As we walk along through life, we often choose the path of least resistance. It’s natural to seek out this course…well-worn, safe, but likely absent of the events that will help us grow. Every day we decide whether we move forward or back – a subtle tango with ourselves and our standards.
It is also natural to conflate the notion of growth with the idea of “more.” But growth can come through removal, by shedding the things that no longer serve us. As you continue to grow, consider what you can give up in order to gain. And you can start here.
Release the need to:
Fill every moment of the day with tasks – It’s easy to stay hyperconnected, or busy, or attached to worries that can fill the hours. What’s more difficult is to detach, allow for silence, and reflect. It is only in these moments that tiny adjustments gain clarity. Can you recall having your best ideas when bogged down by 10 things at once? Or when you were caught in an otherwise unremarkable moment?
Please everyone – Freedom comes in the realization that it is not your responsibility to make every person in the world offer approval of what you do. Some may love it, others could care less. Find the one audience that matters most to you (this can be yourself!), and work to hold yourself accountable to these eyes.
Judge – Yourself and others. There is no grand tally score floating above our heads for who’s ahead in the human race. The only thing gained by this sort of negative self-talk/ derisive talk towards others is a weak soapbox upon which you can stand for moment as you try to relish in another’s downfall. When that person picks themselves up and moves on, you’re left with no foundation.
Keep Up with the Joneses – Just because someone bought their first personal jet doesn’t mean it’s time to put one on your credit card too. We all have different definitions of what will make us happy. Check in and make sure that what your coveting is actually something that will fulfill you rather than something you feel you should have.
Be right – Oh, the big one. A voracious, stubborn ego is not half so endearing as one that can admit when a mistake was made. Save yourself the headache and forgive yourself and others for past blunders. Do this as often as needed.
Sorry that I have been upset with you recently. It was surprising when I looked up and realized that this season was already bidding its adieus. I’ve chastised you for being too slow, angered when you seemed to go too fast. You were relentless, tempered. I was one shade less than peaceful. Wishing for extra moments wasn’t providing any…because you, with inimitable sageness, knew there were already enough. Exactly enough of you to go around. No more, no less. Now I realized that I’ve been trying to change you, instead of just letting you…be. So thank you for your patience. Forgive my need to rush or to hold you back.
Looking forward This is a perfect moment – thanks for being here for it.
Change is hard. But stagnation makes life harder. When the riptide starts to tug at you, give into its pull. Though you may fear the shifting sands beneath you, staying still is no longer an option. You’re not underwater – you can keep your head above the waves. You may get shaken up, but you can find a safe harbor again.
Let go. There’s no use denying that change is happening if that’s exactly what’s going on. You do not have to like it at first, but embrace the transition without giving it a label of good or bad. They are such normative terms and do little but provide a black and white lens through which one can experience this new adjustment. If you approach it objectively – “X is happening in life right now” instead of “X is happening to me, I don’t deserve this, this is terrible” – you’re more likely to adapt with ease.
Come up for air. If you feel like you’re drowning (when there’s no water to be found), rise up out of the situation and breathe. Take an hour to sketch, listen to an old album, go for a run, or just sit in silence. Don’t berate yourself for this break. You’re allowed it. Life isn’t about rushing to the next step, it’s about living through each moment.
Use your voice. Whether its talking to a friend/family member/stranger or simply putting pen to paper, push negative thoughts through and out of your head. Allow old grudges and hangups to loosen their hold on the inner chambers of your mind where you’ve made comfortable homes for them. They have been taking up too much space altogether. Do some spring cleaning by voicing that which grieves you.
Make an accomplishment list . When things are new or different, it can be disorienting. We can get caught up in the thought-cycle of “I don’t have this yet,” “I’m so far behind,” etc. Instead of noting each and every thing that your life lacks, start tallying all that you’ve accomplished thus far and realize that your path is entirely unique. Instead of a to-do list at the top of the day, try a accomplishment-list at the end of the day. It can include everything that day that went right (got a 20 minute nap, no rain, read a fantastic article, spoke with a friend). Sometimes these things are more important than those which we lay out for ourselves on lists that we scurry to check off as quickly as possible.
Mind what you can. If the rest of the world seems to be swirling around you, take authority over that which you do have control. Clean your room, floss, fix those pants you tore a year ago. Even the littlest efforts will help to afford peace of mind. We often think we can control the outcome of a situation by worrying about it. But worrying is like praying for something you don’t want to happen to go ahead and happen. So shift ‘worry’ into ‘action,’ as small as it may be.