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).
Life is about balance. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to pay equal attention to all things constantly. Instead you give more attention to different areas of your life when necessary.
And that means that at certain points, some things will have to take a back seat. Perhaps when you’re focusing more on work, you spend less time with friends. Or when you’re focused on saving you spend less time going out for drinks/food. But when you’re focused on improving your health and fitness you spend more time working out and cooking.
Sometimes, after a period of focusing on one thing, you might find yourself feeling guilty for having put other things aside, even though it was for the best.
Something has to give because you can’t give 100% of your effort to every aspect of your life at once.
However, you can’t just totally neglect an aspect of your life, the trick is to balance your time so that you’re not so focused on one thing that everything else falls apart.
If you’re not willing to be patient you might find yourself missing out.
So often we want everything now and the idea of having to wait makes us anxious.
But remember that life is often like the quote, good things come to those who wait.
It’s not about making time for struggle or enduring something unpleasant hoping good will happen before you reach breaking point.
It’s about learning to be patient and not giving up just because things don’t happen straight away.
When it comes to what is important sometimes we confuse external pressures or expectations with what really matters to us personally.
In doing so we end up focusing on and prioritising the wrong things.
These external things could come from work, family or friends and they overwhelm us because we aren’t clear about what we’re willing to give.
Maybe you end up working late because you have a lot of deadlines in a short period of time and it’s important that it gets done. But, if you take the time to think it turns out that what matters most to you is that you have time to de-stress as being busy has you in a constant state of overwhelm.
It’s important that the work get’s done but our wellbeing is what matters most.
Even if you know what matters most sometimes it still turns out that we’re not able to acknowledge and take action in the moment. It’s only upon reflection that we’re able to identify what we should have done at the time.
Most people that you choose to have in your life are chosen because your lives or you as people align in some way.
It could be a similar taste in music, studying (or have studied) the same subjects, enjoying the same leisure activities, similar mindsets and worldviews or maybe you share the same aspirations.
Whatever it may be, when the base of your connection shifts it is likely that you may change your mind about having the person in your life.
Granted you will have built up a connection based on other things over time but when the core bits of you and a person no longer align, the relationship may no longer make sense.
This sort of thing quite commonly occurs once you begin to really figure out who you are and what you want in life. Perhaps the people you used to party with don’t really fit with the life you’re creating. Maybe your corporate aspirations clash with the aspirations of people around you to the point of causing disagreements.
Despite how it may feel, it’s a natural thing for relationships to change. It’s much better to allow things to be than to restrict your development or the development of someone else because you’d rather hold on to something that was never meant to last.
How often do you take the time to stop and think about what makes you happy?
I don’t mean in relation to acheiveing goals, I mean just in life overall.
Most of the time we over-estimate what brings us real joy, thinking that we need something grand or something that is difficult to obtain.
In reality, it is often the smallest moments that make us feel the happiest.
Things like dancing to your favourite song, picking fruit from the garden or laughter with an old friend.
So lets say you’re someone who has a habit of running late. And this has happened quite a few times with Friend A who is always super understanding about it.
Perhaps the first time you were late you were super apologetic and felt bad but you were also glad your friend was understanding and didn’t get mad about it.
For some people, when they keep getting a kind response as a reaction to their mistakes they’ll end up being less and less apologetic.
Afterall, what’s the point in preparing for the worst case scenario when the past responses have taught you that things will turn out fine.
This is how people end up taking advantage of kindness.
I used the example of being late but this can apply to any scenario where your actions directly effect someone else.
The point is that when you’re making mistakes or when you’re in the wrong you shouldn’t expect for others to just be cool with it. In fact, in some ways it’s actually healthy to accept one of the worst potential outcomes as it’ll keep you on your toes and your apology is much more likely to be genuine.
Granted, the best option will always be to do better but mistakes will always happen and that’s okay.
When you’re comfortable with the way things are it can be difficult to make the choice to change.
Most people have dreams of the kind of life that they want yet they allow their feelings of comfort to stand in the way.
The inner monologue will say something like ‘Why move to a new city, when you have everything here. Why would you want to be away from your friends and family?’.
Those kinds of thoughts totally underestimate our capabilities as human beings.
If you move to a new city and hate it, you can always move back. When it comes to friends and family of course you’ll miss them but it’s not like you’ll never see them again. Also you’ll make new friends and meet new people.
So often people don’t allow themselves to grow because they’re stuck on feeling comfortable instead of being open to exploring life.
I think I’ve used the phrase talking helps at least half a dozen times on this site (turns out I was exactly spot on as shown below).
Making a breakthrough
Worth seeking advice from
Managing stress and deadlines
When you don’t have anyone to talk to
Unexpected but needed
I say it because that’s what has works for me and like everything I share here it comes from my experience. If this was around 3 or 4 years ago things would have been very different. Back then, I wasn’t talking about the challenges that I was facing or things that I struggled with because I didn’t know how.
Plus, at the time I didn’t think that talking would help.
But I also think a lot of people forget to mention that it’s more than just talking to anyone.
For example, the person that is feeling suicidal might not to find much solace in talking to their friends. Their friends aren’t equipped or trained to help in that kind of situation. Friends not knowing what to say doesn’t make them bad people.
Instead they might find it more helpful to talk to a professional, someone with training or someone who can relate to their experience.
Further to that, think about you want the outcome from talking to be. Of course there’s no magic fix but if you just want someone to listen and leave you feeling hopeful, talking to the person that will just dismiss your issues probably isn’t the best idea.
And if you don’t have anyone to talk to, that’s okay too.
If you live in the UK or Ireland call Samaritans on 116 123.
For anyone else the country you live in probably has a helpline you can call too.
This time inside is no doubt forcing you to step away from somethings you’d rather run towards.
But there’s probably a few things you have space from right now that you don’t want back in your life.
It could be a job, people you spend time with or the places you used to go.
Being forced to stay inside gives your mind the space it so often needs to really think about what it wants, what you want. You’re no longer in this routine of always going from one place to the next, rarely alone, rarely getting the chance for silence or a moment to think how you feel about the way you’re living your life.
But now you have that chance, what are you thinking about, what is on your mind?
Are you craving a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at your favourite bar with a lover or friend?
Are you secretly hoping that you never have to go to go back to your current job?
Are you realising that you don’t miss the people you’d normally spend the most time with (outside of work)?
Once you’ve given that some thought, what will you do about it now and once lockdown is over?