Have you ever wondered why you do the things you do? I didn’t for a very long time.
My life was what I would describe as normal; whatever that really means. My childhood years had issues, some, when I look back on them could be described as traumatic, but I coped with them at the time and didn’t think that I had been affected by them.
My teenage years were, as most experience, full of confusion, angst and wanting to fit in… running with the tribe, not having the boundaries that I probably should have had. Luckily for me, I enjoyed time on my own, walking for miles in the Scottish countryside, so I didn’t fall too foul of not having strong personal boundaries.
I always loved learning, but it wasn’t ‘cool’ and what I feared most was being different, so I did my best to not standout in any way. I learned to become grey at school. There was a lot of violence, drugs and alcohol at my secondary school, and I wasn’t equipped to deal with it, so I stayed away as much as I could. And my education suffered.
I was letting life happen to me. I never thought to question anything. Life was what happened to you and you just ‘got on with it’. The first time I took some control of the direction of my life was when I left home at 16 to move back to the city where I had grown up before our move to Scotland. I got a job but had no direction or plan. The second big decision was to join the military. I couldn’t see beyond the four walls of the accounts office I was working in. I couldn’t see a future, so I made a choice. I would like to say that these decisions were carefully thought about, but they weren’t… they were reactions, decisions made from a ‘doing something, was better than doing nothing, perspective’. I still didn’t have a plan and I certainly didn’t question my choices.
My life worked like that for quite a few years. I married, had my first child. That almost killed me… complications during pregnancy and a life-saving blood transfusion thereafter. I carried on. We were living in Germany with the RAF. Just going with the flow; taking each day as it came; following the ritual of daily life as a military wife. We had lots to deal with, the IRA was bombing and shooting servicemen in Germany, it was far too close to home; but I carried on. Many of my friends and colleagues, were involved in the first Gulf War, and some didn’t return; but I carried on.
Two more children, different postings, different challenges, separation, and divorce, but I carried on. A couple more relationships, both ended; but I carried on. Then… it happened! I started a dialogue with myself about why I was doing what I was doing… and that conversation hasn’t stopped since.
I realised that I had been living in a high state of anxiety. It had become so natural to me that I didn’t even notice it. My mind was a spider diagram of all the things that could go wrong, all the judgment, what would people think, what would they say, am I a good parent, I must be ready for anything life throws at me. I thought I was resilient, capable of coping with anything but in reality, I was an anxious mess.
People around me would describe me as confident, capable, and strong. But I didn’t feel strong. I spent so much time in my head, never relaxing, constantly considering all the options, never being comfortable with any decision; even when I eventually made one. My life was being experienced in my head, I was never experiencing life in the moment; always looking to the future, to be prepared; ready for whatever was to come; planning every possible scenario. I knew that something needed to change.
Consequently, I spent many years and a lot of money, on courses, books and trainings, understanding why I do things, how my psychology works and removing a lot of unhelpful learning from my past.
I was resilient, I knew that. My experiences and my ability to ‘carry on regardless’ demonstrated an inbuilt resilience that I seldom questioned. But what I discovered when I started to question everything was that by questioning and digging into my belief system and tracking back to where I had made up rules, or accepted rules, for how my life should be, I could see that I was living and experiencing a small life. One that had been created through expectations, other people’s rules and a whole lot of my rules that were made without me even realising it. These rules were controlling me. I was so scared of breaking the rules. I wanted to get everything right. Be perfect at everything I did, and berated myself, if I got things wrong.
Many bouts of depression, of worry and crippling anxiety throughout my life, were caused by these expectations, rules and judgements. Overtime, I learned to let go of them and create new ones and found freedom to be who I wanted to be.
My life would have been very different if I had known then what I know now.
Being aligned with my true self, with who I am meant to be, who I have always been, but couldn’t access, without the unhelpful rules that have influenced me in so many ways; is truly liberating
I have now made it my mission in life to show others how to move beyond the anxiety, the stuck state, the automatic functioning that so many experience, and find freedom to create the life you deserve… and I’m loving it!