Imagine for a moment, a large picture on your living room wall. In this picture is the reflection of your life story, the story that evolved you to be who you are today. The story that will grow you to be the person you are in 5, 10, 20 years’ time. What does this picture look like? Does it have a meandering path which flows peacefully through the trees, a few potholes on the way, a few side paths which lead to nowhere. Or perhaps a steep cliff face, baron and lonely.
If you are able to pinpoint where you are today, which part of the picture is this? Perhaps you see yourself sitting in a chair from your home, looking up at a mountain you feel you are required to climb. Or perhaps it is the cliff face, off which you are hanging by one arm?
What if I ask you to take a moment to step back from your picture? Now take a different view, a different perspective of what your picture looks like. Refocus a little, its easy to produce a blurry image if we are not focusing correctly. Now, tell me what do you see? Has the mountain become a hill that’s not such a climb? Or perhaps you are standing much closer to the top of the hill than you realized, and you can feel the sun beaming down, warming your soul. Or maybe, perhaps you really are hanging off that cliff face?
My intention here is not to discredit the difficult roads you travel, for those are very real. I know that sometimes we do underestimate how difficult that road may be when we are stuck right in the middle of it. However, there are also times when we have the ability to exaggerate how difficult things may seem in our own mind, when we are stuck in the middle of overwhelm or indulged in self-pity. What I do want to explore, is what happens when we have the ability to adjust the way we look at our current situation, not from the middle of it, but from the outside. Change your perspective by becoming the observer.
Recently I was with a client who was stuck in her overwhelm. In this space, all she could see was what she hadn’t achieved. In the middle of her outburst, I asked her to ‘stop’. When she settled, I asked her to be silent for a few moments, to allow the thoughts in her head to float away. I watched her in her physical silence. I observed as the thoughts floated from her mind and her face began to relax. She was resetting and refocusing. After only a few minutes, I interrupted her silence and brought her back to the now, as she once again refocused. She smiled at me, but only slightly. “Look at the list of what you have achieved this week” I asked her. Her shoulders dropped from her ears as she peered into her diary. But peering into her diary was only a gesture. She now already had the understanding that what she had accomplished that week was a celebration. “You are achieving your goal”.
“Yes” she said, her smile now beaming.
In a space of overwhelm, she had an expectation that her achievements would look a certain way. But once she refocused and let go of her expectations, she found that she wasn’t in the middle of a mine field after all.
Not long after this session with my client, I had a similar epiphany myself. My mantra is to ‘release all expectations’, this includes letting go of what we expect something to look like. In my mind, I was working toward my goal, and (breaking my own rule) what I expected it to look like. On this particular day, I stopped to look around me as I traveled my path, and what I saw surprised me.
Although my path still lays ahead of me, (to be honest I would be concerned if it didn’t) what surrounds me is the lifestyle I have desired for some time. I now understand that I had an expectation of what my goal looked like. I was so caught up in looking at that part of the picture that I didn’t see the beauty around me. With the support of my (extraordinary) husband, I have indeed achieved much more toward my goal than I had originally understood. I am living the lifestyle I desire and making the most of the now. Yes, there is more to come and more to work toward, but I am living my dream now.
We so often have such a deep seated belief that once we have achieved expectation A, B and C, we will be content with our lot, we will be able to feel the emotion called ‘happy’. I know so many people who travel the world, move from place to place, looking to find what is called ‘happiness’. And although the intention of this blog post is not about finding ‘happy’, it certainly does come into the big picture perspective for some of us.
The intention of this blog post is to demonstrate that sometimes what we are looking for is right under our nose. I realized the other day that I am living my best life, right here right now. Although I had the image in my mind of what it should look like, once I stepped back, I could see that I am doing it already. I’m not required to wait until A meets B, or I have achieved this Diploma and that Degree.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (philosopher, and poet) said “A journey through life is not about the destination, but about the journey itself.” It is indeed, and we must frequently take the time to smell the roses on the way.