you energetically drained and those who energetically lift you. You don’t have to avoid the naysayers, be compassionate for where they are in their development, just actively spend less time with them. Switch the news off if that’s draining you, remove yourself from social platforms if they don’t bring you joy, arrange to spend time on planning your goals instead of saying yes to casual invites. Don’t let others suck your energy.
Just 1 negative comment needs 5 positive comments to counteract it.
Reading a book improves our level of focus in ways that a Kindle or screen can’t. Bill Gates, one of the most successful people currently on the planet and a global player, who together with his wife, Melissa, is dedicating his time and wealth to supporting the healthcare of our poorest counties and funding research into combatting malaria; prioritises reading a book before podcasts or media. This from someone who drove the internet platform into what it is today.
Scientists tell us that the actual holding of a book, turning the pages, the smell of a book etc, all contribute to building our ability to focus more and improve cognitive function, so we remember more and also helps us grow more neural pathways so we can have a greater mental and emotional capacity that is more balanced.
This rings true for many. From childhood we have expectations placed on us and we are influenced by the manner and speech of those around us – family, school, further education if we had one, work.
In may ways we are being formed very slowly, day by day, to fit in and conform, to live with confidence or to be cautious, to ‘know our place’, we try to please others – our parents, be responsible as the older sibling ‘setting an example’, to do well at school with subjects we have little interest in, to take up a career or work placement that others choose for us because it was what others in the family did. Maybe we had our dream early in life, but we were told ‘that’s never going to happen’ or people ‘like us’ never get to do those jobs, or to ‘get real’. And so it goes on.
We talk to ourselves in ways we would not talk to a friend and lack self-compassion. This is counter-productive, and it stems from our ego. Our ego developed in our primal brain and even though we have evolved since then it still limits us from making progress. Its actually trying to protect itself by ensuring the ‘me’ in us isn’t harmed, and its frightened what change might bring in case it is harmed in some way. This limits us in taking steps by causing us to be fearful. To ensure the status quo we then give ourselves a hard time and our ego feels safe again.
You will know that if we had some sort of feedback with lots of praise, we would only focus on the one less favourable comment. When we got 9 out of 10 in a school test, we would fret over not getting full marks. If you see this in yourself, then you need to realise its an unhelpful pattern that’s developed over many years and mindfully put your focus on what was good, and accept the praise as well deserved and the rest is just something to learn from without destructive emotion.
When you find yourself in an energetic slump – don’t dwell – one of the quickest things you can do to change your mood is to get active, it changes the mindset. So take a walk, play some music and dance around the kitchen or living room, stand up and vigorously shake your arms, hands and bend down towards your feet, shaking everything you can. Do some jumping jacks. Did you know that just by smiling even if you don’t feel like it, will activate the facial muscles that in turn tell the brain we are happy (even if we are not!) and this sets off a cascade of feel good hormones. Try it and see!
There are a few of books I suggest you might find of interest on this subject, to help you start putting your goals and dreams into reality. Read their reviews and start with one that’s right for you.