1: Accept where you are now
We can spend so much time beating ourselves up for whatever state we are in physically, emotionally or spiritually that we've actually got no energy to even take the first step! This is such an entropic cycle, one that I'm sure has been instilled in us by the shadow side of religion. In my experience, the first step to healing is compassion for self - and accepting completely where you are now. This can then be your starting point.
2: Think about where you'd like to be
It's such a great thing to daydream, even though we're pushed to perform, produce, focus, get results etc etc. Just taking some time to muse about where you'd like to be, think about what is needing to shift or change to be more healthy, more happy or more in harmony with your life, can be a big first step on the road to health and wellbeing.
3: Make one small change
We humans have a tendency to get overwhelmed by change. We can feel that the journey is way too long or too arduous so we don't even start it. One of my key mottos in life is KEEP IT SIMPLE. I believe that at the source, most things are simple; we just make them complicated to fit the worldview that we have built up over our lives. So just take one small step - it might be cutting out gluten or introducing a walk once a week or treating yourself to a sauna or trying a quiet meditation.
4: Congratulate yourself and measure the impact
It's good to take a step back after your one small change and see its impact. We like to achieve things and measuring our progress is a great motivator. So find some way to congratulate yourself and measure the impact of your change (you might write emotions down or have a scale of 1-10 or tell a friend - find what works for you).
5: Make another small change
You can see where this is going! Its good to find your own pace and your own rhythm. Taking control of your life is a very empowering thing and it doesn't have to be complicated. Its one small change after another... until at some stage you look back and see how far you have come!
6: Surround yourself with people and things that resonate with you
We absorb so much of our surroundings and so much of the people we interact with. So if you surround yourself with negative people, you can see that you will likely be absorbing some of that yourself. Everything in our lives is important - home, hearth, family, friends, work, play - so part of the journey to health and wellbeing is to attract into our lives that which really resonates with our hearts. You might want to draw yourself with a circle around you on a piece of paper. Within the circle, you can write the things you are happy with in your life; and outside the circle you can write the things that you feel do not resonate with you that you wish to clear from your life. Although symbolic, this is a very powerful message to your subconscious about what you will and wont accept in your life.
7: Ask for help
We all need help at some stage in our life and that is ok. Vulnerability is the key to deeper connection and understanding. We need to let go of the belief that needing help is a weakness. We are huge hearted relational beings and it is only in the reflection of another that we can see what is needed or what is going on. You might try good friends or even a therapist. There are many therapies available but what is important is the relationship and resonance you feel with the therapist. In my opinion, the modality of healing is not as important as the therapeutic relationship.
8: Keep accepting where you are
Life is a journey. It always will be. So it is important to keep accepting who you are and where you are - and resting back into the trust that you are ever changing. Nothing stays static, no matter how hard we try to keep it so.
9: Make time for play
Play is as important for adults I believe as it is for children. It brings us fresh energy to face a new day. Laughter heals. Joy lightens our step. So do something just for the hell of it. Often!
10: Share your journey
And last but not least, talk about your journey on the road to health and wellbeing. It may help others to unfold and start their own journey and it will help you to know how far you have come.
I am often struck by how poorly we listen to each other, let alone how we listen to ourselves. Given all the listening we do, you'd think we were masters at it but research suggests we remember around 30% of what we hear, which is quite shocking! How much of life do we miss because of this??
Is this poor statistic because we don't have enough focus? Clearly, listening is a really important life skill - it can help avoid conflict, confusion and misunderstandings and enable us to relate with those around us in a much more harmonious way - whether at work, at home or at the supermarket.
What is the difference between hearing and listening?
Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear. Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages. To me also, it is about giving the other person space to speak, not cutting across them, not have a knee-jerk reaction to what they say, allowing their words to land within your body so you can feel what is really being said.
A great analogy is the pebble being dropped in a pond - the pebble being the words and the ripples being the sense of the words rippling through your consciousness. Once the ripples stop, there is space to respond.
There is something else that most of us innately try and do when listening to another person's pain or anguish. We try to fix it, make it go away or make them feel better. It's human nature. However, what they probably need is just to be heard, to have space for their pain and anguish. In some ways, by trying to fix it we do not give them permission to have the emotion in the first place. And usually, life throws curve balls that are not fixable, where only time will heal the wounds. Time and being heard and listened to by a loved one.
So when you next have a conversation with someone, notice their body language, notice how quick you are to respond, notice how much you actually take in and remember. And take this one step further, notice how much you listen to yourself - to your gut instincts and other signals your body gives you. Do you override these or take time to receive the messages and then act on them?
"One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say." Bryant H McGill
It's really important to understand the difference between reality and our perceptions. We often confuse perception for reality. After all our thoughts and feelings (experience) feel incredibly real to us so it’s not surprising that we consider them for truth. Yet often the lens we are looking through is compromised in some way...
There are (at least) 3 factors that can influence our perceptions: experience, motivational state and emotional state. In different motivational or emotional states, we will react to or perceive something in different ways. Also in different situations we may tend to "see what we want to see".
We all get caught up in our stories at some stage in life (or even for all of it!). Most of us think we are our stories. It’s when those stories take on a life of their own, and that life isn’t the one we want, that things start to go rapidly downhill.
So I urge you to spend some time in seeing perception versus reality, getting a sense of where you get caught in non-reality.
Why would you want to do that? Well as Yeats says “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”