Growing up in a world of trauma and heartache, I always dreamt of a different world.
My 10-year-old self would fantasise about a house in the country, surrounded by the safety of people I love, soothed by the company of animals, and exploring the vast world with boundless joy, feeling deliriously, over-the-top happy. The kind of happy that makes your face ache because you can’t stop smiling.
And I would dream.
I would get told off at school for not paying attention, and I would dream. When the bullies beat me, I would dream.
And whenever I felt anxious or sad, I would imagine I was already living this new life.
Instantly, I felt comforted.
Having a life of trauma, rejection, and bullying can lead to two things:
- You forever feel worthless, like no one actually gives a damn. Whenever someone shows you kindness, you make an excuse for it. “They’re just nice to everyone,” or “They’re after something.” You numb out through medication, alcohol, comfort eating, or another destructive behaviour. Your partner might be abusive, your friends might be judgmental, and you might feel trapped in the same cycle that you always wanted to escape.
- Or you go a completely different route. You believe that life could be something different—something great. And you use the pain from the past as a guide of what never to go back to, and you keep walking forward.
I chose option two.
And my dream came true. I live in the country with my loving family and cat. I own my house, have a successful business, and love to travel.
We can create a world in which we thrive—here’s how:
Somewhere inside of you, you have the answers. At the moment, they’re covered up with stress and chaos. You might feel stuck in a cycle of work, cleaning, and looking after your children, and every morning feels like it’s a scene from “Groundhog Day.”
I’ve been there, where there’s no time for self-care. There’s no time to think about an alternative life. There’s no time to let any of the emotional pain out that you’ve been hiding your whole life.
Being stuck in this cycle for so long, it’s hard to even imagine a different way to live.
But there is—you just have to listen more.
Listen to what needs to be changed. Allow yourself time to get quiet, whether that’s in the car or enjoying a cup of tea.
If you allow yourself this time to listen, you will hear things. You will hear when you feel stuck at a crossroads and don’t know what direction to go in. You will hear ways you could change or improve things. You will feel passion for something you had forgotten about all this time.
The universe has been trying to tell you things for a long time, so start listening.
Let Go of Expectations
Let go of what you think life should be like and start thinking about the environment you can thrive in.
What does that look like? Are you made for a job that’s gentler? Do you work in the city with too much noise, but all you want to do is retreat to the country? Does your job come with too much chaos and unpredictability when all you want is routine and structure?
It’s time to start thinking about the life you want to be living and not the life you ought to have. Start looking at the world in a whole new light. Accept those parts of you that you’ve always hated. Does it really matter if you’re a bit clumsy, forgetful, or disorganised? These qualities are just who you are.
Ignore the scripts you have forever been told, and start thinking about creating a new one, free of expectations and disappointments.
“When you learn to accept, instead of expect, you’ll have fewer disappointments.” ~ Buddha
Heal Emotional Pain
For most of us, we still carry around emotional pain from the past, like it’s our most favourite companion. Sometimes we notice it’s there, but more often than not we forget. We go about our day-to-day life, we ride public transport, we go to work with it, and we just drag it around everywhere. But what happens when we just leave it there? It wears us down, we become easily exhausted, we quickly burn out, and we become snappier.
Most trauma happens in childhood, so we still hold onto the hurts through a child’s perspective. If you took a step back and saw it with a different lens, you would see that you don’t need to hurt anymore. It wasn’t your fault. You never deserved what happened.
Write a list of everything you are hurting from, and next to it, write why this wasn’t your fault. Why someone else felt insecure and it made them feel stronger? Why someone was jealous of you? Whatever it may be. See a therapist, work on your own personal development, find a coach, and invest in yourself.
Practice Being Happy
Being happy might sound like a pretty basic thing, but it doesn’t come naturally to some people because it’s not something we’ve been programmed to be. Our biology is wired for survival and to breed. Moaning and complaining are part of our survival instinct, so to be truly happy, we need to practice happiness—every day.
So practice being happy. Say what you’re grateful for. Watch your favourite comedian. Meet up with friends. Practice self-care.
Do the things that make you happy every single day. You might need to fake it for a while, but before you know it, feeling happy will become as natural as breathing.
After everything you’ve been through, you owe it to yourself to be happy.
Teach yourself Self-Care
Self-care is not all about spa’s and massages. Self-care is also about enjoying a cup of fresh, hot coffee alone, and learning to rest when your body and mind is telling you to. It’s about those moments of connecting inward through meditation or yoga. It’s about eating healthy food, just because you know your body deserves it. It’s about learning to self-soothe, in a healthy way.
Add a few self-care practices to your day. Start slowly and gradually self-care will become as easy as breathing.