Often we feel stuck in our lives yet also paralysed in making change. We’re influenced by so many factors around us, both external and internal, and we often have no idea what we want in life and what truly fulfils us.
Here are seven things I wish I’d appreciated (and implemented) earlier, to cut out the crap in my life and bring me closer to my own personal truths:
1. Clean up your environment. Your external environment and particularly your home, is a reflection of your inner self. Where there is internal chaos, this often manifests into messiness, untidiness, generally losing things and not taking care of our surroundings. The irony is that our physical environment also impacts our internal wellbeing, and through cleaning up our surroundings we can often start to see clarity within. This concept is brilliantly explored by Marie Kondo in her book –
2. Extricate yourself from toxic situations and people, including so called friends. Once we are aware of our personal boundaries and values, it becomes very evident when a situation is not good for us. Toxic situations and people leave us feeling drained, exhausted and imbalanced. Due to feelings of obligation, love, or more often fear, it can be difficult for us to fully extricate ourselves, particularly from longstanding relationships or friendships that no longer serve us. The good news is, once we’re able to do this once or twice, it becomes much easier!
For further reading on losing our power (often due to toxic situations), read – How we give away our power
3. Stop living for other people or caring about their opinion of you. This is such a cliché but I still catch myself making choices based on what other people might think. Choices can range from major life decisions such as where to live, what job to have or who to date, to minor things like what to order at a restaurant or which outfit to wear. For example, recently I was out and a couple of friendly (and normal) guys started chatting to me. Despite being a naturally friendly person, I was so mindful of my other friends not thinking that I was out to pick up, that rather than being myself and allowing an organic friendly chat to occur, I cut things short and made some excuse about needing to leave in a hurry.
4. Listen to your body. I almost burnt out earlier this year by making plans every night and squeezing productive activities into every minute of each day. I fell sick for a full month and was so tired I hit a car while backing out of my driveway one Sunday morning. This was my wake up call to take a step back and re-evaluate what was causing my body so much stress and what my priorities truly were. As a result, I’ve since prioritised sleep as my #1 priority (a difficult goal to stand by, but with the help of a temporary fitbit I’ve managed to increase my sleep levels from an average of 4hrs/ night to about 7hrs!).
5. Seek the healing you need. Everybody has demons from their past (usually due to buried childhood traumas or pains) and too often these become the reasons why later in life we allow ourselves to be drawn into situations that aren’t good for us. Every time we find ourselves in toxic situations, it’s because we inherently seek to gain something – usually it’s validation and a need to fill a gap within ourselves; coupled with a deep seated feeling of not being worthy or strong enough to search for something better.
Sometimes we can heal ourselves through reading, speaking to friends/family, listening to motivational talks and taking up healing activities. However, quite often we don’t even know what we’re trying to heal and in order to truly investigate this, we should consider seeking appropriate professional help. I never thought I would benefit from professional help – I was sane, smart and a high achiever. But I’m glad I did and I now fully admit that the psychotherapists I have seen over the past couple years have been instrumental in my own spiritual and emotional healing.
6. Take time to appreciate the journey. As a goal-oriented person, it’s hard to stop and allow myself to relax. My psychotherapist asked me earlier this year – what would life look like when I’d made it? How would I know when my business had reached success? Surprisingly, I was unable to answer her. She commented that every time I created a goal, I kept moving the goal post, which meant that I was always striving and stressing myself out trying to reach these unattainable benchmarks. She suggested different ways to ensure that I could stop to appreciate each time I’d reached a milestone (e.g. for business, creating an ABN, launching a website, creating my first garment etc), rather than always looking beyond towards an ultimate (yet moving) goal. I’m still working on this, but I am certainly feeling less stressed about needing to achieve everything, all the time.
7. Value the most valuable asset you have – time. Imagine yourself at 80 and what you wish you’d done with your life; this will help identify what’s truly important. If it’s important when you’re 80, then it should be important right now. Funny how so many people suddenly find religion or forgiveness when they’re at death’s door. We never know what will happen tomorrow, but the knowledge that our time is not infinite, allows us to truly appreciate each moment (point 6 above), and reflect on how we would live our life if we knew exactly when this time was up. Hence why I am so passionate about this blog and connecting with as many women (and men) as possible through the brand that we are building!
Chiara is the founder of CIIARA. A French-born Vietnamese living in Melbourne. Passionate about dance, fashion and social change.