Last weekend was my birthday. I turned 31, in case you didn’t get that from the title. Now, turning 30 didn’t bother me. I remember listening to all my friends discussing the crises of entering the next decade and feeling grateful that I only felt positive about it. But I’ve been less happy with turning 31. Reflecting on this has been interesting for me.
I feel like my life is one big conflict at the moment. There are so many things happening for me that bring up very different opinions on the same subject. Am I ready to start a family or not? Do I want to keep going with the coaching business or not? Do I want to build a career or not? Join a gym or more horse riding? Contracting or temp work? Travel or renovate the house?
As you can see the list of options is pretty big, and I often change my mind between the two sides of each debate. And this idea of starting a family looms over all of them, as I’m aware bringing another life into the world changes everything. I go in circles trying to work out if there’s anything I want to fit into my life before it’s filled with another person, or if it’s about being more grateful for what I’ve got.
Because I’ve got a lot. That’s why I didn’t mind turning 30. I was married to a man I love very much, we’d just had an offer excepted on a great house, was no longer doing something I hated and building a business in something I loved. We had our dream dog and were in the fortunate position to be able to go on holiday as and when we wanted.
Most of those things are still true. The business thing is the only one that I’d say isn’t anymore. And, to be honest, looking back at my diary entry from my birthday last year I’m not sure it was that great even then. I was just more determined to ignore the fact that I didn’t love all of it as much as I wanted to.
As I write this it makes me feel like a privileged, spoilt princess. I’m in a position many people don’t get to be in, and yet I don’t feel content with it. In fact, I feel completely overwhelmed with it all. Too much choice is as bad for you as not enough choice!
Another big reason I feel like this is because I feel like the last 2-3 years I’ve been through a slow process of stripping back my identity. When I met Dave (which I know is more than 2-3 years ago) I was so clear on who I was, what I wanted and where I was heading. I’ve credited this for the strong foundations of our relationship and it’s why I’m such an advocate of you putting yourself first and knowing your needs. Plus, I was young and had time ahead of me to work it out.
Now, I know I’m still young, and there’s still plenty of time ahead of me, but I also feel an enormous pressure to have it sorted out already. When I decided that I didn’t want to pursue a career in Speech and Language Therapy I gave up a big part of my life plan. And I guess I thought I’d be able to slot the coaching straight into the gap, but it hasn’t worked out that way.
A sense of self
The change in career isn’t the only thing that’s happened. We moved out to Oxfordshire for my husband’s work. He was the only person I knew in the area. And meeting new people when you’re self-employed and work from home is hard. I became isolated. I looked online for connection and, instead, found comparison. All these small things, over time, chipped away at my sense of self.
When you’re required to go through a big shift and change in your sense of self, you lose your ability to make clear decisions. Doubt creeps in. For me, I looked back on my previous, “failed” decisions and decided I clearly wasn’t capable of making the right choices. So, I started looking to others to help me with my decision-making. I started doing things that my intuition was telling me weren’t right ignoring that voice because I no longer trusted it.
When things didn’t get any better I went through a cycle of blame. First, I’d criticise myself for not succeeding, then I’d blame the person who I’d looked to for the advice for not giving me what I needed, then I’d look for someone else, something more to make it work. This kept me in a cycle where my sense of self never grew, as I was relying on someone else to tell me who I ‘should’ be.
I’m sharing this in the hope that, if you’ve ever felt this way you’ll know you’re not alone. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that loss of sense of self and trust in one’s own abilities, and at the same time like they’re being incredibly self-centred and ungrateful.
I don’t believe it’s selfish or ungrateful to feel this way. I do believe it isn’t helpful to stay in this place though. This year will be the year that I’m planning on drawing a line under letting this kind of thing continue. Drawing a line under letting other people be the experts in my life. A line under not trusting myself. Drawing the line under the chipping away at my sense of self.
I hope, if you’ve resonated with what I’ve said, you’ll join me in this collective line drawing. In taking a stand for being yourself and trusting yourself fully.
Values I’m building upon
There are a few words that have been running through my head as I write this, and reflect on how I want this year to go. They are:
I am in a fortunate position. I know that and every day I feel awful for not appreciating it more. This year I want to appreciate it but without using it as a stick to beat myself up with.
It’s ok to not feel grateful all the time, it’s ok to complain that things aren’t fair sometimes. It’s not ok to do that all the time or criticise yourself for not being Miss Happy-and-Grateful all the time. We all have off days.
Think of it like the 80/20 rule – you need to be grateful 80% of the time. Then, when you’re having that 20% of off days, you can’t beat yourself up about it as you know its part of the balance.
A big one for me, that’s been coming up again and again. Building trust in myself. Listening to my intuition again, putting it first over what other ‘experts’ are saying.
But also, not blindly following it. I do believe that, if you have limiting beliefs and patterns in your unconscious (which we all do, sorry), these will manifest in ways that sabotage growth.
This year I want to be able to take on new information, evaluate if it’s useful for me, and then experiment with it more. If it works great; if it doesn’t know that I’ve learnt something and it’s ok that it didn’t work.
Persistence + Patience
These two come together. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a very impatient person. If I don’t see results straight away I have a tendency to throw in the towel. This then builds into that blame cycle I spoke about earlier in the post.
When I look back at some of the things I threw the towel in on, because they were too hard or didn’t work straight away, and think where I’d be now if I’d taken small, persistent steps regularly, well, I get really annoyed!
Dave & I both have a tendency to keep pushing until we break. Then we’ll try something completely new, again pushing until we break. The only thing I want to break now is that pattern.
Which is where persistence comes in for me. For me, persistence is steady, consistent action even when things feel hard. It’s not boom and bust; not pushing until we break. It’s taking small steps each week to move you towards the mountain.
I’ve wanted to write a blog for a number of years. I’ve started many and stopped when things don’t seem to be progressing (see, this is why the point above is so relevant!) Even though I’m dyslexic I find writing to be my preferred creative outlet. I can probably thank years of studying academic subjects that require lots of essay writing for it!
When I first began talking about starting Ideal Balance Coaching I knew I wanted my writing to be a part of it, a chance to let my creative side out. As I’ve spoken about before, I began, over time, to feel more pressured into using my blog as a business content marketing strategy, using it as a way to showcase my expert status to potential clients. Not a way to let my creativity out.
This year, I want to write about what I want to write about and share what’s going on for me. I can really only be the expert in my own life and that’s what I want to share. My journey, my learning and what’s working or not working for me.
Sure, there will no doubt still be blog posts where I share what I know about topics I’m passionate about. But not because I assume I know better than you, simply because I love sharing ideas and things I’ve learnt. Hopefully, you’ll be joining me on the journey of self-empowerment and will be able to take in the information, assess for yourself if it’s useful and then take it or leave it accordingly.
As well as writing, I will be sharing all this in my community, the Health, Wealth and Happiness Community. This is where my lovely buddy Tanya and I keep it real. We share what’s honestly going on in our journeys and work together to build our own trust in ourselves. We’d love to have you on the journey with us.
Well a rather heavy post, but I’m feeling positive about moving forward into this year. I’m also feeling a little overwhelmed at the challenge I’ve set myself to build my trust in myself again. I know doing it with the support of Tanya and our amazing community will make things feel much easier though.
What do you want to draw the line under? Could you do with a little more self-trust?
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