As we slowly come to the end of the year, there are many things to consider, so much going on in the world, it feels difficult to focus on any one thing. This is the time to create space in your head and in your life to start taking stock and making preparations to close down certain things, regroup and consider new strategies in going forward.
How ready are you to make the changes you need to make to actually make a real difference in your life?
We all know there are changes about to take place all around us. What kind of Nigeria are we about to inherit going into the New Year? How will you fit into it? Some things we have almost no control of, but the one thing you can birth, mould and nurture is yourself.
Twenty first century living has ensured that for many of us life sometimes feels completely out of control and worse still for a growing few they take it to the ultimate end through murder, suicide and devastating health problems. We all know the issue of mental health universally continues to be of concern for many. It is also quite clear that the challenges many of us are experiencing with our physical health suggests we need to pay a closer look to how we are living. Things can and will only get more challenging in all these areas. We don’t have the luxury to walk around uninformed in any of these areas. We have to ask more questions, expand our horizons and step out of our comfort zones in the aim to find better alternatives to some of the harmful, unhelpful habits we have engaged in for years
To feel stable and content we have six fundamental psychological requirements: physical and emotional security, economic wellbeing, a sense of belonging and recognition and control over our lives. As you read this most likely there will be some of us thinking possibly up to three of our basic needs are being compromised. Our sense of security is closely linked to our economic wellbeing and if these are threatened we start to feel less in control. Sometimes we may turn to temporary sources of sometimes less than helpful behaviours in an effort to alleviate our anxiety, only to find life feeling increasingly unmanageable. Events in the wider world often feel beyond our control, but the way we react, respond and adapt is entirely up to us.
If you sometimes feel like you are short of successes in life, you might not be including the small, everyday triumphs. We tend to dismiss so many of our achievements as trivial. Success does not always have to mean reaching for the stars. Stopping to have a good chat with someone, leaving someone feeling better than when you met them, a kind gesture offered to someone are all examples of success in one’s life.
If you put it into perspective, considering all the sadness and pain people are experiencing in the world today, it’s a lot easier to have some form of success in your life every day. I know there are many times I’m often surprised when I accomplish something, so I will attribute it to luck. However when you take away the idea of chance and see your achievements as the result of the steps you took, you’re likely to identify what worked, and be able to do it again.
We sometimes relate to the world not as it really is but to the way we perceive it to be. When we expend huge amounts of energy chasing worries, it may be a natural reaction, but in reality it is a self-defeating distraction from finding constructive solutions. I have been forced to stop, take a moment and reflect on what is possible, rather than automatically assuming the worst. Identifying and investing in our strengths will help us value ourselves and give us a sense of direction, which is crucial if we are going to feel more in charge of our lives.
As the list of demands on our time inexorably gets longer, we tend to prioritise everything but ourselves. It is possible to give ourselves the impression of slowing down time just by making more of the simple moments that are nurturing and fulfilling. If you don’t know what these are for you, that’s your first commitment to yourself, to find out!
When you neglect your own needs, you diminish your sense of self which can leave you feeling abandoned. Making time for ourselves in a meaningful way (and not in the way that entails coming home with bags that have contents with hefty price tags, or other mundane, unconstructive activities), actually reinforces the idea that we are in control of our lives, because we are reminding ourselves that we are important and matter. We begin to pay attention to the things that really matter in these uncertain times. Although times are tough, the things that bear the most value to us if we look after them will remain stable: our love for our family and children, friends, sense of values and purpose.
As a people, we have been blessed with a rich culture full of wonderful traditions and values which is being eroded and devalued in replace of a way of living, attitudes and values that should be taken with a pinch of salt or at the very least questioned. We must hold on to those aspects of our traditions that enrich us in all manner of ways.
Fear comes from over thinking and leads to feeling overwhelmed. As simple as it sounds which is why it’s probably so hard to do, action is the best antidote to procrastination and inertia. It’s possible by breaking down what we have to do into small steps that we might feel less scared.
When it feels as though you are being crushed by worries about future events or regrets about the past, meditating can help overcome this stifling sense of time because it calms your mind’s endless chatter and helps you embrace the quiet space that’s left. While organised religion is fine if it brings you peace, sometimes people get into a cycle where they are unable to draw from their own personal strengths and to develop their own inner powers, resulting in them being controlled by others.
When a problem arises, we can reframe the issue as a challenge rather than a disaster. Instead of having a knee jerk reaction, which a lot of times results in making hasty or irrational decisions, we can reflect on what is happening and take time to think and work towards a solution, using small manageable goals to guide us. While this might feel risky at first because instinctively we want to fix things immediately, I’m finding that taking time to reflect opens up the possibility of a more creative, lateral response.
When we feel out of control the slightest thing can be overwhelming. But by confronting rather than avoiding the issues we can all develop positive, flexible and meaningful responses to what may be going on for us at that moment.
It definitely feels like we are on the precipice of something big in our politics, communities and nation. It would make sense to look inward also and see where and what we need to adjust in our personal lives in order to live our best lives.
Positive emotions such as love, gratitude and empathy are a tonic for our heart, soul, and mind. A spoonful every day will certainly be beneficial to us so make sure you have your daily dose.