Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Category Archives: Live Life Without Regrets

Words of wisdom for summer from Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss remains a deep well of inspiration to mine for wisdom and challenge. Try some of these on for size –

If you never did you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.”

If I asked you the question, what do you do for fun, how would you respond? I have observed a curious response to this question from a number of people – that I am asking them a question in a language they simply do not understand. I might as well ask the question in Swahili for all that it can be computed and processed.

Just having funFun? But my life is so busy, so full of duty, responsibility, doing the right thing, there is no room for fun. Duty, responsibility, service – all are very important. However, the absence of life-affirming, joy-restoring, just-for-the-sake-of-it fun can cause us to slowly frizzle up. Slipping and sliding down the path of weariness, stress, mental fatigue towards burnout. To lose touch with the inner child, with part of who we are at our core, with what it is just to engage in a bit of nonsense. Or to do something simply for us – to prioritise ourselves for a brief spell.

Fun is an important aspect of our lives. It is good for mental renewal, for spiritual and emotional recharging, for expanding our creative free thinking and inspiration. And to keep us, and our outlook on life young.

If you had a clear diary, and nothing hindering you, what would you do for fun?

How could you incorporate just a little bit of that into the every-day? But it’s complicated I hear you say….again, to quote Dr Seuss –

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

How often is the answer simply a matter of prioritising our time differently? Busy people often say, well it’s not that simple – but actually, what that belies are many excuses for why making a simple decision is difficult.

We might have to face some inner demons, we might have to let some people down, which is never easy. We might have to acknowledge what needs are being met in being super busy – our need to be useful, needed, responsible – and without that, who does that make us?

How often do we choose to not face up to the simple answer because it demands too much of us?

This is linked to the idea of having fun. Fun is important, and takes a little time and shifting of priorities. This can be as simple as we choose to make it. I would be sorely grieved indeed to get to my funeral, and have people say of me, as perhaps Dr Seuss might –

she was responsible, organised, could get all things done,

but she didn’t seem ever to have time just to for fun.

Choosing to care – or learning to pay attention to your feelings.

Hard stuff happens.

Life is full of it – just tune in to the news of recent weeks. We are oftPaying attention to your feelings.en surrounded by horror, tragedy, suffering, grief, loss on a grand scale. And it can be overwhelming and difficult to absorb. But each of us on an individual level in our normal, run-of-the-mill every day life also experiences a whole gamut of feelings in response to smaller day-to-day hurts.

Rejection. Loss. Failure. Sadness. Anger. Disappointment.

Sometimes, the temptation is to avoid difficult emotions like that because they are too painful.

Folk develop different strategies for this. It is possible to develop a hardened exterior, a tough outer crust that seems impenetrable, as a means of avoiding the pain. To choose to not care, to not get too close. Keep your guard up, keep your distance, keep your heart safe.

Or you can become a stuffer. A coper. This has been my default defense mechanism for many years.

I am a getter-on-with-it. Hard stuff happens, but hey I am strong and capable and self sufficient so acknowledging those hurts, fears, anxieties is not what I do, so deal with it and move on – on with the next thing. Dear goodness, why would I pay attention to those inner feelings, let alone allow them to surface so that I could deal with them? Far too painful and means I would have to be vulnerable.

Strike a chord, anyone?

But over time, this has a tremendous cost – those feelings don’t go away, they are simply repressed waiting and biding their time until they erupt at the most inopportune moment.

I am straying into the realm of counselling here.

But I am learning that taking time to pay attention to what I am feeling is important. Because those feelings are are indicators of what is going on inside me, and often point to what I care about. Taking time to pay attention to them allows me to learn more about myself, and what is at the root of my reactions.

And that I most definitely do care. Because paying attention to our feelings, and what they are telling us, enables us to understand ourselves better.

When we learn to ask ourselves:

What am I feeling? What do those feelings point to? How am I wanting to respond to them? What do I need?

….we can also learn to take responsibility for our response to those feelings, and show that we do care. We can seek to see things from the point of view of another, to get inside their shoes. We can reach out to them with more empathy, and make deeper connections in our relationships. Feelings can point to when we need to forgive, and when we need to say sorry. They can be indicators of when we need to stop and recharge. Or when we need to get off the busyness-treadmill and offer some TLC to someone in need.

And when we harden ourselves to feelings, or stuff them inside, we tend to do that with ALL feelings. And thus we can miss out on the joy of connection, happiness, celebration, exuberance, achievement.

Seems like no way to go through life.

Learning instead to pay attention to our feelings allows us to show that we do, most definitely, care.

 

Going back to school (after all these years…)

What would you say to yourself of 30 years ago?

Life skills at school

Life skills at school

This was the intriguing situation I found myself in last week. Along with three other ‘grown ups’, I was asked to share what I considered to be essential life skills with approximately 100 16/17 year olds. These were the new S6 pupils at elder daughter’s secondary school, and the event was part of an induction week in preparation for their final year at school.

Our brief was to talk about our own careers, and share the life skills we believed were most important for these youngsters to learn as they embarked on life beyond the confines of school. At face value, this was quite a straightforward request. We could all have talked off the cuff about how we ended up doing what we do and being where we are. But as we discussed our respective inputs before the event, we agreed that there was rather more to this than first met the eye.

What would you say to a 16 year old that would be relevant, of interest, and would catch their attention?

What would you say that would stay with them beyond the event? That would go deep enough to penetrate the layers of post modern, consumerist, instant social media culture in which they live?

As it happens, and with no prior consultation, each of us said a version of the same thing

the importance of hard work, of developing good character and communication skills, of growing in self awareness and self confidence.

Learning resilience. Believing in who you are on the inside, and not in the false persona of you that has to have the latest and the newest whatever-it-is because that is what society tells you.

Learning not to be motivated by instant gratification but exercising self control and self discipline – be it in the areas of money, studying, health. So un-cool and un-glamorous, but heartfelt and impassioned pleas from all of us.

I left school nearly 30 years ago. What would I have taken on board and actually absorbed at that age that would have positively influenced the life I have led since?

My words to them were that they had far more power than they realised – power to be self aware, power to listen with a view to understanding, power to delay gratification, and power to choose.

This last for me is key, and ties in with my musings here over recent weeks:

No one else can take responsibility for my life except me.

The only aspect of life that I can consistently work on over which I have control is – me.

I can choose how I behave, how I speak, how I respond to challenges and difficulties, how I prioritise my time.

Would I have heard that and taken that on board at age 16? Would you?

How prepared am I to take that on board now?

This week I had a joyous catching-up with a precious friend from college. We laughed a lot about what we were like then, and talked about what life is like now and how our perspectives have changed. Much has happened in the intervening 26 years, and for us both, the foundational principle we have learned is that life is transient and very precious.

And it struck me that I, more than ever, need to heed my closing words on life skills to the S6 young folk –

take some time to consider not only what you want to do in life, but who you want to be.

The power of letting go – choosing to forgive.

Thinking back over thLetting gois past week, how many people have you hurt, intentionally or not?

Wham – that got your attention.

Let’s get stuck right in this week, no beating about the bush.

To how many of those people have you apologised?

Another thought – how many people have hurt you – through what they have or have not said or done?

In lasts week’s blog, I talked about the importance of choosing to say sorry. To swallow pride, and let go of fear and instead choose humble courage  in making that first move towards restoration of a hurt relationship. Saying sorry and asking for forgiveness is hard. But this the route back to reconciliation and healing, no matter how trivial or monumental the original wrong.

But when we are on the receiving end of hurt, that creates a whole different situation.

Someone causes us real pain through an unkind word, a betrayal, a lack of understanding, a thoughtless act. If that person comes to us to apologise and seek forgiveness, we have it in us to release them and – crucially – release ourselves from the impasse created.

The problem lies when there is no apology forthcoming, especially if it appears that the other person is gloriously oblivious to the hurt they have caused us and seem to be going about their life quite free whilst we are trapped in seething hurt, anger, resentment, bitterness, rage.

Not a pretty picture is it.

Think back again over the past week, and the people who have hurt you in some way. Now imagine the cumulative impact of each hurt building on the last. Hurt on hurt, crushing and constricting your very soul, leaving no space for hope or freedom or happiness.

As someone (there is debate about who) once famously said,

Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

I have spoken about this before, and will no doubt do so again.

Because I, like you, am a very flawed human with a short memory for the important lessons in life. It is easy to nurse our hurts because it allows us to feel justified in thinking or speaking ill of the one who hurt us. We want them to have their just desserts and for everyone else to know how much we have been wronged.

But we have power to choose – to choose to let go and thus choose release, peace and freedom. It may not bring about restoration of the relationship because we can only be responsible for ourselves and our own reactions.

There is so much more that could be said about this – as a coach, my role is in part to help people take stock of where they are and move forward to where they want to be, and that sometimes involves identifying hurts and letting go of both them and the person responsible. This is a complex and difficult process, and not one to be taken lightly.

I feel the weight of this as I write, as I think back on the week that has past.

Because what strikes me most forcibly about the central importance of letting go of hurts and forgiving the responsible party is this –

Life is too short and people are too precious.

In another week of horrific world wide events that have suddenly and shockingly cut short the lives of many, it seems such a staggering waste of time and energy to hold a grudge. And such a tragedy when people are suddenly lost to us without reconciliation.

Don’t wait to forgive someone and let go of that hurt. Life is short and unpredictable, and both you and they are too important and too precious.

Choosing to say sorry – the power of apology.

What power is there in saying sorry?

What power is there in saying sorry?

Talking about pride inevitably leads to the need for saying sorry – after all, it is one of life’s biggest clichés that pride comes before a fall. The child learning to walk that we thought about last week falls repeatedly, but generally gets back up again and has another shot. Perhaps with a few tears, perhaps needing some reassurance from a nearby provider of TLC.

But falls over, realises the need to get back up, and is not afraid to try again. How willing are we to take the same approach? When we get it wrong, how often does our pride keep us flat on our faces in our mistakes, unwilling to say sorry and seek to make amends?

We all make mistakes – to err is human after all. None of us is perfect, and saying sorry is about taking personal responsibility for our actions. We get it wrong in so many ways – by what we say and do, or what we fail to say and do. Sins of omission or sins of commission both.

Imagine a situation where two parties have fallen out.

Years have passed, but there have been no words exchanged between them, despite a previous close friendship. The cause of the fall out is so far in the distant past as to have been forgotten, but pride keeps both parties walled up behind an unwillingness to make the first move towards apology and reconciliation.

Strikes me as being desperately sad, and a tragic waste.

Even sadder when this happens within families, and loved ones go to their graves embittered with unspoken hurts and resentments, too consumed by pride or fear to break down barriers and regain love and hope.

The 1970 film Love Story contained the famous line,

Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

The idea behind this is that unconditional love should enable us to make allowances for people to an unlimited degree, despite their failings. To me, this is not only wrong, but very damaging. The toxic combination of hurt, resentment, unforgiveness and bitterness that can ensue in the absence of true repentance and forgiveness can literally poison someone from the inside, eating them alive. [Of course, herein lies a different choice – choosing to forgive when there is no apology forthcoming – more next week.]

What do we want to be known for?

Admitting we got it wrong and saying sorry takes courage and humility. A willingness to accept responsibility for our own actions.

Perhaps it is easier to apportion blame onto the other, to play the victim, to seek to excuse our behaviour with endless mediating factors.

But who does that make us? What example are we giving to those around us?

When we have been the cause of hurt, of whatever magnitude, the route back to healing and restoration comes through those two most courageous words

I’m sorry.”

Followed by the equally humble,

Can you forgive me?”

It can be tempting to add qualifiers and justifiers to excuse ourselves or try and save face. But a simple, unconditional apology has the potential to powerfully unlock an impasse of hurt and prevent it escalating into resentment and bitterness. It allows the wronged party to offer forgiveness, releases them from hurt and potential bitterness.

When have there been times in your life that you have missed an opportunity to say sorry? What situation did that lead to, and what difference would a humble apology have made?

Is there a situation of hurt or disconnect that you find yourself in just now that is of your own making?

Perhaps a little self reflection: What is that relationship worth – more or less than your own pride?

Picture that relationship restored and healthy. What would a good outcome be?

Then make a choice – to let go of pride and fear, and say sorry.

Choosing to be disciplined

Choosing to be disciplinedChoosing to be disciplined – not a very glamorous idea, and nor always a very popular one. Being adventurous, or being a free spirit, or going with what feels best at the time seem to fit more in our oft individualistic and consumerist society. The unspoken assumption sometimes sounds like…

I want it and I want it now, and I am not expecting to work hard to get it. I simply want it handed to me on a plate, just like it happens for the select few on the multitudinous reality television come-here-to-get-instant-fame programmes.

Now, I fully accept that not all of us want fame, vast riches, glory. Not all of us want to rule the world, despite the song that suggests we do (a favourite on the 80s mix in our car!). But there is a subtly pervasive attitude that suggests in our modern-day western first world part of the planet that if you want it, you should get it. The idea of a strong work ethic, of commitment and hard graft, seem out dated and old fashioned.

But where does that really get us?

How often have you said, “If only I had worked harder/stuck at it/persevered for longer?” It could be with anything – academic studies, a creative project, weight loss, exercise, giving something up, taking something on. It could be choosing to be brave and committing to talking to your nearest-and-dearest about stuff that really matters on a regular basis.

Discipline is not a groovy or enticing word. But it is an important one, because without discipline, rarely do we get to where we really want to go in life.

A fabulous programme I watched recently highlighted this. Mind over Marathon followed the astonishingly brave efforts of 10 individuals with a range of mental health issues as they trained to run the London Marathon. Now that really is a challenge, and the discipline required to stick with the training programme was costly indeed. But these fabulous people demonstrated superbly the benefits of the discipline of regular exercise. Mental and physical health improvements and well-being, structure, goals, achievement, endorphins, team camaraderie. They had huge support, not least from the Royal family. But they still had to make that individual choice to be disciplined.

Many times, the choice to give up seems less painful, but that opens up the route to regret.

Instead, we can choose discipline, accepting the associated pain. But the key is to have a clear idea of WHY we are doing what we are doing because in that, there is motivation.

Because it is a true and classic coaching observation that most of us don’t suffer from lack of information, but lack of motivation. This is about vision, goals, action planning. Having support, and encouragement. Choosing to be brave and commit to the decision.

But ultimately being disciplined comes down to one thing – doing what you say you are going to do.

I can pontificate all I like about my desire to have closer and more connected conversations with MB, that enable us both to move on from the impact of his depression. We both know why this is important, and we have both agreed to it. And at the end of another week, I can come up with all the excuses in the proverbial book as to why – yet again – we have not managed to sit down together for half an hour and really communicate about how we both are and what we both need.

Regret can paralyse us, or it can precipitate action. Action that requires discipline, but produces results and not regret.

This week, where are you choosing to be disciplined? What are you committing to stick to, and why is it important to you?

Choosing to be brave

Choosing to be brave

Choosing to be brave

Being brave does not necessarily mean doing something extraordinary or fearless.

Sometimes being brave simply means choosing to stay in a difficult situation.

Perhaps you are in a job that is really difficult, but the difference you are making is worth the cost. For you, being brave means staying and committing and bringing your best.

Perhaps you are in a relationship that is stagnant, fraught with a history of hurts and resentments. Both trapped behind walls of mistrust, fear, lack of hope of change. Leaving might seem like the easier option, but perhaps for you, choosing to be brave means choosing to stay. Choosing to gradually take down the walls, seek help, persevere with making changes that are hard and costly but ultimately will restore connection and hope.

Perhaps being brave simply means choosing to have that conversation with your partner, when you would prefer to avoid the issue altogether. After all, you are both coming from entrenched positions built up over years of misunderstandings and hurts, and why would you choose to step across into no-man’s land and risk being vulnerable when all you fear is more conflict?

Because you are choosing to be brave.

Brave sometimes means speaking up. When I opened the lid on our experiences of depression last year, a common reaction to our story was of being brave to talk about it. But mental health needs to be talked about, and the more people choose to be brave, the more people are likely to find the courage they need to seek help and support.

Brave doesn’t mean foolhardy or foolish, nor does it mean the absence of fear (although my personal view is that bungee jumping does fit into this category!).

I recently completed a Go Ape course with a wonderful group of crazy ladies. I was motivated, in part, by being at least 20 years older than the rest of the group, and not wanting my age to let me down. I am not keen on heights, but I do like a challenge, so this seemed a good opportunity to overcome some inner anxieties. All the way round the course, on tiny platforms and ropes and planks up in the trees, we cheered each other on and provided the verbal energy each required. My wobbliest moment – quite literally – was trying to jump off a platform 70 feet off the ground into fresh air, trusting that the swing would hold.

I can’t do this, you’re going to have to help me”

I shouted to my dear friend and partner round the course.

Without her loud, encouraging and unstinting affirmation of her belief in my abilities, chances are I would still be in that tree even now. That day, none of us were brave in isolation – one person’s fear was countered by another’s bravery and encouragement to complete the challenge. Choosing to be brave sometimes involves seeking endorsement from a cheer-leading friend.

Sometimes being brave means being willing to listen without an agenda, rather than jumping in to give your view.

Sometimes, being brave means committing day in day out to the mundane, repetitive and distinctly unglamorous aspects of raising a family with acceptance, and choosing to bring the best of you each day to the task. Because what can be more important than investing in the people most dear to you?

Being brave for some is standing up to injustice.

Or opening your home to a stranger in need.

Being brave can be as simple as responding to a friend’s inquiry with “You know what, I’m not OK – can we talk?”.

Mostly, choosing to be brave is choosing to live today as if it is the most important day, and to bring your very best.

Making good choices towards fulfillment not regret.

Good choicesHere we are in spring, quarter of the year gone already. What good choices have you made this year so far?

I began this year asking myself the question:

For me to get to the end of this year and say, that was a good year, what would have had to happen?

For as much as it is within my control, that of course comes down to good choices – how I use my time, how I develop my business, how I invest in relationships including with myself.

There are clear stages to facilitate this process.

Having an idea of a vision for what I want this year to be about is a good starting point. Looking at my values, and priorities comes next. And then creating goals, followed by action plans that allow me to move towards those goals. And doing so with the bigger picture of the vision for the year in mind keeps me going. Within that, I am factoring in the importance of time to reflect, to let my soul catch up, and to reconnect with what is most important as the year progresses.

This space creates the opportunity to regroup, get back on track and make changes. I have sought accountability in the form of a mastermind group of fellow coaches, which is great fun and hugely life giving.

Life happens, it is impossible to plan for every eventuality. But having an overall idea of priorities and goals helps ensure that time is given to that which is most important – even when the unexpected threatens to derail us.

That all sounds very good, and that I am practicing what I am working on with many of my clients. Taking one’s own medicine, always a challenge in any occupation!

[Small digression – if the process I have just summarised above sounds exactly what you are needing for this year/decade/stage in life, get in touch and we can work on that together, it’s what I do!]

At the start of a year (or a new job, relationship, opportunity), it is impossible to have anything more than plans and ideals as to how things will unfold. We cannot tell the future, and there are many uncertainties and unknowns. If hindsight could be sold in bottles, to be drunk in advance with caution or abandon, chances are our choices might be very different. But all we are left with instead is the sometimes-poisoned chalice of regret after the event is over.

Four years ago, I chose to leave a good and successful job to start a new career as a life coach. I am often asked how I came to actually jump off that cliff, rather than talk about but not implement that change. There is a book in there that I intend to write – one day. Numerous factors contributed to that decision, which are not the subject of this post. But an article I read recently on choices we regret making made me think (published on LinkedIn a few years ago by a chap called Jeff Haden).

Had I not made this momentous and truly life changing choice, I would certainly have regretted it. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed my job, had a great career as a physiotherapist and much of what I learned informs my coaching. I have wonderful colleagues, who remain good friends, and a treasure trove of memories. [A chapter in my written-only-thus-far-in-my-mind book will be on ending well!]

I made that choice without the benefit of hindsight, but with all the knowledge, information, support, wisdom and advice I could accrue in advance.

Good choices.

Broadening this out, and taking some inspiration from the aforementioned article, what other good choices can we make in life that will facilitate us living lives of fulfillment and not regret? I have written here before, a while ago, about death bed regrets. This next series will look at it from a proactive perspective – and we will explore together themes like

  • Choosing to be brave
  • Choosing to care
  • Choosing not to be too proud

This week, as a wee starter for ten, as you consider this coming week or season, what are some good choices you could make?

Dealing with burnout: how to carve up that elephant.

Dealing with burnoutOver these past weeks, we have been exploring burnout, it’s symptoms and causes, and – importantly – some musings on what we can learn about dealing with burnout. So, how can be crystallise our thoughts and take the first small action steps? Rather than be overwhelmed by the task of emerging from brain fog and regaining a calmer perspective on our lives, how can we carve up the elephant of burnout and see how to make small, gradual changes?

As we progress through this 21st century age, we invent new and faster communication methods to improve our lives and narrow our world. We feel the pressure to be “on” and available all the time. To be all things to all people. To do more, try harder, go further, be better – pick an advertising slogan of your choice. But the impact of this is that eventually, our bodies and minds rebel.

Burnout can leave us feeling tired, depressed, physically and emotionally exhausted, trapped, worthless, weary, disillusioned, hopeless, anxious, rejected, and susceptible to illness.

But this is not how we are designed to function.

We are inventive, creative, relational people with an amazing capacity to learn, grow, cherish and enjoy the world around us. We are made for so much more than merely functioning, going through the motions, living for the next bit when it might get easier. But it seems that life, and our choices in response to it, take over and can leave us burned out, to varying degrees.

When our bodies start to rebel, it is time to stop, do a little soul work, and pay attention. We require rest and restoration to allow us to function at our best – regular investment in ourselves allows us to fulfil our many roles and purpose better. This does not mean we become self absorbed islands, only living to serve ourselves. The converse is true – identifying with something bigger than ourselves, be it a cause, a faith, a project, brings fulfilment and allows us to serve within our purpose.

So, what have we learned about dealing with burnout?

Firstly, recognise that the day is never coming when you are going to be less busy, and you have power to change the choices you make now.

Of course we have jobs, responsibilities, family commitments, social engagements, and health needs to manage on a daily basis. But we also have choice, and this starts with understanding ourselves, how we work, and what is most important to us. Much of what we can choose to do is reconnect.

Reconnect with the outdoors –

  • get outside into the great world yonder, with all it’s beauty and creativity. We are part of a wider world, we are not islands, and embracing the beauty and simplicity of our natural environment is a tonic to expand and refresh soul and mind. Be it a short walk in the park or a long trek up a hill or along a beach, reconnect with space, scenery, fresh air and freedom.

Reconnect with your body –

  • burnout manifests in many physical ways, including muscle tension and pain, poor sleep, headaches, fatigue, poor posture. Pay attention to what your body is telling you – if it is not functioning well as the tool you need it to be to enable you to be who you are, then action is required to restore and revitalise that body. Simple things like changing position at your desk, stretching and deep breathing, getting up and walking around, an outside walk for 10 minutes, and bigger impact things like more and regular exercise all help.

Reconnect with your own natural rhythms –

  • Take regular, short breaks. Start to recognise the signs of when your output is exceeding your input, and stop, change completely what you are doing, reconnect with what you are seeking to do and why – your goals and motivation. Learn to understand yourself and your own rhythms, what times of day you are at your best, and when you need to stop and change task.

Reconnect with what matters most and disconnect from technology –

  • Limit use of social media, avoid the temptation to constantly check emails, switch off screens and get outside. Recognise that you choose to have power over technology and use it to your advantage not have it control you.

Reconnect with your support system –

  • recognise the dangers of emotional weariness – have a support system of friends to lean on, and don’t be afraid to let people in and share the load. Prioritise and plan in time with life affirming and life giving people. Re-establish actual physical contact, not merely electronic contact. Tell your friends you appreciate them, and be available to them when you are part of their support system.

Reconnect with the positive –

  • Recognise when you are spiralling into negativity – cynicism, criticism, self pity or self loathing. Pay attention to the emotions under the surface and do a little soul-work: let go, forgive, take or relinquish responsibility, stop taking yourself so seriously. Whatever is required. And choose to see the positive, to practice being thankful, to rest and refresh your mind and soul with activities that don’t numb you to what is going on.

Reconnect with a realistic degree of efficiency and organisation for you –

  • Take small chunks of time to get organised, be it at work or home, with clear goals as to why this is important and the difference it is going to make. Learn what works for you, and create systems that you are happy with and can maintain.

Dealing with burnout can only be addressed successfully once the roots are identified.

Sometimes, we can do well to stop, take stock of what we are doing, reassess what is most important to us, and recognise that we are neither indispensable nor required to be “on” all the time. You are a unique, precious and purpose-full individual, and life is here to be lived abundantly. We only get one shot at it.

 

 

 

 

 

Letting your soul catch up

Letting your soul catch up

Letting your soul catch up

Let me recount to you my own paraphrase of a tale I came across the other day. A Westerner, with a first world, 21st century mentality, was travelling with native tribesmen on a work project. For several days, there was rapid progress, much distance covered, and many of the Westerner’s boxes were ticked – they were making good progress, goals for the expedition were being achieved, it was busy and productive.

And then the tribesmen stopped. For no obvious reason. And nothing happened. Nothing obvious was being done. The Westerner became frustrated with this lack of progress, this waste of time, this enforced waiting. His timetable was slipping and he was not meeting his agenda. Eventually, standing it no longer, he asked the reason for the delay. The answer stopped him short –

We had been moving too fast and had to wait for our souls to catch up.”

The tale is attributed variously to South African or African tribesmen, Himalayan Sherpas, or Inca tribesmen. It matters not a jot. Us modern-livers, we all move too fast, and are tempted to fill our days with endless to-do lists, projects, work commitments, stuff, stuff, stuff. None of that is wrong. But how often do we take the time to stop and wait for our souls to catch up?

To let our tired, overstuffed brains slow and empty a little.

To step off the conveyor belt and regroup.

To reconnect with what we feel, what our hearts are telling us about what is around us.

To remind ourselves that we are more than just doing-machines.

This week, again I am overwhelmed with the grief, tragedy, on-going levels of conflict and hatred that are in our world. Each of us is human, each of us is unique, each of us is precious to someone. And yet, we lose sight of this so quickly and so catastrophically.

I know that for me, sometimes it takes my soul to become a dried up wizened thing before I notice and stop to pay attention. I lose sight of who I am, what really matters to me, and my perspective goes completely. So this little phrase – letting your soul catch up – is challenging me this week to take some time to do just that. To recognise that I have been travelling too fast, and to stop, and let my soul catch up. To pay attention to emotions under the surface, and remind myself of what really matters and what my values for living are.

As we approach Easter, may I encourage you to do the same? Whatever Easter means to you – family, friends, feasting, time off, or faith – to allow your soul to catch up with you and refresh and restore you for living according to what really matters to you.

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