Does Your Life Feel Like an Adventure?
My friend and I spend time, as all mothers do, discussing our children and we recently ruminated on how, at the stage in their lives when they are striking out on their own, life seems like an adventure and how, at this stage in our lives as empty nesters, life seems, well less of an adventure.
Is This All There Is?
In our 20’s we set about seizing the things we think will make us happy. It is usually around the age of 35 to 50 that most adults take stock of themselves and their lives. By now we have experienced in one form or another, to some degree, the conditions common to being human; acceptance/rejection, fear/courage, gain/loss, success/failure, etc. There is really nothing new ‘out there’ to experience, just more variations on the same themes. We have achieved some degree of security by this point, but still have the sense that security is not permanent. Here we also begin to ponder our mortality, we are now midway between our birth and our death. Which makes us consider the ultimate question, is this all there is? This pondering, I believe, is built into our individual evolution. It is a guaranteed query dropped in every one’s life at some point and even at many points.
How Do We Make Our Lives the Adventure It Used to Be?
There are many ways, tried and true and some yet to be invented, I’m sure, to go about making life feel like more of an adventure once we’ve been around a bit. I’ve whittled it down to the most general three:
1) Make sudden shifts in your outside world.
2) Work hard to hang onto current lifestyle and modes of thinking and feeling, refusing to ponder the existential questions.
3) Go within.
A Life of Adventure Requires Courage
We will be expending energy doing any variation/combination of the above mentioned. The energy invested will have different payoffs. It takes courage to go within and admit who we really are and what we really want. It takes courage to acquire a new perspective. It takes courage to be our real selves.
Mid-life can be a crisis or a gift.
Mid-life, like your kids leaving home, sudden job loss, divorce or death of a loved one can be seen as opportunities for change and growth disguised as catalytic events. These events define us as either defeated or resilient. They can be a crisis of personal security or a gift of change.
Some people (not many) are capable of making large mindset and behavior changes all on their own. Most, however, myself included, require some kind of structure and definitely support.
Are you in it? I’d love to hear about it.
Need suggestions or support? firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the latest addition to my Life Coaching Practice – my Big Red Circle Chair! I'm obsessed with circle chairs. I have TWO now!
My motivation for becoming a Life Coach was because of my painful and difficult experience sorting out what was right for me. At one point I was so lost, so confused, so up-side-down because I was listening to so much outside ‘advice’ and had lost access to my inner guidance and knowing. Many people over a long period of time helped me find my way back, but none more than Martha Beck Life Coaching. I now want to be a resource for anyone who feels that lostness/confusion/out of touchness and help shorten the journey back to self.
Maybe things are great for you, that’s awesome, we can talk about how to make your life even better. Maybe there are a one or two areas of your life where you just need help untangling thoughts, feelings and emotions in order to get a clear direction. Maybe you, like me, are lost in a sea of good advice and are currently stuck. I would love to be of assistance. I invite you to come sit in my Big Red Circle Chair.
Subscribers to my blog - see over there to the right "Subscribe Below!" get access to occasional goodies and right now, for a limited time, a discount on a vist to my Big Red Circle Chair. (please allow technology time to deliver :)
Not in the geographical area of My Big Red Circle Chair? No problem we’ll do it virtually, by phone or Skype.
I spent so much of my life waiting to be happy. I held the common mantra of “I’ll be happy when…” I get married, have children, land the dream job, lose weight, feel better, etc.…. I firmly believed that what I wanted was outside of myself and I just had to work hard and be a good person (there are a bazillion definitions for this, fyi) and then I would magically get and become what I wanted, then I would be happy. I accomplished all of these things and my happiness never arrived.
Most of the stress and drama in our lives involves believing the relentless media streaming that we don’t have enough, what we have can be taken from us and that our value is outside of ourselves and others need to provide it. We stay in our resigned or even resentful states of being because we believe that we cannot feel safe unless the government does something or our circumstances improve. We can’t feel secure until we have x number of dollars in savings. We can’t be happy until so and so loves us, our mother validates of us, our children are healthy and happy, our boss recognizes our achievement. Or a big one; because someone else is suffering. In short we don’t live fully until we see the evidence. But the kicker is, often we won’t see the evidence until we live fully.
I hear constantly that being told to ‘love yourself’ and ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ and ‘don’t worry, be happy’ are just too vague. And even a practice of gratitude doesn’t work for some. The key to feeling happy now is to actually feel how having your wants/desires realized would feel. What if you believed you were safe and that nothing could be taken from you? What if you had all the money in the bank? What if your mother really loved you? What if you got the promotion, the award, the raise? Can you feel it? It’s not the ‘thing’ you want, it’s the feeling. And, how is not feeling this way working for you, so far?
The next part is to act from those feelings. What does the you that has what you want wear? What does she eat? Who does she hang with? How does she spend her time? How does she fully live? How does she fully show up as her secure, assured, validated self? Your feelings absolutely dictate your actions.
We don’t have to make big changes or strive for big achievements to feel happy. We don’t have to work hard, fix, undo; get rid of the relationships, change jobs, move or run a marathon (unless that makes you really happy!) because you and your unhappiness just go with you. The happiness you want is still ‘out there.’ Once the shift to feeling what happy feels like takes place, the outside environment shifts by itself subtly; People that used to irritate, seem nicer and even better looking. The job suddenly feels enjoyable. You appreciate that your mother sacrificed for your survival, if not for your happiness. To bigger shifts; The promotion you wanted goes to someone else, but an opportunity more to your liking opens up. The relationship dissolves on its own. You lose weight because you’re out living as your happy, validated self.
There are thousands of stories of people who have gone to incredible lengths to realize their dreams only to wake up with the same sense of emptiness and unhappiness that they had before they started their journey or people who have lost everything but started over and are grateful that the experience taught them what made them truly happy. Life is short. Feel happy now.
Are You Stuck?
Is there something you are working toward or a change you want to make and it just isn’t happening?
Most people, and me, become stuck at some point or another because we want to achieve something, but old programming, past failures and fear are keeping us from the desire or goal. When this happens we have choices; 1) Give up the goal and learn to be content. 2) Pick a different focus 3) Wait to be rescued. 4) Face what is holding you back.
Here’s the quick and dirty; 1, 2 and 3 are not going to work. These are delay and stalling tactics. Choosing these options just keep your wheels spinning. You may feel like you are getting some traction, or relieved when someone bails you out, but you won’t get far before you wind up stuck again, because….
The desire you have is the precise force that will drive you to overcome your challenge. It will nag, itch, burn, return and keep getting you stuck until something internal changes. The reason you want what you want is so that you have to work for it. The working for it is how you grow and develop into who you want to be. To use a metaphor—you lift heavy weights at the gym to become strong and toned. The weights are the means to your desired end. The challenge you must face to get what you want is the means to the end which is a more realized you.
So what exactly is holding you back and how do you get around it? First, you must ask yourself the tough questions; What am I avoiding? What is making me afraid? What is the thing I must do, that I don’t want to do, in order to get what I want? What has to change in order for me to move forward? Once you face what’s blocking you, then you must do what Martha Beck says; let it kill you. That’s right, doing the very thing that you’re afraid to do may feel a bit like death and in fact it is a death. Whatever you are holding on to must be let go and that part of you, the fear, the ‘little’ you, must die.
Think back. There was a previous challenge in your life and you faced it. Remember how afterward you were so relieved and maybe even laughed a little that you took so long to do it and how great it felt on the other side? And, you realized it made you better, stronger, faster, etc.
Have the conversation. Sign up for the work. Face the consequences. Ask for help. Make the leap. Part of you will die. The reward is not only the achievement of your desire but the expansion, the resurrection of your empowered self.
I’ve mentioned that things have been intense for me recently. And whenever anything is intense, I know from experience, that there is something for me to learn, otherwise, it wouldn’t feel intense! This time, while processing and being confronted with new insights about myself – because that’s what close relationships help me do, I bumped smack up against shame.
I recently ‘caught’ my shame – actual words behind my thinking, saying, “you idiot, you should have known better, you can’t admit that this is what you’ve been doing and thinking!” And, “You are NOT good at this, why do you keep doing it?” This voice is soooo subtle, but holy smokes it is powerful. I have obeyed it and have stayed small because of it. But even more disastrous is that I have let it affect my connections to myself and to those I love. That is the root problem with shame.
Brene Brown expertly talks about this in her book “Daring Greatly,” which I highly recommend. Reading about shame as theory and working through shame as reality, however, are very different things. In light of my recent confrontation with shame I have reviewed many conversations I have had and inside each of those conversations, my friends have expressed not only the difficulties they are facing, but each and every one of them cited that they felt shame on some level for having these difficulties.
Neuroscience and technology have proven that intense emotions have a physical component. Shame, as one example, is literally painful. The only cure, or way to overcome shame is to be vulnerable. And vulnerability is completely tied into our survival mechanism. Anything that is potentially dangerous, and that’s what vulnerability feels like – there is a possibility that we will be harmed in some way if we expose ourselves, and because rejection is right up there as a painful emotional/physical sensation, we tend to avoid vulnerability.
The choice I need to make? Stay disconnected, small and ‘safe’ OR admit/confess/confront/persist, risking vulnerability and experience connection, forgiveness and possibly expansion. Sounds simple….
I and most of the people I know have been slogging through some pretty intense S*#t! It (the stuff!) has been relentless. I don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed like this, my ability to care diminishes drastically. My friend Rhett Butler sums it up; “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn." And noticeably missing? Laughter and Inspiration. My well is beyond dry. I am ready to vacate, pronto.
The point of a vacation is to ‘vacate,’ to leave or abandon your regular routine. Do things differently, be exposed to new experiences. Yes, even our children can benefit from an irregular schedule. Learning to adjust and re-center is an important skill because, well, life demands it of all of us.
The Benefits of Abandoning Routine:
Circulate New Energy. Eating new foods, awaking and sleeping at different times; seeing and experiencing new places and even wearing different clothes all serve to move stagnant energy in our bodies, minds and spirits.
Consider Possibilities. Once out of our regular behaviour patterns, humans naturally become more observant. Seeing other cultures or even different neighbourhoods offers up other ways of doing regular human stuff, like fashion, food and even acceptable/not acceptable behaviour. I am always fascinated to think that the structures I believe make me civilized here, in my western culture can be considered vulgar or distasteful elsewhere in the world. When out and about, if there’s anything that sparks your curiosity, consider that it may be something you can add to or a way to adjust your way of being.
Eureka’s. Again, when we are out of our habitual behaviour mode, our brain goes to work to make connections where there weren’t any before using the newly introduced external environmental stimuli. Random problems you’ve been previously unable to solve may miraculously get that resolution. A bona fide ‘light bulb moment’ is a very real possibility when your brain gets distracted by new things. Along the same lines, creativity in general is activated when your brain is exposed to new sights, sounds and sensations. How can you use what you are experiencing to create something in your life?
Rest and Renew. I truly agree with the adage ‘a change is as good as a rest.’ Breaking from the usual has a natural restorative element. We usually give ourselves permission to rest more, relax and not worry so much—all great things for our general health—when we are away from home. However, do try not to pack so much activity into your vacation that you return more tired than when you left.
I will be vacating in the next few days and be gone for a bit. I hope to return restored. A recovered desire to care, my sense of humour and some great ideas would be nice too.
I don’t really need an excuse to take a vacation, I am full on aware of the benefits of abandoning set routines and trying new things, but if you need permission for a well-deserved break, remember, you can always call me, I hand out official permission slips!
These last few weeks (has it only been weeks?!) have been intense for me. Has anyone else been feeling that things are intense lately?
Intensity: great energy, strength, concentration, vehemence, etc., as of activity, thought, or feeling.
There has certainly been much concentrated activity, thought and feeling going on around me. I’ve spent time with groups of people and have been to several different places—put on quite a few miles, experiencing much activity. I have been out of my routine and comfort zone 24/7 for close to 3 weeks. There are now less people around and I’m back in my space, and the activity, although not yet finished, is slowing down.
I am used to having a lot of space in my life, physical, emotional, relational. I am an introvert that needs quiet and alone time. I like most people one at a time. I tried really hard to convince myself that I could handle a bunch of togetherness and activity. I used to beat myself up about not liking it when it happened. But, I gave that up and have accepted that, no I’m not really that great with a crowd and I’m o.k. with that.
This concentrated intensity over these last weeks has certainly made clearer for me the benefit of my self-awareness and self-care practices as well as showing me how far I’ve come. In the past I would have shut down, melted down or completely numbed out. And, admittedly I did all of these things at certain points, but this time around I was aware of when I was doing them. I took steps to manage my own self and my needs based on accepting how I am.
I took lots of breaks. I was vigilant about my meditation (I got up early/stayed up late to do it and sometimes inserted it into available moments). This helped me to see the ‘stories’ I was telling myself about where I was and what was happening. Some of them were quite hilarious. My loving, insightful inner voice at one point said to me; "Stop being so serious! Look around, no one cares!" I stood up for myself when I wasn’t ‘feeling’ it. In the past I would just go along and resent it.
This time I realized how often I default to resistance. In most situations when I’m not in my comfort zone, I tend to believe I should be somewhere else, doing something else. This caused me to suffer. When the gatherings and activities felt intense and I could catch myself resisting, I would practice being present with my whole self. I wasn’t always successful, but when I remembered to stay in my body and be where I was, things were much more pleasant for me.
I see all around me that life is intense for most of us. I’m not sure it will be less intense any time soon. This round of intensity helped me to see how my self-awareness and self-care routines matter. It is during intense times that I can see the pay off. There, of course, is room for improvement. There are things in all areas of my self-care that I can adjust or clean up. Not so that I can self-improve, but so that I continue to expand. Thank you, intensity.
Are you aware that so much of what you want, even desperately, isn’t even your idea?
We are so bombarded with advertisement telling us how inadequate we are and what would make us happy that we have lost touch with our real heart’s longings and our individual life’s purpose.
Is it any coincidence that there is a continual rise in cases of anxiety, depression, psychic disorders - all related to feelings ranging from inadequacy to total despair? The always striving never arriving, because there’s always something more you could be, do or have is exhausting and eventually soul crushing.
So how does one determine true desire and purpose? The objects that you yearn for, not just once or twice, but the ones that you continually mention in conversation, the ones that are pictures on your vision board or on the list of your self improvement strategies, are clues.
Meet Joe. Imagine you are Joe. Joe wants a supermodel girlfriend. You maybe want a million dollars. An important job title. A baby. A body like a supermodel. Joe dates very intelligent, interesting, attractive women, but they are not supermodels. He doesn’t allow himself to have meaningful relationships because the women are not measuring up to the standard in his fantasy. You may have constant feelings of longing and discouragement because there seems to be an unbridgeable gap between where you are and the object of your desire. When Joes is asked to do an imagining exercise—imagine a supermodel walks into his life right now. Are you ready to have a relationship with her? Is your life set up to have her in it? Joe discovers some interesting things.
See yourself having or being your desire. What does it feel like, in your body? What does it mean that you have this object/achievement? Who is the person having the experience? What are the responsibilities that having and maintaining this object of your desire entails?
When Joe sees himself dating a supermodel, he feels special, important—like his worth has improved. When asked, ‘What does it mean to have this type of girlfriend?’ Joe feels it means he deserves admiration, respect, envy. It would mean that he’d ‘made it.’
Joe admits he feels inadequate, unworthy, that he doesn’t feel as important as he wants to feel. He also sees that a supermodel girlfriend can not make that a reality for him, that these are things that he needs to cultivate in himself. Joe also admits that he probably does not have the energy to keep up with the expectations and needs of a life with a super model. What about you? Is your right-now self prepared to be/have what you desire?
It is not the outward ‘symbols’ that give us status or the worth, it is what we believe about ourselves that determines how we show up in the world. The objects of your desires are very important clues as to what your real self is truly pursuing. They are ‘representations’ of how you want to feel and who you desire to be.
I surrender. I admit and acknowledge that my dreams are not coming true. I’ve been frustrated and angry with God/The Universe/Divine because my prayers and efforts have not produced my intentions.
Did you catch that? MY intentions. Once again I find myself physically, mentally, emotionally tired because I’ve worn myself out trying to conger my dreams. Only to realize that my dreams were totally founded on what I thought I should want and those thoughts and shoulds were totally based in fear.
Because I was so stubbornly focused on what my dreams should look like and on the fact that they are nowhere in sight – not even on the distant horizon, I concluded that the Universe was punishing me by not delivering what I was demanding.
The Universe is not ignoring me. It wasn’t even getting my calls! My emails were never delivered. There is no receiver for the signals I was sending. Now that I see (again!) the error of my ways, I am recommitted to learning and practicing the language of the Universe/Divine/God. The ancient connection is waking up and messages are once again flowing, being both sent and received.
I’ve let go of the grand picture of my destination, which I thought was necessary. I now listen first. I wait for small, gentle, often very quiet urges, knowings and wonderings that I’m beginning to recognize as crumbs on the trail that is my path. Along this very faint trail are tiny surprises and delights that keep me entranced, curious enough to get up each day and pick up the trail. This is tough going for me. I love to have a pretty, shining goal/accomplishment to run hard at until I triumphantly claim it (pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, anyone?) This watching, waiting and moving in fits and starts is honing my patience, which is NOT one of my ‘goals!’ I don’t have a clear picture of where I’m going. I can’t see very far ahead on my path. Some days the path is clearer than others. Some days I lose the trail altogether. But, like I said, there have been delights—winks and nods—from the Universe each and every day. I’m being trained (the Universe is so clever!) to be present in each moment, so that I don’t miss my daily surprise. I sometimes don’t recognize it until after the fact, but, hey.
Some moments, hours and even days are terrifying. The ever present fear voice(s) get quite loud and I easily slip back into thinking, acting, believing in my habitual manner. It ‘feels' secure because it’s what I’m used to. I use the tools and practices I preach to you over and over. They really, really work! As in, they give me valuable insight and information and true connection to guidance from God/Universe/Love. Those tiny crumbs I mentioned. And, I lean heavily on ‘my people.’ The ones who’ve experienced this and are rocking it, and the ones who are in it too! (LOVE you guys!!) Eventually my new thoughts, actions and beliefs will ‘feel’ normal and safe.
Maybe you too are experiencing the dying of a fear-based wish, dream or vision and are also searching for the crumbs on a trail you didn’t know you signed up for? Trust that the Universe is communicating with you. Its language is peace. Its voice can only be heard in resting, in observing and in alignment with love. And sometimes, indeed, most times it will not give you the full picture because it wants to delight you daily, along the way.
Release the objects of your desire. They are a dime-store representation of the masterpieces you actually deserve!
P.S. Our fear-based desires are clues! I'll explain. Stay tuned.