A movie is kind of like a summary. It only focuses on the key parts and skips or at least fast forwards the mundane bits.
6 months of hard work is displayed in 10 minutes split across the movie in various montages and short scenes. It looks much easier on the big screen.
In less than 2 hours the lead manages to fall in and out of love then back into it again. You find yourself wondering how on earth to even meet someone.
But what movies are great at is showing moments.
We all have those good bits in our lives, in among the chaos, stress and challenges.
And more often than not they’re even better than the movies because they’re real and they’re happening to you.
When was the last time you checked in with your dream life.
As in checked to see if you’re moving any closer to the things you want or say you want from life.
More importantly, do you know what you need to do in order to get there?
It could be learning a skill, saving money or building your confidence.
If you’re not making the effort to do what needs to be done then you can’t be disappointed when things don’t magically fall into place.
Something that I believe to be a dream life misconception is that things will happen by themselves. As though you’ll be going about your usual routine and someone will appear ready to change your life. Sure that’s what happened to Cinderella but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen to you too.
Or at least trying to be.
I remember being around 16 or 17 telling a classmate about my writing hobby and that I had thought of doing it as a career. At the time I was pretty lost with regard to career plans and my civil engineering dream was becoming less and less likely.
My classmate on the other hand was an excellent academic – who went on to study medicine.
He told me (in a roundabout way) that sometimes when you try to turn your hobby into your career it ruins it.
At the time I think I said something like yeah you’re right. But in my head I thought but I wanna be a writer and over half a decade later I still think that.
However, despite wanting to be a writer, I’m now 2 years into a career in transport. For the most part, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at and that has made me realise that more than wanting to be a writer what I really want is to write.
And I do write.
There’s a story I’ve heard countless times as a kid called we’re going on a bear hunt.
The story follows a family going on a bear hunt and on their way they encounter grass, water and mud etc. All followed by the famous lines:
We can’t go under it
We can’t go over it
Oh no we’ll have to go through it
I don’t remember how the story ended but I can’t help but feel as though the story was a metaphor for life.
And so the moral is that you can’t bypass stuff. You have to go through it to get past it, even when it’s difficult.
I’m starting to wonder whether struggle has to be apart of every ‘success story’.
There’s this thing about the struggle, going as close to the brink as possible but managing to find a way to make it. That story is celebrated it’s the ‘rags to riches’ story and one of the most well known examples is Cinderella.
Her mother died, her father married a woman with 2 daughters who all treated her poorly and then her father died but in the end she married a Prince!
But I sometimes wonder if life really has to be that way. Constantly hearing of peoples struggle on the road to success ingrains that narrative in our minds and makes us think that the struggles we face will lead us to greatness.
Like my life is super crappy now but in 10 years time whilst I’m counting my big bucks I’ll tell people about how I slept on my friends couch, had to sell my car and most of my possessions just to get by but look at me now.
I currently work an office based 9-5 and I’d like to think I can do more beyond that in my lifetime. But I don’t want a Cinderella type struggle and I don’t want my hard times to be the justification for any good stuff that comes my way.
What I’m realising though is that there’s a big difference between working hard and going through hard times.
So no, I don’t think the struggle is necessary in order to succeed but I can’t deny it adds some pizzazz to the how I got to where I am today story.
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.
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.
There’s a story many of us tell ourselves about what is risky. Often there is no real risk attached to the situation but the story comes from the part of the brain in charge of survival.
It’s like the siren goes off signalling a potential threat but it’s not much use when it happens in a situation like voicing your opinion in a group because you’re not going to die from saying what you think.
Being aware when the *survival brain* is signalling fictional risk gives you the opportunity to overcome situations where you feel anxious.
You might not believe it if you’re caught in feelings of anxiousness or you take your inner monologue as gospel but there are studies on it and for the least I can say it’s worked for me.
A little exercise that’ll be beneficial is to note down something that makes you anxious, the worst case outcome and how you can overcome that.
You might find that many of the worst case outcomes are you feeling bad and all you really have to do to overcome that is remind yourself that it’s okay and maybe try EFT to neutralise feelings of overwhelm.
I recently tried something new and the outcome was not what I had anticipated it would be.
In these kinds of situations our minds will start to tell stories of why we should stick with what we know and the dangers of exploring outside of that.
You might be in a mental space where you can get past that but if not I have a useful reminder.
The part of your brain that is telling you to stay safe and stick with what you know is coming from a place of survival mode. But you don’t need to apply a survival mode mentality to things like voicing your opinion, being rejected or having your first Unagi roll.
New things are good for us, they help us develop and expand which in turn allows us to get more out of this human experience.