I’ve encountered, through my work, many professionally successful women who struggle with immensely stressful lives. It seems that they are pulled in so many directions that they’re breaking under the strain of their responsibilities. They feel trapped in a life of unhappiness where every day is just about making it through the day with what little’s left of their energy reserve. Having a successful career seems to come at a price, and this is especially true if you’re a woman.
Archive for category: Self-Actualisation
The other day, someone was telling me about an undesirable situation he was in and I asked him why he was choosing to remain in it. He said he has made his bed and now he has to lie in it. This brings to mind something that I often come across when looking at the complexities about being in a state of suffering: how we can trap ourselves in suffering by doing nothing to reconcile the conflicts that give rise to the suffering.
We might try to change things superficially within the situation, hoping it will bring improvement, but that may not be enough or effective. And if what you’re doing to try to change or improve things brings no real and lasting results, you may end up feeling frustrated with yourself and make your suffering even more immediate to you.
I was really inspired by a friend who told me that his goal is to be ‘Ultimate’. I did not ask him to define what it means, as I immediately felt the uplifting energy and understood what it meant for me. Being Ultimate for me means living my life as joyously as I possibly can. It includes being the best that I can be, without compromising myself and my values, and actualising my highest potential in my human experience.
Having this kind of personal vision can be very empowering and can inspire you to show yourself just how great your potential as a human being is – to do, feel, create, express, heal, change and expand. There is no universal “best”. My best can look very different from your best. But to be your best regardless of what it looks like so that you live your life being your Ultimate Self, there are four things that you can do.
About two months ago, I was sitting in a therapy group facilitated by my co-workers. The group explored the theme of self-image and in an exercise clients were asked to write down a list of their strongest attributes. I decided to join in and write my list. One of my co-workers chuckled when he saw my list – in particular at the word ‘twisted’ which I had included as one of my attributes. He and another co-worker, both often subjected to my twisted taste in entertainment and sense of humour, concurred that twisted I am indeed. The clients, who became intrigued by this seemingly dark attribute which I’d so openly declared as an aspect of me, wanted to know more. My colleagues wanted me to explain myself, to reveal the deeper layers of my psyche….
When working with clients, I see a common theme that crops up all the time, no matter what life issues they are struggling with at the time. It is the feeling of being trapped, unable to find a way out of a situation. Whether it is in a relationship, a job situation, or their home life, there is a huge emotional need to create change but also a daunting prospect of what taking steps towards change could entail. These problems manifest as stresses, confusions, frustrations, worries and conflicts. The word ‘stuck’ is very apt in these situations, as they struggle internally with wanting things to be different and yet are crippled by thoughts of negative consequences of change.
There is a belief among many whose profession lies in churning out creative works that drugs enable them to tap into their creative well, that without drugs they could never produce the works that have earned them their professional recognition. Writers, musicians, artists whose lifestyles involve indulging in too much drugs and alcohol usually find it a huge struggle to give up the substance they’ve become addicted to when they embark on stopping their subtance abuse. This is the main challenge for every ‘creative type’ individual I have worked with in addiction.
I’ve been asked what my resolution is for 2010, so I will share it here. For the record, I have stopped making new year resolutions some years ago. I had found that the long list I tended to come up with too depressing after a while. Too much unnecessary pressure, as if life did not present enough on my plate already! I’ve since taken the route of flowing with whatever life presents, whatever time of the year it is. This year, if I were to come up with one resolution, it would be to keep every area of my life as simple as possible.
In my work as well as my personal growth, I often examine how our fears entrap us in a false sense of imprisonment. We fear expressing ourselves, making courageous decisions, saying no to those who’re abusive to us, standing up for ourselves.… because we might leave ourselves exposed to judgements and rejection. The cost of asserting ourselves and exercising our freedom is the shame and embarassment of being shown that what we do is not acceptable to others.
What is it about being accepted by others that make it such a powerful drive that stop us from living a happy life? Reading this, it may sound ridiculous that we short-change ourselves so readily to gain the approval of others, yet it happens more often than we’re comfortable admitting to. This feared unacceptability can come in various forms – e.g. being told we’re not good enough, being persecuted, leaving someone unhappy.
I remember when I started exploring spirituality many years ago. At that time, I’d been stuck in a space of self-sabotage, anger, control, rigidity and self-despise. Exploring spirituality had enabled me to move out from that negative space and to see that life could be so much more. It taught me great lessons in trust, surrender, abundance, true joy and empowerment – and I lapped up the new experience with great enthusiasm.
But whilst stepping into this new space was a freeing experience, it took many years before I truly understood how to apply those spiritual lessons in my life. Today, I am still learning. Striking a balance between walking in a spiritual world and applying great spiritual lessons in my daily life is a constant challenge that makes my life a stimulating experience. I enjoy making a discovery of yet another level or dimension to a concept that further enriches my life.
Many of my clients with addiction problems have asked why they often drink or use drugs when things are going well for them. “I can understand if I’d been feeling bad,” they say, “but why is it that when things are good I’d start using again?” There are many reasons and I am going to offer my views focusing on the aspects which I find particularly interesting.
Sometimes, we use the excuse of wanting to celebrate to go on a binge and end up abusing ourselves. This is not what I am addressing; here, the celebratory mood is likely to be forced just because we want an excuse to embark on our self-abusing behaviour. What I am addressing is when your life genuinely starts to look good and you’re feeling good, and then you choose an unhealthy habit and you end up sabotaging yourself.