Have you ever felt yourself get stuck into thoughts about ‘what if I had what they have’?
I used to get quite down on myself for not doing everything. I wanted to be the super cool girl at school, get the high grades, be great at sports, work part time, be funny, have great, deep, open relationships with my parents and siblings and know exactly what I wanted in life.
So my tactic was to just keep doing everything. I’d take on more and more and more responsibilities and get agitated if my mother ever used the words “you’re doing too much”.
The thing is I was really actually caught up on my perception of how everyone else might be living their lives. Partly I just didn’t want to miss out. I wanted to have all the experiences. And partly, or more truthfully, I was desperate to belong.
This pattern continued to play out for me during school, university, and even into my first career job after graduating. I had strong opinions about lots of things in life, so I probably didn’t see what I was doing as particularly non-individualistic, or inauthentic. If you’d pointed my attention to it at the time it would have felt like I was doing things for me. I felt strong, sturdy, confident and in control. But, I was on shaky ground.
You see most of what I was doing was seeking the approval of others. If they commented or supported the activities I engaged in, I felt valued. I felt connected. I thought, hey if I keep doing this they’ll keep liking me. Which also meant I was often feeling like I was getting stretched in multiple directions. At the same time I’d look at other people’s lives and assume so much of what was going on for them. I think why can’t I be like that? Have that job? Travel in that way? Save in that way? Anything in that way? I thought that if I could just be like them life would feel great. Like I’d achieved the ultimate of all achievements. Yet the closer I got to ‘that way’ in any aspect of my life, the more ‘that way’ seemed to shift and alter and reshape.
To jump forward rapidly, and in the wonderful value of hindsight, I recognise now that I started to probe myself with more nuanced questions over time. I started to ask whether it was what I really wanted, or what were the bits that really made me feel amazing. I’d wince every time I had to say no to someone, for fear of being ‘left out’. And yet when I moved in the direction of those things that really meant something to me, that felt more authentic, that really represented where I was at in that moment, I also felt more alive than ever. A fine fine balance indeed. One that took many more years to recognise and tune into, to find my ground. To keep my feet planted firmly in ME territory.
I guess you might want to know what some of the lessons are I’ve learnt along the way? Like how is it that I can keep grounded (or at least know where to come back to)? Here’s a few off the top of my head right now, although I’m sure there’s plenty more. Comparison analysis is something that has been soooo heavy for me at times in my life. It’s been the reason I’ve stayed stuck, got bogged down, overwhelmed and disconnected. Instead of choosing life, love, and joyful connection with myself.
- The only thing in our control, is, well, US.e. We cannot control other people’s thoughts or reactions to anything but we can choose our own response. Which in turn will alter the outcome of that situation for us.
- Chasing other people’s dreams, even if you meet them, doesn’t keep you completely lit up in the long run. And actually it could leave you even more lost and burnt out. Why not just chase your own dreams instead?
- There’s going to be an element of emotion, even if you’re in logical brain analytical mode. First and foremost us humans are emotional beings and triggered on feelings first (even if it happens in a split second or sub consciously). Which means learning what they are for you, getting to know your own personal emotions and the ways you want to feel on a consistent basis is critical. It’s about starting to build and shape your own personal compass to keep coming back to you.
Sprinkle some insights on a loved one today, click share below! This could be just what they need to get unstuck.