We should always take a hard look at ourselves, and the lives we are living. This self-reflection should never be left until it is too late either. We mustn’t lose sight of ourselves through the distractions of work, child rearing, or anything else.
But if you do reach a point of unexpected or unplanned realisation. Follow this three-step plan:
- Notice it.
- Make good choices.
- Create your positive new direction.
Realisation can be a result of simply having time to think about our life point, an impactful self-development experience, or one of those life jolting episodes. Things like:
- Career or work dissatisfaction.
- Unhappiness in marriage or relationships.
- Health difficulties.
- A friend, close relative, or parent dies.
- ‘O’ birthdays.
- Becoming a grandparent.
- A sense of time running out.
- A feeling of being trapped or tempted.
Whatever, we need to recognise when realisation is happening. It is common for this process to take quite some time, and to be spread across a series of small incremental steps. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking they hit you at 100 miles an hour. They rarely do. They gradually creep up, until that tipping point when a jigsaw puzzle picture has been formed.
At this point, we need to make good choices. And some of us cannot and must not be trusted to do this on our own. Because our stress response could be triggered and we may freeze (get stuck in our lives), fight (create conflict and tension and prompt all sorts of drama) or flight (run away, leave, or avoid). You need to talk about it. To someone or some people who will be helpful. There are real risks – that we will choose to take up unhealthy habits, have an affair or two, leave the family, or seek out new thrills and spills.
A new positive direction needs to be based upon a number of sensible conditions. Yes, we can be sensible whilst seeking out new adventures. Trust me. First, acknowledge these feelings are natural and normal. You aren’t the first to feel this way. And second, feelings are not instructions. By that I mean, just because you feel trapped it doesn’t mean you should escape and run for the hills. Just because you feel time is running out, it doesn’t mean it is, and you should panic. Or just because you feel your relationship isn’t what you want, it doesn’t mean you should leave it.
Creating a new positive direction needs to be based on also identifying the things to be grateful for. Balance out the problems and feelings that are poking at your conscience. What are the good things that are also in your life? And keep talking about all of it. To friends and family, or to a professional counsellor. Goals need to be growth based and not deficit models. They need to be realistic too. These new choices need to be respectful and thankful to you and all those around you:
- Build, don’t raze your life to the ground.
- Extend your life, don’t abandon it.
- Remember that change is good.
- Calm down. There really is no need to be so dramatic.
There’s no need for a crisis. Reboot yourself instead.