Who else wants to get your life back?
We all feel like we are stuck in a rut and are not who we are supposed to be, at least at one point of our lives. We feel lost and without aim. Sometimes this can lead to an outright homemade pity party and before you know it you are in the midst of a (mid-) life crisis. Does not feel great at all, right?
Quite a while ago in the mid-nineties I woke up one night bathed in sweat, ashamed for who I had become. In the years leading up to this life altering event I had always wanted not to be like my dad. He had done things to our family with his head shrouded and clouded by alcoholism that probably did not seem too bad to him. Mom, sister and I were so severely impacted by it that we liberated the house and literally and figuratively had to divorce us from him.
When bitterness set in and I allowed my everyday thinking to ponder what my dad would have done, chosen, thought, etc. I no longer was Ralf. I did not want to do that so I chose to do the opposite of what I thought my dad would have done. Twisted, huh? Bottom line though is that I did not genuinely make any choices based on what Ralf wanted to do. More mind bending was that I had not seen my dad for over 6 years and he was not even living on the same continent. Something had to give and I wanted my life back.
Are you also somehow stuck in a similar situation where you have lost your way tin being your genuine self? It sets the stage to frustration, identity loss and ultimately perhaps even depression. Take comfort in the fact that this phenomenon happens more often and to a whole variety of people. I was able to get out of this funk and so can you. Please find below a recipe that you can ponder and I am confident that you can get the life back that you want to lead.
This is the most important step to getting better. Take a deep breath and stop what you are doing and reflect upon your situation. The phrase “Know thyself”, ascribed to Greek philosopher Socrates, holds the key to making the start to your journey finding out about your Why. Your Why is your life’s purpose and meaning. Make time for pondering this in depth. It is best done in absolute solitude and begins with asking yourself open ended questions. They should start with a W or H (why, what, when, where, how). Why is the most powerful interrogative of them all. Come up with a problem statement that describes your situation best, then ask why this happened, answer it. Repeat this four more times and you have arrived at your true root cause why you are where you are.
The next important time is making a choice. Is what you have found out in your reflection exercise enough to make a significant change? If not, then you are needlessly beating yourself up every day and all you have to do is relax and stop doing that – your mind sees a false ideal state. In the event that you see that change is needed, make that choice. Say it out loud and also write it down. It is an empowering feeling when you have realized something so significant. You need this sense of regaining power type feeling now more than any other time. Frustration, depression, anxiety, etc are all feelings that cause you to think you do not have power. Taking a step forward and making a self-sufficient choice is the antidote against that.
The power of forgiveness
I wrote about this topic before and it held the key for me regaining control over my life. Holding grudges and outright hatred for people that you think did you wrong will automatically lead away from making rational and ultimately sustainable decisions. These are such deep emotions taps into our ancient lizard brain that is supposed to protect us from harm when we feel threatened. Guess what, it makes at times horrific decisions when you are not threatened and you do not rein it in.
Instead actively forgive the person in question. This can be in person, but even if that cannot happen, make sure to do this on your own, in private and out loud. I sat at the corner of my bed, said a prayer and actively forgave my dad what he had done to our family. That does not mean that I will ever forget and neither should you. Key to a better you is that you no longer let your lizard brain make unsustainable purely emotional decisions for you.
The one who does not plan, plans to fail. This is another old adage, but it is true. Think about what gives you energy. What are you passionate about? Plan out how you intend to get there and when. Journal like crazy and reflect often upon what you wrote. Success and significance leave clues that you just need to follow. If you can see your vision come alive in the future others will too. The moment you have a deadline and a vision and a mission you will be on your way to rock this world.
Take your time
Do not rush yourself. Success and significance as well as wealth are attracted to the person you have become. Pushing this process along is inorganic and beset with many pitfalls. Naturally derived friendships and connections are of so much greater depth when you let them happen. Take little baby steps towards your goals. Prototype new ideas and concepts before you jump in too deep. Do take risks though; you do not want to live of regret because you did not try hard enough.
Seek community not solitude
Huh? Did I not start out saying that solitude is a good thing? Certainly, but when you have carried out all previous steps it is finally time to tell the world about it – even if you do not feel like it at all. Why? Because voicing your intentions, fears, concerns, joy, plans, etc to others is not only liberating. This also sets synchronicity in motion. What I mean be that is that the more people get to know what you are excited about, the greater the chance that at one time or another people will start to be nice to you and somehow favors will come your way. People who like you will want to help you – because you now appear to know what you are talking about and you are excited and focused on your goals. New people will start popping into your life. Grab the chance to connect with as many people on a genuine basis as you can. Give of yourself, freely. Give and you will receive, and that does not necessarily mean money.
Get a coach or mentor to help you
Oh what a powerful tool this is. Seek the help of someone that you admire or you feel has the expertise, experience or skill that you could benefit from. If you are not connected with that person now call her or him right away. Nothing to be afraid of. The worst that could happen is that the person says no to your invitation. Invite to a chat over coffee. Corner coffee shops work best. They do not pose too much of a time investment on both side and it is a public space that should make both of you feel comfortable. What you have to say or ask must provide some value though. Never ask favors! Ever. You can only ask for advice or an opinion. Listen well to what you hear. Act on it and do so right away.
Do not take yourself too seriously
Sometimes when we get too focused we take ourselves too seriously. A good thorough laugh at yourself will go a mile. Some people are naturally born this way and can make themselves and others laugh. You do not need to be born with this attribute though. Humor can be learned. Take a break and a breather and do this often. The best ideas come about when you are not actively looking for them. Just look around you and I bet you will find many ironic and funny people and circumstances that are just too funny. Then again, you stare the greatest comedian into the mirror everyday. Nothing beats a little self-depreciating humor.
No matter how bad or how lost you feel at the moment, there is plenty of help around. The greatest resource of them all resides within you. Tap into it, freely. The moment you make the decision that you want to do something about it is the start of your journey towards improvement. Ponder what you want your legacy to be and then plan it out. Pursue it with help of others that you know and then also people that you do not know yet. Mentors are easier to come by than you thought. Have fun sitting on that rock and have fun doing it.