Let Go And Change Your Life!
The first requisite of personal development has always been letting go of what other people think. That might be what other people think of you as a person or what other people think you should be doing or how you should behave. But in this world of ‘community’ and of ‘tribes’ people often wonder whether this isn’t a rather selfish attitude; should you not be putting your family first, the environment first or your society first?
As with many of the ideas that spring from the self-development world, like the Law of Attraction, the popular dilution seems to miss the important points.
And the most important point is that you can’t support other people as well if you are not strong in yourself, you can’t make the world a happier place if you’re not happy. Just like the safety instructions you receive as you take off for your holidays that, in the event of an accident, you should put your own oxygen mask on before helping your children put theirs on.
Many of us live lives of doing what is expected of us – go to school, get good grades, get a steady job, get a mortgage, have a family… I’m not suggesting there is anything intrinsically wrong with this ‘life plan’, it is just that it is not right for everyone and there seems to be pressure from society to get it all done by the time you’re about thirty leaving you another thirty to seventy years to continue on the treadmill. Is it any surprise to find that such a high proportion of people are either divorced or in a second marriage between the ages of 40 and 60? Or that so many people get to middle age and want to escape? It used to be considered a mid-life crisis but the reality is much more complex. Most of us get sucked into a system; as one client recently said to me, ‘I climbed the career ladder because that is what I thought I should be doing’.
If you ask a group of 6 year olds what they want to do, or be, when they grow up you’ll no doubt find that their dreams are not restricted; they’ll say they want to be an astronaut, a footballer, a vet, a pop star. It is highly unusual to find one that wants to work in a call centre or a factory. This is not just about being unrealistic, their goals are still Dream driven, Uplifting, Motivational and Bold – D.U.M.B goals. They don’t rely on what people tell them they are good at or what is sensible. By the time they leave school or university most have down-graded their hopes and dreams, but, have you ever watched a documentary and wondered how somebody makes a living studying sharks or testing theme park rides?
I work with many people who have got to their 40s and 50s (sometimes older) and want to change their lives completely. They have got stuck in a career that bores them, their marriage has got stale (or they’re already divorced) and they are wondering what happened to all the dreams they had as they embarked on the adult lives. Often they settled for ‘a job’ rather than taking the risk of following their passion or they met someone and put their dreams to one side to embark on a relationship.
I am no different here, so it is from experience that I can help people decide on their next step. And the first step is letting go of what other people think is right for you.
Most people you know, whether family of friends, have a vested interest in you staying the way you are. Think about it. They don’t want you to change because you might leave them behind, you might move away, you might start to move in different circles if your interests change, if you get divorced you won’t be able to do the ‘couples’ things with them anymore. You might even be happy and fulfilled and make them feel unsettled or envious and you may turn out to be someone they didn’t think you were (and even you forgot you were)!
Instead of jumping out of the life you have and free-falling (unless the rug has already been pulled from under you by things like redundancy or the loss of a partner – in which case you need to do this) try making an audit of your life so far:
- What jobs have you had and what did you like about them and what did you hate about them?
- What is good about your relationships and what is bad (and can the bad parts be put right)?
- What did you want to do with your life when you were younger?
- What do you regret not doing?
- What do you love to do in your spare time (or what did you when you had some spare time!)?
- If you were aimlessly surfing the net for a few hours, what would you be looking at?
- If you were given a year to live what would you want to do with it? Make a bucket list.
- What themes are there in the films you like to watch or the books you like to read?
- What is your natural balance of security and risk?
- If you imagined your perfect life, what would you be doing, where would you be living, what would your relationships be like and who would they be with?
What is fascinating about doing this is that most people find that they aren’t really that different than the person they were as a child or teenager, it is just that this person has got submerged under the expectations of society, family, friends etc. The difference is that now, as an adult, they don’t have to do what they are told – they can claim back responsibility and choose who they are and what they do.
I believe we each have a gift to bring to the world, something that is unique to each of us and we are much happier, more fulfilled people when we allow ourselves express that unique gift.
Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. Hermann Hesse