It can feel as if we’re being bombarded with inspirational and aspirational images, quotes and articles telling us we should all aim for an extraordinary life; the pressure to ‘live our dreams’ and ‘find our passions’ can seem enormous.
But if you feel that you’re happy where you are, with what you have, then why would you or should you seek for change? There’s nothing wrong with an ordinary life – and how come the word ‘ordinary’ seems to have become synonymous with boring and mediocre?
No-one should have to defend their life choices. Right?
Only sometimes there is a small voice of doubt within ourselves – it makes us worry that we’re missing out on something. If you ever hear that inner voice or feel that fear of things passing you by, here are some things to ask yourself.
Whose voice is this really?
What we’re hearing is our own inner critic but that voice is created by our upbringing and the things we’ve absorbed from the world we live in. [How to stop the inner critic and make friends with the inner coach] It can be useful to identify exactly WHO it is who told you that you were inadequate or not clever or not creative or undeserving. Once we understand that the critical messages are not our own we can begin to challenge them.
Is it true?
It’s hard to unpick the stories we believe about our world and ourselves because they’re very deeply ingrained. We look at others and imagine them free of the self-doubt and fear that dogs us, but is any of that ACTUALLY true? For instance, you may believe you’re not clever enough to go back to college or retrain for a new career, and you have lots of evidence for that belief based on how badly you did at school. Did you do really do badly at school? And even if you did not do that well, have you been able to learn any new skills or study for anything since? Remember that we look for the evidence to support our stories so it can be useful to ask someone else who knows you really well – they may see you very differently!
But am I unhappy?
Just because we may have doubts and fears that we’re missing out on something, we should ask ourselves if we’re happy or not with the life we have. Being happy where you are with what you have now is being fully present [The habits of happy people]
Whose dream is it anyway?
Perhaps it’s less to do with your inner critic and more to do with an idea that was planted by someone else. Again, you can ask yourself some questions: who said you should be a doctor when actually what you really love is surfing and teaching others how to do it? That might sound a bit extreme but you get the picture – we can find ourselves struggling to live SOMEONE ELSE’S dream rather than recognising that we’re very happy where we are, thank you very much! After all, we’re all ‘living the dream’ – our OWN dream, in our own way.
Any last advice?
Practice mindful self-compassion. When you find yourself struggling with feelings of inadequacy, fear, guilt or shame you can use your awareness of that pain to comfort and calm yourself. It’s about showing yourself the same loving-kindness that you’d show to another person. [How to heal your self esteem]
And give back what you can by doing things for others, whether that’s by volunteering or through random acts of kindness towards people you meet during your daily activities; there are loads of ideas out there to help you with either of those.
Remember, you are good enough just as you are!