I had a lot of notions about what life should look like, about what I should achieve , have and be. I was always deliberate in having a master plan that would deliver on those notions, I did the courses, read the books, set up my vision board, visualised morning noon and evening, got my little ducks in a row and hey presto everything should have fallen into place.
Fortunately it did not.
I found myself in a marriage that was sucking the life out of me (no blame here I did invite and allowed everything that happened in my relationship ),working in an environment where the nicest person would have cut their mother's throat to get ahead, with never enough time or too tired to enjoy things ,and feeling like nothing was really stacking up.
So these past few years I have had to shed few skins. Not physically, although I probably should also do that.
I got rid of the "being successful by virtue of having a big job and making as much money as I can" skin.I have shed the "must be in a committed realtionship-with-kids-included by xx age" skin. I have burned the "I-shall-make-it-my-mission-to-save/fix" every man I should ever be attached to" skin and thrown in that bonfire the "I-deserve-love-only-when-I-am-perfects" skin for good measure too.
2020 helped me finish the job nicely by ridding me of the " must-fill-life-with-a-lot-of-stuff-never-to-feel-lonely/bored/experiencetoomanyfeelings" skin.
We know from studies on early childhood that the minute we enter the world, for example, we start absorbing how love and relationships are modelled for us by our parents. We taken onboard as ours beliefs that are only inherited through what we hear and see. As we grow then we graduate in the art of "the one-up show" that society, media and everything around us create.
Now the "one-up show",is not by any mean a technical definition but just my way to explain that slightly masochist game I played for a long time where the minute I reached a milestone in life, I immediately started thinking about the next piece of the puzzle or even more perversely I kept comparing myself to others and finding myself lacking. Because if you look hard enough you can always find someone who is one level up from you and nothing is ever enough. That is how end up living lives filled with needing more.
Bigger house, bigger car, more successful, more sociable, more beautiful, more money, more likes on instagram, more clothes and your imagination is the limit to what more you want to add.
It is a constant dance to stop comparing and to remain focused on what is really important to you.
Until a few years ago I would have derailed myself and wasted time and energy chasing after the unreachable "next" or comparing myself to the "better than me" out there. And you know the harsh truth is that there is always something next or more , or someone better, so when I think about it, in many ways I was setting myself up for failure.
When was I going to the savour the moment I was living in and enjoy it for all it was?
The FIRST STEP to shedding skins is to STOP, take the foot of the accelerator, put down the pen, close the laptop, be brave and turn off the phone and the wifi.
Take a deep deep breath, hold it and then let it all out. My good friend Catherine would also recommend a big stretch, it also never a bad idea to make yourself a cup of something as you might need it !
The fist WOW moment is going to come from a simple question : ARE YOU HAPPY RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW ?
If the answer is no, like it was for me, I suggest you take a moment to understand what could make you really happy right here right now.
As the Buddha said " Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
And I am sorry but winning the lotto, whilst it would make a hell of a difference in some ways , is nearly never the right answer to this question.
It took me a while to realise I was often chasing after what was next.
Have you ever though " oh but I will be happier when I get the promotion/when I am married/when I re-do the bathrooms/when I am pregnant/ when the kids are older"?
It took me a doctor to say that my amh levels were shockingly low and for my ex-husband to
admit he was not at all desperate to have a family and that he had married me because that was what I wanted. Believe it or not everything I was doing at the time served the purpose of laying the foundation for my fictional beautiful family to have a great future. And that fictional family was never going to exist at least not in the way I had grown attached imagining it.In hindsight that was probably the best and worst day of my life. It felt like the proverbial rug had been pulled from under my feet and to my horror my carefully curated life was falling apart and no I was not happy I felt like I was in a prison of my own making.
What ensued forced me to question and review what I wanted, what would make me really happy in the present and not chasing after a possible future. Today is our only certainty.
STEP TWO may require you to take a moment (it can be an hour/ a day/ a week) . Start off by reviewing you believes and values, check how they support your goals and how you are embodying those values and believes in every day life.
Be honest with yourself , list them and have the gut to scrap the things that are there just for show.
Keep asking yourself how are those values and beliefs going to make you happy now.
I realised that some of my values and beliefs where just a poorly digested hand-me-downs that I had picked up from my family or friends or from some of the people I had seen as mentors and inspirations over the years.I know for a couple of my values I had to actually sit down and figure out what they really meant to me in practice now compared to when I first adopted them.
For example success became one of my core values after I moved to Ireland when I was twenty. No one was going to sweep in and pay my bills or put food on the table so being successful and the financial benefits that came with it supported my need to have a stable economic situation.
Fast forward 20 years and my view of success totally changed, success now means doing a job that has meaning and that allows me to make somewhat of a difference in the world and that also leaves me enough time to enjoy my family and friends company.
By all means I am not advocating you forsake all your ambitions, just makes sure that you are choosing dreams that belong to you.
STEP 3 remember you are the designer of your life. It is up to you to create what you want and what you need.
Now you have chosen what to believe and what to value. You have decided where you want want to focus your energy.
So surround yourself with people that support your purpose and build you up.
Feed your mind and soul of the things that help you grow and stretch.
Make sure your values show up every day in what you do. It is too easy to say one of my values is honesty and then pick up the phone to gossip behind someone's back with a friend.
Find one person in your life that will hold you to task on your bullshit and not be afraid to do so.
Get up every morning and remember you have a choice to be whatever you want to be that day. Be it that you are happy, sad, purposeful, lazy remember you can always change it around.
You are the designer of your life.
Be good to yourself and be kind to the world!!