The last of my 10 years or so have built a platform for search of discoveries. One of the not so easiest of paths led to “it’s ok to think and feel outside of the box” road sign. And, oh the views that opened at the end of this long and curvy, narrow and bumpy road. A broadness of an ocean, with islands, each more attractive than the other, in a distance between them feeling (though not being) short. Those pieces of invitingly new environments brought survival mechanisms in challenging times and harbours to go back to, when the winds were rising too high for preserving the feeling of safety.
Those islands are the interests, the curiosity about deeply touching topics, professional and not, interests, that kept and keep me going with a passion in my life, even at times when passion was hardly recognisable for the need of surviving was stronger. I believe, that at such times preferring the security of the familiar “box” offers the comfort of predictability – and our brains do need that predictability in stormy conditions. But then daring to walk the bumpy path of unrestricted interests and arriving at the view of seemingly unfamiliar islands, where shelters from storms are unexpectedly found – that is a present I don’t wish to exchange for my comfortable box.
My old box is kept in close vicinity, because it was received with much of pure love and care at a very early age. It’s been also diligently taken care of by society, family and own expectations, and though it took some time to see it, it is familiar in a bizarrely beautiful way. I think that one of the reasons for its beauty is in its recognizability as an excellent tool for not taking the road back to old habits, believes and expectations. It’s a reference for the start and a direction of a journey.
Would you have an interest to try and define your box(es)? Or perhaps your islands? Both? If so, the following might be of help:
- Make sure you have some 15-20 min on your own, with the calmness of not going to be disturbed. If there is no way for you to not share the space you are currently in with others, perhaps it would help to make sure they are informed you are taking some moments “alone” (so they don’t pull your sleeve every now and then) - put headphones with calm sounds, have an “eye-blinder” prepared (a scarf or a night-mask would do), situate yourself in a part of your space, where you feel good enough to not have the need to be alert of your surrounding all of the time. Have a glass of tea/water at your comfortable access.
- Take a piece of paper and a pen (or differently coloured pens, water or acryl colours – whichever feels a natural way for you to “draw” a picture from your mind to the front of your eyes) and put it in front of you.
- Take a comfortable sitting position and put an alarm for 20 min.
- Close your eyes, or just rest your eyes on the paper in front of you. Take a few (5 – 7) deep and calm breaths with a speed which feels pleasant to you. Imagine the air moving gently along your spine, down to the end of it, and up, to the top of your head. Then, invite to your mind memories of times when you were making a choice - for what to become (profession), where to live, whom to be (or not) friends with, how to spend a vacation, which sport to choose, what colour of scarf suits your face. You could pick anything, which requires you looking towards you and your choices.
- Now pick one of the invited memories, without reading the questions in the next paragraph. I’d suggest to pick one, which is in your earliest days with yourself. Then stay with it for a while.
- Invite answers to questions, related to this choice – who I was with then, what was the reason I needed to make a choice? What was my life then – was a I pleased, anxious, concerned, certain, doubtful, self-confident, excited, sad, happy. Did I feel an urgency to make this choice? Did this choice concern someone else – their wishes, wellbeing, future? What did I choose? Would I make the same choice now? And in 10 years from now?
- Open your eyes and pick your tool for describing your thoughts. Release the memories in the shape and colour you feel best suiting you on the paper. Have a look at it when you are ready and try to make a note on the continuing thought process – what else comes to mind now that you are sitting with it. How do you feel about it? Is there an urge to further remember or do something?
- When you feel you are “done” with that stream of thoughts and memories, have another look at your probably not anymore white paper, put the date on it’s right down corner, have another few deep breaths (3-5), eyes closed or pleasantly relaxing and invite a thought of completion of something important today. Because that’s what you did.
- Put your paper somewhere, where it could be found if needed.
In case you found that 20 min of your time were worth spending that way, you could continue doing that for a week, preferably most of the days. At the end of the week you will have identified a few of past decisions. And then it’s time for you to identify which of those belong to your box, and which are your islands of new opportunities and unexpected shelters.