You may have lost your sense of personal identity.
She feels grateful for her health, two small children, a successful career and lovely home.
But she not feeling the joy, peace, contentment she expects.
Rather, she finds herself irritable, resentful and at times apathetic.
She feels guilty not being happy; she keeps it a secret so as not to appear selfish or unappreciative.
She is consistently making plans to change, to be a better person.
Jayne is not unusual.
We live with judgement from increasing social and personal expectations, which plays a large role in Jayne’s scenario. There are pressures on:
•· Our behaviour
•· How we parent our children
•· What we wear
•· What and how much we eat
•· What we talk about and what is unacceptable to talk about.
•· Religious or spiritual belief systems
•· Our sexuality
•· Body shape and size
We are immersed in technology, having to do more, quicker and automatically. There is less time to focus and be mindful of our environment. Emotionally there is expectation that we should be ‘up beat’ and perform to our best at all times. There is on-going pressure of what ‘other people’ think of us. We seem to have forgotten to care or be kind to ourselves. Little credibility given to creative abilities, gifts and talents, unless judged as good or profitable. Hence, creative hobbies performed just for the joy of doing them seem to have become less fashionable.
Stress has become socially acceptable but anxiety and depression is seen as a weakness or something that is shameful. Mental illness is still a taboo topic for many communities.
It is not surprising that we can lose our individual uniqueness and authenticity. It is our diversity that brings interest, beauty, love and passion into our lives.
I suggest that feeling of unease could be a warning that you are not being true to yourself. Your behaviour, thoughts and beliefs need to be in harmony with the uniqueness your soul.
As John O'Donohue states so eloquently,
"Self-compassion is paramount. When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do."
In order to be compassionate with yourself it is essential to get some sense of who you are. You can regain your individuality and sense of self, as it is not gone. Rather overshadowed by the stress in your life. However, we need to let go of judgement or fear of judgement.
I offer the following exercises to identify creative aspects of your unique self that may have been forgotten.
The aim is to begin the process of unearthing the authentic self.
Chose one or both of the exercises to practice on your own or with the support of friends or counsellor/psychotherapist.
Activity 1 - The Creative Self
Make a list of games, hobbies or things you enjoyed as a child that you may wish to use as a guide to practice something new.
This may be:
•Building model aeroplanes
•Colouring in books. This has become very fashionable for adults in France. You can buy books with beautiful pictures in Waterstones and Amazon
This is an example from a beautiful book Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom - A Colouring Book Adventure
By Millie Marotta
Activity 2 - Pages
Chose a journal or scrapbook that you like.
Decide that this journal is going to describe and represent the true you.
There are no specific guidelines, as the design is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong
If you find the lack of structure difficult, then design your own contents page.
Here are some examples of what you might want to include:
•Favourite books and movies
•Self care activities
•Favourite foods or recipes
•What makes you sad or angry
•What lifts your mood
•Clothes, favourite fashion
•Mentors or people you admire
•Places to visit
•Hopes and dreams
•Photos past and present
•Pictures cut from magazines
•Images from internet
•Self help exercises
•Pieces of fabric
The objective of this activity is to provide you an opportunity to view your life from a different perspective. From a creative and compassionate standpoint, to see life mindfully with purpose and worthiness. It is an on-going project taking weeks, months or years. You could share your pages with a friend or a group could get together to do their pages together. Alternatively, you may wish to keep them private.
Email and let me know how the activities work for you!
If you have any concerns regarding your emotional health please contact your Doctor.