I thought it would be perfect by now
I’ve just had a little dip. It happens. I used to be really quite up and down in my youth. I remember the first time. I was 12. It was a grey day by the sea and I remember I just felt, well, you know, grey. Like life was happening to everyone else and I was on the outside of it somehow. Kind of like walking down the street on a cold winter’s night where the rain is drizzling and you are outside looking into lovely homes filled with warmth; red glowing candles and fires, laughter and something nice baking. And you are on your own on the outside. Like that.
It happened big time when I was 21 and again at 25 and again at 29. I thought it was because I was single and slightly chubby (I really, really did think that was why). And then I discovered a name for it, a language, a kind of explanation. They call it depression. Being quite a fixer, (I quite like making things work better) I decided I would fix it. And so began a journey of seeking fixes. In retrospect I can see I was always seeking something. Seeking the feeling of belonging or home — where I would feel ok.
I tried a lot of things. Saw a lot of people, went to a lot of seminars, did a lot of stuff. Spent a lot of money. It all worked for a bit. Some of it for quite a long bit. I trained as a Leadership Coach. I tried to make a difference to a lot of people — I worked really hard on fixing myself and other people to help us all be the most perfect version of ourselves that we could be. I had the best of intentions. I gave it a lot of time, energy and love. All I had. It was my main focus.
Then I met my husband and had two kids and got distracted for 7 years — until I dipped again. I had a lot going on in my head trying hard to be the perfect mother, provider, wife, friend, daughter, coach, trainer, colleague, person — it was all a bit too much. The Doctor said you should take some anti-depressants. So I moved from Brighton to Southern Spain instead — which seemed to clear my head. Thank goodness. Something about that mountain view, that fresh sea air. That slowed down pace — the drivers (the few that there are) will stop for 10 minutes in front of you and wind down the window and chat with a pedestrian. (This really happens — a lot.)
It was going quite well, for quite a while actually — I’d be working a week or two in London or New York, then living in rural sunny Spain. I had found some sort of balance — until I started to notice something. I had it all, but it didn’t feel like I thought it should feel. I had a job I loved, a successful business, wonderful husband — devoted to my happiness, two beautiful, healthy ‘keep you on your toes children’, inspiring clients, rich friendships, loving family, a work-life balance, even my in-laws are perfect.
But I didn’t feel satisfied — not like I should, given how much I had. I wasn’t unsatisfied exactly just a bit — meh. Don’t get me wrong, I had loads of highs, peak experiences, great fun, good times — at times it was quite rock and roll. It was more of a ‘I thought I/life/it would be perfect by now and it’s not’ kind of feeling that often crept in.
And then I came across an understanding about the human experience that made so much sense and it truly felt like coming home. (If you’re intrigued check out the Three Principles of Human Experience). It’s super, super simple. So simple, it might seem like you’ve heard it before (you have) and you already know it (you do) but don’t think that hearing it and knowing it intellectually means anything (it doesn’t) until you truly see it for yourself.
Anyway, it was this: ‘We all have good and bad days.’
Ok I’m just going to say it again — to let in sink in. ‘We all have good and bad days.’ But really, ‘ We ALL have good and bad days.’ We feel good sometimes and we feel bad sometimes (and somewhere in the middle sometimes). And our feelings are created by our thoughts. When we feel bad, it’s because we are having thoughts that make us feel bad (lots of them). And when we feel good we are having thoughts that make us feel good. And thoughts themselves come and go as they please. Rather like the weather. Our experience is created inside of us. AND NOT BY THINGS THAT ARE OUTSIDE OF US. And how we see life is determined by if we are having a good day or a bad day. And it’s all going to be (and always was and is right now) ok. Because we can trust in the greater intelligence from which we came and the fact that we are designed to thrive. (think mother nature) In fact we can actually let go, stop over-thinking, relax and be here now. It works better.
Somebody should have told me. It would have saved a hell of lot of time, money and tears (and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have so many shoes either). Through this understanding I finally found the home I was looking for, by discovering it was there all along — inside the real me and that there was nothing to fix.
It’s been a really great four years since I first met with this understanding. Lots has gone really well, and I’ve really enjoyed my life more. Instead of thinking I should stop and smell the roses I actually stop to smell roses. I even cut down on my favourite pastime — trying to fix my husband, my kids and myself.
But then some stuff happened that I had a lot of thinking about. And I had some real bad days. I forgot that we all have good days and bad days etc…. I just felt bad. And really bad about feeling bad. And then a whole lot of bad feelings — with a lot of ‘but with this new understanding I REALLY thought I’d be perfect by now’ thoughts. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t going away.
And then it hit me. It’s the human condition. We can run but we can’t hide. We all have good days and bad days. And on our bad days we tend to overthink it. And that’s ok. It really is. The sun will shine again and we will return to ok-ness. That’s the way we are designed.
I think that clichés get a bad rap. I think that they are deemed over-used and unoriginal because they are actually true and real.
So next time you have a little (or big) dip. Remember: This too shall pass.
And even if it’s not perfect — it is ok.
Elizabeth currently has a few spaces left for Individual Real Leader one-to-one coaching. She also offers Real Team workshops that can help your team review where you are now and where you want to be to get 2016 off to a brilliant start. Get in touch for a free consultation. firstname.lastname@example.org +44 7973 361254