It’s easier said than done.
We grow up having people tell us to be more or less of ourselves.
And for many at a young age you follow the words of those older than you. That’s fine when it comes to things like eating a balanced diet, doing your homework and being kind to people.
But on the flip-side when you’re being told to what career path to pursue or who you should be, I think that’s a problem.
How are you ever going to figure out who you are and be yourself if you’re always listening to other people? Sure this person might mean well and think they’re being helpful but they could also be projecting.
You’ll get told not to pursue something creative because it’s risky, to get a job in a particular sector because it’s more stable, to dress in differently… the list goes on. But often this advice has nothing to do with your happiness or life goals, it’s about conformity, a lack of belief, other peoples discomfort or even control.
And if you listen to all these voices and follow along with what you’re told you slowly start being less and less yourself and therefore less happy.
It’s not much fun living your life as an actor and allowing everyone else to direct.
And so in order to ‘simply’ be yourself you have to let go of all that stuff and be okay with other people being frustrated that you won’t do what they say.
In exchange for that, you get to be you.
If you take the time to read (or listen enough you’ll find that science (or philosophy or spirituality or whatever floats your boat) can explain everything.
And once you know there’s a reason behind something, especially if it’s difficult or challenging it might help you overcome it.
It turns out that the secrets of who we are and how we feel aren’t that that rare. You’re not the only one who… [insert thing here].
You might think you are because you’ve never spoken about it, because you don’t know anyone that’s spoken about it or maybe you feel so dreadful about it that you can’t imagine anyone else has to deal with this ‘thing’ and life too.
I’ve had many challenges that felt pretty overwhelming at times and then came Godin, Sinek, Dweck, Eagleman and podcasts.
After a while I began to understand that maybe this stuff wasn’t ‘the end of the world’ but instead part of it and it didn’t have to stay with me forever.
And of course writing has helped immensely because that’s the power of telling stories of life.
Because every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
I’ve been using the term push-back for a while. I use it to refer to how we react to negative/un-ideal circumstances.
But not any reaction just the specific ones often done when our emotions are heightened and we’re angry or frustrated.
Imagine you’re a kid and you’re parents refuse to give you the freedom you desire. It’s quite likely that you’ll be annoyed and find some way (even if it’s small) to rebel.
Maybe that’s always coming home late or creating a secret life for yourself like haha I’ll show you.
Or as an adult maybe you have lots of goals and plans and someone tells you to slow down or that you’re doing too much. If that’s not what you’re happy to hear you might end up just doubling down on all your stuff and possibly burning out. That’s a form of pushing back.
However, there are other ways that you can choose to handle or manage situations. For example, you’re trying to get your book published you get 101 rejections so you decide to self publish.
It’s a reaction to an un-ideal situation but it isn’t out of anger or frustration. A push-back could have been getting rid of your book or replying to the rejections in anger and frustration. But you have to think about what’s actually helpful.
It might feel good to push-back but it might be more helpful to think about what the kindest and most helpful thing you can do for yourself to overcome the situation is.
Often when we talk about difficult things we get so caught up in the story that we end up dwelling on it.
Sometimes to the point where we end up reliving it and our bodies remember exactly how it felt.
It could be a time you felt rejected, overwhelmed or ignored.
It’s not difficult to understand that those are things you might want to speak about. But it is important that you’re not just talking about it for the sake of it.
Talking is an amazing tool that you can use to help get past or overcome challenges but also just to get things off your chest.
However, if every few days you’re having conversations telling the same story about a situation that didn’t feel good, that’s just dwelling and it’s probably not going to benefit you in any way either.
It’s like that popular quote says:
Where attention goes energy flows
If you catch yourself telling the same stories over and over stop and ask, why?
It could be because you’re not over it and you still have strong emotions attached to whatever happened. If it’s something you want to get past, start with learning how to let go.
That’s what’s painted at the platforms edge.
I suppose now is the best time to add the disclaimer that this isn’t about jumping.
The message painted on the platforms edge can be used in conversations about the distance between where you are and where you want to be.
The gap is the space between the known and the unknown and I’ve recently found myself in it which is why I thought I’d write about it.
When you transform your life looking it creates space between you and your past self, sometimes to the point where it doesn’t even feel like you, it’s like a whole different person.
You’re now on the other side of the gap looking back.
It’s like when you’re going through a difficult period and can’t see how to make things better. Then weeks, months or years go by and all of a sudden you’re looking back thinking ‘oh, I actually did it!’. You went from hopeless to hopeful from ‘blah to ta-da!’.
But it’s rare that we see the change happening whilst we’re in the gap and it’s hard to see how to we can overcome it from the other side.
The gap is wide.
For anyone looking to change their life the gap may seem too wide. The space in between is full of trial and error, vulnerability, taking chances and commitment. You can’t get to other side unless you’re willing to go through those things.
So if you’re not willing, mind the gap.
On how life imitates being in water when you can’t swim.
Sometimes in all the flurry and commotion of being thrown into the deep end, you forget to check how deep it actually is.
If you stop panicking and give yourself a moment to stop, to take a deep breath and to place your feel firmly on the ground you might realise that the deep end is not that deep after all.
But sometimes it is ‘that deep’ which is why learning to swim is so important and if you haven’t learnt how to swim yet, the best thing you can do for now is to stay afloat.
…I promise you it’s not.
Challenges are a part of life. And as much as you get frustrated when things don’t go to plan there’s a part of you that enjoys the experience.
You might think you’ve encountered something you can’t overcome but that could be because you’ve never done it before not because you can’t do it.
So give it a try and know that the your world won’t fall apart if things don’t go to plan.
And the kind of exciting thing is that if one plan doesn’t work out you can create a new one.
Granted it’s not exciting in the moment but give it time and you’ll see.