(Photo by: Shahzer Karim | Additional Edit: Anna McNaught)
Life moves, sometimes faster than we may like or slower than it may seem, something ever-paradoxical. Most people overestimate yearly goals yet underestimate what they can achieve in 5 years, something I myself have been guilty of. When we ‘fail’ to achieve our regimented goals it sends some of us spiralling out of whack as our ‘plans’ disassemble.
Growing up my whole life I lived by a so-called ‘list’. I showed an entrepreneurial flair at the young age of 8 years old, and I guess from there I had it all planned out. I would go into fashion or show business being either a ‘travelling vet’ working with ‘not your average’ animals but Lions, Pandas, Koalas and everything exotic. I would travel the world, however, this changed after I sadly had to put down our first ever pet (my german shepherd, Junior) as I nowhere near wanted a job where animals had to be put down. I only really wanted to do the grooming, and well, so swiftly the idea shifted and I went into the growing fascination with makeup and beauty. This dream morphed from me completely destroying my mums’ makeup by making ‘potions’, to me as a teen fascinated with theatre makeup. I was obsessed. Often sitting in my room after school creating looks such as, turning into the tin man or becoming a walking puppet, often to the frightened squeals of my mum saying “OMG what the hell are you supposed to be!”. None the less, after the initial shock, she loved it. I kinda knew what I was gonna become, after school I would go into fashion (mainly makeup and fashion design so I thought) and study business as then I could know what I’m doing.)
As life progressed, my list would get ticked off, it actually went a little something like this in my mind…
- College study Business, Philosophy, Psychology, digital mixed media (I even had reasons for all of this would you believe)
- Study business or start work ( I never intended on going to uni)
- Marry at 20 (I above everything wanted my grandparents to see my wedding)
- Move out and be friends with celebrities (this fascinated me not in a fan way but for knowledge)
- Own my own business at 19 (I actually became a model as many of you know but I did have a successful start-up shoe line too)
- Have children at 21/22 Boy and a Girl (also had names picked out as I too really wanted my grandparents to see my children, although this wasn’t meant for me just yet)
- Be a millionaire by 25 and own villas globally.
Now. You may be looking at that list and thinking… ok… but I guess I’m sharing my complete contrast in list with you to paint the picture of the beauty, realism and abilities we hold, how it’s important to be flexible and to be able to move with life. Not just attempt to pave a straight path, but a path that embraces all the variations you will encounter.
o back to my list. My list may be a little bit ‘grown’, but that was mainly due to my cultural beliefs at the time and what I understood of life then). Funnily enough, in some way shape or form, I completed everything on that list to a degree, but it was when life showed me great contrast. The years I had spent rigid in my patterns, ways and beliefs resulted in me being unable to cope with the road my life had detoured to.. everything froze.
I went through a huge process of unlearning at this point where I had to take down metaphorical bricks that I had built upon an incomplete foundation. It took for me to reach a point of mental desperation that relayed physical effects upon my body to actually make a change.
Change is always a blessing however you look at it, I took several ‘unexpected’ knocks over a period of 5 years, from losing a close friend to my own personal battles with my mental process and understanding. I’m sharing this with you so that you may recognise in yourself the foundation you may need to amend so as to build up further.
If things ‘catch you off guard’ to a point of serious effects upon your psyche or you ‘suffer’ with mental/physical patterns that you would like to change, these are great places to acknowledge and points of reference for where you should begin working on yourself. With me, I had gotten myself into such a rut that I would forget to eat or nourish myself for days at a time. My weight dropped and I couldn’t understand the large amounts of discomfort in my body. Funnily enough, this is not the area I started in developing. I chose not to jump into understanding my nutrition but first my own mentality, but starting somewhere will often have a domino effect. So the first thing I would suggest is;
I wasn’t much of a reader and it was rare for me to ever really be interested in books (except for a phase when I was younger when I loved fiction fantasy books) but it is the process that has helped me to broaden my thinking. As Einstein said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. I had gotten to a point where my mental process was only so broad that if I wanted to change I needed to learn and broaden my mindset. I would only read at intervals in the evening before bed or first thing in the morning. I would put on a timer for either 15 mins or 30 mins and no matter what, after that alarm would ring I would stop where I am and continue on my day. This strategy helped me finish a number of books until reading became something I was comfortable and really something I began to enjoy. The 15 min strategy is something I use when trying to establish a new routine as often I was someone who would be inconsistent in what I would do. Reading allowed me to think in a different perspective and to grow my understanding, which in all actuality was pretty close. Reading is something that even to this day encourages me to think in a different format broadening my strategies for self-improvement.
Although reading is good there are some other techniques I picked up (via reading funnily enough) that I implemented and which helped balance me.
Sometimes what the mind needs is less information. I got so into reading that eventually, I was finishing a full 200-page book a day in the urge to understand: A) my pain B) how to overcome my pain and C) how to be completely different to the girl I was. However, all this information became overwhelming and I discovered the next strategy.
Now I bet some of you have mentally tuned off thinking UGH no, not meditation, this friggin cross-legged-humming crap! But hear me out. At first, I COULD NOT for the life of me meditate, and to be honest, all up in my feels and ego I would read the word ‘meditate’ and not even look into how it was done. I would sit square in the middle of the living-room legs crossed and hands poised in the upside down ‘OK’ hand gesture on my knees (Rafiki style) and expect to have some sort of epiphanic experience… yeah, me the business grad did that… and well actually I almost gave myself whiplash as I jolted up from a, what I like to call ‘dosing off in class’ head jolt. And well yeah, I didn’t try that again for a little while, until, it was a day that I felt completely helpless and I crumbled. By some divine intervention, I was lead to a YouTube video that read ‘Guided meditation’ and without hesitation, I clicked it. It played sounds of the waves masking soft beats.. it was so peaceful. This was my first independent-ish form of meditation and it was SOO soothing. For once I felt quite at peace and my mind was so clear. I only heard at the end the guy saying “and when you are ready, you may open your eyes”. It was like I was in some kind of trance and it was thoughtless. At first, I was full of mental chatter but then.. bliss. Meditation is a great way to allow your intuition to rise and for you to feel for the answers you seek. A lot of the time we look for more information to help us but in all actuality, we just need to be ‘thoughtless’. If there is anything I would recommend it would be 10 mins of meditation daily, and if you’re like me start with a guided meditation for the times you lack concentration. After a few months you will be able to go solo but even to this day after a year, I do reach for my guide. A small amount of meditation daily will encourage alignment through mind and body. It’s a relieving experience.
So while meditation and moments of silence allow your mind to marinate information, I realised that through these processes I needed to re-programme my beliefs and this is when I found the next step(s)
3) Affirmation and Visualisation
have combined these two together as in my mind they work arm in arm. Affirmations are not a bunch of ‘fake it til you make it’ quotes. It’s where a lot of people make a slight error in judgment (including myself). Affirmation is actually something I had been doing for a while, written all over my walls were positive sayings and pictures of amazing mansions and all the ‘good stuff’ but what you need to realise is the process of affirmation and visualisation is that it needs to work in the capacity of your mental belief system. Incanting things like “I AM A MILLIONAIRE” or “I OWN 12 HOUSES” may be dreams, but if you have £12 in your account and rent a room in a shared apartment they are not things you are going to believe straight off the bat, they are ‘long-term’ visualisations. I’m not saying you are wrong to believe that, just assess your visualisations and affirmations of the vibration you are giving out. What I mean by that is take smaller steps. Make them feasible to the mind so that you allow your focus to find the opportunities that draw them into your existence. If you are feeling stuck and you’re telling yourself you are a millionaire, the energy is not in cohesion, the game is to raise your energy/vibration and what is in your awareness by seeking the closest ‘good feeling’ thought to where you are now. It could be you are unemployed and your affirmation is “I am excited that I am open to allowing the best opportunities for me” or “ I am excited to have found a job I enjoy”. Affirmations are a way to picture yourself where you want to be, in the same way, that what you become aware of, you see more of. For example, have you ever wanted a certain car or item and suddenly end up seeing adverts with item everywhere you go? It’s because that’s where your focus is, and as Tony Robbins says, “where focus goes, energy flows”.
The reason I have linked these two together is that when you affirm, you put energy into feeling the feelings of acquiring that desire. You allow all your senses to familiarise with it and like a hound dog your senses will sniff it out quicker. Affirmations are something that will change and you will have different degrees of them, for example, long term and short term. Focus on equal energy and enthusiasm and soon you will be connecting the dots.
While all of these strategies are all important I would like to add one final to the mix. This one, all be it the simplest, is one that is often overlooked but packs a big punch in the journey of seeking out the beauty and positive adventures in your life.
Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds but as impactful as anything. Be grateful for where you are right now. This particular strategy helps me to align myself on days that I feel overwhelmed. Days, where I am brought the contrast of what I am seeking. By following all the suggestions above, you won’t instantly eradicate all the contrasting experiences you may have, but you will centre yourself to see the ‘bigger and potential picture’, if you stay firm with your own frequency.
Gratitude is simple but powerful, every evening I pull out a notebook and write 5-10 things I am grateful for, and if you say “I can’t”, then that’s all on you. Sometimes they are just simple things for me, such as “I am grateful for my bed”, “I am grateful for my clothes”. What this does is show you that you have silver linings in your life, and as I said above, what you think about, you will bring about (where focus goes, energy flows). I find the best times to do this is either 1st thing in the morning or last thing at night, but I have been known to do this when I may feel down to pick myself back up. Sometimes I admit, I have been down enough that I am not inspired to pick up a pen and write what I’m grateful for as I’m wallowing too much, but that’s fine, at these times I will either hold a stone (my gratitude stone) and think of memories I am grateful for or re-read all I have written before.
I hope these suggestions encourage you to take steps towards relief and trust in your journey. That’s not to say I don’t fumble at times and enjoy a great cry, sometimes releasing that negative emotion is needed I guess. You can take with you the saying:
“this too, shall pass”
As it’s a mantra I use in most situations in life. Free yourself from perceiving judgement from others and most of all, from yourself. The path may look paved in your eyes and I’m sure if you persevere you will reach your goals. If life was to pan out the way we had imagined in our conscious minds, then we would miss out on many lessons that in hindsight we tend to appreciate. You may not always like the process but learn to appreciate it. For every ounce of pain, I am grateful as in this time I learnt what really mattered and that was my appreciation for myself and self-love. Only by helping myself can I be here hoping to inspire you. Love your path, no one has ever walked it and no one will ever walk it again. Expand yourself and flow through.
You’ve got this.
Photography: Shahzer Karim