When life goes sideways, and you’re not sure what to do next, it’s human nature to turn to people you trust for advice. After all, they care about what happens to you, right? And they all have something to say! For the most part, they mean well. Their intent is to guide you in the ‘right’ direction. But have you noticed that you keep going from person to person, gathering advice, but not doing anything about it? In fact, some of them may have called you out on that already.
Maybe that’s because none of it feels quite right.
You have to remember that these people are just as human as you are, and are operating under their own system based on their experiences and their beliefs, and those might not be the same as yours. Not only that, those experiences are subject to interpretation, and that can change over time. What feels like a tragedy right now, you might look back on in five years and realize it was the turning point that propelled you into a better life! And those beliefs they live by may have been handed down by others, without ever having been examined.
Besides the advice we get directly from other people, there’s a lot of information that gets downloaded to us by the media/advertising/entertainment industries. How many of us get our ideas about what a relationship ‘should’ look like from those romantic movies? Or what success ‘should’ look like from TV? Or what we ‘should’ want from all those commercials? Or what we ‘should’ care about from the news. Or what talent looks like from all those competition shows? Oh, and then there’s your social media feed, where everybody posts the most awesome things going on in their lives!
So with all those competing voices in your head, it can be difficult to weed out what sounds like somebody else, and figure out what belongs to you. To do that, you’ll need to spend some time alone. Disengage from all those other sources, and spend some time tuning into your thoughts. Get out a notebook, and start writing down your thoughts on life, relationships, work, money, health, everything! I suggest doing this over the course of few days, because as you dig into this, other things will come up that you hadn’t realized were there. You will likely find some conflicting ideas as well. Write it all down. All those thoughts in your head about how things ‘should’ be. Putting it in list form can be especially useful.
Now, go back through that list, and think about where each of those ideas came from. When you hear that thought in your head, whose voice do you hear? Or what experience comes to mind? If it sounds like somebody else, where do you think that belief comes from? Based on your own experience, does it feel true for you? If those thoughts are based on a personal experience, think back on that. What happened? Where were you? How old were you? What belief did you form about it? If you formed this belief as a child, with a child’s understanding of the world, when you look back on it as an adult, do you see things differently?
With a fresh understanding of where your ideas about life came from, what do you consciously choose to hang onto, and what are you ready to let go? As you let go of those beliefs that no longer serve you, mentally thank the source of them, whether that be Grandpa, or Aunt Susie, or the neighbor across the street, or your childhood self, for trying to protect you. Keep only those beliefs that feel helpful and true for you. And see if you don’t have a much better idea about what to do next!
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