Do you feel as if your life is drifting or even going nowhere? This article came out of a passing remark in a conversation that I had with a Mum at ballet. She turned to me and said do you help people who are lost? It made me reflect on the reasons people feel lost and from there I came up with these four reasons. Take a look and see what rings true for you.
Busyitis – too busy to stop and smell the flowers
Are you one of those people that write to do lists each day and tick them off? How many actions do you pack into your day? How much space is there in your day? Keeping yourself busy with no time for being leads to an over reliance on the doing mode. On the positive side, we learn through repetition: it enables us to progress. Repetition is essential in getting a solid foundation in mathematics.
Think about it. If you are parent with children in primary school like me, you are probably cursing current education policy because it frowns on rote learning. Rote learning is essential in terms of mastering timetables. Without it, parents have to spend much more time working on this critical element with their children.
That said, you could end up over-relying on your memory. How often do you find yourself on autopilot when you drive a regular route or when doing a routine task? The more you do that, the less awareness you have of your life and the concept of conscious choice probably sounds foreign. It is this habitual way of being that can cause you to feel lost or at least disorientated in life.
It is only when you take time out and reflect (go into being mode) that you become aware of your intentions and choices. The more mindful you are, the more you are bringing your intentions and actions back into alignment. Try checking in with yourself a couple of times and day, survey your interior landscape and see what you discover.
When life seems difficult or overwhelming, your survival instincts kick in and you examine everything that’s in your life and start to remove parts that are not essential.
In January many people in the UK who are self-employed are doing their tax return. If that’s you, you will be aware that the deadline is 31 January and as it looms closer, you strip out of your day to day anything that is not on the path to getting your tax return done. If this is just for a week or two until you submit, then there is no lasting damage.
If this becomes a regular habit that kicks in look at what happens. Under stress, people tend to review what is in their life and decide what things they must do and focus on them. For you it might mean your job becomes your top priority; if you are a stay at home parent, it could be your partner and/ or your children and their lives.
You will justify cutting out anything else by considering it to be surplus to your main focus. The argument is that it will give you more time to focus on what you have to do. Look at what happens to your emotional state when you adopt this perspective. Life tends to become more joyless.
Visually it is like seeing your emotional state as a series of ever decreasing circles. This is because the parts of your life that you have removed are generally the life giving elements. So you narrow your focus, life becomes grey and instead of becoming more productive, you become less efficient. The extent to which you will feel all of this depends on how far you go down the spiral.
You are not your stuff
Yes there is a role for the doing mind. If you are planning a route, you need to hold in your mind where you are going. In such an example, it makes sense to see your thoughts as true.
However under stress, the mind can cease to be a servant and can become your master. It can be harsh and unforgiving. As you spirits get lower, you may tell yourself that you are weak or useless and you may tell yourself I should be able to deal with this.
Mindfulness shows you that your thoughts are just your thoughts: they are not you. When you recognise this, you become free from this pseudo reality you have conjured up. Then you can see a clear path through life again.
Resistance vs embracing
I have started doing some learning recently myself and in the most recent set of audios, we were asked to play the feelings game. We were asked to induce states of sadness, anger and fear. Initially I thought the instructor was mad. Who in their right minds wants to go to those places? Feelings are just one of the muscles that you have. If you strengthen it by playing with the messy, difficult feelings then when you find yourself in a dark, stressful place, you will be more skilled at staying centred throughout the experience. This is called accepting and even embracing what is and only happens, as you get deeper into your mindfulness practice.
Here’s what happens more often. Imagine you are a business owner who really wants more clients; in your attempts to stop feeling this way your mind will also take you to places you don’t want to go to such as desperation and failure. So this increases the sense of overwhelm because you start creating new fears, which in turn increases your level of anxiety and leads to a greater level of panic.
In other words in a being mode, you can start to acknowledge how you feel and turn towards those feelings and accept them. This is much more compassionate and if adopted regularly this approach will enable you to dissipate the power of your feelings.
I would love to know what this article brings up for you so do comment below. If you have learnt something please do share it with others.
Kate Griffiths works with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives. Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining what the new ways of doing business look like. She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation. Contact her to attend the next one on 14 February. She also teaches mindfulness so if you want to get your week off to a great start, book a place on her next four week course starting on 3 February. If you prefer, get in touch with Kate to set up an initial consultation to explore working one to one with her.