‘Life is perfect because it exists at this very moment’ Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.
One of the most incredible things I’ve come to realise about life is that everyday we have the power to make a new choice. Every day that we’re lucky enough to wake up and take a breath of that lovely cool morning air, we have the opportunity to decide for ourselves what we want our lives to be. It’s ok if sometimes we feel like life is a little out of control – we all have those crazy days from time to time when life can feel overwhelming and tricky to navigate. Some days the kids aren’t doing what you’d like them to do first thing in the morning, or maybe you’re stressed because your train is running late, it’s pouring rain and you’re now going to miss that important meeting – we’ve all been there. Often the choices we make are determined by our mindset at that particular point in time – if we’re feeling bad about ourselves, its easy to think that the muffin on the way to the train station is a good idea when other mornings you can easily by-pass it. The great news is that by working on your mindset, you can make better choices – choice is always within us to decide how we want to show up and how we will deal with the challenges that are presented to us – its up to us to make the best choices that we can each and every day.
I’ve just come back from two weeks in beautiful Byron Bay where I was able to spend time with some truly exceptional humans at the Exceptional Life Blueprint weekend. I was just about to write that I was ‘lucky enough’ to stay on an extra couple of weeks, but the fact is that I CHOSE to stay on for an extra couple of weeks to truly immerse myself in the Byron experience – hello dolphin and whale spotting every morning – seriously, this place is my idea of paradise!! You can read about what I took out of that weekend here. I have to confess when landing back in Melbourne on Wednesday night I was feeling a little torn – I had had a really beautiful time away and I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family again, but I was starting to feel that familiar sinking feeling that holidays were now over and its time to get back to ‘normal’ again.
What is ‘normal’ anyway?
Here’s the thing, there’s no such thing as ‘normal’. We dictate our version of normal based on our experiences and the people who we choose to associate ourselves with. One person’s idea of normal can be so very different to another, which isn’t to say that one persons view is wrong, just that the way we see the world is different. You might think its normal to drive an hour in traffic to get to work every day – I too would have considered this normal about 10 years ago, but these days normal for me is working from home. I personally couldn’t think of anything worse than commuting again, but I’m also realistic to realise that not everyone would like to be home everyday either. Going out on a limb and doing something different is scary – whether that be starting up a business that totally lights you up, or moving closer to where you work to avoid the commute – there’s pros and cons to everything, but what I truly believe is that by working on our mindset and asking ourselves a few questions everyday, then we can work out exactly what it is that we should be doing and we can take the best steps to get ourselves there.
For the first couple of days after Byron I dove back into my life – I attended events, I met up with someone I’d met at the ELB weekend who lives locally (definitely a massive perk of attending events like these in person – the people you meet), I caught up with old friends and also reconnected with some beautiful ladies at a women’s circle that I attend once a month. Those first 3 or 4 days back felt like Byron Bay – I was doing fun things, making connections (both new and old) and just generally enjoying life. Then on Sunday it hit – what did I REALLY want to be doing with my days? Was I brave enough to really commit to living my version of an exceptional life, or was I kidding myself to think that the experiences I had had in Byron were actually real and could happen everyday? A couple of things didn’t quite go my way that day and I have to admit that it threw me. I spent a good amount of time trying to escape the feeling that was rising within – those old fears are never too far from the surface, it seems. My initial reaction was to distract myself – perhaps getting out for a walk would help – surely being in nature would help soothe those feelings – nope! Ok, maybe some chocolate would do the trick to help numb those feelings – wrong again! The only thing for it was a piece of paper and a pen and getting real with myself.
Was I really good enough to follow my heart and stay the course I had chosen? What did I really want to achieve in my life? How do I want to serve and how can I make the biggest impact? Its so much easier to go back to old thinking – the thinking that has kept me playing a small game over the years – not wanting to rock the boat in case I stood out and people didn’t like the real me. As I journaled and considered these questions, I became so much clearer on what it is that I need. On Monday my coach called (he was calling about something entirely different, but it was perfect timing nonetheless) and we talked about the things I had agreed to in Byron – mostly living life as I saw fit, not the way in which I felt it was dictated by those around me. Again, he reminded me that I have that choice each and every day. By doing those two things – journalling and talking with my coach, I was able to shift my mindset to a more positive view.
The power of mindset
Mindset is such a powerful thing…cultivating a positive mindset can work wonders to bring the things you want into your life and I’m sure we’re all aware of the effects of a negative mindset too – how many times have you woken up and felt bad about yourself after looking in the mirror – yes, ladies, I’m talking to you! We all do it, but the difference is that some people have the knack to be able to quickly switch their thoughts back to a more positive state, whilst others will stay in that negative mindset for the rest of the day. We’ve all been there – we wake up and see a new grey hair, or maybe a new line has appeared and we think ‘stuff it, I’ll have that extra piece of cake today – I’m ugly anyway’. It’s really scary the ways that we talk to ourselves – we often say things to ourselves that we’d never say to our friends or other family members. Its something that we really need to be on the look out for. Every time you hear that little voice in your head tell you that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, enough whatever enough, pay attention. I don’t mean give in to it, just pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. The only way to be able to turn these thoughts around is to first acknowledge when they happen.
Is there a pattern? Do these thoughts pop up at a certain time of the day, or after a certain event? Once you can get clear on when they happen and you truly listen to them, then you can start to assess them. Whenever a nasty thought comes up for me, I ask myself 1 important question – ready for it…. I ask myself, is this real? Nearly every single time, I realise that its not real – its just my ego trying to protect me from harm. That’s what the ego is meant to do – its there to protect us, but in this day and age of so many possibilities, it can keep us trapped in fear. The trick to to catch it, examine it and check whether it is intact real for you. If it is real, then you have the chance to change something about yourself. If its not real, then gently let that thought go and wait for the next one to come along. Over time your thoughts will grow and improve. I don’t think you can ever be completely free of those negative thoughts, but the more you watch and examine them, the less power they have over you and the more your mindset turns positive.
Training my mindset to switch from negative to positive is definitely an ongoing process. I would say that my default setting is a negative one, which may come as a surprise to people around me. The thing is that I can be positive and encouraging for other people so much more than I can for myself. I would NEVER say any of the things I say to myself to anyone else, and I suspect that most people are like this. Its something that I’m committed to working on and over time I’m definitely noticing the time it takes to flip my mindset is definitely decreasing, which is definitely a good thing. I would absolutely encourage you to track your thoughts too – even write them down to get some great clarity on the things you say to yourself.
Life is perfect in every single moment
The truth is that life is perfect in every single moment. The present is all we have. The past is just an illusion as is the future since it hasn’t actually happened yet. By staying connected to the present, we get to experience all the juiciness of the world – the connections, the laughter and the fun. Life doesn’t seem so difficult when we’re in the present – we do what we need to do right now in order to be happy. We don’t worry about what has happened in the past – we recognise that we’ve grown since then, no matter what has happened before. I’ve definitely made mistakes in the past 20 years and whilst I wouldn’t take any of those decisions back because of the wonderful lessons they’ve brought me, I also recognise that I’m not the same person I was then – I have more knowledge and self awareness now, so chances are that I would make much better choices if I had the time again. That’s the thing about hindsight – its always 20/20, but what matters most is recognising our thoughts and judgements (about ourselves and others) and working to turn any negative thoughts around so that you can make the best choice possible.
I honestly believe that anything is possible these days – you can have whatever you want if you’re willing to step out and act upon that wish. Nothing comes to people who sit around and expect it – you have to take the leap to do something different. I never promised it would be easy, but I can promise that whatever happens, it will always be worth it!
What did you think of this post? I’d really love to hear below what you thought and how you plan to turn your negative thoughts around.