Unravelling a mess
A friend remarked to me the other day that they were never really prepared for winter. Well, the seasons do change and with that so does our experience in the world. It’s very often that we talk ourselves into a perpetual “now” and the bad “now” at that. We forget the good that happened maybe just a few days ago and we remember the bad stuff or we keep reminding ourselves that the good stuff is over.
Talking to my clients I am often surprised at just how simple it can be to talk oneself into a depressive state, if not depression itself, and then stay there. We ignore the fact that we’ve been here before and to some extent we’ll be here again – winter that is.
So, what can be done about it? Well, it’s been said that when it comes down to it we are made up of memories of all our experiences; the things we did, what we saw and what we learned. Add to this our dreams, goals and plans and salt it with today’s demands and our day-to-day life can be a real mess. The skill is in getting on top of it all and being your own master. It’s about control – but with a small “c”. By being in greater control the changes become far more manageable and the possibility of making better decisions more real.
To make a decision that you can trust you will need to put together a fun pattern in your mind that you can control - rather than your parents, boss, past relationship or anyone else controlling you. I believe that only you can decide to be a failure or be a success. Only you can decide to try and stay the same or influence the change around and within you to create success – success in whatever way has real meaning for you.
So what’s the skill?
Well, it’s all about patterns.
Take a few moments to think about your life journey, your complete history up to this moment. What picture comes in to your mind? If you have a strong feeling, a sensation about your life, then imagine that sensation as a picture. If you are telling yourself about your life then allow that voice to paint a picture for you. If those words coalesced into a shape or shapes, what would they be?
Is there a clear order to your memories or are they all in a jumble and all mixed up. Have a look at the following pictures and see which one looks or feels the most like you and your life so far.
1. A bit of a mess full of dead ends and with no clear direction or way of sorting it out? A bit like a knotted ball of string.
2. A future of things to do or want but with distractions and no way of deciding and no way of looking at the past?
3. A clear road, both past and future, that you have decided and will or want to travel?
All these ways of seeing time or your life journey are very common. In fact many people are in the first picture but actually inside it rather than looking at it from the outside. So it’s no surprise that they are unhappy. You have looked at your life and come up with this to sum up all that has been and will be……….
The first thing is: know that whatever your picture or feeling is - its OK.
However, I am going to assume that you’d like it to be better, to be different. Therefore, the next thing to do is begin a little change:
If you are more like picture 1 then here’s what to do. Identify where that picture is. It may be inside you (your head or body) or outside you – whatever, just go with it. Ask it to sort itself out into a single line. You may have to give a direct order here. To begin with, imagine that your past is behind you and your future is in front of you. Just let it happen. Notice how your sensations and feelings change when you try a different way of organising your view of your life. Only have a picture that gives you the most comfortable and relaxed sensations and feelings.
When you have done that you may feel more like picture 2. So, imagine turning around and looking back at your past. Notice the good and bad times and maybe take a wander down and look at the ‘you’ in the bad times. The most effective action is to identify where your life took a turn for the worst. Was it coming out, someone telling you that you’d always fail, maybe a death? Sometimes this can be way back in our past and sometimes just a few weeks ago. Also, people can have a traumatic event that changes their lives or they can come to a particular realisation and it’s this that makes the change, and the change sticks.
Knowing that you are here reading or hearing this article, it is today and you are OK, you can probably help the you back then by telling him/her that it’s OK. Show the ‘you’ in the past how they could do things differently and by doing so have a more positive experience. I would guess that there is a thought in your mind along the line of “If only someone had said x then I would have known what to do”. It’s time now to put that in to action. As you imagine putting that into action notice how it changes your picture and reaction to your life. A positive change felt in the now- i.e. today from changing an event in your past. Simple changes today will have an effect on your future.
There’s more to that of course but play around with it and see what happens. And doing that with your past means that you do the same with your future.
Are you always missing work deadlines, dates or forgetting arrangements?
Try this: imagine that your life journey is like picture 3. In your imagination you can travel into the future. See and feel how you want to be at that future time. If it’s a job interview or a “date” you can imagine being there and feeling confident and relaxed. You can feel whatever you need to, so that you get the most out of that future time. So when you get there it’s no big deal – it will be familiar.
What makes this work? It’s because you will have practiced being there. In one sense this future becomes a bit of your past and you have decided that it’s a success. So when you actually arrive there some of it has already happened – in your mind at least. And as you stand in this future time look back and see how your life changes itself, right back to today to make sure you get the future that you want. You can do this with anything that’s going to happen in the future and practice it in the now, today.
In this way you can have much more control over change in your life and it can be more what you want it to be.
Finally, as you look along your line to your future put some markers down for things that you want to remember – facts for a presentation, project dates or people you want to meet. Check in each day with your line and add to it the things that you want. The more you practice the more it will become second nature. Remember to add into your life the fact that Summer comes again.
Things do change and that with this kind of pattern you can remind yourself that although things come to an end you rehearse for the tough times and be ready for them and you can be relaxed enough to enjoy the good ones…..again and again….and again and again………………….