How to Grow Radical Self-awareness and Ignite Your Sense of Fulfilment


 

Nothing has taught me more about living a good life — than loss.

I say this as someone who’s made a significant investment in their education.
Three degrees. Multiple careers. Not to mention 1000s of hours of personal study.

But its loss — careers, relationships, health, money — that brought me face to face with the limits of my humanity. Loss is such a humbling experience.
Nuance paints in between the cracks of your certainty as you question everything you thought you knew.

Loss, more than anything else I know, drags you — kicking and screaming into being present. It’s a depth of pain you can’t ignore. When you’re here you have two choices — despair or self-awareness.

And only one will move you forward.

The misunderstood nature of loss

We all know the big losses — like those I’ve already mentioned.

But few talk about the day-to-day losses that stack up. The one that got away. Children you never have. The father or mother you never had. An empty space beside you when you wake.

Each has something in common. A loss, less tangible — unfulfilled yearning.

Yearning —
n. a feeling of intense longing for something.

Even though it’s something which hasn’t happened — you experience the same sense of loss. Disappointed hope is a powerful poison.

Many have got stuck here — myself included. And built bitterness instead of life.

I imagined I would marry and start a family in my twenties. Teaching was going to be my forever career. My father would be at my wedding and would meet my future children.

And health. Who questions health when they’re a young’un?

Now in my thirties — I’ve yet to meet someone I want to marry or start a family with. I’ve faced the loss of my health and my career. (Since rebuilt). And my father has passed away.

So much I’d hoped for — lost.
Yet here’s what I’ve learnt through it all. No one escapes pain — of course.

But suffering? Well — that’s a choice.
A false reality you create when you’re too afraid to let go.
You can’t predict the outcome and you feel out of control. So you cling on to what you know — no matter how dead it is.

Better the pain you know than the pain you don’t — right?
Wrong.
You’re clinging to decay and dying with it. Humans are like water. Stay still and we stagnate.

You were made for movement — in every sense.

Life unfolds whether you’re ready or not

Life is now.

Not what you want tomorrow.

Not what you wanted yesterday.

So what do you do about now? The now you’re maybe not so happy with.
The now that hasn’t delivered what you think you deserve. You make peace with it — complete and total acceptance of all your current circumstances.
This means letting go of the false stories you tell yourself.

“I need X to happen then I’ll be happy “

Nope. You don’t.

Ask any wealthy and successful person whether they were any happier when they got the money, the cars, the book deal. The honest ones will tell you it’s the journey.

Your dreams will hold your current fulfilment to ransom if you let them. And let’s face it — you haven’t got time for future tripping. None of us has.

Your life is happening for you. Right now.
Beautiful moments constantly unfolding — ready for your presence.

Letting go isn’t for the fainthearted

So how do you get off the trippy carousel?

Here are some steps which have helped me process through the pain of loss. And reach a place of peace where I felt able to let go — maybe they can do the same for you too. It’s worth a shot at least.

  • be honest — acknowledge the good, the bad & the ugly

 

You have to take a good hard look at your life and acknowledge the reality of your circumstances. Maybe it’s money problems. Or you’ve forgotten what the inside of a gym looks like and your body is telling its own story. A failing relationship or a job you hate. Heck, maybe it’s all of the above.

Either way — when you’re honest — you’ll come face to face with a sense of loss.

  • feel all your feelings — the loss you feel is valid

 

I have found this to be one of the harder experiences in life. When I finally woke up to life and recognised all the areas I’d been stuck in — I also recognised what I’d lost.

I’m gonna shoot straight here — it’s painful and the grief can run deep.
This one takes time. But this awareness is also the first step to getting unstuck.

The only way out is through.

  • get thankful —it anchors you in the present

 

Thankfulness is a kind of magic. It changes your state of mind and being.

It’s really the practice of reframing. Humans are natural problem solvers. Which means we spot what isn’t working. Thankfulness tips that on its head and chooses to see life through a different lens — what we do have.
What is working. Who we are. Not who we aren’t.

Thankfulness releases you from spending energy on circumstances outside of your control. And it’s a powerful antidote to entitlement.

  • take small steps today toward something you value

 

I’ve avoided the words goal, vision or target. They’re unhelpful because they can fuel the productivity hamster wheel that screams you’re only valuable as long as you’re doing.

Instead, take time to think about what is important to you. What creates joy and makes you light up? Move towards these. You’ll experience a sense of accomplishment when your actions align with what’s important to you.
This is the genuine definition of authenticity — your actions match your innermost values.

Here’s the hard truth

You’re responsible for all your circumstances.

When you take full responsibility for where you are in life— you start to take back your power.

Soon enough your energy’s on the up and suffering has jumped out the window. Because you’ve made peace with your reality instead of resisting it. Life is wondrous and brutal in the same breath. Some days it’s a joyride you never want to end. And others — a head-f*ck beyond human comprehension.

The humbling truth is you can’t have love without the pain.

But pain — if you let it tells its story — will move you into beautiful moments and teach you, both how to love and be loved. True fulfilment lies in the depth and quality of connection and relationships you’re able to build — starting with yourself.

And self-awareness is the currency of connection.

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This post was previously published on medium.com.

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