'What happened to me ...?'
Kettle on, sunshine, this is a biggie.
Getting nostalgic over old photos can be great, but it can sometimes take us to uncomfortable places. Seeing ourselves younger, full of hope and expectation, can downright hurt if life has taken us down some challenging paths … and whose life hasn’t?
Many of us shelve our hopes and dreams to get by in the world. We may have to earn our crust in a toxic work environment that eats at our self-esteem; we may be expected constantly to put others first in our relationships; or find it difficult to connect; we may be in an abusive situation, where ignoring our own needs makes for a quieter life, if only temporarily. So we learn to cope, and adapt, and compromise. All of which are admirable, resilient qualities to have, but if this is the dominant pattern of our life then one day we may find ourselves wondering what happened. We might look in the mirror and see a flat, faded version of ourselves looking back … one which earns a wage, picks up the groceries, makes the dinner and schmoozes the bank manager … but one where joy, and curiosity, and playfulness, and a sense of adventure have all but drained away. We’re living a life of miserable familiarity ... of quiet desperation. It may even be that we’ve moved jobs, left bad relationships, but the mental patterns that got us by still dominate … they’re still trying to keep us going, keep us safe. We continue on in survive, not thrive mode (see my earlier post, Surviving ... or Thriving?). It can be a saddening realisation.
I’m guessing that if you’ve read this far, this may resonate for you … and your self-awareness is a powerful first step to changing things for the better! Thing is, if we set about getting to a better place by willpower alone, we more than likely won’t make it … willpower is situated in a part of the brain that tires easily, so we may hit the ground running, making positive changes, but when life doesn’t suddenly fall into place, we fall back into old unhelpful coping strategies … and feel worse than ever. So to stand a fighting chance, we need to get an indefatigable part of our brain on board … our emotions. If we are emotionally committed to change then we stand a much better chance of succeeding, even when there are barriers on the way. Having the support of a therapist can help … you’ll find a safe space to open up about how you’re feeling and explore better ways forward. In hypnotherapy, trance work will then access your subconscious to get your whole brain engaged in making those best hopes a reality. There are always things we can’t change in life … but you might be surprised at the ways forward your coping, adaptable, compromising brain finds to get you to a better place, given the chance!