Written by Yvonne
Having moved to a new place in the last few months, enjoying a new job, environment and experience, I’ve rediscovered just how much I love learning. Where I work now is in Milford Sound in New Zealand. As a pretty unique and absolutely stunning glacially carved fiord, it’s laden with learnings and facts to find out.
As many of us do, I learn best when I’m interested in the topic so here I’ve revelled in the wealth of information I’ve gained about my new home. This also reminded me how important learning is to me and how one of the topics I’m most interested in and keen to learn more about is life, living and all that comes with it.
With that, I resorted back to basics and started noting my learnings from each day’s experience.
Here’s some of what I’ve come up with:
1. Does this matter? Do I want it to?
When we get properly bothered, stressed out over something or just plain irritated – this question is our answer.
Instead of becoming consumed by a mood or fuelling resentment towards others, this stops us and demands that we gain perspective. Its a great one to use when we’re deviating towards drama, letting things get under our skin or have resorted to snapping as a primary form of communication.
It’s easy to get lost in the negativity and believe we’re justified in it, it’s easy to feel hard done by or overcome with worry – but it’s easier to nip these in the bud with this little check. (I can confirm from experience! Save yourself the stroppy moods, unnecessary arguments and firm grip of the ‘Fear’ with this 🙂
2. Find Flexibility
Sometimes we get so fixed on one idea that any alternative becomes a disappointment. Adapting flexibility is crucial to enable us to enjoy other options.
Personally I’d get so set on what I wanted that in the face of change I’d get quite irritated, if not going full on into a spoilt-child-sulking kind of mood. We can’t always get what we want and that’s actually a good thing. We need to learn to roll with change, to embrace other plans, even – if not especially – when they’re not the picture perfect itinerary we had laid out. Find the fun in the unexpected even if you’re quite begrudgingly doing so. There’s no point ruining what is with the thoughts of what might have been. Find a way to make the most of it.
3. Set Boundaries / Know your limits
You can’t do it all and you’re not expected to. This ties in with the flexibility above too, as sometimes we just can’t do what we want to do. Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, it’s respectful to ourselves to recognise our limits and not push them.
Ensure that your needs are being met and notice what happens when they’re not. We simply can’t go to every event while also working hard and trying to look after ourselves well too. We’re all only human and our energy supplies can only stretch so far. Nourishing our self care comes first.
4. Pick your Battles
As a stubborn and passionate person with a strong value in what’s right, this is a very welcome learning (even if it takes a few times to sink in!) We can’t fight every little battle, we can’t right every wrong or combat every injustice and we cannot always be right. That would be exhausting! We need to learn both in our personal lives and on a bigger scale what’s within our capacity and what’s worth our time.
Sometimes what we also need here is a bit of self honesty and another look back at learning #1. Become aware of what matters and what doesn’t – what’s worth our fight and what isn’t and which battles are actually ours to pick. Sometimes we cling on with an iron grip to that which could really do with just being let go.
5. Focus on the current journey
On a challenging walk through the bush recently, it was evident along the way that the group of us were already thinking about how tricky the journey back was going to be. This put me to think and the learning was to be present – to focus on the steps we’re taking now. Yeah it could be tricky later, but I’m not in ‘later’ I’m in now, and as such I’m going to focus on this current path.
When we can shift our focus like this we actually enjoy the journey so much more. We take it in, we embrace the challenges and we get so much more out of it. This then gives us the positive attitude to conquer any speed bumps we do come up against later on. All we have to work with at any time is now, we might as well pay attention to it.
6. Tomorrow is another day
Some days just don’t pan out the way we want them to. So it’s a beautiful thing that tomorrow offers us the chance to start fresh. I remember wasting so many tomorrow’s by trying to fix yesterday’s ‘mistakes’, when realistically it was the perfect opportunity to begin again.
Enjoy the fact that each day begins with a blank canvas fresh and ready for us to give it all another go.
7. Overcome, don’t become the mood
Bad moods strike sometimes – sometimes we’re grumpy and grouchy and might not even know why. This happens, emotions influencing our mood are both natural and necessary but as much as we may want to, we can’t always predict or control them.
What we can do is avoid becoming the mood. I’ve found that when I got down, I’d end up milking it. I’d be ratty and irritable and as such deemed it okay to be impatient and short with others. Instead of accepting and responding to emotions, I’d just get all comfy in the despair of them.
We can all fall into this trap, of getting so bogged down in how awful we feel that we just stay in it and end up worse. That’s not helpful so we can learn how to change this response.
Choose how you react to your emotions and the mood that ensues. Listen to them rather than drowning in them. Observe them rather than entirely embodying them. The crucial part of this learning is that often we can snap out of it much sooner than we probably think. Though this will require a good oul dose of that self honesty!
8. Accepting Care
This one I’ve found to be quite a valuable learning, probably because I didn’t realise how much I needed to learn it. Throughout ED we can get somewhat used to being dependent on others, we might rely on our supporters significantly and have to hand our trust over to our practitioners. We are part of a team effort and that’s a great thing that truly helps recovery.
But since recovering I’ve become so much more independent and confident that the notion of being looked after or cared for would actually annoy me ‘I don’t need it’, would be my stubborn go-to. And as I know that my reactions speak volumes I saw that I had an issue here. Independence is a wonderful thing and I’d never discourage it by any means but what I’ve learnt is that sometimes we need to let others be on our team.
While my inner Beyoncé may not always like it, I’ve learned that it’s worth accepting help, care and looking after from others. Even when we’re certain we can do it all ourselves, it’s nice to let others do their bit too. They’re doing it out of love and reacting negatively to that can show we might be acting out of fear. Accepting help doesn’t take away our independence and being looked after doesn’t mean we’re incapable. We’ve just got to embrace our team now and then!
9. Challenge yourself and your beliefs
Overcoming challenges is a brilliant feeling. But how often do we rise to them? Do we ever try to challenge ourselves or our self limiting beliefs?
Since coming away travelling, I’ve learned how important it is to keep pushing, to try new things and to act on ideas. There’s so much opportunity for it anywhere and I’ve found that the more I try, the more I want to see what else I can do. It can be anything, even normal everyday things that could be worth questioning.
For example, I haven’t worn makeup since I came away 6 months ago, and I used to wear it everyday convinced I looked tired and/or unwell without it! It felt like a necessity but actually now, I don’t miss it, get extra time in bed in the morning and feel more comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have anything against makeup but more my own lack of confidence without it, I realised I’d rather feel good and comfortable au naturel. It has its place, but so does my own bare face 🙂
I’m not saying that has to be your challenge, but I think things like this that we do everyday could be worth looking at. Look at your reasoning for some habits and if they’re not particularly helpful, try to challenge them. Branch out too and embrace new things, explore different avenues and speak to different people. Get all nice and uncomfortable and see what happens!
Learning is an enriching experience everytime we indulge in it. It’s always possible and always worthwhile. If you haven’t got the notebook out in awhile, I’d definitely recommend jotting down some daily learnings and really cementing these in your life. Each encounter, every experience and any action is an opportunity to learn and when we take note of these, we’ll enhance our growth so much.