Creating a container for change

I first heard about this idea from Maryam Hasnaa in a class she taught.

When a person dedicates themselves to a particular path, it more often than not requires significant change.

An example of this could be taking space from friends that like to have nights out often. You need space from this because in that environment you’re likely to drink which leaves you feeling unwell the next day and the time it takes to recover feels like a waste. You also might decide that you want to maintain a regular sleep pattern and night routine which you’re unlikely to be committed to when you get home at 2am. Lastly, when your path becomes clear you realise that the pub, bar or club where it’s noisy, crowded and you’re probably spending a lot of money isn’t an environment that supports you.

And so even though no longer engaging in nights out may show up as you taking space from certain people, it’s not so much about the people at all, it’s about you and what you need.

Another example is leaving your job. Let’s say you work a very full on and at times stressful job that requires a lot from you. When you’re committed to something, in order to focus on that, you don’t want unnecessary stress getting in the way. Perhaps at one point the stress was worth it for the money but now you’d rather earn less in a calmer environment. If your finances allow it, you might even take a break from working for a little while.

Both of these examples could be permanent or temporary changes. The point is that when you’re clear about your path shifting your life is mandatory.

I think if we could, we would turn inwards and away from certain responsibilities and obligations. But since that’s not possible we have to create a container where we can focus and commit whilst still engaging in certain aspects of life. And that container becomes sort of sacred which is why we can’t allow everything in our lives to remain.

And if you don’t know where to begin, ask yourself what you would and wouldn’t keep in your life if you could start over whilst still being able to maintain your basic needs (food, shelter etc).

How to work through difficult feelings

When you’re going difficult feelings (or feelings that feel difficult), it’s vital to know what you need in order ton help yourself.

As a teenager, I had no clue and so would just end up overwhelmed with days spent mulling over moments that weren’t important in the grand scheme. Although i used to journal, it was very problem based and essentially just a ramble of fear and overwhelm which didn’t really benefit me.

Recently I had some difficult feelings come up. I’m at a point where I can sit with the feelings without getting carried away. I then find helpful ways to work through the feelings. Everything I do is specific to me because I’ve gotten into the habit of learning what I need in these difficult moment.

I recently had a moment of feeling insecure, in hindsight I can see that I had attached a particular outcome of a situation to me feeling good. And so when it didn’t turn out that way I felt the opposite. I wanted to share this because it’s useful to have more specific and less generic examples.

So here’s what I did:

1 Phoned a friend

I had an almost 2 hour phone call with a dear friend. This particular person is someone I trust and find easy to talk to about anything. We spoke about what we’ve been up to, future plans and we laughed a lot. They knew I was feeling a bit off however, I didn’t end up offloading and allowing my inner monologue to run wild because I know that there probably isn’t much this person could say to shift my feelings. Instead, I appreciated them making the time and supporting me. Plus, laughter is really the best medicine and probably helped more than any discussion about how I was feeling and why would have.

2 Did my morning routine in the afternoon

There are three things I do every morning at the moment: a 10 minute singing bowl meditation, my gratitude practice and reading my monthly manifesto (a passage that sets clear intentions for what I’m working on at the moment). I wasn’t feeling great that morning so I didn’t do it but later I remembered how much that simple 15 minutes each morning really helps set the tone for my day and establishes the possibility of how I can feel. And so I just did it in the afternoon and it helped me feel a lot better.

3 EFT

Emotional Freedom Technique also known as tapping is something I have been doing for a few years now. I went through the tapping points and essentially just reminded myself that even though I may feel the way I was feeling it’s not permanent and I’ll be okay. EFT is something that really works wonders for me.

4 Rest

Instead of just putting my feelings aside and getting on with my day I decided to rest. Sometimes the best thing to do is allow yourself to be bare minimum and work on things you need to do later when you’re feeling better. It doesn’t always help to just get on with it, especially when the work isn’t urgent.

Don’t read the comments

Well not yet anyway.

I consume a lot of YouTube and social media content, most of which comes with comments. Something I’ve learnt is that reading the comments before watching the content can totally skew your view.

You might not even realise that your opinion is not your own but simply a mix of the other peoples opinions you’ve just read.

I think it’s important to be able to watch something or look at something and form an opinion about it without knowing what other people think first.

Re-learning compromise

If you’re used to always being the one to bend to the needs of another, you might reach a point where you decide to change. Perhaps after an epiphany about the importance of balance.

When it comes to some change, the advice is to go slow and take it bit by bit. However, when it comes to changing a habit of compromising, it’s probably more helpful to go cold turkey.

The reason for this is that no compromise allows you to gain clarity on exactly what you want to do for yourself without taking others into account.

It’s then from a place of clarity of your own needs that you can learn to compromise properly.

Bent out of shape

People that are used to people pleasing know what it’s like to put their own wants and needs aside.

Sometimes, you convince yourself that you’re just compromising to find a balance. This is fine, until you realise that you’re the only one willing to change. This could all be with one person or apply to your life overall.

You can become so used to doing it that the thought of doing anything else feels wrong.

But the thing about bending, is that it can lead to breaking. However, before you reach breaking point you end up bent out of shape. By this I mean, you’ve spent so much time bending (meeting the needs of others) that you’re no longer yourself. You’ve become what you think other people need you to be.

When you’re engaging in the art of compromise which is the overlap in the Venn diagram of 2 people’s needs (or a balanced back and forth of meeting one another’s needs without self-sacrifice), it’s fine. The problem occurs when you consistently go outside of your circle into another’s, so that they get what they want.

People become so used to you doing it that they may even push back at you if you stop compromising for them.

However, sometimes it’s only when you stop and reflect on how you act that you realise you’re doing it but also the negative implications, one of which is your needs never being met.

Made up meanings

Whilst checking the definition of the idiom bent out of shape for a future post and then the definition of bend, I realised I’d somewhat manipulated the meaning.

I use the term ‘bend’ (specifically as bend to or bend towards) as a verb, it’s an act of unspoken people pleasing. When you bend to someone you do what they want often at the expense of your own needs.

And so I expected the definition of bent out of shape to refer to the outcome of excessive people pleasing. Turns out it means getting angry or worked up.

It was a little reminder for me to check the definition of words, it’s hard to communicate a clear message when you’re using words with made up meanings.

A life changing perspective

A running theme throughout a lot of my posts (and what has become the baseline for this blog) is this idea of life’s challenges and difficult moments having a lesson or a takeaway.

Having this perspective completely changes your life.

You go from things like blaming other people, being overly self critical, treating yourself unkindly and feeling stuck to feeling empowered with the ability to move through challenging situations with greater ease.

Let’s say you like the way you look but someone makes fun of your appearance. On one hand you could get upset, feel bad about yourself and feel anger towards the other person for how they made you feel.

On the other hand, you could accept that this person has an opinion, remind yourself that how you feel about the way you look is what matters most and see if there’s something worth learning there.

If the persons comment upset you, perhaps the lesson is that you need to work on your self-confidence. The takeaway could be a reminder that other peoples opinions of you shouldn’t matter more than your own, that you don’t need to take on the opinions of others or that you need to become more comfortable with not fitting into other peoples standards/ideals.

And then maybe you’ll go away and work on these things. An example of this might be embracing the way you want to look by going a week wearing whatever you want as a way of learning to become more comfortable with looking different. In doing so, you’ll probably realise that it’s exhausting to allow yourself to be bothered by everyone else’s opinion and that you feel at your best when you’re just being yourself.

This might seem excessive to some but the truth is that you can choose the way you look at things and how you handle them. Imagine if you faced every difficult or challenging situation with this kind of perspective. How different would your life be?

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

But more specifically, what do you do to support yourself when you feel overwhelmed?

The answers might be exactly the same or perhaps you can’t find an answer to the second question.

Maybe when you’re overwhelmed you go into an unconscious downward spiral. You might not know it yet but maybe taking deep breaths, doing EFT or going for a walk are things you can do to support yourself.

Those are some things that I find useful.

If you don’t know what works for you, it might be worth taking the time to figure it out.

Dreams change

What you want doesnt have to stay the same.

Sometimes when we’ve been set on something for so long, even after we realise we something else we stick with the old plan. This is because it feels risky to change and we put so much pressure on ourselves to have things worked out.

The result is sticking with something we no longer want in order to be someone who ‘has their life sorted out’, instead of actually doing what we want to do. Maybe we decide that it’ll take too much work and that it’s not worth the effort.

But dreams change and new dreams are worth pursuing just as much as the old ones.

Meet your own needs

Sometimes we put our expectations and ideals on other people without considering the other persons own wants and needs. We feel empowered when other people meet our expectations and ideals.

This is fine when things go our way. However, it is important to be able to accept that the other person is entitled to their own expectations and ideals too.

Sometimes they won’t align with yours which may lead to them saying no instead of yes. This can result in a form of tantrum behaviour.

The thing is though, even though you want what you want, it’s not healthy to want it at the expense of the other person.

It’s not healthy to want another person to be miserable, inconvenienced or go against their own needs just so you can have your way. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with asking for what you want.

You just have to keep in mind that you might not get that from the person you’re asking it of. But I believe that it is so important to give people the space to be themselves instead of trying to force them to follow your expectations and ideals.

And sometimes the best thing you can do is stop putting your stuff on other people and meet your own needs.