Half of me is filled with bursting words and half of me is painfully shy. I crave solitude yet also crave people. I want to pour life and love into everything yet also nurture my self-care and go gently. I want to live within the rush of primal, intuitive decision, yet also wish to sit and contemplate. This is the messiness of life – that we all carry multitudes, so must sit with the shifts. We are complicated creatures, and ultimately, the balance comes from this understanding. Be water. Flowing, flexible and soft. Subtly powerful and open. Wild and serene. Able to accept all changes, yet still led by the pull of steady tides. It is enough.
Yesterday, a client told me that they longed for more simplicity in their lives. How could they do that, they asked me. They are so stressed with the state of the world, the cost of living, the demands of their career and their family, and the uncertainty that lies ahead. For so many years they were on automatic pilot, and now they feel trapped in a life that is too busy, too hard, and with no space or time for themselves.
Many years ago I moved to Palau to be with Ben while he was working out of this small island in Micronesia. My life shrank down to one suitcase, an old but spacious hotel room, a smaller budget. I had occasional access to a car, but could get to go most places on foot. Living in one room with few possessions was a major readjustment, but I soon found myself happier, freer, and filled with creativity. When I came home to Australia I walked around my big house wondering how I had accumulated so much stuff. There was so much to pay for, so much to keep clean, and I used so little of it!
Simplicity, like happiness, is a choice, and when we simplify, we often gain more than we give up.
Even if life has forced certain circumstances upon you (pandemic, unemployment, illness) you still have power, because you still have the ability to choose your thoughts and actions.
This year has forced me to simplify my own life, and to create space for healing. It was hard to do – especially because I am stubborn and not good at slowing down or asking for help – but gee it has been worth it.
If you’re in a place of complete overwhelm, I suggest you start here:
- Get more sleep. Go to bed earlier. Create days where you can have sleep-in catch ups, or lie in bed all day reading, resting and relaxing.
- Simplify. Cut back on your activities, responsibilities and involvements, and make sure that the kids don’t get caught up in the vicious cycle of over-achievement and over-commitment either.
- Get help for the things that are stressing you. When we go to bed worried and wake up worried, and are kept up nights by worry then something has to give. If your worries involve money see what you can do to cut down the debt mountain – speak to your lending organisations or the places you owe and get an easier ‘hardship’ repayment scheme. Sell something. Have a garage/yard sale or sell stuff on ebay or gumtree or Facebook marketplace. Downsize. Simplify. Put your hand up and ask for help. Make sure that your household are all committed to the same plan.
- If your worries involve relationships, get some time on your own, even if this is just a cup of coffee at the local cafe. Use that time to think about where you are, how you got there, and what your next move is. Staying in a relationship that is unloving, unsupportive, or where there are serious issues can be enough to bring any sane person to their knees. Find a good counsellor to help you work through your options. If you’re a carer, find a support group. If you already know what you need to do, then act. Staying and not doing or saying anything, hoping for change, has seldom proved to be a winning strategy. Only action brings change.
- Ask yourself the big question, “Does this relationship/job/choice/decision honour me?” Maybe it’s time to change jobs, move house, stop studying, start studying, have the conversation…
- Know that wherever you’ve ended up, it can change. There is a road ahead of you to lead you back to yourself and to a place of content and security.
You could also try a process of reverse engineering. This is where you pull something apart to figure out how it was made, so that you can copy or rebuild it, or even modify it. We need to reverse engineer your life, so that you can work out where to begin making changes.
Start with these questions:
- What is my daily routine? Do this for each day of the week. If there is no routine, just write down how much time you spend on the key areas in your life each day for one week by observing yourself honestly and recoding your actions. It will average out. You can also do this for your partner or children too.
- What are my financial commitments? This is a biggie and some people have never taken the time to work this out. If you’re one of them I know it can be scary and confronting, but if you don’t have a true picture of where you are, you won’t be able to make sound decisions about where you go next.
- Look over your answers. This is the critical part. Is there time left over at the end of each week? Is there money left over at the end of each week? Spare time is vital for a feeling of well-being, and for having adequate coping mechanisms for life. Being too tightly pinched for money generates great stress, which has a huge negative impact on health, relationships and energy levels.
Life is precious. It’s worth making changes to give you a more satisfying life. From experience I’ve learned that most stuff doesn’t make you happy. Certain stuff can make life easier and more pleasurable though. Maybe you need a good computer, or a comfy arm chair, a big teacup, or a great holiday adventure. But what about the rest of your life? How much of what you own do you actually use?
Can you get by with smaller, fewer or none at all? Are you giving time and energy to what really matters in your life? Maybe it’s time to actively simplify your life, bit by bit. Downsize, divest, say no to extra demands upon your time and energy. Look to places, jobs and people that support a more fulfilling lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be five-star to be enjoyable! Change doesn’t have to happen all at once, but when you have a plan it is far easier to create a new reality.
All change requires effort, but change is possible. In the end, imagine the choices and relationships in your life. Imagine removing them. Is there a sense of loss or panic, or a sense of relief? Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
Wishing you the ease and comfort that greater simplicity can bring,
Hugs and love, Nicole xx