This is a poster I had hung up in my office when I was working as child abuse prevention specialist a number of years ago. It was created by the Children’s Defense Fund and it always had a special impact on me whenever I looked at it and read it. I used to think of what it must feel like to feel all alone in the world; a world that seems so much bigger than ourselves. That can be a lonely and scary feeling when we look at it that way. This alone feeling can mean lots of things. Feeling alone is not limited to literally having no one in our lives. It can also mean feeling misunderstood or not heard in our lives. Alone can mean that we do not feel we have anyone to turn to or share our real and true feelings with. It can mean not feeling that we can trust those around us. Alone can also be the feeling we have when we are so overwhelmed that we have no idea which direction to go in. This overwhelming feeling of the world seeming so big and not having any idea of which direction to go in is what I would like to focus on. Because there are times in our lives when the ‘sea’ seems so wide, when we feel like we have so many options and so many people telling us which direction to go in, that we just feel lost, confused, stressed, and often alone.
We are living in a day and age when we have a tremendous amount of choices. Based on my own family experience, It seems to me that our generation, more than the generations before us have more choices than ever existed before. We live in a day and age where we have the luxury to think about our own personal wants and dreams and ask ourselves deep questions like ‘what is my real purpose here on earth?’ The generation before mine (my parents and grandparents) approached life with the attitude that ‘we just do whatever it is we need to do in order to make a living and support our families.’ And in terms of my own grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, life seemed to be about just that, surviving.
But our generation is different. We have many choices and we are more aware of these choices than ever before. And although being presented with so many choices and opportunities feels like a blessing and is empowering a lot of the time, sometimes having so many choices and options can feel extremely overwhelming, as well. Often I hear individuals telling me that the reason they are feeling so stuck and stressed in their lives right now is not because they feel a lack of choices. In fact it is the opposite. The problem is that because they are presented with so many choices and so many people telling them what to do, they have no idea which direction to go in. Often, the idea of having so much to choose can leave us feeling stressed, confused, and stuck in our tracks.
How do we then deal with this new reality; the reality of what feels like, unlimited opportunity? The solution I offer and incorporate myself when I am feeling overwhelmed and out of balance in my own life is simple: come back to yourself.
My belief is that we have the answers within ourselves to find the path and make the choices that are best for us. Who we are; what we want; what we require; what we desire; what our interests are; what different learning or working styles work or do not work for us are all already inside of us. We just have to take the time to listen. Not listen to others about who we are and what we want, but rather, to ourselves.
I often say that we are with ourselves 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have the opportunity to listen to ourselves and hear our own voices and selves any time we want. (And we don’t even have to make an appointment!) And even though this is the case, we spend little, if any time going back to ourselves to find the solutions and the answers that will work best for us.
So, my humble recommendation to you is that when you are feeling alone, overwhelmed, confused, out of balance, stressed and lost about which direction to go in – go back to yourself – your own voice and your own ideas – first. Make the time and treat yourself to something that makes you feel good, comfortable, happy and connected to yourself. Maybe it’s a cup of your favorite coffee, maybe it’s playing music, running, walking or dancing. Whatever it is, do it. Reconnect with yourself. Come home to who you are and then listen.
I did this just this week when I was feeling out of balance and stuck in one area of my life. For me, writing, making lists, journaling, thinking, and talking with a trusted friend or colleague who accepts and understands me fully for who I am (without judgment) helps me to come ‘home’ to myself. So, I did all of these things this past week and found the answers I was looking for. (I am still searching for more, but I am confident that I will get there using this process.)
Home is wherever you are. And the good news is, you are with yourself all the time. You don’t have to look far, only within.
Perhaps you can use this weekend to do just that. And if you do choose to do this, may the reconnection your experience take you exactly where you need to go.